Volume 13, Issue 36 ~ September 9 - 14, 2005
Dr. Gouin's Bay Gardener

Sow a New Spring Lawn Now

But it’s a job to make it grow
For a weed-free lawn next spring, now is the time to renovate the lawn and spread grass seed. However, a healthy lawn depends on sowing seeds on a well-prepared seedbed. Thick and healthy lawns flourish in a soil pH near 6.5, with good drainage, a minimum of three percent organic matter and medium to high nutrient concentration.

How to get these ideal conditions?

Take five to 10 samples from your lawn and send a cupful of dried soil to a reputable laboratory such as A&L Eastern Agricultural Lab in Richmond (www.al-labs-eastern.com). They will provide you with recommendations you need for your lawn.

Incorporating lime, fertilizers and compost helps establish a new lawn or restore large areas. But loosened soils will settle, so you must firm the soil and rake it smooth prior to seeding. Walking over the freshly loosened soil will provide sufficient compaction.

After seeding, rake the seed into the soil lightly and cover with a one-inch layer of clean straw or a single layer of cheese cloth to shade the seed lightly and to minimize drying out. After the straw or cheese cloth has been applied, water thoroughly two to three times daily until the grass seeds germinate. Once the grass has started to grow, reduce frequency of irrigation to alternate days for at least two weeks; then water weekly. Until the grass has become well established, it should be irrigated with a minimum of one inch of water per week.

Q I read your articles in Bay Weekly with much interest.

Your mention of Bt in the July 14-20 issue (Vol. xiii, No. 28] reminded me of a question. Can [the naturally occurring insecticide] Bt be stored for an extended period of time? I bought some last summer, which I am still using. It has been stored at a constant 65 degrees in a rather dry environment in my basement.

—Tom Heath

A Bt’s bacterial activity will generally last about one growing season once the container is open. It will store for a couple of years unopened.

Ask Dr. Gouin your questions at frgouin@erols.com. All questions will appear in Bay Weekly. Please include your name and address
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