Gardening: Give landscaping a little TLC this fall

By Natalie Gilliland
Poppies Flower Shop

While the coolness in the air brings a welcome relief, it also brings the need to care for our outdoor landscaping a little differently than we did during the hot summer months. This month, it’s time to tend to beautiful green grass.

The fall months of September, October and November are prime season for overseeding our z in Arizona. This month, we will talk about how to effectively prepare and overseed our grass for the winter.

For new seed to “stick” to our existing lawns, we have to spend some time preparing it by doing a few key things. You will want to reduce your irrigation on your grass to very little or, even better, just turn it off. Let your lawn dry out a bit and even begin to turn brown. It is very important that the summer grass dies off so that it does not mix with the winter seed. Go ahead and mow it down to hardly anything. This is called “scalping,” and you are essentially taking off any grass that is still there to get down to the soil layer.

I always recommend, if you have a lawn area that needs a little extra TLC, to use a metal rake to break up some of the dirt and freshen up those areas. We call this “churning” the soil. That will help prepare it for the new seed to come in. (This is also a great thing to do in flower beds when planting new flowers or seeds.) Over the summer, between the heat and excess water, the soil becomes compacted, and churning it will help give it a fresh base and break up some of the hardening that happens during the summer.

After your lawn area is prepped and ready to go, you will need to select the seed you want to use. You will want to select a high-quality rye grass seed. You can also select a grass seed that has a starter fertilizer in the mix. After you measure your area, a good rule of thumb for a nice, lush grass is to use 12 pounds of grass seed per 1,000 square feet of lawn area. This formula will prevent you from making multiple trips to Home Depot to buy more seed.

While you are picking up the seed, go ahead and grab a hand spreader. You will be grateful for this handy tool. It helps to spread the seed evenly and keeps you from spreading it by hand. After spreading the seed, crank on the irrigation again to keep your soil moist for at least up to 10 days after spreading the seed. Your seed should start to “pop” in about two weeks. Keep the irrigation flowing until your area is fully popped. After about three weeks, you can reduce the watering to once per day or twice per day depending on the temperatures.

While overseeding takes a bit of preparation, the result is worth it! Your lawn will be lush, green and healthy for the entire winter and through the following summer! Enjoy!