The first step is to have a soil test run to determine the nutrient levels in the soil and decide how much fertilizer and lime is needed. In the absence of a soil test, the general recommendation is 10 pounds per 1,000 square feet of a complete fertilizer, like 10-10-10. We can send soil samples to the University of Georgia Soil Testing Lab to have them tested. The cost for a soil test is $8 and the results are usually returned in about a week.
The next step is to aerify or aerate the soil. This is actually just loosening-up the soil so that air and water can move through the soil to create a good environment for the plants’ roots. The best way to do this is by using a slicing or coring type aerator. This is one piece of equipment that if you do not have, you may want to check into renting for a day.
Once you have aerated the soil, you are ready to apply the fertilizer and then the seed. When seeding fescue, it is recommended to use about five pounds of seed per 1,000 square feet of lawn. Using more seed than this will result in overcrowded conditions and weaker plants. After seeding has been completed, we will count on Mother Nature to provide the needed moisture to get the grass up and started.
The last thing to keep in mind is to cut or mow the grass at the correct height. Fescue should be cut at two to three inches in height. If it is cut higher, it will have a tendency to fall over; but if it is mowed too short it can also be damaged, especially during the hot summer months.
Today, we have just addressed renovating or trying to get a thicker stand of grass; if you have a very poor stand of grass you may want to consider totally plowing up your existing lawn and establishing a new one. Of course, this would require more work and expense, but depending on the situation it might be the best option. For more details on renovating or establishing a new lawn, call the Walker County Extension Office at 706-638-2548.
Norman Edwards is coordinator of Walker County Extension Service.