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As great as it is to come home knowing all of the great changes taking place inside the house, arriving to a less than stellar exterior can be a little underwhelming. So, I’m determined that this will be the year that the exterior gets a little love, too.

Did you know what the mystery photo from yesterday’s post belonged to? It’s a tow-behind aerator for establishing grass seed.

For those who were like me before this weekend and aren’t familiar, here are a few things you need to know about this device:

1. These attach to a riding lawn mower relatively easily with a screwdriver.
2. Some, like the one we used, come with a hole on the side. For transport, the core stays empty, but when it comes time to do some aeratin’ (it’s a funny word that seems to sound more legit with a southern accent), they are filled with water and capped. The weight of the water makes the spikes dig deeper into the ground, making your efforts much more effective.

3. Aerating one’s lawn serves a number of functions, and is not limited to use when establishing a lawn. Aerators:

  • improve drainage and reduce run-off.
  • reduce soil compacting and increase root development (my #1 reason for doing this).
  • reduce the chances of damage due to a drought (great news for us Georgia residents where we often have water restrictions during summer).
  • help to reduce harmful thatch build up (in a yard like mine, this is helpful with all of the pinestraw and dead grass that can accumulate).
  • allow, water, and nutrients direct access to the root system.
  • help with fertilizing and over seeding (which we will probably do in the fall to maintain the new growth).

Isn’t this thing intimidating, though? With the added weight of the water, it certainly did the trick.

Using both a spreader and manual application (we had three people and only two spreaders, so I chose to help by tossing the seeds around by hand), we spread a mixture of seeds around the entire yard. Since my lawn is so bare, our plan was similar to establishing an entirely new lawn.

First, we gathered up all of the pinestraw and “thrush” (bits of dead grass, leaves, doggie presents from our neighbors), then used the aerator to spike holes into the ground. Tall Fescue is the type of grass that is in small patches around the yard already, but it’s spotty at best. I picked up Scott’s Turf Builder Landscaper’s Mix South from the home improvement store in a massive twenty-pound bag. It’s got solid reviews online and promises to deliver a dense turf in just a few weeks.

Tall Fescue will be what we use long-term, but to get our green going on a little faster, we also mixed in some annual ryegrass to help establish the lawn further. While it’s an annual (meaning it won’t come back year after year, which is our ultimate goal), it helps the other grass seed take root and will fill in bare spots.

We also applied some Tall Fescue with mulch and fertilizer in various spots. At this point, we’re basically trying it all! I’ll probably buy more of the mulch+fertilizer combo once we begin to see the bare spots (as opposed to the giant bare spot that is currently the entire lawn). The mulch and fertilizer seed combo isn’t cheap, so I figure this will be best used (for the lawn and my wallet) once the lawn is established.

Next, we let the sprinkler work its magic.

And now, we wait. Colby is a planned defense for us for the next couple of weeks to help protect the lawn from investment-eating birds. I’ll let you know soon when we start to see new growth!

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