Q. It looks as if part of my lawn is not going to recover from the summers heat and drought. What can I do to renovate my lawn?
A. Unfortunately, lawns in urban areas may undergo more stress than their counterparts in rural communities. Cities often become heat islands because of all the asphalt and concrete that are just a part of the city.
Pollution and poor soils also make it tough for the average lawn. Runoff is also an issue in urban areas; the water table lowers quickly, and takes time to replenish.
Regardless of the reason, lawns in Fort Wayne generally can last about three to four weeks without water during a severe drought – maybe less – before damage and death occur.
Sloped or severely compacted areas are especially vulnerable. In general, it takes about a half-inch of water weekly to keep a lawn alive (not healthy) during severe drought periods. Most summers we receive enough precipitation to keep lawns reasonably healthy. This year, we did not.
Fall is the best time to establish or renovate a lawn. The key is to wait until a trend of cooler moister weather occurs. This usually happens in September.
If one waits too long – like long past early October – the newly established lawn might take a beating from a hard frost or freeze.
Slit seeding is a good way to renovate a lawn. One can rent these machines at hardware stores and rental supply companies. The machine cuts a groove into the lawn, and seed is dropped into the groove.
Its best to travel at least in two directions (perpendicular to each other) when using the seeder.
Do yourself a favor and use a premium blend of three kinds of Kentucky bluegrass (at least 65 percent) and two kinds of perennial ryegrass.
The beauty of the slit seeder is that one can renovate a lawn that has thin and bare areas at the same time.
One can also core aerate the damaged areas and broadcast or slit seed after aeration. Use peat moss or quality compost to add organic matter to the soil by raking those materials into the aeration holes.
Core aerators can also be rented.
Residents can also just rake off all the dead stuff and broadcast the seed over the area – pressing the seed lightly into the ground. Make sure to use clean straw over bare areas after seeding. You can also hire a lawn professional to do all this work for you.
Whatever method is used, it is vital to spritz the area with water to keep the upper quarter-inch moist during dry periods.
Wait at least six weeks before applying fertilizer or weed killer to the areas.