Fairway Green, Inc
9 Ilene Ct, Suite 14 Hillsborough, NJ 08844
Phone: (908) 281-7888

Category Archives: Lawn Aeration & Seeding

Feed Your Seed

Every year countless homeowners evaluate their lawn and decide it is time to seed. They warn their lawn care technician in hopes of having them avoid the newly seeded areas. While it is important that the lawn care applicator/technician be aware of the newly planted seed, thinking the area needs to be avoided is a common mistake. Newly planted lawn should be maintained with as much diligence as established turf. This article debunks the misconception that new grass should be avoided and explains why the best thing is to do the exact opposite.


Feed the New Seed

What is new seed after all? It’s a whole bunch of baby grass plants. As with mature grass plants, an important aspect of seed germination is to “feed” the young plants with proper nourishment. Some people have the idea that you should avoid new grass plants with regularly scheduled applications; however instead of avoiding the seeded sections, we recommend using a specific fertilizer intended for new grass.

Not Just Any Plant Food

Like feeding infants baby formula, new grass plants need to be fed specially formulated plant food commonly known as starter fertilizer.

Starter fertilizer comes in granular and liquid formulations and can include a lot of different micronutrients, but true starter fertilizer must contain phosphorus in high doses. Phosphorus is the chief nutrient responsible for new growth and is used in greatest bulk by new plants for their development. New Jersey, in an effort to protect against its overuse, has laws prohibiting the application of fertilizers containing phosphorus during regular lawn maintenance. However, this nutrient is so critical for the young grass plants that the law makes exception for its usage in establishing new grass.

How necessary is it really to apply phosphorus? Can the plant just get that from the soil? Most of the phosphorus contained in the soil is bonded too tightly to the soil and cannot be extracted by immature grass roots. In addition to this, the newly forming grass roots are very shallow. Starter fertilizer containing the phosphorus needs to be delivered to the surface where roots can absorb the nutrient as it becomes available before it gets bound by the soil particles

What’s the Rush?

We want the new grass plants to mature as quickly as possible in order to withstand environmental conditions they will face. Whether it is the summer heat, drought stress, winter dormancy or disease; the well-established root system of mature grass plants have a better chance of surviving stressful environmental events compared to young grass.

Most seeding takes place in the spring or toward the end of summer. In the spring, the new plants need to mature as quickly as they can to develop a root system capable of supporting the plants through the upcoming summer. Therefore, it is extremely important to plant grass seed as early in the spring as possible (March or early April once snow cover is gone). The chances of getting a lot of desirable grass to germinate and establish in such a small window of time before summer heat arrives are already slim, so if the grass is to have any real chance at all, the process must be accelerated by applying starter fertilizer. For more information about seeding in the spring, check out our blog.

This same principle holds true for seeding that takes place at the end of summer, but obviously the race is against the cold instead of the heat. Therefore, larger seeding projects are best scheduled for this time as opposed to spring. Though the weather is more beneficial for longer, it is still important to appropriately fertilize the new grass to improve the overall turnaround on the seed. After all, having the highest percentage of new plants develop is often what categorizes the work as a success.

The final concern would be pathogenic fungi or turf disease. In trying to establish new seed, the areas addressed should be getting watered lightly at least once if not multiple times each day. While this is the correct way to ensure grass development, it can also promote unwanted disease activity. While the grass is very young, foliar diseases such as dollar spot, brown patch, and leaf spot can be very damaging to the plants. Feeding the plants with starter fertilizer will help them develop quicker and give them the nutrients they need to fortify themselves against potential threats.

Now You Know

While it is important not to treat the new seed inadvertently with potentially damaging herbicide, it can be equally damaging to avoid the area altogether. Next time you seed the lawn, speak with your lawn care technician about adjusting subsequent treatments and make sure that the new grass is addressed with starter fertilizer. Not only will he or she know to bring the correct product to the property each time, but they will also be able to monitor those areas during future treatments. Your lawn maintenance company is there to service the needs of the property and customize treatments whenever necessary. Be sure to take full advantage of all the benefits your company has to offer, not just for your established lawn, but for your new seed as well.

