Lawn repair

(Question)

Can you give me some tips on overseeing and repairing a lawn. I
Iive in Etobicoke , have sandy soil and a lot of trees. some areas get 3-4. Hours of sun in the summer. I have Manitoba maples …2 in the front and the roots are a challenge.

(Answer)

For a lawn struggling with a fair amount of shade and on free draining sandy soil the approach would be to dethatch (rake it over), then aerate, then over seed and top dress with a good quality soil such as triple mix. Do this in the spring when all risk of frost is past. This will help augment the soil and its water retention capabilities. Check your local weather reports and if there is no rain forecast ensure your lawn is irrigated.

The best type of grass to try for your shady area is a combination of grasses, mainly fescues. Many experiments have been conducted to find the best combination. In The Complete Shade Gardener by George Schenk, the chapter on “A Great Lawn in Shade” provides the following recommended mix:  “Creeping red fescue 44%; Chewing fescue 30%; Kentucky Bluegrass 15%; Highland Colonial Bentgrass 10% and inert material 1%”. Alternatively look for grass mixes for shade in your local garden supply stores.

If your lawn continues to struggle, particularly under those Maples, there are lots of other options for groundcovers for shade and these include:

Any of the thymes: for example woolly thyme (Thymus pseudolanuginosus) and red thyme (Thymus vulgaris) are good together in partial shade. Deadnettle (Lamium maculatum) and creeping phlox (Phlox subulata) are good blooming groundcovers for shade, bugleweed (Ajuga reptans) provides a dense groundcover and an evergreen option is Japanese spurge (Pachysandra terminalis). If you wanted a fragrant ground cover try Sweet woodruff (Galium odoratum). These have the added advantage of no mowing which would reduce the risk of harming the roots of those trees in your lawn space.

Good luck with your lawn!