Posts

Turf Tips: Lawn Restoration and Weed Prevention

This post was originally published in August 2017.

The summer places some serious strain on our lawns. High temperatures, weeds, and drought conditions can all cause our turf to suffer, losing density, color and health. The end of summer is a great time to start thinking about giving your lawn some restorative care to bring back the green and help it regain density and color. To begin, evaluate your lawn and think about what you would like to accomplish. Do you need to overseed, eliminate weeds, or simply fertilize your lawn? Each of these tasks can be completed in just a few, simple steps as long as we are mindful of the correct time and order in which to begin each process.

Merrifield Grass Seed

Seeding

Does your lawn have bare patches, or do you want to introduce new grass varieties to your existing lawn? If so, September is the ideal time to seed, . Seeding now will give you plenty of time to complete several rounds of fertilization before winter sets in. Before you begin seeding, scrape up bare spots in your lawn and loosen the soil to create good contact between your soil and the grass seed you will be spreading. This is also a great time to mix in some compost if you want to improve your soil. Then, select your grass seed and spread it over the lawn using a drop or rotary spreader. We recommend one of our three Merrifield seed blends, which have been custom-designed to perform well in our local environment.

ISTOCK Lawn Care

Fertilizing

Regardless of whether or not you plan to seed, September is the ideal time to begin your fall lawn fertilization project. We recommend fertilizing every 4-6 weeks, with 2-3 applications before winter. If you are seeding your lawn, fertilize immediately after seeding with Merrifield Select seed starting lawn food for your first application, then follow up every 4-6 weeks with Merrifield Premium Lawn Food. If you are not seeding your lawn, use Merrifield Premium for all fertilizer applications.

Turf Tips and Lawn Care for Green Grass

Eliminating and Preventing Weeds

If weeds are overtaking your lawn, you can focus on killing summer weeds and preventing winter weeds in September. Bayer Advanced Season Long Weed Control will simultaneously kill existing weeds, such as clover and dandelions, while preventing weeds, such as chickweed, bittercress and others from taking over next spring. If you just want to prevent winter weeds, use Fertilome Broadleaf Weed Control with Gallery. You cannot use either of these products if you plan to seed your lawn immediately, as they will prevent your seed from germinating. If you wish to seed your lawn and prevent winter weeds at the same time, you will need to use Scotts Step 1 for Seeding with Weed Preventer. If you wish to seed your lawn and eliminate summer weeds, you will need to apply Trimec Lawn Weed Killer immediately and then wait for the time specified on the product label before you begin your seeding project. Generally, you will need to wait 2-3 weeks. Be sure to carefully follow the instructions on the weed control label to ensure your seed is not damaged.

Determining the Right Restoration Process for Your Lawn

Every lawn is different! If you have questions about the steps you should take to bring out the best in your lawn, we encourage you to come in to visit our turf specialists.

Lawn, Grass, Turf

Spring Lawn Care Checklist

Now is the time to get your lawn in spring shape! The weather is warming up, trees are starting to bloom, and healthy, dark green grass can really contribute to the feeling that spring has arrived. By taking a few steps, anyone can refresh their lawn for a beautiful spring landscape. Before starting your lawn refresh, remember that each one is different and your lawn’s care needs will be unique to the conditions it is under as well as its current state. If you need any assistance deciding which of the steps apply to your lawn, please call one of our experts at the plant clinic or stop by and see us.

Control Winter Weeds

March is the perfect time to control and eliminate any winter weeds that crept into your lawn over the season. Chickweed, bittercress, henbit, deadnettle, clover, dandelion and wild violet are all weeds that may be seen at this time.

Check out our blog post on eliminating winter weeds.

Prevent Summer Weeds

After treating winter weeds, it’s a good idea to pre-treat for summer weeds. Preventing their germination from the beginning will save you a lot of trouble, and help you maintain a weed-free landscape throughout the season. Common summer weeds include crabgrass, goosegrass, foxtail and Japanese stiltgrass. When planning your weed prevention, you will want to take into account whether or not you will be seeding your lawn.

