The best month for (real) grass

Prince Albert Daily Herald - - NEWS -

“In Septem­ber, you can lay sod up­side-down and it will still grow.” My late fa­ther, great Cana­dian gar­dener that he was, used to say this quite fre­quently. He should have known: he laid a lot of sod in his early days in the land­scap­ing busi­ness. Soak­ing wet, a roll could weigh up to 80 pounds. Not so to­day. We grow sod on lighter soil, gen­er­ally, and grow­ers cut them in smaller ‘jelly rolls’.

There is not one self-re­spect­ing sod grower in the coun­try who would dis­agree with this state­ment: this is the best time of year to ei­ther lay sod or sow grass seed. The rea­sons for this are sim­ple, but of­ten over­looked.

1.Cool evenings. Grass is a cool sea­son ‘crop’. You may not think of it as a crop at all, but it is an im­por­tant con­trib­u­tor to the farm gate value of Canada’s agri­cul­tural crops.

2.Heavy morn­ing dew. If you walk through grass in bare feet, early in the morn­ing, this time of year, you are re­minded that dew falls heavy in early fall. Maybe that is why we call it ‘fall’?

3.Shorter days. The long days of sum­mer are be­hind us and the heat that we of­ten as­so­ciate with it. Grass re­sponds best to half days of sun and half of night time. Like hy­drangea and other late -flow­er­ing plants, grass wakes up and gets frisky about now.

4.Cooler soil. We may have some hot weather ahead of us and we may not. But soil tem­per­a­tures mod­er­ate whether air tem­per­a­tures are cold or hot. Grad­u­ally the soil cools, pro­duc­ing a root-in­duc­ing en­vi­ron­ment for this ‘cool’ crop.

If you are a golfer you know that fall play pro­vides some of the best play­ing con­di­tions of the year. One of the rea­sons is that golf man­age­ment pro­fes­sion­als take the time now to strengthen and grow bet­ter turf.

Here’s how: a. Sow grass seed. This is the best time of year to thicken an es­tab­lished, but thin lawn or to start a new lawn from scratch. Make sure that you spread a lawn soil mix­ture or weed-free triple mix over the area first, about 2 to 3 cm thick. Spread grass seed at the rate of about one lb. per 400 sq. feet. Ei­ther do this by hand or use a small ‘whirly gig’ hand-held spreader. Rake it smooth. Step on it to bring the seed and soil in firm con­tact, wa­ter it and keep the area moist un­til the seed has ger­mi­nated. You will be amazed at how quickly it emerges from the soil and estab­lishes a thick car­pet of green.

b.Sow seed and com­post to­gether. Pre­mier Tech, a Cana­dian com­pany, in­tro­duced a new prod­uct this year that in­cludes qual­ity grass seed, a charge of ni­tro­gen, chelated iron and pel­letized com­post. It is the first prod­uct of its kind that can be ap­plied through a fer­til­izer spreader. As the com­post is wa­tered or rained upon, it expands to pro­vide a medium for the grass seed to ger­mi­nate. Look for Golf­green Iron Plus 4 in 1 Lawn Re­cov­ery. It will save you the ef­fort and ex­pense of bring­ing in soil to do the job.

c.Fer­til­ize. Don’t ap­ply fall fer­til­izer just yet. I know, tech­ni­cally ‘fall’ is only a cou­ple of weeks off. Your lawn needs ‘fall lawn food’ when it is pre­par­ing it­self for win­ter, in late Oc­to­ber or early Novem­ber, not now. I ap­ply a reg­u­lar sea­son lawn food in Septem­ber, while the lawn is grow­ing ac­tively and can ab­sorb the nu­tri­ents. Look for slow re­lease ni­tro­gen, 18-0-8, with chelated iron to do the best job this time of year.

d.Weed. If con­trol­ling weeds in your lawn is im­por­tant to you, now is a great time of year to con­trol many of them. Dan­de­lions are bi-an­nu­als that seeded early this spring. Small plants es­tab­lished them­selves in the weak ar­eas of your lawn this sum­mer and next year they will grow into the dandies that we know. Dig them now or use one of the new en­vi­ron­men­tally re­spon­si­ble broad-leafed weed killers like the Wil­son WeedOut. A dead dan­de­lion this time of year is a nui­sance you don’t have to deal with next spring.

e.Cut your lawn high. It is very im­por­tant to cut your lawn at least 6 to 8 cm high, es­pe­cially this time of year, when it is grow­ing ac­tively. Use a mulching mower, to re­turn the ni­tro­gen-rich good­ness of grass clip­pings back to the root zone of grass plants.

Play. Re­mem­ber why you grew grass in the first place. It is the most so­phis­ti­cated liv­ing car­pet of green on the face of the earth. You can walk, run and roll on it, know­ing that an av­er­age sized lawn pro­duces enough oxy­gen to sup­port a fam­ily of 4. It se­questers car­bon, fil­ters tox­ins out of rain wa­ter and it cools the at­mos­phere.

It is Septem­ber: the best month of the year for (real) grass.

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