Although we still should expect some cold starts before Easter, people are itching to get outside and are turning to their winter-ravaged lawn and asking:

When should I seed my lawn?
The soil temperature needs to be about 50 degrees in order for grass seed to germinate. We recommend seeding in spring when the soil temp reaches 50 degrees. The key to germination is water, water, water.

Don’t forget to check out our Watering and Planting Guides

Should I Fertilize?
Yes! There is a fertilizer for every seed, every plant, and for every time of the year. We don’t love fertilizer just because of our jobs, we love fertilizer because it helps your plants and the environment. Regular fertilization ensures your Veggie gardens will give a much greater yield; annuals will push out more bloom; trees will establish deeper root systems, and shrubs will be less prone to disease.

What about the deer in my neighborhood ?
When a deer is hungry there is almost nothing you can do to stop them. We offer a well-rounded selection of repellants as well as choosing plants that are known to be deer resistant. A quick rule of thumb includes anything fuzzy, fragrant or sharp. Look to our deer-resistant tree and shrub list as well as shop our deer-resistant perennial bench.

Is it Dead?
“Survey Says….:”…by far the most asked question at the garden center recently. Our advice to all…don’t panic! With the up and down weather temperatures typical of early spring it is often too soon to tell. Please resist the temptation to prune your plants to the ground since this may cause your plants to not flower this year and next.

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!

stacey tips art 1

You sure the heck can! Dormant seeding is not a common practice but I say, give it a whirl. The spring outcome can be very rewarding and the fall effort is very minimal.

The key to dormant seeding is to put seeds down late enough so they do not begin to germinate too quickly. Be sure that the last leaves have fallen and have been cleaned up. Thanksgiving week is always a good benchmark holiday for winter garden activities. This would be a good time to begin your dormant seeding project. I use the word project lightly because the work is not so difficult as the word project suggests.

The second key is to mow the lawn short. Yes, down to 2 inches. Some people call this scalping but nothing about that word sounds healthy to me. A short lawn ensures that the seed will get down to the soil.

Key #3 is to be sure that there is good seed to soil contact. This is important for any type of seeding you do. Seeds that hover above the soil have nowhere to put its’ roots. Yes, this does require a little manual labor. This is a good thing. The cool, fresh air is great for our lungs. Get out there and rake that lawn to expose as much of the soil as you can. Some people even wait until the ground freezes a bit. The frost cracks are perfect for grass

Key #4 is to water the seed. Here is the very good news…you may only have to water it 1 time! After seeding, water the area until it is thoroughly damp. No puddles. If we get some very dry days, you may need to give the seed one more quick watering. How easy is that?!

Key #5 is to enjoy the winter break with a hot cup of coffee or whichever beverage suits your fancy. Snow provides a good cover for seed.

Key #6 is to be patient and wait for spring. If winter conditions agree with the grass seed, you will see little green sprouts emerging as soon as the soil temperatures warm up. Don’t be discouraged if it is a little thin. It is better than nothing and you can always throw down a little more seed.

Make this your last task of the fall season or the first one of your winter season. However, you view it, go for it! It is a quick, easy project, that could yield great rewards.

p.s. You still have time to do regular seeding this year before your dormant seeding time approaches. Perennial Rye will give you the quickest results. Take advantage of every minute. There is so much we can get done before winter arrives. You will feel so good about yourself!

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

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!

(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