For full information on preventing summer weeds, visit our summer weed prevention blog.

Seed and Fertilize

Take advantage of the spring season to fill in your lawn by overseeding. This is a great opportunity to select new seeds that will work great in your lawn’s conditions. We offer many varieties and are happy to help you select one that will thrive in your landscape. When you are seeding, fertilize your lawn as well with a high phosphorous formula.

For complete steps and our recommended products, check out our seeding and fertilizing blog.

Turf Tips: Seeding & Fertilizing

David Yost, Merrifield Plant Specialist

A thick, healthy, dark green lawn is important to the look of your overall landscape. Colorful annuals, healthy shrubs and stately shade trees are wonderful features, but the overall appearance of your property is often dictated by the lawn. Having a beautiful lawn is not as difficult or time consuming as you might think. Mowing the lawn is the biggest chore, but all the other tasks are rather minimal.

Spring is the ideal time to get started building a healthy lawn. Controlling weeds is the first order of business. Next up is seeding and fertilizing, two simple steps that can be done the same day, and in any order.

Seeding

Seeding gives you the opportunity to introduce new and improved varieties of grass to your lawn. The term “overseeding” simply means applying grass seed “on top of” the existing lawn. New seeds will settle down on the soil surface between existing blades of grass, and from there it will germinate and fill in the lawn.

Although we carry many different types of grass seeds, we recommend our private label options as they are custom blended for the specific conditions in our Northern Virginia area. The varieties in our mixtures were selected because of their superior performance in local and regional turf trials conducted independently by Virginia Tech and the University of Maryland. We have three different blends of grass seed:

Merrifield Tuff Play

  • Our most versatile and popular mixture. Great for high traffic areas as it contains top performing tall fescues with a touch of Kentucky bluegrass.
  • This mix performs well in full sun to 70% shade conditions.
  • It establishes itself quickly, tolerates drought and wear and tear, and is resistant to disease problems.

Merrifield Sunny

  • This blend contains top performing varieties of Kentucky bluegrass and perennial ryegrass for a premium lawn with a rich, dark green color.
  • This mix performs best in full sun to part shade conditions and requires more maintenance and water than the fescue blends.
  • Good traffic tolerance.

Merrifield Shady

  • This mix contains top performing fine-textured fescue, shade tolerant perennial ryegrasses and Kentucky bluegrass.
  • This mix is ideal for use in moderate to heavy shade conditions.
  • It produces a soft, fine-bladed grass that is not quite as traffic tolerant as Merrifield Tuff Play.

If you need assistance selecting the right seed for your lawn, stop by or call the garden center and speak with one of our turf experts.

Before you seed, mow the lawn and rake out any thatch or dead grass. Then you can apply your grass seed with a drop or rotary lawn spreader to ensure proper coverage. If you have any bare spots, you’ll need twice the amount of seed in those areas. Then cover those areas with soil or straw when you are done.

Fertilizing

Fertilizer is very important to the overall health of the lawn. It provides beneficial nutrients necessary for it to perform at its best. At a minimum, fertilizer contains the nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium your lawn needs. Many also contain iron and other micro-nutrients that will help your lawn thrive.

At the time of seeding, we recommend fertilizing with Merrifield Select Lawn Food 14-18-14. This high phosphorous formula will aid in seedling germination and promote strong root growth, which is critical to new seed. In the fall, we recommend following with two applications of Merrifield Premium 26-0-12. After you have seeded and fertilized, be sure to water the lawn thoroughly.

Lawn

Simple Steps to Restore Your Lawn

David Yost, Merrifield Plant Specialist

We spent the summer months combating hot, dry weather and annual weeds that left our lawns thin and patched. Now it is the perfect time to focus on repairing the damage with a combination of overseeding and fertilizing to restore our lawns to a thick carpet of green.

