What Winston Churchill taught me about Lawn Care

Being a middle school teacher, I always stress to my students a quote from my man Winston Churchill.

“ Sometimes doing your best is not good enough. Sometimes you must do what's required." 

Many do not grasp this theory at first until I break it down into a more approachable explanation such as “it’s easy to ‘say’ you did your best when you fail or are not successful on their work or projects however, you must do what is “required” to have the chance to be successful.

Just showing up to class doesn’t guarantee success. You must do what’s required. This includes coming to class on time, having their notebooks, pens, and an open mind to learn something.  

I was looking out the front window the other day during the blizzard and thought about how this past fall my grass seed did not germinate. What was the problem, I asked myself. I borrowed my buddies’ slice-seeder, I used sun/shade mix and I watered the seed with my sprinkler system like I do every year.  

Then it dawned on me, maybe the salt from the snowplows have damaged my soil. When I use my snow thrower, I always clean about 10 feet in front of the curb so I can park my car. I’m sure a lot of sand and salt has done some sort of damage to my soil. 

Maybe the fact that I mulch and cut up the leaves in my yard with my riding lawn mower has changed the PH which affects the grass seed germination. Or maybe I sliced the seed in too deep? It just didn’t look right. 

Bottom line: I didn’t do what was required. I “tried my best” Or did I?  How can I correct this problem in the spring?  Well I am going to do what’s required. 

What’s required is a soil test. I must make sure the ph of my soil is between 6.4-6.8, which is slightly acidic.  Once I find out, I still have to address the dreaded crabgrass control and myself with seeding. Crabgrass control must be applied when the temperature becomes warm. A “rule of thumb” is when the forsythia start to bloom. 

You have a 2-week window to get it down. The problem is, the seed is not strong enough or better yet, hasn’t even germinated.  Since its job is to halt crabgrass from sprouting, it also keeps new seeds from germinating.  All these thoughts went through my head as my lawn disappeared until the blizzard snowfall. 

A landscape buddy of mine once told me that if you throw grass seed down on your lawn before a big snowfall, it will germinate in the spring. I thought of doing that, but if the soil wasn’t right, I would have wasted a lot of money on seed just to experiment with the idea.  One thing I will try that I never had to before , is to throw down crabgrass control, then in the spots I had problems with last fall, I am going to top dress those areas and then throw down the seed.  Oh yes, and I will be renting a slice seeder in the fall as well.  

Like I tell my students all the time, you live and you learn. Can’t wait to share with you how my lawn turns out this spring.