Q: My lawn has several spots that I’d like to re-seed. Can I do that job now? – R.P., West Side
A: Perhaps. It just depends on what type of grass you have for a lawn.
If you are dealing with warm season grasses like native buffalo, blue grama or bermuda, I doubt the soil will stay warm enough, long enough for the re-seeded spots to gain a foothold.
If your lawn is made of cool season types of grass like Kentucky blue, any of the fescues or rye grasses then, yes, this is a grand time to do the re-seeding! One of the pluses, too, since the weather is cooling, is your chances of growing a crop of weeds at the same time is lessened.
First, you’ll want to scratch away any dead thatch out of the area down to dirt. If you need to bring the soil level up to grade, then spread top soil on the spots. Dampen it just a bit and spread the seed, then tamp it down firmly. You want the spots dampened so the seed is more apt to grabbing hold and sitting still, so to speak.
After tamping, cover the area with a slight ¼-to ½-inch layer of top soil. That’ll keep the seed in place, assist in keeping the seed moist, and out of view of hungry birds!
For the next several weeks you will need to keep those spots sprinkled. Water at least twice a day and, maybe if the afternoon temperatures stay toasty, more often. Your goal is to not let those spots dry out. Within 10 to 15 days, the seed should have germinated and you’ll be seeing green.
Now, I will suggest you do not fertilize the lawn, spots and all, with a high-nitrogen content “established” lawn fertilizer. The young grass is still far too tender to deal with a full-strength feeding. If you feel the need – and the established lawn would love it – invest in a starter-style fertilizer making sure that it has a high level of phosphorus.
It’s the phosphorus, the middle number of the fertilizer calculation, which is used by plantlife to feed and create healthy root. With cooler temperatures, adequate water and loving care from you, it’s a great time to re-seed your cool season grass style lawn.
Q: I’m seeing bulbs available now that I want to add to my flower beds. Should I plant them now? – B.G., Albuquerque
A: It’s just a smidgen early to set spring blooming bulbs in the ground yet.
See, the soil is still very warm and planted at this time the bulbs could easily awaken thinking they are supposed to grow both roots and blooms. Well there is not enough time for the bulb to set out bloom and be able to re-feed itself before the onset of winter.
By waiting until the middle of October, at the earliest, the soil will have started cooling convincing the bulb that it needs to concentrate on root development only. I do think you should shop for your new treasures as the selections on the retail level are really marvelous now.
Keep the bulbs in a cool, dry location for several more weeks and by late October you can plant knowing you’ve gotten the bulbs you want and that they will settle in during our dormant months perfectly. Meanwhile, happy first weekend of autumn Digging In!
Need tips on growing your garden? Tracey Fitzgibbon is a certified nurseryman. Send your garden-related questions to Digging In, Rio West, P.O. Drawer J, Albuquerque, NM 87103.