Here in the Northeast, mid-August through the end of September is the best time to build the health of your lawn. Warm temperatures help seeds to grow. In addition, grass planted in the late summer will be well established for almost a year before it has to combat stress caused by the next summer's sun.
If there are large sections of your lawn thoroughly plagued by brown spots and weeds, you may want to consider starting from scratch—removing all of the existing grass in that area and beginning anew. You can remove the existing turf by digging it up or tilling it under, then raking up and removing the clumps. A less labor-intensive method is to cover the area with black plastic until all of the grass is dead, which conserves topsoil while creating organic matter. Till 2 to 3 inches of compost into the top 5 to 6 inches of lawn to alleviate drainage problems and maximize the amount of nutrients available to turf.
Choose seed to complement the soil and climate. If you are not sure what kind of seed to use, contact horticultural outreach staff at The New York Botanical Garden (Bronx Green-Up), Brooklyn Botanic Garden (Brooklyn GreenBridge) or Queens Botanical Garden to help assess whcih kind of grass seed will work best for your lawn. Here in the Northeast, four main turfgrass species are recommended: Perennial Ryegrass, Tall Fescue, Fine Fescue, and Kentucky Bluegrass.
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