Along the Fencerow

For the last week of August, it was sure pleasant running in the country before work.

The fall season is upon us, and for some it is a terrific time of year.

It is also a time homeowners ask questions about their lawns after going through a tough summer.

There are several approaches to use. For established lawns that are thin due to dry conditions, overseeding now and adding fertilizer may be the simple solution.

Prior to fertilizing, however, homeowners should take a soil sample to see what the soil nutrient levels are this fall.

Overseeding should be done at about four pounds per 1,000 square feet. One recommendation is to use a vertiseeder that slices grooves in the soil and drops the seed. Be sure to go one direction, dropping half the seeding rate, then travel perpendicular, dropping the other half leaving a cross-hatching effect.

In some instances, more extensive work must be done as weeds have taken over the yard. Killing off the grass and weeds may be the best approach. Allow 10 days to two weeks for certain weed-killing products to work.

Prior to overseeding, be sure to lower the mower deck to “scalp” the area to be renovated. Do the same approach with the exception of the seeding rate.

Homeowners will have to use at least eight pounds of seed per 1,000 square feet instead of four.

A word to the wise: If your problem is Bermuda grass, more than likely it will take two to three times as much spraying and spot spraying to get most of it. The root structure on established Bermuda is tremendous.

Another scenario would be a complete renovation project. You may have completed a remodeling project, you may have drainage problems from years of dirt settling or a major landscape project is at hand.

In these cases, starting from scratch may be the way to go. More equipment will be involved to till up the yard; remove the debris; bring in good soil and compost for improving nutrient retention, root development; and water infiltration, grading and leveling; and finally seeding the yard.

In all cases, watering frequently and often is essential for the best results. My rule of thumb: Don’t soak the soil, just keep the top black for the first two weeks.

All of these assumptions are for planting cool-season grasses. In our area, a fescue blend is the most popular. K-31 is adequate for locations were there is limited watering or open spaces. Be sure to look at the tag for contents in the bag, and avoid anything with noxious weeds on the label.

What I’ve described sounds fairly simple, but there are cases where it can be extremely labor intensive.

Bradley Goering can be reached by telephone at 620-327-4941, or by e-mail at

More from article archives
Heyen takes 2nd in piano contest
ORIGINALLY WRITTEN Benjamin Heyen, junior at Hillsboro High School, took second place...
Read More