As the fall season approaches, the weather creates optimal growing conditions for cool season grasses. The shorter days and slightly cooler temperature stimulates growth, and more frequent rain helps prevent the seeds from drying out in the heat. But still the soil is warm enough to help the seeds germinate and establish root systems before winter. In our area, prime seeding time is generally from September 1 through October 15 for cool-season grasses.

The good news is that seeding is simple and you make a dramatic improvement to your landscape in a short period of time! It just takes preparation, the right mix of seed and fertilizer, and water to keep your soil moist to the touch.

Preparation is Key

before

Before seeding and fertilizing

When you paint a room in your house, it takes longer to prepare the room than it does to actually paint. The same is true with seeding! The more effort you put into preparing your grass, the better your results will be.

To begin, mow your lawn shorter than usual to about a two-inch cutting height. Then it’s time to rake your soil, remove old debris and dead grass and dethatch, if necessary. At a minimum this can be achieved through vigorous raking. If you have a larger space or access to an aerator, we recommend core aerating the surface to cultivate the ground and open up the turf canopy to increase your soil to seed contact.

Selecting Your Grass Seed

At Merrifield we’ve developed three custom grass seed blends. We’ve mixed them specifically to include varieties that are superior performers in local and regional turf trials conducted independently by Virginia Tech and the University of Maryland. These varieties have been evaluated locally for our conditions and blended for three different environments:

Merrifield Tuff Play

This is our most versatile and popular mixture and contains tall fescues with a touch of Kentucky bluegrass. This mix performs well in conditions with at least four hours of sun to full sun. It establishes itself quickly, tolerates drought, wear and tear, and disease problems for a beautiful, low-maintenance lawn.

Merrifield Shady

This blend contains fine-textured fescues and is ideal for use in moderate to heavy shade conditions. This mix performs well in dry, shady conditions where trees may compete for sun, water and nutrients.

Merrifield Sunny

This blend consists of top performing Kentucky bluegrass and perennial ryegrass, which provide a premium quality lawn with a rich, dark green color. The finer-bladed grasses in this blend perform well in full sun to part shade conditions but do require more maintenance and water than fescue blends.

Our plant specialists can help you find the appropriate grass seed and amount for your lawn based on your conditions and the square footage of your yard.

Apply Your Seed and Starter

Disperse your grass seed uniformly over the soil, either by hand or by using a handheld or push spreader. Turn over a rake and use the back of the tines to gently work the seed into the soil. Be sure to keep your strokes light to avoid redistributing the seed.

Once you’ve dispersed your seed evenly, add a starter fertilizer to promote seed germination. We recommend our Merrifield Select 14-18-14 as it’s high phosphorous level promotes strong root development. It’s also slow release so it won’t burn the new seedlings.

Add Your Top Coat and Water

After Seeding and Fertilizing

After seeding and fertilizing

Top dress your seed and fertilizer with a thin layer of compost. As the compost breaks down, it helps improve the soil structure and keeps the seed moist and protected to promote germination.

When watering seed, our objective is to keep the surface of the soil moist to the touch. This is different from watering an established lawn where we aim to water deeply to develop an established root system. A general guide is to water your new seeds for 10-minutes every day the first week, 10-minutes every-other-day the second week, and 10-minutes every third day the third week. Check the soil daily and adjust your watering schedule according to the weather.

If you prepare and water properly, you can see sprouting with Merrifield Tuff Play within one week and be at mowing time within four weeks!

Fertilize Again

Four to six weeks after your initial application, fertilize your lawn with Merrifield Premium 26-0-12. This fertilizer contains sulfate of potash for drought resistance and turf vigor and long lasting, slow release nitrogen for a thick, healthy lawn. Reapply Merrifield Premium a second time, four to six weeks after the first application. After each application, water within a day to activate the fertilizer.

With any landscape project, exposing your soil can promote weed growth as weeds live within your soil. If you see weed growth following your restoration project, please bring your lawn samples into our Plant Clinic. Our plant specialists can recommend a treatment for your unique lawn conditions.

Portfolio Items