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Fall is the true growing season for cool-season lawns, so it is the best time to renovate and seed. Cool-season lawns seeded in the spring don’t last through the summer because their roots don’t have a chance to grow deep into the soil before hot weather arrives.
NCSU helps you select the right type of grass for your situation.
- Germination normally occurs in 10–21 days.
- Before seeding, aerate (core) your lawn to reduce soil compaction and control heavy weed populations.
Labor Day is a good time to fertilize and lime cool-season lawns (fescue, bluegrass) according to soil test results. If you don’t test, apply 12-4-8 or 16-4-8 at a rate of 1 lb nitrogen per 1000 square feet.
Do not fertilize zoysia, but Bermuda may benefit from a ‘winterizer’ fertilizer (low nitrogen, high potassium) applied in mid-late September.
Water established lawns as they begin growing again.
Aerate cool-season lawns (fescue, Kentucky bluegrass) to loosen the soil and improve water and air infiltration.
- Use a device that removes soil cores. Chop up the cores, and, if possible, distribute them by dragging with a span of chain-link fence or a mat.
- Core when the lawn is actively growing so that it can recover from any injury. Moistening the soil the day before makes the job easier and more effective.
Overseed thin, bare areas as weather cools.
- Use a blend of turf-type tall fescues at 6 lbs of seed per 1000 sq feet.
- Apply a starter-type (high phosphorus) fertilizer.
- Keep the seedbed moist with light watering several times daily. Do not let the seedlings dry out.
This is the best month to apply a pre-emergent to suppress winter annual weeds.