The fall months are the perfect time for seeding a lawn, due to the low air temperature but warm soil. That said, there are a few best practices to keep in mind when seeding your lawn for the winter. There are several ways to approach seeding depending on how big and how thin the areas are that need to be seeded, but there are three very important rules to follow no matter what kind of seeding you need.
Seeding your lawn during the fall gives the grass seed the chance it needs to germinate and establish itself before the hard winter months, where grass generally does not grow. This means that the grass will have two full chances to get maximum growth, fall and the following spring, before summer weather takes hold again. Fall is the preferred time to plant grass seed over spring, because spring weather can leave grass seeds struggling to germinate among soil that is too cold and wet for optimal plant growth.
Seed must be able to put roots directly in the soil when it germinates or it will not survive long. Opening the soil makes all the difference between the success and failure of a lot of seed. There are a few common methods of opening the soil for new seed:
Aerating your lawn by hand can be accomplished with a wide variety of tools to make the job easier. You could use tools such as a manual spike aerator or a manual core aerator, which are long tools with a handle on one end and spikes or hollow, sharp cylinders on the other. Push the sharp end into the ground to perforate and aerate the soil. A common variant of the manual spike aerator is the "shoe aerator," which fits a plate of spikes to the bottoms of your shoes. These tools, though convenient, are not recommended as they do not provide the same leverage as a manual spike aerator, they may actually further compact your soil, and they can lead to dangerous trip hazards.
Core aeration relies on similar hollow, sharp cylinders to the manual core aerator, but is backed up by the power of an electric or gas motor. These machines can quickly remove a large number of soil plugs, allowing for looser soil and reducing soil compaction. These machines are self-propelling, and are guided by an operator.
Slice seeding can be a useful solution when a yard is in need of a lot of TLC. Due to the intensity of this method, not everyone will benefit from slice seeding, but it is a highly effective way of promoting seed-to-soil contact. As a result, it's best to leave slice seeding for situations where a lawn may need to be rejuvenated, not one where a lawn needs light treatment..
Slice seeding works by feeding seeds into a slice seeder, which is pushed along your yard. As the machine works, it creates slices in the soil into which seeds are deposited, and then worked into the soil by the machine. This method is highly effective at promoting fast, thorough grass growth when it is needed.
Before and after germination, your new seed needs a nearly constant supply of moisture. It's not necessary to water a long time in each spot but do keep the growing zone of the new grass moist with daily or nearly daily watering. Keep an eye on the moisture to ensure that the grass is not retaining too much moisture, which could lead to the growth of fungus.
If you have other questions about preparing your lawn for the fall months, please feel free to drop us a line!