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Garden Guru: Fall lawn care

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Photo: FLLewis/Media City G -- Garden Guru Emilio "Elmo" Telles

Photo: FLLewis/Media City G -- Garden Guru Emilio "Elmo" Telles

I have customers coming in saying that it’s time to over-seed their Bermuda and St. Augustine grass while it’s “calendar” wise for them to go dormant (= “go to sleep, and get brownish”).

The thing is with us here in the valley having a very short dormant period, I would watch the weather and when it says we will be cooling down soon, that’s when you want to over seed with the Annual rye seed. The annual ry is a cool-season temporary grass that is a cool season grass that will die out when next warm spring will start dying out when the dormant grasses will start greening up.

Halloween week is my traditional time to do your last lawn feeding on dormant winter grasses. Not only will it give your lawns a last pre-dormant boost, but it will also shorten the dormant period!

Mow the lawn first, so the seed comes in contact with the soil better then top it with bags of seed cover. If you like the smell of steer manure have at it, BUT using a product like E.E. Stone’s Top Coat is a better idea. The problem with steer manure is after using it after several seasons, your soil will have a high salt content due to the corralled steer’s diet which utilize those salt-lick wheels. The Top Coat has only about 10% steer and a finer grade compost to cover the seed.

Keep the lawn well watered, but don’t wash away the seed off the curb! Wait until the new grass is ready and up to height for the first mowing before you mow. Otherwise a mowing while the seed is young, it will yank the young sprouts out of the ground.

Here’s the bottom line, if you want your lawn green over our short winters, go for it. Still, I have plenty of customers that go out of town and could care less and save money paying their gardeners a bit less during the holidays.

My wife hates the dormant look, and her gardener loves the $80 extra to do the lawn. Good thing I don’t have to pay!

Any questions feel free to post them here!


Emilio “Elmo” Telles is a garden expert at Armstrong Garden Center  5816 San Fernando Road, Glendale  91202.

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