Organic options for fall lawn improvements
Fall is here and many people don’t realize it is the best time to make lawn improvements. The soil is still warm from the summer’s heat, the nights are cool, and scorching hot days have passed. The fall is the best time to make improvements to your existing lawn or completely start from scratch. Both these results can be acheived 100% organically without having to compete with the weeds that are prevalent in the spring.
In terms of renovating an existing lawn which is less than 50% weeds, power seeding, aka slice seeding, is the process of mechanically cutting shallow vertical slits into the soil and dropping seed into the lines created from this machine. This process encourages much higher seed-to-soil contact than other methods which creates the highest germination rates and the best results. Power seeding naturally controls unwanted weeds by crowding them out with desirable grasses.
Core aeration is the process of mechanically punching many holes in the existing lawn and pulling out plugs. There are many benefits to this procedure. By allowing the cores to break down on the surface of the lawn, it helps to reduce thatch build up. The process also alleviates soil compaction which makes it easier for roots to penetrate the soil. Lastly, aerating your lawn also allows water and fertilizer to more effectively reach the root zone and feed the soil.
By combining slice seeding with core aeration, the seed-to-soil contact is even greater than slice seeding alone and creates the best results you can achieve without a full lawn installation.
If a new lawn is installed or an existing lawn is more than 50% weeds, one may opt for a complete lawn overhaul or “installation.” The best approach we have found is a combination of topdressing and hydroseeding.
Top dressing is the process of spreading a thin layer of compost over the entire lawn. Compost provides a natural and sustainable source of soil fertility, diminishing or eliminating a soil’s requirements for artificial fertilizer. Composting increases the biological and chemical soil composition because it carries many beneficial microorganisms not found in chemical fertilizers. This increases earthworm populations, and helps the lawn withstand extremes of weather by increasing the organic matter, drainage and aeration of soil.
Hydroseeding is the process of spraying a mulch/seed/fertilizer mixture onto a prepared seed bed. Hydroseeding generally has better results than conventional seeding because the seed stays moist and the green “mulch” gives the seed an ideal home to germinate. Additionally, the seed tends to stay in place and not wash out like can happen with conventional seeding since the mixture has a glue-like texture.
By combining this extremely rich compost seed bed with hydroseeding, sod-like results are quickly achieved at a fraction of the cost.
Whether it be improving your existing lawn with a lawn renovation, or starting from scratch with a new lawn installation, fall is the best time to achieve the best results organically by combinations of slice seeding, aerating, topdressing, and hydroseeding.