If you are in our service area and have questions about seeding or applying fertilizer, give our office a call or request a free estimate.

Things to know before you seed this Spring

Spring is finally here! It’s time to get outside and enjoy the nicer weather. One common activity for most homeowners is doing a spring clean-up around the yard. This is also when most people notice the bare areas of turf and decide it’s time to do some spring seeding. Spring seeding has its place, but it’s important to have real expectations and understand the potential long-term issues before spending your time and money on seeding your lawn early in the season.

Broadleaf Weeds

Lots of plants are actively growing in the spring, including broadleaf weeds! When you decide to seed in the spring, the grass plants are going to be actively competing with weeds for places to germinate and grow. Once you seed, it’s not a simple process of just spraying the weeds to kill them, the young immature grass plants will not be strong enough to withstand weed control and survive. Most weed control products recommend waiting until you’ve mowed the new grass 3 to 4 times before applying the product. You’re forced to wait until the grass plants and the weeds mature before you can spray the weeds. If you have aggressive weed growth, you may have to touch up seed those areas after you control the weeds.

Since we’re talking about weeds, lets discuss the tiny crabgrass seeds that are lying dormant in the soil, just waiting for temperatures to warm up enough so they can germinate. Although crabgrass won’t be actively competing with your young grass plants in the spring, it will start to encroach a little closer to summer.

Prior to crabgrass germination, we typically apply a crabgrass pre-emergent product in the spring. Most of these products not only control crabgrass, but also kill your young grass plants. If you plan on seeding, you will have to avoid applying crabgrass pre-emergent in the seeded areas if you want any of the new plants to survive!

During the summer months, when a lot of the cool season grasses go dormant, crabgrass becomes a major issue and can take over sections that you seeded in the spring. All the time and money spent will have provided nice short-term results, but long term you will need to seed again in September.

Can you still prevent crabgrass?

If you really need to seed and a crabgrass pre-emergent was already applied or you want to have one applied, there are options. If the crabgrass pre-emergent was already applied, you can add a few inches of fresh topsoil to the areas you want to seed. This will allow the plants to germinate and grow before hitting the pre-emergent layer in the existing soil.

The other option is to use a pre-emergent product that is safe to use on new seed.  We have found these products are not as effective, but it is an option you can try. If you go this route, please make sure you read the label and application instructions completely before applying the product. Timing and quantity of product are extremely critical when dealing with newly seeded areas.

Working with the Weather

The final concern with spring seeding has to do with the weather, which is completely out of our control. In the Northeastern United States, cool-season grasses are the dominant varieties used, and as the name suggests, they prefer cooler temperatures. A mature grass plant is going to be much more resilient and stress tolerant than a plant that was recently planted and doesn’t have a fully developed root system. We want our new plants to grow as much as they can before summer arrives and temperatures start rising, making it stressful on turf.

Also, spring snowfall, which has happened to us in recent years, makes it even more difficult by shortening the growing season before summer and cooling the soil temperatures, delaying germination even more. Even if you do everything perfect in the spring and your new grass plants are looking great before the summer, stressful weather conditions are ahead, and the plants are still very vulnerable.

High temperatures and drought are extremely difficult on younger plants and they might not survive. In addition to the high temperatures, the summer is also when most lawn diseases are active. An immature plant is more susceptible to disease and more likely to be killed by the disease when compared to a mature plant. For more information on minimizing turf disease, click here to read our blog.

There’s still hope for seeding

If you’re still reading this blog, I want to let you know successful spring seeding is possible, it might need a little extra care depending on the weather. Watering correctly to help reduce stress and potentially using a fungicide to minimize disease impacts increases your odds of success. If it can wait, seeding in late August through September is preferred in our region. You will have less competition from other weeds, crabgrass will be near the end of its life cycle, the most stressful weather has typically passed, and cooler fall temperatures are right around the corner. Make sure you don’t wait too long in the fall; germination stops quickly when soil temperatures get too cold. Late August through the month of September is a great window to seed.


