Labor Day is here. Let’s get out there and put a little bit of labor into our lawns. The summer heatwave has kept us sadly looking at our stressed-out lawns from the inside out. I know, it has been too darn hot to think about doing much in the yard, except for sitting under the shade of a tree with a cool drink in your hand. I myself have felt much less productive but I promise the cooler weather is on its way. Don’t delay.

September is the ideal month to care for and improve your lawn. You think you struggled in the heat and humidity!? Your poor lawn has taken a beating. It has nowhere to run, nowhere to hide. There is so much you can do to help your lawn right now. Take a break from the AC and get out there.

Of course, I am always going to push you to throw a little grass seed at your lawn. There is nothing better than filling in thin or bare spots or starting fresh with new grass seed. A thick lawn is the best defense against weeds and crabgrass. If you are just not up to seeding this fall, at least put down some fertilizer. Give your lawn a good organic fertilizer like Espoma’s Summer Revitalizer or Milorganite. I also love Greenview’s Lawn Food. Apply either of these in the Month of September. You will see a big improvement. Note: You are not off the hook after this application. A Fall application should follow sometime in October/November.

Back to seeding. September is a beyond-perfect month to seed. The nights are getting cooler but the soil temperatures are so warm for quick germination. You do not need to water as often and weed competition is not as big of a deal. You could start small and do some simple patch seeding or take it to the next level and over-seed your entire lawn. Whatever your fancy, I encourage you to do a little seeding.

If seeding is going to be your focus, let’s get going. Get your supplies: Van Wilgen’s Grass Seed, Starter Fertilizer, Chopped Straw, and do not put away those sprinklers. If you want to rent a core aerator and aerate your lawn before seeding, I will go to sleep with a big smile on my face. You should core aerate your lawn every two years. It is the best at relieving compaction, letting water and oxygen flow through, and giving you a healthy lawn. If used right before over-seeding, your results will be so much better.

Time to do a little labor on your lawn. Your lawn is calling you outside.

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


*Espoma’s Organic Summer Revitalizer (the yellow bag)


Just as you need the energy to get through your day, your plants do too. And of course, when it comes to family-friendly gardening, organic fertilizer is the way to go!

What is Organic Fertilizer?

Organic fertilizers contain only ingredients from plant, animal, or mineral sources. Examples of these kinds of ingredients are bone meal, kelp meal, and greensand.

Why Use Organic Fertilizers?

While it is true that all fertilizers ultimately feed nutrients to plants in the same form, it is the process by which they are delivered that makes organic fertilizers superior to others.

Three ways to think about organic fertilizers:

1. Gardening always starts with the soil. Organic fertilizer “feeds the soil that feeds the plants”. The process by which organic fertilizers deliver their nutrients enhances the fertility and structure of the soil.

Organic fertilizers are digested by soil microorganisms, which then release the nutrients in a form available to plants. This process produces humus, a spongy material that improves soil structure. When you improve soil structure, the soil is better able to hold the proper balance of water, air, and nutrients until they are required by plants.

Plants respond by developing larger root systems. Larger roots support more vigorous top growth and make plants less susceptible to drought. And by stimulating a healthy population of beneficial microorganisms in the soil, plants become more resistant to insects and diseases.

2. Organic fertilizers will provide slow, steady feeding, as the plants require it. The release process is slow and largely dependent upon three factors: the microbial population in the soil, moisture, and soil temperature.

A healthy population of microbes in the soil is necessary for the digestion process. Moisture is required to sustain microbial life as well as to keep nutrients flowing into the plant’s root zone. And soil temperature is critical because as it rises, plants require nutrients more rapidly.

Fortunately, microbial activity mimics these requirements and increases as soil temperature rises, so that organic fertilizers feed the needed nutrients as the plants require them.

3. Most of the time, the gardener isn’t the only one in the garden. Organic fertilizers are the safest choice for your plants and the environment. Unlike synthetic plant foods, organic fertilizers have an extremely low salt index, which means there is little to no risk of burning (dehydrating) plants in periods of extreme drought or when over-applying.

