Are you parched? Your grass might be looking pretty dry but watering it now would be an exercise in futility. Grass naturally goes dormant in the summer due to heat and stress (and in the winter due to cold temperatures). If your grass is looking a little brown, it would be best to leave it be until it rains or the temperatures begin to cool down. If you are nervous about losing your lawn, ¼ inch of water every 2-3 weeks should allow the plant to maintain its energy stores. Hold off on applying any nitrogen-based fertilizers. Applying fertilizers now will stress the plants as they try to respond to the nutrients during this heat and drought.
As we approach late summer, temperatures will start to cool (I promise!) and we enter a season that is great for restoring soil chemistry and reseeding a patchy lawn. Reseeding is always a good idea as new grass plants can restore a lawn and help your lawn respond to any changes in sun and shade (have you lost any branches or trees lately?). Choose a grass seed blend for shade or sun based on the characteristics of your property.
Before starting to reseed, consider getting a soil test (if you haven’t already). If you need to raise your pH levels, you could apply lime before reseeding and if you have your soil test results, you can see what your calcium and magnesium levels are. If your calcium levels are low, buy calcitic lime and if your magnesium is low, buy dolomitic lime. Generally, you can apply maximum of 50 lbs of lime per 1,000 square foot of lawn area to raise your pH levels. Lime can be reapplied every 100 days.
Once you have your seed blend and some compost for topdressing, you are ready to reseed your lawn. Here are the steps:
- Rake the patchy areas of your yard and remove any dead material and thatch.
- Apply a thin layer of compost and then sprinkle seeds on top.
- Apply another thin layer of compost on top of the seeds and tamp down with your foot.Spread any remaining compost over your lawn. Topdressing with compost at ¾ inch depth can increase organic matter in your soil, improve its ability to hold water, and add vital microorganisms.
- Water daily until the seeds start to germinate, and then carefully monitor and keep the soil moist until the grass plants look healthy.A great time to plan for reseeding is when the forecast looks like light rain or cloudy for a number of days. Grasses can take 5-15 days to germinate depending on the species.