It’s June, and your gloriously green, spring lawn, may not be looking quite as vibrant right now. So let’s do something about it! It’s time to give your lawn a little boost. As the weather turns hot, the cool-season grasses in our lawns start to suffer and could use a little of your help to look and feel better. When working on your lawn, just a few things to keep in mind:

• Small patch seeding only! Don’t take on big seeding projects this time of the year. If you do, you’ll have to water so much you won’t have time to enjoy your super green lawn. Only do small, manageable, bare patches of seeding.

• Keep the lawn mowed as high as you can tolerate. Never let that mower dip below 3 inches. The higher the lawn is, the less chance of burnout in the summer heat.

• You are either all in or all out. Meaning if you’re going to water in the summer months, commit to it. No piddly amounts of water will do. If you are only going to give your lawn shot glasses full of water, then do not bother at all. Just let it go dormant and take a little summer rest.

If at least a month has passed, since your last lawn fertilization, it’s time to get out there and do it again. Here’s the good news, there are many choices to fit your lawn’s needs.

• If your lawn is just looking a little tired, not quite as green, and not overrun with weeds, you could stick to fertilizer. Not just any ordinary fertilizer, but one that contains iron. Iron is great when applied in the month of June. It adds strength, vigor, and deep green color to our lawns, making them look better through the hot summer months ahead. Grab yourself a bag of Summer Revitalizer by Espoma or Milorganite.

• If you recently fertilized your lawn within the last four weeks but you still want that nice green color that iron gives you, then you can apply Fast Acting Iron by Earth Sciences. Talk about green!

• If your lawn is crying out for the nice green color iron adds to it, but still has quite a few weeds popping up, then the perfect combination would be one of the above fertilizers with a bottle of liquid weed control. You can choose a synthetic, such as Bonide’s Weed Beater Ultra plus Crabgrass and Broadleaf Weed Killer, or a natural, such as Weed Beater Fe. You’ll get a wider range of weed control with this synthetic choice but it is nice to know that a natural choice exists.

• Don’t forget the grub control this month. The new, hungry batch of grubs have not hatched yet but they will be soon and you want to be prepared. It is time to put down Grub Ex. Be sure to water it in or put it down before a rainfall to be most effective. If natural is the way for you, then you can put down Milky Spore to help keep those damaging critters at bay.

• If inevitably, each summer, your lawn is plagued with the summertime disease, now is the time to be proactive and put Bonide‘s Infuse Fungicide down. Be sure to water in and you may even consider a second application in 10 days.

Summer is on its way and this is the time we will want to enjoy our lawns the most. Give them a June boost now for the best summer lawn ahead! Happy Gardening!

The season for seeding is upon us!

If you’re ready to get to overseeding or spot seeding your lawn, the first thing you need to do is your yard clean-up. Use your heavy-duty rake and really go to town raking up the sticks, old weeds, and dead grass.

Your next step will be to decide how much time and effort you want to put into your over-seeding or spot seeding project so you can prep your supplies.

A more in-depth process includes aerating your lawn – a process that pulls dirt plugs out of the soil to alleviate compaction and helps water and oxygen flow through. You can rent an aerator if you don’t own one, or even use a hoe or aerating spike shoes if you’re just doing a small section of lawn.

You may opt not to aerate, but with or without that step you can use a product called Gypsum to continue to alleviate compaction – which is the kiss of death for any lawn. Gypsum is an all-natural, under-used product that helps improve soil conditions.

Another optional step is to put down topsoil. Your existing soil may be good enough, but if you decide to put down a thin layer of topsoil, I recommend a topsoil-to-compost 2 to 1 ratio to add much-needed nutrients that topsoil alone does not have. We offer topsoil in bags for spot seeding or bulk for over-seeding.

Once your topsoil is down, it’s time to choose your seed. It’s important to pick the right seed, which is based on how many hours of sunlight your lawn gets. We have custom-made, small-batch, locally sourced Van Wilgen’s grass seed available that is suited to fit all Connecticut environments. Options range from SeashoreMix seed for those whose lawns get salt spray to seed for deep Under Tree Shade mix.

