Getting ready for September Lawn Care

stacey tips art 1I know it is still summer and we are out socializing, boating, beaching, picnicking, etc. I don’t want any of you to stop having so much fun, I just want you to put the thought of fall seeding into your head. You don’t have to do it quite yet but get yourself mentally prepared and come down to Van Wilgen’s to get your supplies for September.

September is the perfect time to overseed your existing lawn, fill in dead patches, or even start from scratch. The soil temperatures are nice and warm so the grass will germinate fast. The nights are getting cooler so morning dew helps to provide moisture. Weeds are not as much competition. Watering is less time-consuming. Most importantly, you have had a nice summer break, and I promise, if you seed this fall, you will be so much happier with your lawn next spring.

The level you want to seed at is up to you. You can take small patches at a time, clean them up, throw down a little Van Wilgen’s topsoil, put down our custom grass seed and you are good to go. Or, you can rent an aerator, criss-cross the entire lawn, relieve compaction, apply Encap’s Fast Acting Gypsum, put down a layer of topsoil, spread our Van Wilgen’s grass seed, use Starter Fertilizer, cover the barest patches with Mainely Mulch chopped hay, water and wait for fresh, green sprouts. These are a couple of methods. No matter what, some preparation needs to be done to get the ground ready for new, fall seed!

Lawn preparation comes in many forms. Some people choose to do heavy raking only, others rent machines like core aerators and slit/slicer seeders. Still others, till everything up, bring in new topsoil and start from scratch. No method is wrong but some tips will help no matter what method you choose.

*September is a great month to seed. Come see us at the end of August to get your supplies and start your lawn prep. It would be great if you could get the new grass seed down in the first few weeks of September. Later is okay too, but let’s shoot for the beginning of the month.

*Choose the right grass seed. Van Wilgen’s has our own custom line of grass seed that is perfectly suited for our Connecticut climate. Come see us and we will help you pick the right grass for your yard.

*If just overseeding your existing lawn, mow your lawn short! This is the only time, I will tell you to do this. The grass seed you apply needs to make contact with the soil in order to germinate. Make seed to soil contact. Don’t let the grass seed hover above the soil. It is best to spread out a little Van Wilgen’s topsoil first.

*Apply Starter Fertilizer. We offer a great one by GreenView and if you want organic, Van Wilgen’s has Milorganite and Espoma’s Organic Lawn Starter. Applying starter fertilizer with your new grass seed will really help it to establish deep roots.

*Cover it! After you have seeded, cover it with Salt Hay or Mainely Mulch. We also carry a Grass Seed Accelerator by GreenView that has starter fertilizer built right into it. It is a great cover for smaller areas.

*Water. Yes, even in the fall you have to water grass seed. A good rule of thumb is: 30 for 30. Water your grass seed for 30 minutes, 2 X’s per day for 30 days. Grass seed needs moisture to split open. Once it splits, germinates, and your new lawn is about 1 inch tall, change your watering program. Water every other day for 1 hour in the earlier part of the day. Watering for a longer period of time helps to push deeper roots.

Trust me on this one, you will be so much happier with your lawn in the summer if you seed this fall. So enjoy the rest of your summer but start thinking seeding.

Come see us at Van Wilgen’s. We would love to help!



IT IS NOT FALL YET! Do not get too hasty. It is not quite time for Fall Lawn Food. I know as soon as September hits, we all get a little impatient and start rushing Fall. Don’t rush. Take your time. You have plenty of time before Step-4(Fall Lawn Food) needs to go down. It is, however, time to put down the green bag, otherwise known as, Step-3. The green bag contains All Season Lawn Food. This is the perfect fertilizer to use for this time of the year to help your poor lawn recover from the summer heat.

You have the freedom to choose Milorganite or Espoma’s Organic All Season Lawn Food. Both are wonderful. They will help replenish your lawn’s lost nutrients, organic matter, and growth. 3 great things! The Milorganite will give your lawn the little extra treat of Iron to give extra green-up.

