AUTUMNAL EQUINOX – SEPTEMBER 22, 2013
In the northern hemisphere the autumnal equinox marks the beginning of fall. This year’s September equinox falls on the 22nd. We welcome fall for a variety of reasons in Gastonia, NC – vibrant fall foliage, a visit to the North Carolina mountains for breathtaking scenery, the harvest of locally grown apples, and decorating with pumpkins. Summer is gone and left behind are later sunrises and earlier sunsets. The shorter days are bringing cooler weather. Birds and butterflies will migrate south to follow the path of the sun.
Fall is the perfect time to rejuvenate our favorite cool season grass - tall fescue. Fescue is the grass of choice for most homeowners in the piedmont of NC if you want a green lawn year-round. Our annual turf renewal strategy includes the following steps during the month of September: core aeration, fescue overseed, fertilization, and lime. We prioritize customers with “heavy leaf drop” or “shady” lawns to the first half of September. Full sun lawns are scheduled for the second half of September. Because it takes up to 2 weeks for seed germination, we don’t want the leaf cover to take away the sunlight needed for fragile seedlings to thrive. A popular misconception is that lawns should be rejuvenated in October – for most lawns, that’s too late for the process! Timing is everything.
PULLING THE PLUGS: BENEFITS OF CORE AERATION
Our native red clay soil that is so predominant in the piedmont gets easily compacted. When the top 4 inches of the soil become compressed, this impedes the movement of air, water, and nutrients to the grass roots. This stresses the grass and impairs competition against weeds. Aeration is the process of mechanically removing small plugs of thatch and soil from the lawn.
Benefits of core aeration:
* Loosens compacted soil and increases the availability of water and nutrients.
* Enhances oxygen levels in the soil and stimulates root growth.
* Reduces water runoff.
* Increases the lawn's drought tolerance and improves its overall health.
At Morrison Lawn & Landscape, the aeration equipment we own are Ryan Lawnaire® walk-behind aerators. Their performance provides a deep tine penetration to pull plugs.
We typically overseed with a tall fescue blend at a rate of 5 lbs./1,000 ft2 (barren lawns and new installs are sewn at a rate of 10 lbs./1,000 ft2). The premium seed we use is a certified blend that is weed-free from Oregon State University. This year’s mixture contains the following varieties:
* Falcon V tall fescue
* Scorpion II tall fescue
* Gold medallion tall fescue
For lawns that contain a large amount of bermuda grass, we offer an option for a blend of perennial rye seed and tall fescue seed. Because bermuda grass doesn’t “green up” until the weather “heats up”, the perennial rye provides an excellent green color during the cooler months.
Starter fertilizer is the product to use when overseeding in the fall. Starter fertilizer has a higher middle number (phosphorus content). Phosphorus helps to aid in more vigorous rooting and sets the grass up for a healthy start in the spring. The starter fertilizer we use is a ratio of 14% (Nitrogen) – 20% (Phosphorus) – 4% (Potassium). Starter fertilizer is applied at a rate of 5 lbs./1,000 ft2.
Most soils in North Carolina are acidic and require the application of lime to neutralize the pH. The presence of moss is an indicator that the soil’s pH is too low. Gone are the days of the drop spreader with white pulverized lime powder! Newer, fast-acting, pelletized products that only require ¼ of the application compared to lime have been available for over a decade. The product we use is Cal-Turf Pro™ - it’s a pelletized calcium limestone, and is applied at a rate of 5 lbs./1,000 ft2. An additional benefit to this product is that it increases the effectiveness of the starter fertilizer.
With a combination of good lawn care practices and careful timing of the best equipment and products available, Morrison Lawn & Landscape can help you achieve successful results. If you have interest for us to visit your Gastonia, NC property for a free consultation for lawn service, contact us today at (704) 813-2545. Click here to contact us via email.