Lay your seed down in a dense, single layer and at the same time put down a starter fertilizer. Both synthetic and organic starter fertilizer options are available.

Next, put down a cover, such as the weed-free straw we carry called Mainely Mulch or the GreenView product Seeding Success. This will hold the seed in place, hold the moisture in, stop the birds from eating it and help warm up the soil temperatures for quicker germination.

The most important part of the process is regular watering. All of your work will have been for nothing if you do not keep the seed damp daily – no puddles. As a general rule, you’ll want to water for a half-hour a day for 30 days, preferably before lunch. It may be necessary to water twice a day if the weather is particularly hot.

Now is the time to get this project underway. The soil still has a bit of warming up to do, but it’s best to get your over-seeding done before the summer sun comes blazing in and you’ll be on your way to the lawn you’ve spent your winter dreaming of!

Spring is the busiest time in your garden, and it can be easy to miss some important tasks that you’ll kick yourself for later. But good news! This spring checklist is customized for you—gardening in the New England climate—and it’s what we follow to keep our own gardens in tip-top shape to enjoy for months to come.
Stop by Van Wilgen’s for plants and supplies and we’re happy to answer your spring gardening questions.

Dads love their lawns. Lots of moms do too but today we are going to focus on the dads. Often while the family is off shopping for flowers in the greenhouse, the dads hang out in the lawn care corner with all the cool lawn stuff and lots of questions about how to get the best lawn on the block. Well, dads, we’re here to help! Here are some tips on how to have one of the best summer lawns on the block:

Van Wilgen’s Garden Center wants you to have the lawn that you desire. Whether you are happy with, “as long as it is green”, or you want a lawn that is golf course worthy, we can help. Here are some steps to take you through the year.

We have been trained to think of lawn care as a 4-step program. It is true that there are 4 basic lawn fertilization steps but there is a little bit more to consider. Van Wilgen’s has the steps for you!
The Connecticut Agricultural Station at 123 Huntington Street in New Haven, CT (203-974-8521) is able to test your soil for you. Once you have your results, come see us and we can help you formulate a plan for your lawn.
Depending on the results of your soil test, you may need to apply Lime. The ideal pH level for your lawn is 6.8 to 7.2. If you fall below this “sweet spot”, apply Lime. Use Fast Acting Lime in the spring for better results. Lime can be applied at the same time as fertilizer. The key to a beautiful lawn is proper pH.
Mother Nature gives us the best sign. Apply when the Yellow Forsythia is in bloom. Water in or apply before a rainfall. Be sure to focus on “hot” spots. The “hot” spots are sunny spots, slopes, compact areas, and edges of driveways, roads & walkways.
Dandelions, violets, and clover, oh my! This is the time of the year that all those unwanted weeds begin to pop up in your lawn. You can control them. Apply granular weed control to a slightly wet lawn. Morning dew is perfect. Do not mow your lawn 2 days before or 2 days after application. Do not water in. Allow 24 hours of drying time.
Shhh…this is a little trick. Apply Iron and you will see instant green-up of your lawn without stressing it out.
So many choices of when to apply. If you do not have a sprinkler system apply before or after the summer heat. It is best applied before rainfall.
Don’t miss this step. Grubs are our #1 damaging turf pest. Apply a season-long grub control at this time to control hungry grubs feeding August-October. Water in well.
Yes, apply this as late as November! Apply after your last mow of the season to establish a deep root system for next spring.
Even if you applied Lime in the spring, you may need to lime again depending on your pH level. Remember pH is one of the keys to a beautiful lawn.
This is a basic lawn care guide with a little extra to get you and your lawn through the season. Keep in mind, every lawn and every homeowner’s vision for their lawn is different. That’s ok! Van Wilgen’s has lawn care programs from conventional to organic, granular to liquid, and simple to involved. Whatever type of lawn you desire for your home, we can customize a plan for you.
Van Wilgen’s wants you, your family and your pets to have fun on your lawn.

(Seeding Small Patches of your Lawn)

I know I probably sound like a broken record. “Seed, seed, seed, okay, enough already with the seed!” I know this is what you are saying to me but seed is just so darn good for the lawn. It is the best way to fill in unsightly dirt patches, it is the most natural way to do weed control, and patchwork seeding is easy. It really is.

