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Lawn Repair With John

Martha Stewart Living Television

When heavy traffic, pet damage, or other stresses cause a small area of your lawn to lose its vigor, spot-seeding can bring the area back to life. The warm, moist months -- middle spring and early fall in cool zones, for example -- are perfect for sowing grass seed. John Henske, proprietor of Custom Turf in Green Farms, Connecticut, recommends first using a star-wheeled cultivator to till the target area to a depth of one-quarter inch. Then, lightly coat the area with fresh soil, and sprinkle in grass seeds to match the surrounding grass. Sow about fifteen seeds per square inch (check seed-box label for application rate). Till once more with the star-wheeled cultivator, and tamp lightly with your foot. When applying new soil and seeds, remember that getting good seed-to-soil contact is the objective. Mark the area with bamboo stakes to ward off inadvertent trampling, and water well. Continue watering every day until the grass has filled in to your satisfaction.

Grass
Perhaps the best way to choose the right grass for your lawn is to consult local county extension agents and nurseries. They will be able to recommend seed varieties to meet your specific needs. Some common varieties include the following:

Bermuda Grass
Bermuda grass grows best in the South and Southwest. It spreads so quickly, however, that it can quickly invade flower beds. It doesn't do well in shade, but it will tolerate variable soil conditions, some drought, and salt air.

Buffalo Grass
Buffalo grass, native to the Great Plains, is also popular in the South, thanks to its resistance to heat and drought. Growers must be patient, since it can take as long as two years for green blades to appear from seed; therefore, it is usually started from small plants, called plugs, which are transplanted to the intended lawn area.

Fine Fescues
Fine fescues are the most shade-tolerant of lawn grasses. They also have minimal fertilization and water requirements. Because they mix well with other varieties, fine fescues are often used in blends.

Kentucky Bluegrass
Kentucky bluegrass is the most common lawn grass in the Northeast. It germinates slowly.

Perennial Ryegrass
Perennial ryegrass germinates quickly. Older varieties were considered coarse and unattractive, but new ones have better texture and color.

St. Augustine
St. Augustine grass is popular in Florida and along the Gulf Coast. It is the most shade tolerant of the warm-season varieties, and can withstand high heat and humidity.

Tall Fescues
Turf-type tall fescues adapt to a variety of sunlight and soil conditions. Older varieties were tough, coarse, and prone to clumping; improvements have made them finer, darker, and more drought-resistant.

Zoysia Grass
Zoysia grass stands up well to crabgrass and other summer weeds. It goes dormant and turns tan in the cool weather. It's best suited to the transitional regions stretching from Virginia to Oklahoma.