It is not that I do not like Step-4. It really is nothing personal. Step-4/Fall Lawn Food is great! I just prefer that you wait a wee bit before applying to get the maximum benefit from it. You can wait all the way until you have mowed your lawn for the very last time this year and then apply Step-4. The secret is…when your lawn stops growing up top, apply Fall Fertilizer and it only pushes root growth. This is great because your lawn will develop a much deeper root system, thus, a healthier lawn next year. Patience pays off in this case.

With all this hubbub about Step 3 & Step 4, don’t forget about Lime. Lime is flexible. It can go down with Step 3 or Step 4. It does not play favorites. I recommend Pelletized Lawn Lime. It breaks down slowly and can work its’ magic over the winter. We could take a lesson in patience and pacing ourselves from Lime. Good ole’ Lime!

Come see us at Van Wilgen’s. We would love to help!



*Espoma’s Organic All Season Lawn Food

*Soil Doctor Pelletized Lawn Lime

Well, we all made it through one of the rainiest spring and early summer seasons we have ever seen. Mother Nature was a huge help to us keeping all of our plants wet with minimal hand watering. With summer now winding down, things are now showing signs of drying out.

As we get into the fall planting season make sure that all plants are properly watered going into the winter season. Plants that are dry in the winter have a greater chance to sustain winter injury. Nighttime temperatures are now getting lower so plants won’t dry out as quickly. Please refer to our Van Wilgen’s Watering Guide to help you through the process.

So you just finished harvesting all of your crops, you have tomatoes in every drawer in your kitchen and your garden is cut back. What now?

With enough time left before the first frost, you can still get another crop in the ground.

Whether you are a planner or a fly by the seat of your pants kind of gardener, succession planting is something to try.

What is Succession Planting?

Succession planting is a way of planting that maximizes your harvest. You plant one vegetable right as another one finishes. There are a few ways to do this:

  1. Harvest Crop – Using the same plot for another set of vegetables after harvest. When a crop is finished, plant another, with a shorter maturity date, in its place. Leafy greens, followed by potatoes, are a great example of harvesting and replanting.
  2. Companion Crop – Plant two or more crops with varying maturity dates around each other. After the first crop is harvested, your garden will continue flourishing. Radishes next to cucumbers are great companions. Radishes will be harvested before the cucumbers start to produce too much shade.
  3. Staggered Crop – Plant the same crop every few weeks in order to not be bombarded by the entire crop at once. Tomatoes and peas are crops you’d want in small batches throughout the whole season.
  4. Same Crop – Plant the same crop with different maturity dates. Seed packets will display the days to maturity on the packets. Broccoli is an example crop with various maturity dates.

Now you know what succession planting is, here are a few steps to send you in the right direction.

5 Tips for Succession Planting

  1. Plan Accordingly – Growing based on maturity can be a little tricky if you aren’t planning for your region. Make sure to check the seed packet or plant tag to find out how long the plant will take to mature and what temperature it will grow best in. Make sure you have enough seeds to keep you going through the season.
  2. Plant Transplants – Speed up the growing process by starting seeds This will allow you to harvest and quickly plant to keep your garden at an optimum level all the way up to those winter months. Or, purchase plants as seedlings from your local garden center.
  3. Feed Regularly – Add Espoma’s Garden Tone to the soil between plantings to keep the soil rich and crops thriving.
  4. Don’t Hesitate – As you see plants starting to reduce or cease harvest, don’t hesitate to pull them to make room for a new crop.
  5. Rotate Crops – Try not to plant the same vegetable in the same spot year after year. This causes the soil to lose essential nutrients and increases the likelihood of diseases developing. Rotate crops every three years.

Succession planting can ensure your garden is in working production all season long. Learn what veggies it’s not too late to plant.

Do you love roses but are stuck with limited space? Is your rose collection growing faster than your raised beds?

