Calendar | Logan County Extension Unit | Ag News Elsewhere (fresh daily from the Web)

Fall lawns, and Master Gardener training opens          Send a link to a friend

By John 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

Master 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 training.

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 schedule.

  • 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.

[John Fulton, unit leader, University of Illinois Extension, Logan County Unit]


< Recent articles

Back to top


News | Sports | Business | Rural Review | Teaching & Learning | Home and Family | Tourism | Obituaries

Community | Perspectives | Law & Courts | Leisure Time | Spiritual Life | Health & Fitness | Teen Scene
Calendar | Letters to the Editor