SEEDING YOUR LAWN

a message from uncle mike

When you think lawn care, spring may be the first thing that comes to mind, but the fact is now is the time to reinvigorate your lawn with new seed. I know there’s a lot of contradicting information out there about when exactly to seed- and it gets confusing about who to listen to or when to do what. Do I use a fertilizer, and if so what type? Can I do it organically? When is it too late to seed? All of these are good questions, so I wrote a check list for you to simplify the process.

 

SOIL PREP

Now’s the best time to prep your soil. Loosen your soil on the top inch or so and get the grade you want. It’s also a great time to add more top-soil or compost if needed. The better your soil is, the healthier your lawn will be.

 

So, how much soil do you need? Well that depends on your conditions. Keep in mind here that your turf success is really just a result of your soil quality. The stronger your root system is in deep, healthy soil- the better your new seed will perform. I put down up to 10 inches of compost and loam when I redid my back yard and it shows in times of summer drought. This summer, my lawn stayed green while others dried out. It is deeply rooted and healthy enough to withstand stressful conditions. Use a quality top soil or compost to amend your existing conditions. If your soil is of good quality, just till and loosen the top couple inches and rake out a good grade.

One other great product that I always recommend is Jonathan Green’s, Love Your Soil. It’s a cool organic product that stimulates microbes in the soil and helps to loosen heavy, hard packed soils, to release trapped nutrients. It’s a good preparation amendment so your soil can better stimulate root growth for your new seeding.

SOIL TEST

If there’s ever a time to test your soil- it’s now. Even if you are only testing the pH. You can get an extensive test through our own lawn-care service, Safe Lawns, or the UMass Extension (for a fee). Or you can do a basic, at-home test yourself.

The soil test will tell you your lawns pH, nutrients and soil structure. I find the most important right now is to test pH levels. You see, if your soil has a low pH– your fertilizers won’t work as well. The best way to explain this is if your soil is too acidic you can’t derive the iron and magnesium naturally occurring in your soil so your lawn will never get to that dark green color everyone wants. To adjust your pH into the desired neutral area, add Jonathan Green’s MAGI-I-CAL or lime.

SEED

Now you want to add the seed. Make sure you pick a seed that’s good for your sun requirements and make sure you have a good quality seed.

Your grass seed is more important than most people think. Cheap grass seed is just that, cheap and we can’t in good faith carry it. You see, varieties of grass seed get old and are replaced as better seeds become available. This makes the older seed cheaper than the newer, better performing ones. Another way to get cheap seed is to add annual blue grass to the mix. Annual blue grass is an inexpensive filler, but it doesn’t come back the next year making it a turf that comes up well initially, but then your lawn comes in very thin next spring. Cheap grass seed is like a cheap beer only that headache you get is going to last for years.

 
It’s also important to pick the right seed for your sun requirements. You don’t want to take a full sun blend and put it in the heavy shade areas. Use the right seed for the right sun. Jonathan Greens dense shade will do great under those trees down to about 3 hours of sun. Don’t forget grass seed does need about 3 hrs of sun to grow or it will just slowly fade away. Sometimes shrubs and perennials do better for those heavy shade areas.

Fertilizer

Yes fertilizer. It makes a huge difference and it seems like everyone wants to either skip this step or add it later. Whether organic or synthetic, add fertilizer when you seed.

Fertilizers are meant to release phosphorus into the soil at time of germination and then add nitrogen in a slow release fashion thereafter to continue feeding. Don’t mix seed and fertilizer. It doesn’t matter which one goes first or second but add one and then put the other down and water.

 

 

WATER

The rest is up to you! Be sure to keep your new seed evenly moist in the beginning because if you let grass seed dry out too much, it may prolong the germination or even worse– kill the seed during germination. This first week is very important, after that you can back down to a deep water every 2- 4 days depending on the weather forecast.

Why seed now?

