When the grass isn’t always greener

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It might be the ham-handed handiwork of Old Man Winter.

Or perhaps it’s the result of Fido’s indiscriminate and free-spirited bathroom habits. You always knew that dog was a hippie.

Whatever the reason, now that the snow is gone you can’t help but notice that your lawn has seen better days. The brown blotches of random death make your yard look less manicured and more mange.

Michigan is a cool-season state, which means the best time to reseed the lawn is in the early fall when warm soil and cool air blend for that perfect kiss to bring the best results for seed germination. But – geez, Louise! – you can’t bear the thought of having to look out your window at that patchy disaster zone for the whole summer.

If you can’t wait, there’s good news. If you’re not reseeding in the fall, the spring is the next best alternative for Michiganders to restore the luxurious lush.

According to the lawn and garden experts at JonathanGreen.com, “Most new lawns fail to become established because of poor quality seed, soil compaction, the nutrient status and pH of the soil, and lack of irrigation after seeding. No matter when you decide to seed your lawn, focusing on healthy, biologically active soil and the right grass seed mixture will be the secret to your success.”

The first place to start may be with a soil test, which analyzes nutrient content and other characteristics to determine if anything is lacking in the ground that would inhibit growth. Fortunately, you have a slew of expert horticulturalists practically in your backyard. The Michigan State University (MSU) Extension offers a home soil test mailer, which can be found at homesoiltest.msu.edu.

Speaking of the services offered by the MSU Extension, Kevin Frank, associate professor with the MSU Department of Plant, Soil and Microbial Sciences, wrote an article specifically about reseeding a lawn for the MSU Extension. In his biography, Frank is listed as a “turf specialist,” which means he knows what he’s talking about when it comes to grass (or maybe “turf specialist” means he’s well-versed in the street territories of the Jets and the Sharks – that’s never really made clear).

“For all reseeding, it is safe to apply fertilizer at the time of seeding,” Frank wrote. “For new establishment, a starter fertilizer is recommended. Starter is a fertilizer that has a nitrogen to phosphorus ratio of 1:1 or 1:1.5. A starter fertilizer application at seeding will prove beneficial in getting the young turf seedlings going.”

Frank recommended keeping the area of reseeding moist through watering and maybe even by using mulch; however, he advised waiting up to 60 days before using herbicides on the lawn to avoid damaging young seedlings.

Follow Frank’s advice and, before you know it, your lawn will be back to its glory, and the only thing greener will be the envy of your neighbors.


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Tags: fertilizer, spring grass

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