Organic fertilizers are generally very resistant to leaching out of the soil, so their nutrients stay in the root zone until the plants need them. And since most organic ingredients are byproducts from commercial farms and meat processing plants, the utilization of them for feeding plants is really a system of recycling much like composting.

So, when the debate of whether you should fertilize your plants pops in your head remember: organic fertilizer is the right choice for you and your family. Check out our fertilizers here.

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.


Question: Can I still seed?

Answer: Absolutely, 100%, most indubitably, with no doubt, yes!!!!!!

Question: It is getting a little chilly out. Are you sure?

Answer: Absolutely, 100%, most indubitably, with no doubt, yes!!!! That is a good question though. It does feel a bit chillier out. I have been bundling up a bit more at night but grass likes the chill much more than I do. The warm daytime temperatures we have been experiencing this fall combined with the cooler nights make for perfect grass growing weather.

Question: Do I have to do anything different this time of the year than if I were seeding in the spring?

Answer: Not really. Seeding procedures are basically the same, however, you do get a teeny tiny break with watering. I say this with hesitation because if I give you an inch, I do not want you to take a mile. Meaning, if I tell you that you get to water a little less in the cooler fall, I am afraid you will not water at all! Moisture is still key to germination folks. Seed, whether it is hot or cool, still needs water to grow. Be sure that the seed feels damp daily. Remember, no puddles!

Question: If I seed, what kind of fertilizer do I put down? Do I still put down the Fall Lawn food?

Answer: I would prefer that you put down a Lawn Starter for a fertilizer with your new grass seed. But guess what folks?! I still want you to put down your Fall Lawn Food, just a little bit later. It is better to put Fall Lawn Food down after the last mow of the season. In other words, put your new grass seed with Starter Fertilizer, and in about a month, apply the Fall Lawn Food. This is the ultimate program for your new and existing lawn.

Question: What about Lime? People always mention Lime in the fall. Do I need it if I seed? Can I put it down with grass seed?

Answer: Lime, ah sweet lime. Yes, Lime this time of the year is great. Lime is slow to change the pH of your soil, so if you apply it in the fall, it will work its magic all winter and make for a better lawn next spring. You absolutely can put Lime down with a new grass seed. It will not hurt it at all or you can wait and put Lime down at the same time as your Fall Lawn Food, after the last mow of the season.

Question: What if it gets really cold and my new grass seed does not finish growing?

Answer: Have no fear, your grass will continue its growth in the spring as soil temperatures warm up.

Question: So are you telling me that my fall projects are not over yet for the year?

Answer: Absolutely, 100%, most indubitably, with no doubt, yes!!!!

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


*Van Wilgen’s Premium Grass Seed

*Starter Fertilizer

*Fall Lawn Food


Your lawn loves you. Do you love it back? Your lawn lets you walk on it, play ball on it, picnic on it, and just take plain old advantage of it. What do you do for your lawn? Do you show it any love? There are so many ways to care for your lawn but this tip is all about fall organic lawn care.

The best way to care for your lawn organically is to have a thick stand of turf. This means to seed and overseed and overseed again. Adding new seed to an existing lawn reduces bare patches. Bare patches set your lawn up for failure. The bare patches are where bully weeds take over. They show no mercy once they take hold. The best way to avoid these bullies is to add new grass seed to the bald spots. The greatest organic weed control is thick grass.

Keep your lawn mowed high all season long except for that very last mow of the year. If your keep your lawnmower set to a minimum of 3 inches, you are mowing as “organically” as possible. A lawn that is left high can withstand drought much better than a short lawn and also keeps weeds suppressed. The last mow of the year is an exception to this rule. This is one of the only times I recommend mowing the lawn shorter. A 2-inch height would be perfect. You do not want your fall lawn going into the winter in need of a haircut. Keeping it shorter for the last mow, reduces the chances of winter diseases such as snow mold.

Organic fall fertilization shows your lawn tons of love. I cannot stress enough the importance of fertilizing not only at the end of the summer but late into the fall. At the end of the summer, your lawn needs some recovery time. Fertilizer helps it to do this. I mentioned the last mow before. This is also a very important time to put down a fall lawn fertilizer. Once your lawn stops actively growing up top, it still grows down below. This is where the fertilizer comes into play. It pushes root growth and stores what it cannot use in its root system to use immediately in the spring.

