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Fertilize for the Lawn of Your Dreams

Make the neighbors wonder how you do it!

Keep up with the Joneses no more! Your lawn can look "professionally kept" without your checkbook looking like you professionally keep it. The importance of proper fertilization is paramount, and fortunately we have some advice to offer. Knowing that a good, healthy lawn will take time and effort, it's a snap to maintain once you have it established.

Your first step is to strip your lawn of any dead grass and debris. This can be done with a leaf rake or by renting a power rake if you have a rather large yard. When you're done with this step, your shoulders will ache and your lawn will actually look worse, but that's fine - it's all part of the plan.

You'll need to pick up some grass seed, which will be spread over the entire lawn. Ace carries several 99% weed-free seed blends. Choose the best one for your yard based on how much light your lawn gets, the climate of your region, how much traffic the lawn will receive, etc. The helpful folks at your local Ace Hardware can help you determine what seed is for you. If you want a little help determining just how much you need, look for the "Grass Seed Calculator" in the Project How-To's section.

Most of this project will require the use of a spreader. There are two types of spreaders: broadcast spreaders (such as Ace no. 7083751), which throw or "broadcast" (hence the name) the hopper contents in a pre-determined radius, and drop spreaders (such as Ace no. 7089337), which literally drop hopper contents the width of the hopper based on the where you walk (for example, a 20-inch drop spreader will drop a 20-inch wide path). You generally have more control of where the contents goes when using a drop spreader, but for covering rather large areas, a broadcast spreader makes the most sense, as many models can throw contents up to eight feet.

Using a spreader, cover the thinned-out lawn with the seed mix you chose. Once the seed is down, use the spreader to cover the seed with Ace's "Green Turf" lawn fertilizer (Ace no. 7014608) or Scott's "Lawn Pro" (Ace no. 75083). Both of these items can be used when overseeding. After the fertilizer has been spread, covering the lawn with peat moss will keep the seed moist when you water it and also keep the birds from eating all the seed. The peat moss can be spread by hand or using the spreader, provided you break the clumps up by hand into a fine, spreadable consistency.

You'll want to water the lawn regularly to achieve about an inch of water saturation. Deep, infrequent waterings are much more effective than short, daily efforts, as generally the roots of weeds grow only in the first two to three inches of soil. Therefore, the deeper the water soaks into the lawn, the more it will be going to the direct benefit of your grass versus the weeds.

Within about two weeks, you'll begin to see the new grass coming up. You'll also see some bare spots, which you'll want to add seed to by hand and cover with some peat moss to fill in. After about a month it will be safe to mow the lawn. Set your mower to a higher setting, leaving about 2 to 3-inches of blade height on the grass. After this initial cut, you can go back to your usual mowing height.

For fertilization, follow this schedule:

  • Step One: February-April - crabgrass preventer (Ace no. 7014665)
  • Step Two: April-June - weed and feed (Ace no. 7014632)
  • Step Three: June-August - lawn food (Ace no. 7014608)
  • Step Four: October-November - winterizer (Ace no. 7014681)

Follow these steps for the greenest lawn you've ever had. If you have additional questions about lawn care, ask the helpful folks at your neighborhood Ace Hardware store or feel free to e-mail me at asklou@acehardware.com.

Take care,

-Lou

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