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Verticutting and Lawn Rejuvenation

Tuesday, September 11 2012 8:29 AM

With cooler temperatures and more beneficial rainfall in many forecasts around the country, lawn care enthusiasts are taking to their yards with a whole assortment of tools and machines. The dead heat of summer is over. It’s time to reclaim the lawn. Chances are, your local equipment rentals agency has booked all their verticutters for the next couple of weekends. Verticutters are popular this time of year because they pull up much of the dead grass and create beneficial seed-to-soil contact by digging thin furrows in the underlying soil.

Yes, it was a hot, hot, hot summer for many states. Lawns quickly dried up in the oppressive heat, and some didn’t survive. But it’s easy to renovate a lawn with a verticutter at this time of year – and it should start to show some new green in as little as two weeks. Verticutting and seeding a lawn is a simple process that should usually take no more than a half day from your weekend. To get started, you’ll need to rent a verticutter (most equipment rental agencies and large-type home improvement retailers will rent you one). You’ll also need seed for the affected areas of the lawn, a bag of nitrogen-based fertilizer, and your hoses and sprinklers.

The benefit of using a verticutter is that the grooves or furrows the machine cuts into the soil will provide a resting area for the grass seed and prevent wash-out during watering or rainfall. Pick a dry day (no recent or expected rainfall). Start by mowing your lawn (bagging the clippings) to about 2” in height. When you’re ready to begin verticutting, you can set the blades to 1/8” to 1/4” in depth. On some verticutter models, you can also fill the hopper with grass seed. The verticutter moves and operates just like a push lawnmower. Run the verticutter at a 90-degree angle against the slope of your lawn. If your lawn slopes north to south, make sure that you’re cutting grooves in the dirt east to west. The reason for this is to ensure that your verticutter grooves aren’t running straight down hill and carrying all your seed with the water to the curb. After verticutting, rake up all the dead grass, put down your seed and your fertilizer, and water everything in.

On the topic of watering – with cooler temps (especially at night), it may be best to do your watering at dusk. If you have an in-ground sprinkler system, you can set the watering timer to activate the sprinklers at any time – but keep in mind that daylight sun will dry up the water on the grass even when the average temperature has dropped into the 70s. If you have hoses and sprinklers to move around the yard, it’s easier to set the sprinklers going in the evening. Mornings are typically pretty busy. You can set the sprinklers going while you’re watching TV after dinner
and change them around during commercials. Easy as can be. Just make sure that you aim your sprinklers toward the lawn instead of the street or the driveway.

The rejuvenation process may take a few weeks before you see some real results. Once the lawn starts coming back into shape, keep the grass mowed to a height of about 2-3 inches until it’s time to put up your mower or lawn tractor for the winter. At that point, you’ll want to perform an end-of-season tune-up on your mower or lawn tractor to prepare it for storage over the winter. The MoJack line of lawn mower lifts, by the way, has been designed to lift nearly every mower type – making your mower maintenance quick and easy.