The days of summer are about to set, and cooler days are ahead. While many of us welcome the transition into another delightful season, your tall fescue lawn definitely does.
For turf type tall fescue, Charlotte is in what is called the Transition Zone. It’s the climate zone that does not predominantly favor cool season turf, nor does it predominantly favor warm season turf. In the mountains, the climate favors cool season grasses such as tall fescue. At the coast, the climate favors warm season grasses such as Bermuda or St. Augustine. Both types can be grown here in Charlotte, but it is not the ideal growing climate for either. Next time you travel, notice how soon the dominant grass changes. Even as close as Rock Hill you will notice a higher number of warm season lawns.
What does Aeration do?
This time of year is like the start of a New Year for tall fescue lawns. The calendar year starts now. The soil, especially our red clay here in the Charlotte Metro area, gets compacted over the course of a year. Aeration loosens the soil to allow air, water and nutrients into the soil. Three vital ingredients for a healthy turf.
Is fall or spring a better time to overseed?
Tall fescue is a perennial plant that can live for several years. However, here in the Transition Zone, many of the tall fescue plants in your lawn won’t survive the summer. Overseeding in the September/October time frame is the ideal planting time for your grass to thrive over the coming year. Fall seeded grass will establish root growth over the fall and winter and be more equipped to deal with the stresses of summer than grass seeded in the spring. Tall fescue seeded in the spring is much more susceptible to summer heat, drought and fungus. Overseeding rates should be between 3 – 5 pounds per thousand square feet.
Why Fertilize now?
In the absence of a soil test, a general practice is to fertilize with a high phosphorus fertilizer commonly referred to as a “Starter Fertilizer”. Phosphorus helps your seeds germinate at a higher rate. It’s also a good time to give your existing grass a limited shot of Nitrogen. A fertilizer blend with a nutrient ratio such as 18-24-12 is a common range for starter fertilizers. The middle number representing percent Phosphorus, the first number representing percent Nitrogen.
Aeration, Overseeding & Fertilization Conclusion
Aerating, Overseeding and Fertilizing in September/October is the best time to rejuvenate your lawn in the Charlotte area. It sets your lawns stage for the coming year, and you will be glad you did it.
Keep on growing!