Early Onset of Fall Creates Ideal Conditions for Growing Grass & Repairing Lawns

Cooler evening temperatures are already moving into southeastern Wisconsin, threatening an early onset of fall but creating perfect conditions to grow new grass and repair lawns.

The combination of warm, sunny days and cool, moist nights offers an ideal scenario to fill bare spots in lawns, said Todd Ruedt, owner of Grounds Maintenance Services, Brookfield. Proactive seeding and follow-up care can grow new grass that will strengthen before winter and rejuvenate in spring.

"The fall season is hands down the best time to plant during the entire year," Ruedt said. "Homeowners who want to thicken their lawns, or perhaps start new lawns, will not find better conditions to successfully plant and grow new grass."

Growing new grass is a series of steps. Killing off or pulling weeds is the first one. If an herbicide is used, homeowners should wait seven days before seeding.

Pre-seeding preparation is vital. Loosening soil allows new grass roots to penetrate deeper. Topsoil can be added to areas that are low or uneven.

A seed blend of rye, fescue and bluegrass works best, Ruedt said. The mix offers defense against drought and disease. Seed should be distributed based on the recommended spread rate on its packaging. Adding some "sunny" blend seeds in shady areas is advisable because sun conditions change during the year, Ruedt noted. Starter fertilizer can be used in areas where new soil was not added.

Contrary to popular belief, Ruedt said, hay and straw are not good covering for newly-seeded areas. Weed seeds are usually hidden among their thatch. Similarly, the recycled paper products in some prepackaged kits can smother seed. Instead, he recommended a covering material such as Pennmulch or ENCAP, which are available at landscape supply operators.

Depending on weather conditions, daily watering for 20 to 30 minutes will germinate grass seed and get new plants off to a strong start. Watering is best done before 10 a.m. Regular watering should continue until the new plants are well established.

"Growing grass is a step-by-step process requiring both diligence and patience," Ruedt said. "We can't just toss around grass seed and expect it to grow. It's like any other plant that needs preparation and tending. Fortunately, homeowners get a big helping hand from Mother Nature in the fall."

Founded in 1999, Grounds Maintenance Services offers a full range of landscaping and yard maintenance services, plus winter snow management, holiday lighting setup and in-home Christmas tree delivery. Its professional staff prides itself on helping homeowners grow their dreams, one yard at a time.

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