lawns, and Master Gardener training opens
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Fulton, U of I Extension
[SEPT. 5, 2006]
As mentioned before in a
column, we have hit the prime time for fall lawn care. For the
next week, we have the optimum time frame for seeding lawns,
dethatching lawns and doing core aeration. Weather conditions are
such that grass can grow or recover sufficiently to re-establish
before the bulk of winter bears down on us.
The first step is to decide if you need to overseed or start
from scratch. Overseeding requires about half the amount of seed
and is generally to fill in for some thin spots. If you have
nothing growing, you probably need to do some tilling to get the
ground in good shape. For overseeding, the recommended seeding
rate is 2 pounds of total seed for 1,000 square feet of area.
For worked areas, double it to 4 pounds per 1,000 square feet.
As for the type of grass seed, generally a blend of species is
preferred. One of the most common blends has about half Kentucky
bluegrass and the other half a fine fescue, such as red or
chewings. The other blend has the bluegrass and fescue but also
has some perennial ryegrass in it.
Blends help with different growing conditions, such as shade,
and with insect and disease problems. Not necessarily that you
won't get problems, but there will be something green growing in
the lawn after the problem has run its course. It's hard to beat
bluegrass for color and appeal, if the conditions are just
right. The fine fescues will perform much better in
well-drained, shady areas. The perennial ryegrass germinates
quickly to provide quick cover. If you have a damp, shady area,
the best-performing grasses are usually called weeds. Annual
bluegrass is an example of this group. It needs to come up every
year from seed and doesn't provide for a very attractive lawn.
You're really better off to work on the drainage in this case.
Power dethatching is recommended as thatch layers approach
half an inch. These thatch layers keep the humidity high in the
lawn area and provide a growing medium for diseases to get
started. Leaving excess clippings on a lawn can lead to excess
thatch. So can catching clippings. Microbes, which break
clippings down, need to have some clippings to keep microbe
populations high enough to digest clippings. If you power
dethatch, just make sure you have a place to go with the dead
stuff. You can easily fill dump trucks with the thatch.
[to top of second column]
Core aeration is recommended to keep thatch from accumulating and
to help in compacted areas. It actually removes a core of soil and
puts it up on top of the lawn. Kind of like goose droppings. It
isn't recommended to use the other type of dethatcher, since all it
does is compact the soil to leave an impression in the middle.
Logan County Master Gardener training
Gardener training will be offered this fall from 9 a.m. until 4
p.m. on Wednesdays at the Logan County Extension office. Sessions
will start Sept. 20 and run through November, except that there will
be no session on Oct. 11 because of the annual Extension conference.
We will need to have about 20 participants in order to offer the
The fundamentals of the program are:
There are 10 training
sessions required to become a Master Gardener trainee.
There is a $60 fee
for the manual(s) for the program. (This cost is after part of
the fee is underwritten by the Logan County Master Gardeners.)
In return for the
training, you agree to volunteer service hours to the program --
60 hours over the next two years. Don't worry, there are plenty
of opportunities for hours, and there is flexibility in the
We need to have the
signed agreements returned with your check, made payable to U of
I, by Sept. 15.
Contact the office at 732-8289 for a copy of the agreement, or
you can stop by at 980 N. Postville Drive. We're sorry there isn't
an evening option, but due to the number of training hours and the
traveling the instructors need to do, it would take most of a year
to go one night a week.
Fulton, unit leader,
University of Illinois Extension,
Logan County Unit]