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September is optimum time to start lawn seeding


Robert E. Thomas
Information Specialist
University of Missouri Cooperative Media Group
Phone: 573-882-2480

Published: Friday, Sept. 5, 2008

Story source:

Brad S. Fresenburg, 573-268-2545

COLUMBIA, Mo. - The kickoff of the football season is a good time of year to establish cool-season turfgrasses that may have been weakened by summer's heat and humidity, said a University of Missouri turfgrass researcher.

"Many lawns may appear thinned out indicating a need for some fall renovation or overseeding," said Brad Fresenburg.

Start with a soil test to determine nutrient needs and pH. A pH range of 6.5 to 6.8 is excellent for turf establishment.

Select turfgrass species and varieties that will grow best in Missouri. Good choices include blends of Kentucky bluegrasses, turf-type tall fescues or mixtures such as 90 percent fescue and 10 percent bluegrass.

Mixtures with perennial rye grass should not exceed 20 percent. Garden center and lawn crew experts can provide good advice.

Remove any debris such as rocks and make sure the grade or slope of your landscape is adequate for good surface drainage.

Site preparation also may include broadleaf weed control if infestations are high. Trimec and Weed-B-Gone (2,4-D + MCPP + dicamba) are excellent over-the-counter broadleaf control products, he said. If you are controlling perennial broadleaf weeds prior to seeding, wait three to four weeks between spraying and applying seed.

Good seed/soil contact improves seed germination. The best planting method is with a slit seeder, which plants seed about one-quarter of an inch into the soil. Power rakes and vertical mowers also can assure good seed/soil contact. Such equipment often can be rented at local hardware stores.

Kentucky bluegrass should be seeded about 2 to 3 pounds per 1,000 square feet. Turf-type tall fescues can be seeded at 6 to 7 pounds per 1,000 square feet. Mixtures of the two should be seeded at 6 to 9 pounds per 1,000 square feet.

The final step is proper watering. Cover the area with straw to prevent soil erosion. Until the seeds germinate and start to put down roots, they can easily be washed away, Fresenburg said.

The first two weeks following seeding are the most critical. Keep the soil surface moist but not wet. Don't let the seed dry out once it starts to germinate.