"People in the northern third of Indiana should plant grass seed around Aug. 15," Reicher said. "For the middle third of the state, the third week in August is the best time, and for the southernmost third of the state, the best time is the fourth week in August or even the first week in September."
According to Reicher, planting turf grass seed in August offers several advantages:
Reicher said this summer's unusually cool and wet weather won't affect the planting dates for grass seed. "We're more concerned about the weather that comes after the seed is put down than we are about what happened before," he said.
The first step is to select the variety of seed for your lawn. "In Indiana, from Indianapolis north, use a Kentucky bluegrass blend," Reicher said. "Further south, turf-type tall fescues and zoysia become more important, although Kentucky bluegrass is still a good choice."
Kentucky bluegrass has a pleasant dark green color, it is fairly disease tolerant, and it performs well under most conditions. Often perennial ryegrass is mixed with Kentucky bluegrass, but Reicher advised against mixes with more than 10 percent or 15 percent perennial ryegrass.
"A little perennial ryegrass is fine in a seed mix because it germinates quickly and can help to hold the soil before the bluegrass germinates," he said. "If too much perennial ryegrass is included in a mix, it will choke out the bluegrass during germination, prevent much of the bluegrass from establishing, and weaken the bluegrass so there is an increased chance of disease problems."
On drier areas that won't be irrigated, tall fescue is the preferred variety. In shady areas, turf experts say fine fescue or some tall fescue varieties will perform well. Avoid purchasing annual grasses such as annual ryegrass, because it will live for only one year or less and then need to be reseeded.
Finally, when purchasing seed, look for a blend of three or more cultivars in the seed lot, because that can reduce the amount of damage from pests or environmental stress.
Reicher recommends buying the best seed you can find.
"The price of quality seed is insignificant to the money that will be spent in maintaining your lawn for years to come," he said. "Quality seed is often the most expensive seed, but paying a little more money up front will save you time and money in the future.
"So you spend 10 to 50 cents more a pound. That's peanuts in your lawn maintenance costs over the 20-plus-year life of your lawn."
Because every package of seed has a label that lists the characteristics of the seed, Reicher suggested that to prevent problems with the lawn in the years ahead, homeowners check these items on the label:
For more information about selecting a turfgrass or seed for lawns in Indiana, the Purdue Cooperative Extension Service offers publication AY-5, "Turfgrass Varieties, Cultivars and Seed Labels," which is available from county Extension offices. Other lawn and turf information, including weekly updates by Purdue turf experts, can be found on the Internet at http://www.aes.purdue.edu/agronomy/turf/turftips.htm
Source: Zac Reicher, (765) 494-9737; Internet, firstname.lastname@example.org
Writer: Steve Tally, (765) 494-9809; home, (765) 463-4355; Internet, email@example.com
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