Now that you are aware of the potential limitations with spring seeding, you can make the best decision for your specific situation. A lot of times, you don’t have a choice and spring seeding is necessary, at least now you know what to look for and expect long term. If you’re in our service area and have questions about seeding, feel free to contact us at 908-281-7888.

Benefits of Core Aeration and Over Seeding

Benefits of Core Aeration and Over Seeding

Between the summer stresses of drought and disease, and every day activities that lead to soil compaction; your lawn may not be looking its best by the time fall rolls around. To help combat these stresses and maintain a lawn, often a core aeration is recommended for its many benefits. For those that may not know, core aeration is the process of mechanically removing plugs of soil and depositing them on the surface.


Soil Compaction

Over time your lawn can become compacted with every day activities; dogs running around, children playing, parties with large groups of people on your lawn and even mowing the lawn with heavy equipment. The first benefit of core aeration is that it helps reduce soil compaction. Soil compaction is the compression of soil particles which reduces pore space. Pore space is the area between the soil particles where water, nutrients and air travel through to get to the roots. If the pore space in the soil is compacted, the nutrients, water and oxygen are not able to reach the roots.

Thatch Layer

Another benefit of core aeration is to reduce the thatch layer. Thatch is the organic layer of roots, living and dead shoots, and stems that develop between the grass and the soil surface. When the thatch layer is too thick it impedes the infiltration of water, oxygen and nutrients. Also, disease and insects harbor in this area and can be detrimental to a lawn.

During a core aeration, microorganisms from inside the soil are pulled up to the surface. These microorganisms help to breakdown that thatch layer from the top down as they go back into the soil.

Strong Roots

Core aeration also helps enhance root growth into the surrounding soil. When spaces in the soil are created by the core aeration process, the grass roots grow into those voids creating a stronger, fuller root system.  In addition, nutrients, water, and air will have easier access to the roots.


Over seeding after a core aeration has many benefits as well. The first benefit is that the soil is prepared to receive seed; meaning the seed will contact the loose soil, which is very important for seed germination.  The holes created by the core aeration will provide a seed bed for the grass seeds that fall into them after they are spread over the lawn.

The next benefit to over seeding is that it will help reduce weeds and crabgrass. Weeds and crabgrass are opportunist, they will grow in any bare or thin areas that they can. By improving the turf density in these bare or thin areas with new grass, you are effectively reducing space for weeds and crabgrass to grow and take over.

Over seeding also gives you the opportunity to incorporate newer grass varieties. Each year new grass varieties are developed that are superior to the older ones. Some of the benefits to these newer grasses would be more drought, insect, and disease tolerance.

Core aeration and over seeding is meant to “spruce up” your lawn’s appearance. This process improves the appearance of a lawn that has some bare or thin areas. This type of seeding is not recommended for lawns that have zero grass like new construction, a complete renovation from scratch, or large areas of lawn that are completely bare.

When to seed

The best time of year for seeding is early fall, specifically from the middle of August through September.  Seedings are more successful in September because crabgrass preventers that have been applied in the spring will be broken down and gone by then. Crabgrass preventers and weed controls can interfere with seed germination. Also, by September any crabgrass plants that have germinated throughout the season are at the end of their life cycle and are dying off, thus creating less competition with the newly germinated grass seeds.

Another reason the fall is a great time for both core aeration and over seeding is because the environmental conditions are right. The heat of the summer has subsided and we have cooler temperatures that help the lawn recover from a core aeration. Soil temperatures are moderate and are conducive to seed germination and soil moisture can be maintained adequately from regular watering and rain during this time of year.


If you have any questions or if you are interested in core aeration and over seeding your lawn, please contact Fairway Green Inc. If you are in our service area, we would be happy to provide you with a free quote to help get your lawn looking great this fall.


