Turf Aeration and Overseeding: Fall Work for the Vermont Lawn
August 7th and almost 8:30 PM and the last of the daylight is fading. The days are getting shorter and fall will soon be here. Not to despair—there a quite a few days of good weather remaining for all of us to enjoy our summertime activities. Now is a great time to improve your lawn. As we head into cooler weather lawns are bouncing back from the summer heat and it is the perfect time for you to seize that momentum and get the lawn setup for better performance through the winter and in seasons to come.
The best way to get the lawn performing in the late summer/early fall is core aeration and overseeding. Core aeration is a process where a machine is run over the lawn and a series of tines poke holes and pull out small cores of soil. Typically these holes are about 2” to 3” deep and are the thickness of an index finger. These channels into the root zone of the lawn allow better air and water penetration to the roots of the plants. Additional air and water helps with the growth of new roots, healthier crowns, and a reduction of thatch due to improved aerobic decomposition. These holes into the soil also allow for more efficient uptake of fertilizer and provide good soil contact for new seed. Late summer and fall is the best time to perform this service—the weather is cooler and the cool season turf that we have in northern Vermont is actively growing. Fall typically brings regular rains as well as heavier morning dew which provides ample water and moisture for optimal germination and establishment. The new grass will have the remainder of the fall and the following spring to establish before it must survive the heat and drought stresses of summer. Seeding rates vary depending on the variety of turf. We suggest a tall fescue blend for Vermont lawns and tall fescue gets overseeded at a rate of ~8 lbs of grass seed per thousand square feet of turf.
Fall is also the best time to fertilize the lawn for cool season turf types. The grass is resuming active growth after some summer dormancy and it is looking to store up nutrients for the winter. Fertilizing now helps restore any summer damaged areas and helps with faster spring green-up. There is a state imposed limit to fertilization and we cannot apply fertilizer after October 15th.
Perennial turf weeds also begin making preparations for winter and begin moving sugars down into their root systems for storage. The last cooler days of the season are ideal for spraying these tough perennial weeds—lawn ivy, dandelions, plantains, and violets and getting complete kill. The same mechanisms that move the sugars down into the roots for storage also move the herbicides completely through the plant providing complete elimination. Spraying these weeds in the spring or summer generally just stunts the weed and allows the weed to make a comeback. Fall is the best time to get control of your lawn weeds with minimal herbicide input.
There is no one “silver bullet” when it comes to developing a healthy, dense turf. Rather it is the consistent practice of solid cultural practices—mowing, trimming, fertilizing, weed control, aeration, and irrigating—that produces excellent results. Our Essex, Vermont based landscaping company seeks to be a one source management solution for all of your landscaping needs. We schedule and coordinate all maintenance services—spring clean-up, fertilization, pre-emergents, mulching, mowing, trimming, gardening, pruning, weed control, and fall clean-ups to deliver you the finest landscape management experience in our market. We would love to talk to you about managing your lawn and landscape. Contact us to schedule a consultation.