Seeding

kentucky blue grass lawnSunny seed mix, Shade mix, Front lawn mix, Backyard Mix, Eco lawn mix, Drought resistant mix, blah blah blah. This is marketing at it’s worst. How is it possible for the seed companies to know how much sun, shade or even water your particular lawn gets? They’re guessing, of course, so why invest in a stranger’s best guess when you can intentionally buy the seeds that are right for you?

Generally there are 3 main types of seed varieties used in most mixes. Kentucky Bluegrass is found in Sunny or Front yard mixes and is a fan favorite for its thick blade of grass and beautiful bluish tinge. Perennial Rye is the best all around seed and is found in most if not all mixes as it has a medium blade with a nice uniform green that holds up well under most conditions (see above). Fescues are found in shade or backyard mixes as their extremely thin blades thrive in the shade, or so they say.

For the wet and sun deprived Vancouver Island, we recommend a mix predominantly Perennial Rye with a few Kentucky Blue mixed in for fun. This type of mix is traditionally called an Over-seeding mix or sometimes the bag will say the seed content on it. Perennial Rye is the best all around seed for our conditions and lifestyle. It’s the seed most common in parks and sports fields as it wears well (unlike Fescues) and doesn’t gorge itself or need as much as light as Kentucky Blue.

If you don’t have the patience or irrigation to seed your lawn, you can also hire a company to Hydro Seed your lawn. Utilizing the same seed varieties but covering them in a mixture of wet mulch for increased germination, the seeds will literally be sprayed on your lawn appearing as a green sludge. Before you know, that sludge will be a lawn. Finally, if you need a lawn right now, you can’t go wrong with sod. Sod is mature grass ready right now. All it needs is some good soil and a professional’s touch. As far as pricing goes, Sod is the most expensive, followed by Hydro-seeding and seeding.

Best time to plant any kind of grass is May and September but remember, all seed needs to remain perpetually moist until germination – that includes sod so it can establish.

Aerating

Aerating Lawns on Vancouver IslandAll soil needs air, water and nutrients for its plants to thrive. In the case of a lawn, when its soil is compacted, these resources become trapped and its grass roots are unable to access them. The result is always the same; crabgrass, weeds and moss take advantage of the lawn’s weakened state and gradually establish themselves. Aerating is the process of releasing the compaction so these vital resources are made available and the lawn can continue to grow lush and healthy. Aerating should ALWAYS follow power raking. There’s no point in trying to aerate through moss.

Not all aerating is created equal. Those spikes on the bottom of your shoes, for instance, add to your compaction problem rather than solve it. If you are going to aerate you must rent a Core Aerator from your neighbourhood rental shop. A typical Aerator weighs in excess of 400lbs and makes operating your lawn mower seem like that plastic toy you bought your grandson. Plus you have to transport it…and anchor it to your trailer….yes, you need a trailer. In the end, its much easier to hire someone and only marginally more expensive.

Once the entire lawn has been aerated, (hopefully you marked your sprinkler heads first) there will be thousands of holes with corresponding soil plugs. Just leave the plugs to decompose. Your lawn is now literally open to the possibilities of new growth. Best time to aerate is early spring and fall. If you’re aerating as part of a lawn renovation, you have just finished the tough phase 1! Congratulations! Phase 2 involves the much more fulfilling topdressing, seeding and fertilizing!

Power-raking

Thatching Vancouver IslandIf your lawn is currently covered in moss and it meets the two conditions for renovation (adequate sun, good drainage), it all starts with a vicious power raking (some call it de-thatching). We say vicious because most homeowners and even landscapers fail in this regard. The point of power raking is to remove all the moss (not some, or quite a bit). If patches of moss remain on your lawn, grass will not be able to establish in those spots so you’re best off to go vicious. Warning: Your lawn will look like a sandbox when you’re done 🙂 This is normal, it will have to get worse before it gets better.

Power-rakers/De-thatchers can be rented from your local rental store or Home Depot/Rona. They weigh a few hundred pounds and you’ll definitely need a trailer to transport them. Once you have managed to get them home, they are fairly easy to operate. Similar to a lawn mower, you walk behind them and they self propel forward ripping out large amounts of moss (and grass) as they go. Remember, this is all normal you need to get it all. Once you’ve gone over the lawn once, you’ll need to begin the process of manually raking it up and transporting it to a local farmer who may kiss you on the mouth for this great gift of compostable materials. If there is still moss visible in the lawn, you’ll need to go over it again and continue until all the moss is removed. Believe me, this is a weekend you’ll likely wish you had back so this is a service that is probably worth hiring a (Lush) professional 🙂

Once all the moss is removed, you’ll be shocked at the amount that came up plus your lawn will look terrible. Before you collapse into the fetal position, remind yourself that John said this is normal. Don’t stay down for too long though, aerating is next.