Before You Plant Grass in the Spring

Among a host of other long-awaited chores, many homeowners are eager to get out onto their lawns once the snow has melted and plant grass in the spring. While it may be difficult to contain the urge to rush out to the local home improvement store and spend hundreds of dollars in a state of euphoria brought on by the smell of fresh cut grass, there are a few things to consider first before planting grass in the spring.

How to decide?

The first thing to consider before planting grass in the spring is whether or not the lawn needs to be seeded at all. In the early months of spring the soil is often super saturated from the snow melt. A lot of the plants are overly succulent with no rigidity and the color is poor because a lot of plants are still dormant. Keep in mind that the lawn has just started to wake up and isn’t looking its best. I mean, would you want anyone making any decisions regarding what to do about your overall appeal right after you rolled out of bed? Just try not to be overly disappointed with the lawn’s appearance at first sight and know that it looks as bad as it is going to early in spring before the soil temperatures become warm enough to trigger spring growth before you decide to plant grass in the spring.

How should one determine if you should plant grass in the spring? Spring seeding should be planned if there any obvious areas of exposed soil. These areas can represent a large percentage of the property, or be as small as a baseball or basketball.  Even small areas of exposed soil where there is little to no grass present can be an eyesore, and establishing new grass in these areas before they become worse through erosion is important.

When to plant grass in the spring

Once the decision is made to plant grass in the spring, the work should be done as early as the weather permits. The best time to plant grass in the spring is when the snow has melted and it appears that there will be no future snow accumulation. This is usually between late March and early April. The timing is important because it is essential that the new seed has as many weeks as possible to establish before the summer arrives. One of the biggest disadvantages to seeding any areas in the spring is that a large percentage of the new plants do not develop a root system mature enough to survive the stress of summer. Therefore, it is best only to address the sections of the lawn that absolutely need it in spring.

unseeded lawn and seeded lawn

The above pictures show a portion of a lawn that needs to be seeded, and what it looks like post seeding.


After you seed

After the seeding has taken place it is important to feed the young plants. If you have a lawn care service in place they should be notified. Explain to them when and where on the property you have planted grass in the spring. The service provider can then be sure to avoid the application of any herbicides to the areas, and to bring out starter fertilizer with the next scheduled treatment to apply on the new grass. Keeping new grass properly fed with starter fertilizer high in phosphorus is critical in trying to ensure that the young plants establish in time for summer. Skipping the Early Spring application of fertilizer for fear that it may damage the turf in some way is a huge mistake often made by homeowners. Like any other newborn, young seedlings need to feed immediately to grow, and like infants they require a special diet different than that of mature adults.

With the new seed planted and fertilized, it becomes about monitoring the seedlings as they come in. The areas need to be kept moist always. One of the advantages of planting grass in the spring is that there is frequent rainfall, so keeping seeded areas moist is not very difficult. Light, frequent watering is best. New plants do not have roots, so deep watering does not serve much of a purpose. Traffic of the areas should be kept to a bare minimum. Use stakes and some string or caution tape to keep anyone from entering the area unnecessarily. The areas will need to be mowed eventually, but that should not happen until the new plants reach a height of about 4” or so.

If these instructions are followed to the letter, the new grass will have been given the best chance to germinate and establish. However, there are additional issues that come with planting grass in the spring that may adversely affect the result despite the best efforts of the homeowner.

Summer Heat

First, as mentioned already the trick with planting grass in the spring is to get it to establish before the summer arrives. Sometimes though, summer arrives earlier than expected. It is not unheard of for there to be heat waves as early as May, and it won’t take much to damage the young plants. Just a single week of temperatures more than eighty degrees may be enough to cause injury from which the new grass will not be able to recover.

Broadleaf Weeds

Second, the race for the new grass to establish is not just against the heat, but also the broadleaf weed growth. In areas of the lawn where there is less grass established there is more soil exposed to direct sunlight. The temperature increase in the soil, along with the lack of plant competition, creates the perfect environment for excessive broadleaf weed growth. If broadleaf weeds establish in these areas before the new grass does, then the results may be less than desirable.