I know there’s a lot of contradiction on when is the best time to seed, the fact is you can seed anytime you want to or when you may have to. Spring and fall are often seen as a good times because they typically have lots of natural rainfall and cooler temps, but as long as you can keep the seed moist– you can seed whenever you want.

Just remember a few things when seeding. Any crabgrass preventers or other herbicides may prevent the grass seed from germinating in early spring. Sometimes seeding too late results in an inability to get the seed to germinate, also called dormant seeding. This is when you throw seed down without expecting it to germinate until spring. Most people have pretty good results doing it this way and you get germination first thing in the spring. However, we often suggest you seed in early fall or even late summer because you can take advantage of warm soil temps coming out of summer and there’s still plenty of time to get good germination and even a mowing or two to harden off the grass for winter.

FALL IS FOR PLANTING

.. Maybe Even the best time for planting…

It happens every year, people from towns near and far make their spring pilgrimage to Mahoney’s. They come filled with anticipation of new perennials, lush lawns, and flowering shrubs. Simply put, it’s spring, and they want to plant something. No question of course, that spring is a great time to plant, but what many people don’t realize is that fall is not only an equally good time to plant, in many ways it’s better.

To understand why, it’s good to remember that plants do not think like people. While we lament the end of summer, plants – especially newly planted plants – find the cooler days far less stressful. We may dig in our closets for a sweater, but for plants the soil feels warm, which boosts root growth. And while fall rains seem gloomy to us, plants much prefer it to the hot dry summer. And this is true for a whole host of plants: trees, shrubs, perennials, roses, ornamental grasses and even your lawn. Practically anything planted now will have extra time to establish, so when it’s time to grow and flower next year, it will give you a great show at your house, not at the garden center.

HOW LATE INTO THE FALL CAN YOU PLANT?

Fact is, if the ground isn’t frozen and you can still dig the hole, you can still plant. Planting in September and October however allows that much more time for plants to become established, so sooner is better.

There are other reasons fall is a great time for planting. Unlike a lot of garden centers that wind down for the year, Mahoney’s brings in lots of fresh new plants every fall, especially shrubs. Check out our new shipments arriving daily. Planting them now will allow you to enjoy the foliage throughout all seasons, including color changes this fall.

Fall is also the unofficial “hide your neighbor” season. Why, we’re not sure, but a lot of people plant hedges in the fall. We’ll have fresh arborvitae, boxwood and other hedging evergreens as well as privet, hydrangeas, ninebark, spirea, weigela and many more deciduous shrubs. (Social note: for neighbors that need immediate hiding, we carry large and fast growing hedge shrubs. The ‘Green Giant’ arborvitae is especially popular)

Also very popular in the fall are miniature evergreens for urns, containers and window boxes. They add a festive touch for the holidays, and with a little protective care they will survive in a container through the winter. If you want to be greeted with tulips, daffodils and other flowers next spring, you have to plant the bulbs in fall.

Perennials especially benefit from the extra time in the ground before next spring. We bring in a lot of fresh perennials in the fall – especially the fall blooming varieties. We also have a wide selection of ornamental grasses – great for landscapes or containers.

Speaking of grasses, fall is the very best time to pay attention to your lawn. Not only do most lawns need a serious pick-me-up after the summer heat and dry spells, the warm fall soil encourages quick germination and cool air temperatures reduce stress.

Keeping the critters out of your garden!

It’s the time of year when the sight of a rabbit, deer, or chipmunk in the yard can awaken your inner Elmer Fudd. Rabbits and deer nibbling at your leafy annuals and perennials, chipmunks and squirrels munching on your tomatoes – it’s a scene all too common these days…. even in the most urban of yards! Our favorite products to treat the problem are made by Bonide. Repels All, Go Away! Deer and Rabbit Repellent, and Rat Magic (don’t be fooled by the name, it’s great for chipmunks and squirrels) are our go-to solutions  for the weary gardener who feels helpless against the army of critters.

