It's time for lawn renovation

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By Dennis Morgeson

September is approaching quickly, and that means it is time to do lawn renovation! If you have a large patch of Bermuda grass you would like to get rid of, or some Johnson grass, now is the time to spray that with a broad spectrum herbicide that contains glyphosate.  This is the active ingredient in a very popular weed killer that you can generally “roundup” at most lawn and garden centers.  This will generally work fairly quickly this time of year and you have time to give a couple applications before mid September and prime grass sowing time.  Now is also a good time for general lawn maintenance and renovation.
The first step in lawn renovation is to have a soil test done; it can save you time and money in the future. If you are totally renovating a lawn go ahead and put the recommended amount of lime and fertilizer on before sowing.  Otherwise, wait until November or December to fertilize, you can add lime anytime.
If over one third of your lawn is dead or if filled with weeds it is best to kill the existing lawn, till it, rake the debris off, apply the recommended lime and fertilizer, smooth it into a good seed bed and sow a new lawn.  You should broadcast seed in one direction and then broadcast across the same area at a ninety degree angle.  This will insure good seed coverage.
After sowing firm the seed into the area with a roller or other object.  You can also rake the seed in very lightly; don’t cover the seed with soil completely because it needs light to germinate.  Apply a light covering of clean straw over the area to conserve moisture, and to help keep the soil from being disturbed.  The straw will also help keep the birds from finding your seeds and will warn people not to walk on the area.  Remember to keep the newly seeded area evenly moist for several weeks to allow the turf to get a good start.  After germination grass needs at least 1 inch of water per week.
Bare spots in your lawn can be treated in similar ways to the before mentioned recommendations.  Many people only want to thicken their existing lawn.  Simply broadcast seed over your lawn, rake the area to help the seed come into contact with the soil and hope for the best.  Don’t mow the area for a few weeks to allow the seed to germinate and become established.  Mowing too soon will scatter your seeds and may blow them into areas where you may not want turf such as flower and landscape beds.
September is also a good time to control broadleaf weeds such as dandelion, plantain, chickweeds, henbit, and clover (I like the clover so I rarely apply herbicides to my lawn).  Don’t apply herbicides to newly seeded areas, it will kill or significantly stunt your new turf.  In early to mid September you can apply a pre-emergent to keep annual broadleaves such as henbit and plantain from germinating or you can wait until they have sprouted and apply a herbicide containing 2-4D to control all the broadleaves at once.  A combination pre-emergent application and a 2-4D application will give you the best control however.  Again if you are sowing grass seed this fall avoid the pre-emergent and 2-4D applications until spring.
Thursday evening at the Washington County Extension Office I am having a class on Edible Landscaping at 6 p.m.  This is a Wheelbarrow Series Class and is free to anyone that has already attended classes this year.  It is only $5, if you want to come and haven’t preregistered.  This meeting will also serve as the Washington County Garden Club’s August meeting and all are welcome to attend.  Call me at (859) 336-7741 if you have any horticulture related questions.