Frequently asked questions:
Will leaves left on my lawn over the winter have any damaging effects on my lawn? No. Grass goes dormant in the winter in this area of the country. When grass is dormant it does not need sunlight, water or nutrients until the SOIL temperature returns to approximately 50 degrees. When the leaves are removed in the early spring there should be no negative effect to the existing lawn.
Can you plant in July, August or when it is hot? Absolutely! The general rule of thumb is if you can get a shovel in the ground you can plant it. If you planted in May or June and it was very hot in July or if you planted in July and it was very hot you would still have to pay attention to the new planting and give them extra water. In other words no matter what time of year you plant you must pay extra attention to new planting and vary the amount of watering to the appropriate weather conditions. This is the most important part of a new planting; the time of year does not matter.
When can we plant grass seed and plants? The safe planting date in this area is technically May 15th. This is when there is an extremely low chance of frost, snow or weather that is inconsistent with growing grass or plants taking root.
Can we plant before May 15th? Sometimes, if the weather appears to be trending on the warm side we can plant grass or plants in early May and get very good results. Many of the nurseries are not even fully stocked until May because they do not want to run the risk of losing plants.
Why does my new lawn have small rocks in it? When we buy loam (loam is screened, good quality dirt) we buy the best quality we can find. This loam is screened with a 1/8” to 1/4” screen, allowing rocks approximately that size to pass through. The small rocks are in everyone’s lawn. You simply can’t see them once the grass grows in. Also, this is New England and anytime we disrupt the soil we uncover many rocks.
Why is my new lawn thin and patchy? This is normal. Not all the seed germinates at the same rate and it will spread to fill in. Hang in there and be patient. If we need to plant some more seed we will, but let the seed that is there have a chance first.
Why do I have weeds in my new lawn? This is very common. When we create this wonderful planting medium for grass seed it is also a great planting bed for any weed seed that may blow in or get into the soil. Most common weeds to see are crabgrass. Fortunately crabgrass is an annual and can be dealt with the next spring with a pre-emergent application. Although it is a little disappointing to see some weeds in your new lawn, it can be corrected with a little patience and the appropriate fertilizer/weed control applications.
What do you put in the planting hole when you install new plants? We use a product called "Roots" or "Healthy Start." It is very high in organic matter and beneficial bacteria. We then use the existing soil to back fill the hole. The plants need to be able to live in the soil that is in this area, this will make them much healthier long term. This method is recommended by the Stockbridge School which is probably the most respected landscape agriculture school in the country. Many nurseries still suggest using peat moss, cow manure and other fillers to back fill a planting hole. Although this may help with their sales it is not ideal for the long-term health of the plant. Once the roots get to the existing soil in that area they turn back toward the root ball and the plant becomes "root bound" in the planting hole.
What is the best thing we can do for our new plants or grass? Water them as directed for the entire first season. We water plants before we leave the site, but that tiny bit of water is of minimal help. What matters is that your irrigation system is set to properly water the new plants and the new grass for the entire first season. New plants have lost 90% of their existing root systems so they do not have the ability to “go get” water when they need it, it must be readily available to them.