 

GO AWAY™ Deer & Rabbit Repellent

An outstanding repellent, specifically for deer and rabbits. Protects gardens and valuable landscaping. One application can last up to 2 months! Effective in all seasons. Made with natural ingredients including white pepper, putrescent egg solids, garlic and cloves. Does not harm plants or animals.

 

Repels-All®

The unique blend of ingredients like putrescent egg solids, cloves, and garlic is offensive to an animals sense of smell without harm! Lasts up to 2 months. When they come in contact, it causes a natural instinct to escape and avoid the area. Available in a concentrate, granules and ready to spray.

 

Rat Magic® Rodent Repellent

Designed for outdoor use to repel rodents such as rats, chipmunks and squirrels. This unique combination of essential oils is people and pet safe, and biodegradable. Naturally drives rodents from around homes, garages, gardens, sheds, patios, wood piles, and more. With active ingredients like cedar, castor, clove and peppermint oils– rodents won’t want to be anywhere nearby! 5lbs. treats up to 1000 sq. ft. or a 2ft. barrier that’s 500 ft. long.

 

What’s In Store: July 28, 2017

The dog days of summer are here and it’s a great time to refresh the yard! Even though the days are hot and long, we’re still bringing in fresh annuals, perennials, trees and shrubs to add magnificent late-season color the garden.

What’s In Store: June 30, 2017

Get your patios ready for the 4th! Shop our outdoor furniture and accessories at our Winchester and Falmouth stores- now offering free local furniture delivery! We’re bringing in fresh annuals, perennials, trees and shrubs daily to dress up the yard, including larger sizes for instant color. Browse our pottery selection to create your summer container gardens in festive reds, whites and blues! Plus, don’t let the bugs ruin your cookouts. Visit our lawn and garden departments for tick and mosquito solutions to enjoy the outdoors!

What’s In Store: June 23, 2017

It’s National Pollinator Week! Stop in to find an incredible selection of perennials, annuals, trees and shrubs now in bloom to attract bees, birds and butterflies! Now that Summer is officially here, it’s time to get the patio ready! Shop our Winchester and Falmouth stores for outdoor dining and seating in cast aluminum, all-weather wicker, eucalyptus hardwood and more! Get free local delivery too! Plus, don’t miss our sale on 5″ geraniums – 5 for $20! Perfect for adding beautiful color to your window boxes and containers!

What’s In Store: June 16, 2017

There’s still plenty of time to beautify your outdoors! We’re bringing fresh plants into our stores daily including our 8″ and 12″ combo annual planters in beautiful colors and textures! Plant in window boxes and patio pots for instant blooms! This week we’re celebrating Dad with an array of great gift ideas including our teak benches (on special!) windspinners, statuary, Adirondack chairs and more. Visit our nursery and perennial yards for beautiful summer blooms to make your garden sing.

What’s In Store: June 8, 2017

Finally the rain is giving way to the sun! Our stores are blooming with fresh annuals, perennials, trees and shrubs! It’s not too late to get the garden started. Our hanging baskets double as instant container gardens or bedding plants. Visit our perennial yards for beautiful color and don’t forget– Father’s Day is June 18th! Visit our stores for great gift ideas for Dad including our teak benches, statuary, windspinners, adirondak and zero gravity chairs (Winchester & Falmouth only). Enjoy the beautiful weekend!

Now in bud & bloom: Spirea

Spirea is a much-loved spring and summer flowering shrub. An informal hedge of the classic Bridal Wreath Spirea with its cascading branches of white flowers is a lovely sight. Today’s varieties come in different sizes and leaf colors to suit any landscape need. There are pink, red, and white flowering varieties. Leaf color ranges from mid green to yellow/gold. Many have attractive fall color. All are easy care, growing in full sun or light shade. They are useful in foundation plantings, as hedges, and blend well with other shrubs in a mixed border. A light shearing of the plant after flowering will encourage additional blooming. If you should inherit an overgrown Spirea, it will take hard pruning well and will come back to flower again. And it is important to note that Spirea attract butterflies and are deer resistant.