Patchwork seeding is starting super small. The French philosopher, Voltaire said, “Il faut cultiver notre jardin.” This translates to, tend to our own garden. I like to think it means to tend to your garden a little at a time and before you know it, you have one big, beautiful garden. This is a good approach for life and your lawn. Start small, especially if life is busy, water is scarce, budgets are tight, etc… This is why I love patch seeding. You take a little at a time, give it the true attention it needs, water it, and be patient. Patch seeding is so simple and easy, even your younger children can get involved. With a little adult help, they can dig up the dead grass or weeds in a bad patch, rake out a nice clean slate, put down a little topsoil, hand spread the grass seed, press it into the soil, cover with grass seed accelerator, and water it. They might even have a little fun doing it. If they help you to keep that little patch wet daily, it could be fun for them to watch the grass grow. It will give them a nice feeling of accomplishment to see something they planted, turn so green and get so tall.

Patch seeding will save you some big headaches later. Those patches that start off small in the spring, tend to get taken over with nasty weeds and crabgrass. They also tend to get larger as the summer heat burns out the edges of the small patches. Fill them in now and you will save yourself from more work later. It’s all about working smarter and not necessarily harder. Heck, even have a little fun with the kids while you are doing it!

So seed, seed, seed! I am going to say it over and over again. Sorry.

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


*Van Wilgen’s Premium Grass Seed

*Van Wilgen’s Topsoil

St. Patrick’s Day is a good time to think about greening things up in the yard.

If green is the color of good luck shouldn’t we be doing everything we can to green up our lawns and gardens this year?! Who couldn’t use an extra bit of good luck?! Let’s think green. Let’s make our lawns and gardens happy, healthy, vibrant, and thriving green machines this spring. How do we do this? With 3 lucky charms…good soil, good food, and a good drink.

Lucky Charm #1 = Good Soil:

*pH is important to good soil. If it is too high, crops like potatoes will suffer. Too low, and your lawn will not be very green at all. Come to Van Wilgen’s and I can test it for free or head to the CT Agriculture Station for more comprehensive testing. I will tell you just how much Lime or Soil Acidifier your soil needs.

*Nutrients help your plants thrive. Incorporate a good compost into your exiting soil. Use Van Wilgen’s Premium Planting Mix for anything new you are going to plant this year or mix in a little Fafard Garden Manure Blend into your veggie garden. A little compost will give any crop a lot of good luck.

*Aeration will really give plant roots luck. If soil is compact, plants cannot thrive. Alleviate compaction by tilling up soil and adding amendments such as Peat Moss, Gypsum, and Green Sand. Don’t underestimate the bad luck of compact soil.

Lucky Charm #2 = Good Food:

*Fertilizer is crucial to producing green, healthy plants. We can help you pick the perfect fertilizer for every plant. Plants are big eaters. Don’t just feed them an appetizer. They want the whole St. Patrick’s Day feast. Trees and shrubs are hankering for some Espoma Plan-Tone and Holly-Tone. Perennial flowers would be so satisfied with some Van Wilgen’s All Purpose Slow Release Plant Food. Veggie gardens are hungry all the time. Feed them for plenty of good luck.

*Fertilizer for new plants is key to lucky establishment. Use Van Wilgen’s Jump Start or Root Boost for every new plant you put in the ground.

Lucky Charm #3 = A Good Drink:

*Water. Water brings luck to everyone and every plant. Make sure that is a moderate drought hits CT again this year, give your plants a good drink. The more they have to drink, the greener they will be!

For an extra good luck charm fuse Iron. Iron is the key to greening up the yellowest of plants naturally and stress free. Use it on everything. Encap’s Fast Acting Iron or Espoma’s Iron Tone are my favorite good luck charms for the lawn and garden this year!



*VW’s Premium Planting Mix

*Fafard Garden Manure

*Encap’s or Espoma’s Garden Gypsum

*Espoma’s Green Sand

*Espoma’s Plant or Holly Tone

*VW’s All Purpose Slow Release Plant Food

*VW’s Jump Start or Root Boost