From planting and seeding to watering and trimming, Dodds & Eder is here to provide you with the insight needed to help your landscape thrive in any season.
The best time to seed your lawn in the New York region is generally at the start of the autumn season. Cool weather grasses—such as Kentucky Bluegrass, a popular choice in this climate zone—experience the greatest growth spurts during these periods, before entering a state of dormancy in the summer months.
As rain typically aids in the germination process, it’s recommended to sow seeds just prior to a shower. A downpour, however, may wash them away completely. The most crucial component is the establishment of roots. If seeded properly, new sprouts should begin to pop about two weeks afterward; if not, it may be necessary to reseed.
During early fall when the soil is warm and daytime temperatures are moderate (around 60ºF), maintaining a level of moisture in the soil is less of an issue, nor is weed growth. In some instances, application of a starter fertilizer may also be recommended. This will likely need to be reapplied several weeks later, as it will dissipate due to watering, over time.
Spring bulbs should, ideally, be planted at least six weeks prior to the first wave of ground-freezing winter frost. Depending upon your Plant Hardiness Zone—the standard developed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to determine the plants most likely to thrive at a location based on the average annual minimum winter temperature—this can range from late September through early December. On Long Island, categorized as Zone 7, this typically begins in November, when average nighttime temperatures fall between 40ºF to 50ºF.
The lifecycle of a spring bulb actually begins during the winter months, as it roots just below the surface of the soil. Planting too early can lead to fungus or disease; similarly, unplanted bulbs are unlikely to survive until the following season.
Once the cycle of flowers and leaves is complete, the bulb sheds its foliage and slips into a semi-dormant state during the early to mid-summer months. By the end of the season, the bulb slowly begins to reawaken and reestablish roots in preparation for autumn, when the cycle begins anew.
It’s recommended that most lawns be watered no more than twice a week, more frequently if the property has recently been seeded or sodded. As a general rule, one inch of water per week—via rain or irrigation—is ideal; this can be applied during a single watering session, or divided into two half-inch intervals.
Of course, additional factors such as soil type, sunlight, grass type, and regional climate may factor into this formula, necessitating certain modifications. Soils high in clay content, while highly absorptive, require repeated, shorter watering cycles to reduce puddling. Those with a higher composition of sand tend to fall short in water retention, and so require more frequent attention.
Zones of lawn falling in the path of direct sunlight are prone to dry spots. Special attention should also be paid to those patches of grass growing in the shade beneath trees, as these are forced to compete with tree roots for available moisture. Levels can be tested a number of ways: through observation—lawns that appear to be grayish or dull green lack water; by walking across the property—if the blades don’t spring back, they are in need of moisture; or by digging into the surface—it’s recommended to let water soak through the top 6 to 8 inches of soil.
Timing is just as integral as frequency, as the wrong watering schedule can spell disaster for your lawn. It’s best to water in the morning, when temperatures are typically cooler and winds calmer, or in the early evening hours, allowing several hours for the lawn to dry before nightfall. The later you water, the more susceptible the grass will become to disease.