Spirea x bumalda ‘Anthony Waterer’ ‘Anthony Waterer’ offers interesting foliage that emerges with reddish purple coloring in spring, matures to blue-green by summer and then turns bronze-red in fall. Deep pink semi-double flower clusters appear in early summer and will rebloom later in the season if the plant is gently sheared after the first flush of bloom. It is compact in its growth habit, reaching 3 feet tall and to 3-4 feet wide.

Spirea x bumalda ‘Goldflame’ ‘Goldflame’ is a dense mounded shrub that features attractive bronze-tinged new growth in spring which matures to soft yellow-green. Its bright pink flowers bloom in early summer. Fall foliage color is brilliant coppery-orange. It grows 3 feet tall and spreads slightly wider.

Spirea x bumalda ‘Goldmound’ ‘Goldmound’ has vibrant golden spring foliage, accented by clusters of pink flowers, making it a standout in the garden. The foliage cools to a yellowish green in summer then turns a rich, yellowish orange in fall. It reaches 2 to 3 feet in height and width.

Spirea x bumalda ‘Minigold’ As the name suggest, ‘Minigold’ is a smaller version of its cousins. The leaves are quite small and delicate looking. ‘Minigold’ grows 2 feet tall and spreads 2-3 feet wide. It is slow growing and forms a tight mound of cheerful yellow foliage topped with pink flowers.

Spirea x bumalda ‘Lemon Princess’ ‘Lemon Princess’ has gorgeous yellow foliage and flat clusters of pink summer flowers. The bright leaves hold their color for a long period and turn pinkish-red in fall color. The plant grows 1.5 to 2 feet tall with a slightly larger spread, making it ideal for rock gardens and perennial beds.

Spirea nipponica ‘Snowmound’ ‘Snowmound’ has graceful, spreading branches and spectacular clusters of white flowers in mid to late spring. The narrow foliage is a distinctive dark blue-green. It reaches 3 to 4 feet in height and width. ‘Snowmound’ received the Award of Garden Merit from the Royal Horticultural Society of Great Britain.

Spirea japonica ‘Double Play Gold’ ‘Double Play Gold’ is noted for its attractive golden-yellow foliage that retains good color throughout the growing season. It is a dwarf, mounded cultivar that grows just 18-24 inches tall and slightly wider. Clear pink flowers appear from late spring to mid-summer and continue with an intermittent rebloom until frost. It adds easy, season long color to gardens with very little effort.

Spirea japonica ‘Little Princess’ ‘Little Princess’ has mint green foliage topped with dainty clusters of rose-pink blooms. It grows in a neat compact form, 2-3 feet tall and somewhat wider. The oval shaped leaves are sharply toothed, and take on attractive red hues in autumn.

Spirea japonica ‘Magic Carpet’ ‘Magic Carpet’ features bright golden to lime green foliage with vibrant red leaf tips. Cluster of deep pink flowers add to the colorful display in the summer. In fall, russet red tones give a new touch of color. It grows in a neat, low mounded form that reaches 1.5 to 2 feet tall and wide. The wonderful combination of colors brightens the landscape throughout the growing season.

Spirea thunbergi Ogon (Spirea ‘Mellow Yellow’) This Spirea is noted for its very early flowering time, wispy habit, and bright golden yellow leaves. In very early spring, before its leaves have unfurled, the slender branches are covered with dazzling white flowers borne in clusters. Its leaves are unlike most Spirea as they are feathery and willow-like. They emerge gold (“ogon” means gold in Japanese) and gradually change to bright green. In autumn, the leaves turn bright orange and remain on the plant very late into the season. Its twiggy, slender branches arch and flounce, giving Ogon Spirea a uniquely soft textural quality. It grows 3-5 feet in height and width.