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Published May 02, 2009, 07:46 AM

May time to rejuvenate lawn from winter damage

Now that the snow has melted and the ground begins to green up, I notice the brown patches in the lawn created by various entities. The reason can be due to many things such as rodent damage, pet waste and snow mold. Usually the grass is only damaged in these areas, but in some cases, the grass is completely dead. The month of May is a good time to investigate these damaged areas and take control of the situation.

Now that the snow has melted and the ground begins to green up, I notice the brown patches in the lawn created by various entities. The reason can be due to many things such as rodent damage, pet waste and snow mold. Usually the grass is only damaged in these areas, but in some cases, the grass is completely dead. The month of May is a good time to investigate these damaged areas and take control of the situation.

It is best to begin by diagnosing how the damage was created. If it was due to rodents, such as voles, the roots have usually been severed due to feeding and the area should be cleared of the dead debris. Dig the ground where it is devoid of grass to a depth of 2 to 3 inches and loosen the soil to prepare it for seeding. Once seeded, put a light cover of dead grass or peatmoss over the area to conserve moisture and allow the seed to germinate.

If the damage is caused by pets, then the area should be cleansed with water to leach out the toxins. Sprinkle the grass seed onto the dead area and rake it into the grass left behind. The dead grass will allow for the cover needed until the seed emerges. The same process will work for brown areas due to snow mold, however in most cases, the grass in these areas tends to come back in time.

One of the biggest challenges we face in this process is choosing the correct grass seed to plant. There are so many different types of grass seed on the market that we become overwhelmed at where to begin. There are some basic guidelines that you will want to follow when making your selection.

Always check the label of contents and make sure that the seed you are purchasing has an equal or higher percentage of perennial type seed in ratio to the annual type. It is the perennial seed that will be the grass that returns from year to year and the annual seed that creates the quick cover to allow it to germinate during the first year.

There is grass seed packaged for high traffic areas, shady areas, “tuff spot” areas and more. Know the area that you are trying to rejuvenate and the seed selection should become an easy decision. The most common grass seed varieties in our sales area are the Kentucky bluegrass, perennial and annual rye grass and perennial and annual fescue. Keep in mind that the Kentucky bluegrass is a cool-season grass that requires more water during the warmer months than the rye and fescue to remain green during summer.

Since the month of May is typically cool and damp, it will allow the time for the grass seed to germinate and take hold before the hotter summer months take place. If the weather becomes warm and dry, make sure the seeded areas remain moist for development. Avoid fertilizing the new grass for the first year so the tender roots are allowed to establish and do not burn.

By the time summer arrives, you will soon forget about these troubled areas as the new grass will take over and blend into the rest of your lawn. This will allow you to focus on the other projects you have planned for the coming season, like mowing!

Just a reminder that life is full of brown spots along the way, but we all have the power and ability to make those areas a bit greener and more productive with a little effort. Once we have accomplished those tasks, we are free to enjoy the finer things in that place we call our garden.

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