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Thursday, May 5, 2016

Hints for taking care of lawn

Thursday, August 26, 2010

We have all seen them as we drive down the road or even on TV.

Those perfect manicured lawns that must have taken the homeowner hours of work to establish and maintain.

Many of us don't have the time to spend to establish and maintain a dream lawn with no weeds and exactly 3 to 3-and-a-half-inch tall grass with no dry spots.

However, that doesn't mean we can't try to correctly establish our own lawns.

Surprisingly, the very best time to seed your lawn is in late summer around Aug. 15-Sept. 15. You might want to see before Sept. 1, if you want to use bluegrass seed, as it takes a longer time to establish than most other varieties of grass.

Seeding during this time results in less weed pressure than at other times and you might not have to water as frequently had it been in the middle of summer. Unfortunately, that might not be the case this year, if we don't get rain soon.

Before you decide to seed your lawn, have a soil test ran. You can get a soil test bag and instructions on how to obtain a soil sample from the Extension Office.

Soil samples can then be taken to your local Co-ops to be tested. Make sure to tell them at the Co-op that the test is for a yard/garden and not a crop field.

Contrary to what you might be told, you might not need to add lime to your lawn before seeding it. Instead, wait until you find out the results of your soil test before you add it.

The reason for this is because most of central Indiana soils are limestone based. If you find out you have a high pH, you can lower it slightly with the addition of sulfur, but it will take time,

Once you have the soil test results and have added what is needed based on those results, it is time to till your lawn. You should till it to a depth of 4-6-inches. Avoid working the soil when it is wet so that you don't compact it.

If possible, try to add about 2-inches of compost to your soil as you till. While tilling, remove any large stones and debris.

Finally, after you have prepared the soil, you can seed the yard.

A drop seeder will provide the most uniform coverage, while a rotary spreader most likely will end up with streaks of grass in your lawn that are thicker or thinner in areas.

Once you have seeded the lawn, lightly rake the ground using a leaf rake to ensure good seed to soil contact.

You can also use a roller at this time, but only use it with no water in the drum.

No other time is it advised to use a roller as it will cause soil compaction.

Don't forget to irrigate your lawn after you seed it. You may have to irrigate it as much as four times per day depending on available moisture and heat. Remember you want to keep enough moisture in the soil that the top one-half inch is moist to the touch.

For homeowners who want a guide on how to care for their lawns, trees, shrubs and garden flowers, consider purchasing HO-236, "Taking Care Of Your Yard."

It is a new Purdue Extension publication that was released in June. If you would like to obtain a copy, please let the extension office know and we can order one for you.

This publication costs $8 (plus shipping and handling).

If you are unable to seed during the late summer, then the next best alternative is after the ground has cooled enough to halt germination.

At that time, you can use dormant seeding by spreading the seed on the soil surface and letting the freezing and thawing action work the seed into the soil.

However, if you choose to seed your lawn in November or December, use a silt seeder. You should only use a silt seeder if the soil is dry. At this time, aerate your soil and then seed it.

Caring for your lawn is something that many individuals love to do. However, it can be very frustrating when you're not sure how to handle the situation you are dealt due to the weather, insect pests, or many of the other things that aren't within your control.

For help with any agriculture, horticulture or natural resource topic, please contact your local Purdue Extension Office at 448-9041 in Clay County or 812-829-5020 in Owen County or reach me directly at smith535@purdue.edu.

Purdue University is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative action institution.

Upcoming opportunities available to you through Purdue Extension include:

* Sept. 6 -- Holiday, Extension Office closed,

* Sept. 8 -- Venison Workshop, 6-9 p.m., Parke County Fairgrounds. Cost is $15. RSVP by calling 1-765-569-3176,

* Sept. 9 -- Local Food Fair, Wabash Valley Fairgrounds, 5-7 p.m.,

* Sept. 9 -- Venison Workshop, 6-9 p.m., Morgan County Fairgrounds. Cost is $15. RSVP by calling 1-765-342-1010, and

* Sept. 11 -- Nature Day, Clay County Fairgrounds, 9 a.m.-noon. Free Raptor presentation at 11 a.m.