Care Instructions for Fescue Seeding and Compost Top Dressing
Seeding Fescue lawns in the fall is essential to replenish it after the long North Carolina summer.
It is essential to water daily for 2 weeks. The BIGGEST thing to remember with new seed is that once it gets wet for the first time it cannot dry out or the seed is dead! You can’t re-wet it and expect it to pop back into growing. If it dries out before it starts producing the green grass and the root starts developing into the soil, then it is totally dead!
After seeding and/or compost top dressing, we recommend watering the entire area that was seeded and/or top dressed thoroughly the day of and the day after
Some folks have very efficient irrigation systems, others have sprinklers that are hooked up to a hose and others just walk around and hand water with a hose. All of those would require different lengths of time for watering.
What we are trying to accomplish with the watering is to get the seed and/or compost wet from top to bottom. This will help do a few things.
- It helps to wash some of the compost into the aeration holes or low spots in the soil and to activate the seed.
- It makes the compost tacky and sticks together to the seed better so that if we get a thunderstorm it won’t just wash off.
- It activates all of the rich nutrients that are in the compost.
Day 1 and 2 are usually the days that you have to water the longest. Your goal is to get the soil saturated. Once the soil and seed are saturated then you just have to keep it damp.
Usually by the 3rd week you can back off on watering some, but we still recommend paying attention to weather conditions and watering at least every other day. Even though you should have grass starting to come up by now that the roots are tiny and barely in the soil at this point. They can dry out extremely fast if we have a day or 2 in the 90’s. You may have to be moving sprinklers around the yard.
Mowing, Weeds, & Leaves…
Be careful not to walk back and forth over the same new grass over and over. Take a different route to the water spigot, and try to limit kid or pet activities on newly seeded areas.
The compost does have a little bit of a farm smell to it. The smell normally fades after a day or two. The compost can also stick to shoes really well, so make sure you & your kids are taking off your shoes before entering the house.
If you have established grass that is growing faster than the new grass that is fine. If you have to mow you can. Reset your mowing height to 4 inches or the highest setting. If you have minimal grass clippings you can leave them. However, if you have a lot of grass clippings you will want to remove them because they can smother the young, new grass.
Not long after the seeding season we usually start to have trees drop their leaves. You don’t have to blow leaves off every time a new leaf falls, but it is a good idea to keep them cleared away from the new grass before they build up heavily. Something as simple as wet leaves sitting on the new grass for a few days can stunt it and if left longer can totally kill a section of grass.
You may see weeds break through while the Fescue seed is germinating, especially if you get the compost top dressing. We unfortunately cannot kill weeds and successfully grow new grass at the same time. Weeds that you are seeing now, we can treat, but we have to wait for the new grass to establish better before treating. Anything we do now can kill the new grass.
If you are signed up for our Better Grass Fescue package, we will be performing a thorough spot treatment of weeds when we perform the Winter Fertilization and spot treatment of weeds, mid November to December. Until then, we recommend keeping the lawn regularly mowed to keep weeds at a minimum and hand pulling any larger plants. This will prevent the weeds from developing seed heads and spreading.
We typically have a heat wave in the Fall. If temps are 80’s or higher, keep an eye out for Brown Patch developing on the lawn. Brown Patch is a type of fungus that targets Fescue particularly. It can wipe out a lawn, especially newly germinated, weak Fescue.
If you notice brown spots, take a closer look at the grass blades in the affected areas. If it is truly fungal related, you will see little brownish black dots on the blades of grass, which are fungal spores.. If you don’t, it could be that the grass is just dry.
As always, you can always send us a picture of the areas or we’ll send out one of our experts to take a closer look.
If you do have brown patch, we would recommend a Curative Brown Patch treatment to help protect the remainder of your lawn. This treatment will slow the growth of the fungus, allowing the grass to recover.
Don’t add more grass seed
DO NOT add more grass seed. NCSU has one of the best turf grass programs. They have done studies to find out how much seed should be used to get the best results when reseeding. We follow those recommendations. If you add too much seed to an area it may look good in the short term while the grass blades are really fine. But as the grass grows there is competition for root space, water needs and airflow. Ever had a good stand of grass in the spring when it is young and have it die out before the warm temps even hit? Chances are there was too much seed planted.
We will provide a small bag of seed so that you can spot seed any bare areas that don’t grow after about 2 weeks. If you are signed up for our Better Grass or Good Grass lawn treatment packages, we will spot seed any areas that the seed did not come in well during your Compost Tea treatment performed in October.