The last factor to consider before deciding to plant grass in the spring is crabgrass. The most effective way to control crabgrass is preventatively with treatments that are applied in the early spring. Any areas seeded cannot be receive this treatment because it prevents the new grass from being able to establish. What this means is that any areas seeded will most likely have to contend with a good deal of crabgrass growth. And because crabgrass growth doesn’t really occur until June, even new seed that looks amazing to that point can suddenly become lackluster once the crabgrass populates the area. The crabgrass can be treated at that point, but then the homeowner is left with an area filled with dead crabgrass plants until the lawn can be reseeded at summer’s end.


While spring is the time for new growth, all the factors mentioned should be carefully considered before planting grass in the spring. In general, smaller touch up seeding is a non-issue and should be taken care of without much thought. However, before doing any extensive plantings of grass in the spring, it may be best to contact a lawn care professional and weigh the options carefully.

For more information about preparing your lawn and landscape for spring, check out our blog that takes an in-depth look into preparing your property for the spring. If you are in our service area and have any questions about planting grass in the spring, please don’t hesitate to call us at 908-281-7888.

Core Aeration

Why should I Aerate my lawn?

The simple answer is core aeration reduces soil compaction, thatch build up, and promotes healthy root growth.  Soil compaction and heavy thatch build up can greatly reduce the flow of water and nutrients into the soil.  This results in reduced uptake of water and nutrients, lower oxygen levels in the soil and poor root growth.  During times of stress, like the hot and dry summer we just had, plants with a poor root system will be less tolerant to stress and more susceptible to disease.  Core aeration is an environmentally sensitive and organic approach to having a healthier lawn.

Why is my soil compacted?

Soil compaction occurs over time through everyday use such as mowing, foot traffic, and recreational use.  Even without traffic, natural processes such as rainfall and soil settlement will cause compaction.  The impacts from compaction are more evident in parts of your lawn that are frequently used, such as near a play set or in front of an access gate for people with fenced in yards.  In these areas, you will notice thinning and the development of bare patches over time as a result of soil compaction from consistent use.

How does core aeration work?

Core aeration works by mechanically removing plugs of soil from the lawn.  This will immediately improve water and nutrient flow deeper into the soil, as well as promote root growth for a healthier, more stress tolerant plant.  Other benefits include increased oxygen levels to the soil, improved soil pore space, reduction in thatch build up, and enhanced response to fertilizers.


The photo above was taken after aerating a customer’s lawn and shows the plugs that were removed.  It may look unsightly at first, but the plugs will continue to break down over the next few weeks and be less noticeable over time.  These plugs play two major roles in the breakdown of thatch layers.  In addition to the mechanical removal of thatch, microorganisms located within the plugs will re-enter the turf from the top and help the decomposition of remaining thatch layers.

When should I aerate my lawn?

In central New Jersey and eastern Pennsylvania, we recommend aerating from late summer through the fall as the turf will have less stress caused by heat and drought.  In addition, at this time the grass plants will be growing and developing their roots while also having less pressure from weeds.


Right after the core aeration is an excellent time to seed, assuming the temperatures have not gotten too cold.  The open areas created by the core aeration are great sites for seed germination.  For seeding, you would want to coordinate with us in advance so that your core aeration is completed during August or September.

In summary, regular aeration is a necessary process for having a healthy lawn.  For those of you that golf, you may be familiar with the process as golf courses aerate multiple times in the same year.  Our recommendation to homeowners would be to aerate at least every other year, however an annual aeration would be ideal.

Please feel free to contact Fairway Green if you have any questions related to core aeration or your lawn in general.

9 Ilene Ct, Suite 14, Hillsborough, NJ 08844 United States | (908) 281-7888
Phone: (908) 281-7888 Fairway Green Inc.