Container roses are a great solution for gardeners short on space or those who want the freedom to move their roses around. They give you the option of having roses wherever you want them.

So whether you are trying to cover up some unsightly spot or wanting sweet-smelling roses near your front door, we’re here to help you figure out the best roses for you.

Depending on the size and structure of your container, most roses won’t be a problem. Just be sure the container can hold the roots and soil needed for your roses. Be sure to choose roses recommended for your USDA Hardiness Zone.

Best Types of Roses for Containers

Miniature Roses – Don’t let the name fool you — these roses may be small in bloom size but still produce radiant color. Miniature refers to the size of the bloom, not the size of the bush. Typically they grow between 12”-18”, depending on growing conditions. These roses also love to hang out in window boxes. Choose a container that is at least 10” deep.

Small Roses – These low-growing roses help show off gorgeous containers. Small roses usually reach up to 2’. The variety of small roses is expansive and offers different styles, colors, and smells to keep your garden rocking. Due to their small stature, they are perfect for the urban gardener — use these to spruce up your balcony or front stoop. Choose a container that is at least 12” deep.

Patio Roses – With big, colorful, and robust blooms, you cannot go wrong with patio roses. They have a neat, bushy growth and regularly blooming rosette flowers. Choose a container that is at least 12” deep.

Floribundas – These one-of-a-kind hybrid roses have vibrant, colorful blooms that will dress up your yard. Grown in clusters, floribundas are wonderful to keep your guests in awe. They require a little more breathing room, so make sure to pick a larger container to keep them comfortable. Choose a container that is at least 15” deep.

6 Steps to Planting Your Rose Bush in a Container

  1. Select a container with drainage holes. The taller the containers the better since roses are deep-rooted.
  2. Fill container one-third of the way with Espoma’s organic potting mix.
  3. Take the rose out of the pot and gently loosen its roots.
  4. Add 3 cups of Espoma’s Rose-tone to the soil and mix thoroughly.
  5. Place the rose in the soil no deeper than it was growing in the container. Planting depth should be such that the graft knuckle is just below the soil level. Add more potting mix to the container and level out the soil.
  6. Water thoroughly.

WE LOVE FERTILIZER! Yes, there is a fertilizer for every seed, every plant, and for every time of the year. Fertilizer is amazing because it can be so helpful to our plants and the environment. Veggie gardens will give you a much greater yield, annuals will push out more bloom, trees will establish deeper root systems, shrubs will be less prone to disease, etc. We are not suggesting that you over-fertilize. This possibility does exist and will negatively affect your plants. Be sure to read the label! Twice the serving does not mean twice as good. Be judicious. Be wise. We can help.

Remember that there is a fertilizer for every time of the year? Well, there is. For this hot, August month, you have got to try Van Wilgen’s Root Boost and/or Van Wilgen’s Fish & Seaweed Fertilizers. They are perfect for any type of plant from veggies to houseplants. There is no risk of burning your plants with these fertilizers. They will enhance the plant’s vigor with kelp, beneficial bacteria, and nutrients. Use one or both together every week. You will truly notice a difference.

Fall is coming. In spite of this terribly hot, humid, dry weather, fall is on the way and this means it is time to restock the garage with fertilizers or to pull the ones you already have, out of the garden shed. This heat is brutal on plants. They will need your help to recover from the stress of summer. Pay attention to your struggling lawn. September is the time to apply Espoma’s Organic Summer Revitalizer or Greenview’s Lawn Food. Fertilize the heck out of your annuals and veggies. Give them a last hoorah with Van Wilgen’s Bloom Booster. Push them to their maximum. Trees and shrubs are screaming for Espoma’s Plant-Tone or Holly-Tone. Use half the rate, at this time of the year and quiet their screams. Do not let your lawns and gardens go hungry.

So, stop by the “smelly” department when you are visiting Van Wilgen’s. We will help you choose the right fertilizer for the right plant at the right time of the year.

Come see us at Van Wilgen’s. We would love to help!