The kids in our community went back to school today, already setting the year-long precedence of shortened weeks and inordinate amounts of days off.  Amid the constant, nervous chattering, and packing and repacking of back packs, we sensed an underlying calm, confidence, and relief.  The kids were ready to go back.  They were ready to return to structure and once again be completely and wholly “plugged” back in to their peers and social circles while feeling the promise and excitement of a new year and new experiences.  Essentially, every kid is a straight A student, star athlete, or first chair soloist on the first day of school.  They begin as blank canvases where anything and everything is possible.

Fall too holds some of the very same promises.  Like Spring, Fall can be a time of renewal, a second chance to plant, and a perfect time to seed.  As we discussed last week, Fall is the ideal time to plant just about anything, including grass.  Ideally, seeding should happen between August 15th and the middle of September as soil temperatures, increased rainfall, cooler temps, and less weed competition create the perfect environment for seed germination.  Seeding now also gives the grass a chance to develop strong root systems prior to winter’s wrath, so when Spring rolls around, you’re already way ahead of the game, but there is a caveat.  Simply broadcasting seed is only part of the equation.  In order for the seed to make contact with the soil and develop hearty roots, you must absolutely, unequivocally water.  Adequate watering must be provided until complete seed germination. The seeds should be continuously watered on a frequent and light basis. Once the seedlings start to grow, watering should occur less frequently, but deeper, which ultimately creates stronger root systems and overall healthier lawns.  Simply tossing some seed onto the dirt or over weakened areas without being watered will do nothing but feed the birds.  You must remain vigilant and diligently water, or all your work is for naught.

Once seedlings begin to grow and fill in, don’t get the mower out just yet.  The first mow should happen once the height of the grass reaches about 50% higher than the desired mowing height.  Clear as mud, right?  If you normally mow your lawn at a height of 2″, then do not mow until the seedlings have reached 3″.  Subsequent mowings may not need to be done weekly.  It all depends on how the grass is growing.  If rainfall is minimal, you may be mowing every other week.  No matter when you mow, remember never to remove more than 1/3 of the blade.

Just like kids returning to school, our lawns too have the chance to start a new, wipe the slate clean and grow stronger, healthier, and more verdant.

“The smallest seed of faith is better than the largest fruit of happiness.”

-Henry David Thoreau

Best wishes,

Kim Sweeney