This year I am trying a more conventional route with the filler grasses. I will be using commercial turf grasses that are selected for rapid growth and formation of a dense turf layer. This is what I need to exclude the stiltgrass. By planting these cool season grasses in the fall they have a chance to germinate and fill in before the stiltgrass starts growing in mid-spring.
I divided up the stiltgrass infected areas into full sun, part sun and mostly shade and selected a seed mixture appropriate for each condition. For full sun I selected a blend of tall fescues with just a little Kentucky bluegrass. For the part-sun areas I have a blend or both tall and fine fescues with a little perennial rye and Kentucky blue grass. For the shade areas I am using a blend of fine fescues selected for low maintenance. This year I am using Eco-Grass from Prairie Moon, but there are other blends such as No-Mow from Prairie Nursery and Eco-lawn from Wildflower Farm that should work as well.
Most commercially available cool-season turf grasses are not native to North America with the exception of some of the fine fescues, in particular red fescue (Festuca rubra). You can find detailed information about which turf grasses are appropriate for your region from your state's cooperative extension. For example the Maryland Extension Service has a listing of recommended grass cultivars that were tested locally.
Before buying seed this year I shopped around to see what specific seed cultivars were used in each of the blends. There is usually a tag with the detailed seed composition somewhere on the bag. When I went out to buy the one I liked, I found that that specific blend was no longer available even though the product name on the bag was the same. Frustrating!!! I imagine that the retailers are still trying the produce an equivalent performing product, but it still, that was a frustrating experience.
The first step in the reseeding process is to remove the stiltgrass thatch in the lawn. This opens up spaces for the new seed and may help remove some undispersed sitltgrass seed. Since late in the season much of the remaining stiltgrass has had a chance to set seed, this thatch needs to be segregated from regular compost and the regular brush piles. I have a couple of piles dedicated to stiltgrass so that it does not get mixed up with the regular yard waste and I can monitor it for spreading. Another option would be to landfill it in thick plastic bags. You do not want to let the stiltgrass get out and spread its seed.
|Late September is when the stiltgrass begins to die back. The brownish areas are easy to spot.|
|The area between the piles has been (mostly) cleared of stilt grass and is ready for seeding. |
I used a leaf rake for this, but a stiff garden rake would have been
more effective for tearing out the stiltgrass plants.
|In this full sun area tearing out the stiltgrass exposed a lot of bare ground. |
This spot was seeded with the full sun blend. Just to the back left
is a full shade area where I planted the Eco-grass mix.