There are several grass varieties that will do well in Alaska, and a listing of these may be found in the Cooperative Extension publication Lawn Establishment. Grass seed labels should state the percentage of weed seed present in the variety or mix being sold. Minimize the introduction of weeds by checking this information before making your purchase.
Bluegrass and red fescue are two of the best grasses for Southeast Alaska. A combination of the two grasses will provide the best chance for a successful planting. Bluegrasses do well in sunny areas while red fescues do well in shade.
Nugget bluegrass, developed from native Alaska bluegrasses, is hardy. Merion, Fylking and Sydsport are also adapted bluegrass varieties. Arctared and Boreal are good varieties of creeping red fescue. Highlight is one of the better Chewings red fescues. Mixing your own seed is difficult, so buy mixtures that contain some recommended varieties. Recently, stores have been carrying both Nugget and Arctared varieties. Mixtures cost more, but are well worth the expense.
June is the best time for seeding. Soil temperatures are warm enough at this time of year to get fast germination. The lawn should be well established by fall. Seeding after August 15 can result in a lawn unable to withstand the rigors of winter.
If for some reason you must seed prior to June 1 or after August 15, cover the seedbed with clear plastic sheets. This will increase the soil temperature and hasten germination. Once you can see that the grass has germinated or is 1⁄2" high, remove the plastic.
Establishing a lawn in Alaska can be a great challenge. By selecting the best grass varieties to meet the demands of your site, properly preparing a fertile seedbed, and performing the necessary work, you can have a lawn that will make you proud.
Usually you?re aware something?s wrong when your lawn doesn?t look right. Either the grass is dead in spots, turned a different color, is wilted, or you see an increase in weeds. Most of these symptoms are the sign that your lawn isn't in the best of health.
First question: Has anybody done anything different in the last month?
For example, you?ve got a large dead spot in the exact same place you spilled gasoline filling the mower 2 weeks ago. The cause and effect is obvious. You won?t go out and buy some insect control and spray on your lawn because you thought some voracious insect had killed your lawn there. You wouldn?t suddenly start watering the area because you thought it was from lack of water. The spilled gasoline killed the lawn. Sometimes lawn problems are that easy to identify.
Look for the most obvious cause.
If the answer to the above question is no, there is no obvious cause for the dead spots in the lawn, then look at the scope of the problem area.
Is there just one dead spot in the lawn, or are there many dead spots? Do the dead grass areas seem to be where your new puppy frequents? Are the spots just in the backyard, or are they in front and back equally? If dead spots are equally in both the front and back lawns, these are likely signs of insect damage. Do some excavating to see if you can find any grubs, molecrickets, or chinchbugs in the damaged lawn areas. As grubs begin to mature their appetite grows and they chew at the roots, so do sod webworms. If you find these insects, then treat for them accordingly at the appropriate time of year when treatments are more likely to be effective. In this instance, when grub damage becomes apparent, it's already too late to treat for them. But it's not too late to prevent the same thing happening next year.
If the lawn isn?t obviously dead brown, are there other visible changes: yellowing, orangish-red tinge, spots on the leaf blades? These are signs of a fungal infestations.
If weeds are taking over your lawn, this is a sign there's either a soil problem or a light problem. Weeds are opportunistic plants. They have to have the right conditions to take hold. That means they require access to light. If you have a healthy thick lawn, very little light reaches the soil. But, if your lawn has thinned out, more light reaches the soil and the weed seeds can then germinate and take hold. You need to examine why your lawn has thinned out. This could be because your lawn hasn't received enough nutrients to grow properly, your soil is compacted, thatch buildup has reduced your lawn's ability to extract nutrients from the soil, or there's too much shade / sunlight for the type of grass you're trying to grow.
Have nutrients been applied to the lawn on a regular basis? Is the soil compacted? Is there a too thick layer of thatch? Is the soil dried out from lack of water? These are all problems that can cause a lawn to thin out and provide an opening for weeds to grow. Often problems result from multiple sources. A lawn that isn't fertilized properly and probably isn't being aerated regularly. Fungal attacks and other lawn diseases also attack these neglected lawns.
Understand the cause before treating the symptoms. Occasional weeds are expected. When weeds become more than just a minor occurrence you have to start looking at the underlying cause of your lawn?s lack of vitality. When turf grass loses its vitality, then it opens up areas for weeds to take hold.
If all of this seems like more involvement with your lawn than you want to experience, don?t worry. Professional lawn care providers are extremely helpful when you have problems. They have encountered just about every lawn problem known and can identify it and know how to treat it. Give one of these companies a call and they?ll be more than happy to help you out.