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Re-Seeding or Sodding the Lawn

Weak patches in your lawn will become apparent after a stressful summer. Whether the injury has been caused by insects, weeds, drought or poor soil, fall is the ideal time to repair the damage. Re-seeding or sodding patches or the entire lawn can be successfully achieved prior to the winter.

Sodding is often the preferred method of replacing a damaged lawn because the effects are immediate and establishment is quicker. On the negative side, sodding is more expensive and your selection is generally limited to Kentucky Bluegrass. Kentucky Bluegrass has excellent characteristics for a home lawn, but there are situations, such as in shade, where it does not thrive.

Seeding is the method I prefer because of the greater variety of grasses to chose from to suit the various conditions in the garden. There is also no danger of introducing diseases or insects which may be contained in the sod. In the fall, the soil is warm and rain is frequent, making conditions ideal for seed establishment. At your garden centre you will find grass seed mixtures prepared and packaged for you. These packages should indicate the contents in terms of percentages of grass types. For example, 40% Kentucky Bluegrass, 40% Creeping Red Fescue, 20% Perennial Ryegrass. Many garden centres will be set up such that you can custom mix your own grass seed. By choosing the grasses which are best suited for your property, the lawn will be much more successful in the long term.

Kentucky Bluegrass, Creeping Red Fescue and Perennial Ryegrass are the three main grasses used for home lawns. They look similar, blend well together and survive well under the mowing and use patterns of home lawns. Their preferred growing conditions, however are quite different.

Kentucky Bluegrass prefers full sun, relatively high nitrogen (3-4lb /1000sqft per year), adequate moisture and a mowing height of 2.5-3 inches. Creeping Red Fescue is a thin bladed grass which prefers shady conditions. It has lower yearly nitrogen requirements, withstands low moisture conditions and higher mowing heights. Overall, creeping red fescue is a lower maintenance grass but does not provide the emerald green lawn which is so desirable to many home owners. A combination of these two grasses will provide complete coverage of a sun/shade property since each grass will grow in its preferred condition.

Perennial ryegrass is often called a "nurse" grass because it germinates quickly (5-7 days versus 2 weeks for other grasses), prevents soil erosion and helps the other grasses become established. It is often sold as "Fast Grass" or under similar names. It grows in clumps, is fairly prone to disease or high temperature injury and is not particularly winter hardy. It has a dark green colour, is very wear tolerant and will survive better than Kentucky bluegrass under high salt conditions. Its use is generally limited to 20% of grass seed mixtures primarily to help with establishment.

Once you have selected the seed mixture, you need to prepare the soil. Remove any existing vegetation by spraying, physically removing it or suffocating with black plastic or straw. Add any soil amendments which are required, as determined by a soil test. (Your garden centre may offer this service.) Extra potassium, limestone or organic matter are easier and more uniformly incorporated prior to turf cover than afterwards. Remove any large stones and rake the soil level. Spread a starter fertilizer, such as 18-24-12, just prior to spreading the seed. Using a leaf rake, gently scuff the surface to cover the seed with soil. Seed-to-soil contact is the most important thing. Water the new seed initially and provide water for 30 minutes every 3 days if natural rainfall does not occur.

The first grass, perennial ryegrass, will emerge within 5-7 days with the remainder following within the next two weeks. The grass can be mowed for the first time after 4-6 weeks. After that, follow regular maintenance practices and enjoy the new lawn.

Daisy Moore, 1998.




Other autumn garden tips:

(click on the tip you want to read)


Fall Perennials
Planning New Beds for Fall Planting
The Garden in Transition
Dividing and Transplanting Perennials
The Dos and Don'ts of Staking Trees
Re-Seeding or Sodding the Lawn
Bulbs: Always Worth the Effort
Fertilizing the Lawn in Late Summer or Early Fall
Preparing the Vegetable Garden for Next Year
Growing Garlic ...For Food or Ornament
Priorities for Fall Gardening
Preparing the Garden for Winter





Home  |  Garden designs  |  Naturalized gardening  |  Help with your garden  |  Garden Tips Spring  Summer  Fall  | Contact Daisy


Daisy Moore 2006