With the record breaking heatwave hopefully behind us, this is the month to restore our lawns to their former condition and prepare for a growth spurt this autumn. Lush healthy lawns late in the season is our best defense against a potentially harsh winter.
Aerating reduces soil compaction and allows water and nutrients to reach the root zone faster. Grass becomes more active with cooler temperatures and will require more water and nutrition to support the new grass shoots on top. Assert your purpose for aerating by soaking your lawn immediately and restore the moisture in and beneath the root zone. Roots are designed to grow deeper into the soil to obtain water which also ensures their protection from the heat. Use a garden hose to soak the aerated dry spots and make them disappear within days. Aerating loosens the soil!
We all know that our Colorado soil is depleted of microbial activity and rich in clay. Look at an aeration plug. Where’s the black organic matter? Think logically, grass roots will grow into aeration holes filled with fertile soil much better than empty aeration holes (filled with air). Why wait several weeks for the aeration plugs to breakdown and for the holes to fill up again with the same old sterile dirt and clay?
Aerating is good, but combined with top dressing, aerating is great! Top dressing fills the aeration holes with organic rich soil and sandy loam. The microorganisms and the organic matter will work on feeding the lawn and retaining water while the loam breaks up the clay and improves soil porosity. Top dressing several years in a row transforms a lawn’s subsoil into a thriving food web providing an environment for microbes to do what microbes do best; making and releasing nutrients and minerals to the lawn’s roots. Top dressing feeds the soil!
APPLY ORGANIC FERTILIZER.
If top dressing isn’t on your to do list yet, fertilize with organic fertilizer about every three weeks to slowly bring the lawn out of it’s stressed state and to encourage new growth. I recommend organic fertilizer and not synthetic because my goal is to encourage homeowners to build up the soil to produce a healthy lawn and to conserve water.
I also have observed more worm activity with organic than synthetic fertilizers. Bustling worms continue to mix the top dressing material and organic fertilizers with the subsoil while aerating the lawn naturally. Invite worms to live under your lawn by providing them with organic matter to consume on the top. Research has shown that worm casts are richer in nutrients for the grass than noningested soil. Worm castings on the soil surface is a great indicator of healthy and well fed soil. Earthworms are our Soil Ingesting Nutrient Recycling Specialists!
APPLY COMPOST TEA.
Numerous websites describe the simplicity of brewing compost tea and the important benefits of adding microorganisms to your soil this time of year. Composted manure is loaded with beneficial microbes. Brewing compost entices microbes to flourish and multiply many times over. Adding these new microorganisms to depleted soil will continuously feed your lawn through Nitrogen fixation. Studies have shown microbes inhibit plant pathogens, turf and fungal diseases, lawn pests, and reduces thatch. Spraying compost tea on a yard with a hose-end sprayer after aerating washes the microorganisms and fertilizer into the root zone where they belong. Microbes are our Beneficial Soil Altering Connoisseurs!
Spend some time this month working on your lawn as the temperature decreases. Try these easy techniques to bring your lawn out of the stress it experienced last month and into a more comfortable autumn. It’s time to rejuvenate your soil and lawn.