September is kind of like Christmas for gardening folks who also have big suburban dreams. That’s because September is the ideal time for working on a lawn. It’s also good timing, in that you can take a (slight) break from serious gardening as the months get cooler. It’s a rare opportunity to get some serious growing done without your new roots having to compete with weeds. The soil gets cooled down to the perfect temperature for planting cool-season lawn seeds. You also give those new seeds some optimum growing time before things get downright chilly. The month of September is pretty much all the time that those seeds need to get rooted before October. [photo via wikimedia]
But then we get into the very serious topic of where to start with your lawn. Specifically, we have to consider the case for sodding against the case of seeding. Of course, we’ve just covered a few reasons why the time is ideal for seeding. Still, there are sodding activists out there who insist on arguing.
We can all agree, however, that a good lawn begins with good soil. So you should start with a soil test to measure the acidity and pH. You should also do some serious tilling and try to lay waste to any perennial weeds.
Then you can get to sodding–and, yes, probably get a lawn going faster than with seed. We’ve never seen sod that had a good range of grass seeds included, though. You also have to worry about using sod if your coming season is dry. You can’t leave it around. We recommend rolling out any sod you purchase on that same day. Then get ready to do a lot more watering than with seeds. You have to really lay it on to get the roots of sod into the soil. Then you can start cutting back slowly after the first three weeks.
But if you go with seeding–well, it’s going to cost a lot less, and not just in your water bill. You also get to buy all kinds of grass seeds. That kind of thing is really fun. We’ve also had a lot more luck with seeding when it comes a lawn that really holds up to the elements. That’s worth the extra work it takes to go planting those seeds.We don’t mean to suggest that you’re not going to be watering those seeds, either. It’s a full month of watering every day, but we’re just talking about ten minute stretches about four times a day.
You’re also not going to be very fond of birds. They tend to swoop down and eat seeds, so watch out for them–and we guess the sod holds up better when a dog decides to roam around your yard. Those are standard suburban woes, though. We’re going to be tolerating them while beginning to really work our lawn–which we’ll cover more in the second part of this series.