September Update – Lawn Care

If Tom Jones wrote a song in southern Ontario this summer, he might have called it “The Brown, Brown Grass Of Home”.

Grass is one of the most hardy and resilient plant material there is. In periods of less rain, it looks dead, but really has just gone dormant; for the most part, anyway. So we finally get some rain, and your lawn is coming back. But maybe not the entire thing. What to do now for the dead patches?

Note: To determine if areas of your lawn are dormant or dead, take a look at the soil level. Lawns that have gone dormant will have brown leaves, while the crown at the base of the leaves will still be green, and the roots will have a healthy off-white color. If is lawn is completely dead, the entire plant—leaves, crowns, and roots—will be brown and brittle.

Deep, infrequent watering to the depth of the root system is the ideal situation, but you already knew that!


Once the drought ends, most types of grass slowly recover on their own. You can help speed along the process with these four simple steps.

Water thoroughly. Soak your lawn to restore the soil’s moisture and to initiate new root growth. More so on slopes. Try to water in the early morning.

Fertilize. After about two weeks of watering, use a broadcast spreader to apply a balanced fertilizer with proportions as close as possible to 4-1-2 for nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. (High-nitrogen fertilizers could hurt the lawn if extremely hot, dry weather returns.)

Address dead spots. Clear out any dead, matted turf and other debris. Loosen the soil. (At least scratch the surface, or better yet, dig and loosen the top 2 or 3 inches.) Scatter grass seed over the loosened soil. Fertilize. Water!!

chinchbugIf your lawn is still not greening up, there may be a more serious issues such as grub or Chinch Bug (that guy in the pic) infestation.  Grubs will eat the roots of the grass and are found below in the soil. Chinch bug ( a very tiny beetle) attacks the crown and are found at the surface. Both can be a very serious pests and will need to be controlled before any topdressing and seeding is completed


  • Mow lawns higher for the summer. A range of 2.5 to 3 inches would be suggested for most turf stands where Kentucky bluegrass is the primary species. As always, mowing should be on a frequent basis so that no more than one-third of the leaf blade is removed in any one cutting.  Taller turf allows more shading of the soil, conserving what moisture is in the soil.
  • Even if you start watering at the first signs of trouble, such as leaf wilt or tip browning, chances are that damage has already begun occurring to plant root systems. That’s why it’s best to water before plants “tell” you they need help.

Related Material

From Sheridan’s Nurseries, a couple of helpful videos on Fall Lawns and Overseeding – (Fall Lawns) – (Overseeding)

From the CHMC website, an article on regular grass versus low-maintenance lawn material

Fall Cleanups – Tips & Tricks

They’re coming, and I don’t mean door-to-door salespeople. Those fabulous looking, colourful, shade-providing, bird-protecting leaves are about to do their annual thing; fall to the ground.

Of course, a fall cleanup is not just about leaves. You should do a variety of chores including

  • Cutting back of perennials (prune off dead foliage)
  • blow leaves and debris from landscaping
  • Mow lawn, apply fall/winter fertilizer
  • Aerate the lawn
  • Bush / Shrub Trimming
  • Tree Trimming

Preparation for winter in the fall is better for your lawn. You never know when the snow is going to come, so it really is a good idea to think about this sooner than later. Rotting leaves are not great for your lawn over winter, and your lawn is then ready to be its best come spring.

An application of winter fertilizer will sit and wait for the warm weather in spring, ready to activate at that time.

Trimming plants and shrubs that are going into hibernation will be less stressful on them.

Call us, we’re here to help!

Fall Container Gardens:  Show Them Off!

seasonal-fall-urn1Autumn is filled with fantastic colours, and your urns and containers should be, too! Choosing the right plant material such as frost-resistant conifer will allow these to be shown off up to the holidays. (Where, natch, we will provide new seasonal ideas!)

Almost anything can be used as a container as long as it has drainage, and they accent almost anything. Your front entrance, beside the garage door, on steps. Of course, hanging them up adds to the variety of spots to place them.

A soil-free medium (peat moss, vermiculite and perlite seems to be popular with the manufacturers) is recommended. This allows water to drain properly. Certainly, regular garden soil is too heavy, and can contain weeds. You will want to fertilize. Consider installing some styrofoam if you’re thinking to have them last the winter.

You can see some examples of containers we’re done here, and of course we would be happy to help you with any or all of this.

Read more in these articles:

Sheridan Nurseries writes about what to and how to plant in containers in this informative article on container planting.

Canadian Gardening offers up some secrets to successful container gardening in this article.