I plagiarized this from the Albuquerque Journal. I have been reading about overseeding my Tall Fescue lawn to get it healthy for next pring and, serendipitously, I came across this little nugget. So germane! Anyway, many of us have fescue lawns, but I will bet that not many of us realize how important overseeding is, and the proper time to do it. It was a surprise to me that most experts recommend overseeding every 3-4 years. The plants actually get old and don’t look as green and grow as as lush as young plants. Who knew? Here is some expert advice on the subject. Enjoy!
Autumn offers another chance at a flourishing lawn, if you play your seeds and fertilizer just right
Cool season grasses make up the majority of turf lawns in the Albuquerque metro area and locales north. September, October and November are good months for fertilizing and reseeding these lawns.
“Cool season lawns, typically Kentucky bluegrass, tall fescue or perennial ryegrass, green up sooner in the spring and stay green longer into the fall,” explains Cheryl Kent, a horticulturist with the Bernalillo County Cooperative Extension Service. Their biggest drawback is clearly visible at the height of the summer heat, when they are inclined to go dormant and take on a yellow-to-brown hue before greening up again as the weather cools in the fall.
Cool season lawns should be fertilized twice in that second active growing phase — in early fall and six to eight weeks later. Lawns also should be reseeded as needed and as early in the fall as possible so seeds have time to germinate and grass blades can grow 2-3 inches tall before winter sets in.
By late fall, Kent says, the root system of a lawn should have stored enough energy to get it through the winter and provide a boost for greening up early in the spring. Cool season lawns should be fertilized and reseeded again in the spring.
Warm season grasses typically grown in the southern part of New Mexico, green up later in the spring and go dormant earlier in the fall. Their strength is that they are better able to thrive in the hottest part of the summer. Bermuda, buffalo and grama grasses are common warm season grasses.
Create green grasses in fall
Fertilizing lawns in the fall should be done with a product that has a higher nitrogen content. Be careful not to apply more than one pound of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet of lawn, Kent says. Bags of fertilizer have a series of three analysis numbers that represent nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, in that order, says Wes Brittenham, manager of Plants of the Southwest. Nitrogen should be the largest of the three numbers. Nitrogen is what encourages grass to grow hardy, thick and green, he says. A healthy, thick lawn is better able to resist weeds, bugs and survive drought.
Phosphorus encourages strong, healthy and deep roots, which translates to stronger and thicker grass blades above the soil. Potassium supplements the nitrogen to help further toughen the roots and foliage. Brittenham also recommends an iron supplement to bolster and maintain green lawns. He notes that iron deficiencies are common in New Mexico’s sandy soils because the iron leaches out of the soil faster.
Also, in the early fall, reduce lawn waterings to twice a week, Brittenham says, and after the lawn is dormant in late fall, step down to twice monthly waterings.
This article was written for Albuquerque and Northern New Mexico, so adjust accordingly to our climate and seasons. I aerated my lawn last weekend and will overseed with a Tall Fescue blend I found online. I plan to continue to water daily until it gets much cooler, albeit the duration my sprinklers are shorter each day.
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