Lawn & Garden Rescue: Solutions for the Summer’s Record Heat

by Patrick Geraty, President, St. Louis Composting

Fretting over a lawn and garden ravaged by this summer’s extreme drought and record-breaking heat? Homeowners and gardeners need not stress over barren, brown yards and withered flowers and vegetables. Fall is the perfect time to top dress your lawn and serve your garden a heaping helping of all-natural, nutrient-rich compost – Mother Nature’s cure for ailing greenery.

An annual, post-summer application of organic compost promotes healthy root and soil structure, strengthening lawns and gardens for better endurance and vegetation production next year. It works by:

  • infusing soil with beneficial microbes and essential minerals,
  • increasing soil aeration and improving drought resistance,
  • encouraging deep-rooting,
  • helping suppress plant disease,
  • reducing erosion, and
  • lessening soil compaction.

Top dressing is applying compost over the surface of a lawn. For best results, top dress your lawn and garden with Seal of Testing Assurance (STA)-certified compost, which boosts the water retention capacity of soil by up to 30 percent. Application is quick and easy with top dressing equipment – available for rent at St. Louis Composting.

Here’s how:
1. Core aerate the lawn, concentrating on the most heavily trafficked sections.
2. Apply a 1/2-inch layer of compost, using a top dressing unit or manure spreader.
3. Smooth the surface using a rake or a weighted drag mat to break down the soil plugs and backfill holes.
4. Spread grass seed, lightly rake and water, covering with the soil/compost layer to guard against winter damage.
5. Water as needed, keeping the soil moist until seeds germinate.
Seeding lawns in the fall works well because it allows for grass to establish strong roots while the weather is cool – giving it the best chance to survive future droughts and high heat.

Using compost will help revive lawns and gardens weakened during the summer’s intense temperatures and dry spells. Its benefits will be most noticeable by the end of the first growing season. Top dressing in the fall is the key first step to a greener and healthier lawn and garden next spring. Help your lawn and garden survive the scorching summer of 2012. Give them a revitalizing application of compost.

St. Louis Composting (www.stlcompost.com) is the region’s largest composting operation with locations in Missouri and Illinois. It’s facilities are at; 39 Old Elam Ave. in Valley Park, Mo.; 11294 Schaefer Dr. in Maryland Heights, Mo.; 560 Terminal Row in St. Louis City; 13060 County Park Road in north St. Louis County; and 3521 Centreville Ave. in Belleville, Ill. It holds the Seal of Testing Assurance from the United States Composting Council.