A great way to think organically is to think about the soil. In particular, the soil pH is key. If your pH is off, then your lawn just won’t be happy no matter how much fertilizer or seed you throw at it. Test your pH. Pick up a DIY pH kit, bring your soil to me to test at Van Wilgen’s, or bring it to the Ct Ag Station. If your pH is low/acidic, you need to apply lime. Lawns need a pH between 6.8 to 7.2 to feel their best. Any other number and lawns shut down. Let’s keep our lawn naturally happy with Limestone.

Is your soil compact? If you want your lawn to thrive, it needs room to stretch its’ roots and absorb water. If your soil is like brown pavement, your lawn will always struggle. Aerate your lawn every 2 years. While you are at it, throw down a little more seed. Oh, did I say seed already?! I know I sound like a broken record sometimes but I just want the best for you and your lawn.

So, show your lawns some organic love this fall. I promise the love they return by providing you and your family oxygen and leisure space will be well worth it.

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


*Van Wilgen’s Grass Seed

*Espoma’s Organic All Season Lawn Food

*Espoma’s Organic Fall Lawn Food


*pH Testing Kit

*Soil Doctor Lawn Lime



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

(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



Do not take on more than you can handle. Most of us have very busy schedules. Those little things like work and kids tend to get in the way of having a “perfect lawn”. Who’d a thunk?! You may not have the time or energy to get a “perfect” lawn but with little baby steps, you can have a “better” lawn. Just don’t set yourself up for failure.

One other little thing that gets in the way of having a “perfect” lawn is water. Most of us do not have a sprinkler system and we may be limited to how much water we can use because of a well. This is why I want you to take on small areas of seeding at a time. Prioritize. Seed the section of the lawn that is most important to you. Maybe it is in the front where everyone drives by or maybe it’s in the back where you enjoy dinner on your deck. Take one section of the lawn that you can nurture…one section where you can properly prepare the ground…one section where you can manage to water it daily. If you start small, seeding one section at a time, before you know it, your whole lawn will be close to “perfect.”

Since you have now chosen the section of your lawn that is most important to make “better”, let’s seed it! Get out there and rake the heck out of that little patch of lawn. If you have a steel rake or landscape rake, do not be afraid to use it. Get up all the sticks, leaves, and moss that may be invading your space. Do not worry if you tear up some grass along the way. The cleaner the slate is, the better. If you have any way of aerating that section of lawn, go for it. Use your aerating spike shoes, your garden weasel, or a good old-fashioned hoe to loosen up the soil. Put down a thin layer of topsoil. A half-inch will do. Spread the grass seed in a single layer, tight together but not piled on top of each other. Press the new seed into the topsoil with a tamper, the backside of a shovel, or your feet. Your section should be small enough, that hand sowing the seed will work just fine.

Almost done. Fertilize your new patch of seed in one of 2 ways. Sprinkle Grass Seed Accelerator over top of the new seed and water it in. It will fertilize and hold moisture for the new seed. Another option is to use Starter Fertilizer, sprinkled right over the top of the grass seed with a layer of chopped-up straw to top it all off.

You are not completely off the hook yet. Remember the most important part to having success with your little patch of lawn is water. Water is the key. This is why I wanted all of you with super busy schedules to start small. Grass seed needs to be kept damp daily. If Mother Nature is not contributing, it is up to you to get out there and water. A half-hour, preferably at the early part of the day, will be just about enough to keep that seed wet. Once the seed germinates and grows to about 1inch tall, change up your watering program. Water every other day for a full hour. Just set a sprinkler out there and turn it on in passing. Once the new seed reaches 2 inches in height, change it up again. Water every 2 days for 2 hours. If you can do this, you may almost reach perfection in your little patch of lawn. Relax and enjoy.

Thanks a Bunch!


*Van Wilgen’s Top Soil

*Van Wilgen’s Premium Grass Seed

*Greenview Grass Seed Accelerator

*Espoma Starter Fertilizer

*Mainely Mulch Straw & Hay