Where did the rain go? And what do I do about my thirsty lawn?

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons user adrian.benko

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons user adrian.benko

Well – ONCE in a while – I am wrong (unless you talk to my wife).   You see, around the middle of June, I was telling many clients, landscapers and farmers not to worry about all the rain we were getting. I was sure July 1st would hit, and we would not see another drop. Well I was wrong by 18 days.

The last measurable rain at the South Bend Airport was on July 19, 2015. We got a ½ inch that day and over 1-¾ inch the day before that.

Today, after visiting a few of my favorite internet weather sites it does not look like we will see any rain for a while longer, other than a 30% chance this Sunday. We could very well see three more weeks without significant rain.

With that in mind, the question you might be asking yourself is, “What do I need to do with my yard?  

Keep in mind that there are two different types of yards right now:  

  1. yards that are recently established by seed or sod (less than 1 year old); and
  2. yards that are already well-established (1 year or older).

If you are planning on doing a NEW seeding or sodding with Red Hen’s products, you should already have our instructions – so stick with that or let us know if you need those instructions.

CLICK on this PICTURE for Tips for Improving Grass Seed Germination

But what about a 1-year-old or older established yard? There are basically 2 different ways to go about it.

  1. You can let it go, stop watering, and let your lawn go dormant until we get enough rain and hope for the best. Some grasses will make it through and others will not. Some types like perennial and annual ryegrass may not make it. Tall fescue and Kentucky bluegrass do have a much better chance or surviving longer periods without rain or irrigation… or
  2. You can keep up with watering, BUT REMEMBER THE KEY IS TO “WATER DEEPLY AND INFREQUENTLY“. For my own lawn, I am planning on watering deeply every 3 days until the next rain.

If you choose to keep up with your watering, and you need to keep an eye on your water bill and are looking to help conserve water, here are some good pointers:

  1. With more shade, grasses need less water than in areas than full sun. And keep in mind that as trees grow taller, they naturally create more shade. Adjust your sprinkler heads accordingly in shady vs. full sun areas.
  2. Look for areas in your yard that are greener than others. Areas that are less-green need more water.  For instance, you’ll see that on a hill, the grass at the bottom is usually much greener.  Adjust your sprinkler heads accordingly.
  3. As discussed in our previous post about irrigation efficiency, you should consider calibrating your sprinkler heads.  Sound complicated?  Not really.  Basically, you set cups out across a zone check to see if they have the same amount of water, or at least close.  If not, adjust your sprinkler heads accordingly.  CLICK HERE to check out our article that includes instructions on calibrating your sprinkler.

Until next time,
Jeremy Cooper & the Red Hen Turf Team
Call us at 574-232-6811 .. for our location and hours, click here.


Calibrating Sprinkler’s Link updated: 9/25/20


Straight from Red Hen’s FAQ Vault … Nutsedge, and Moles, and Grass Seeding, oh my!


As many of you know, we encourage our customers (and potential customers) to ask questions about our sod, seed, fertilizer, mulch, top soil, and other products.

We are also happy to get a wide variety of questions dealing with lawn concerns – both with sodded yards, and non-sodded yards – including weeds, possible diseases, areas that seem to be dying out, pet-related issues, on so on.

Below, we are sharing 2 actual emails that our Turf Operations Manager, Jeremy, has responded to this year, along with 1 more common question that we hear:

Email #1 – What is this plant that keeps growing in my sod?



Jeremy, [I] keep getting the grass coming up in the sod. It seems to grow much faster than the rest of the grass … I keep pulling little shoots like this sporadically throughout the lawn. I didn’t know if it was part of your grass or … crabgrass or something else.

It is Yellow nutsedge. Remember nutsege is not a broadleaf weed or a grass. Yellow nutsedge is most problematic in turf that is mown too short and has poorly drained soils. They are difficult to control with nonchemical control. I would recommend SedgeHammer+ [which Red Hen DOES carry].

Yellow Nutsedge. Image Source: Purdue Extension’s Turf Tips – June 2014. (Click on the Image for more INFO and PICS of Yellow Nutsedge)

Email #2 – What are these soft spots in my yard?

Jeremy -Hope that things are going well and you are staying busy.The mulch continues to look good.I have a question for you: I believe that I have moles. A good portion of my front yard has soft spots and above ground there is tunnel like dirt/grass. I do not think it is grubs.Any thoughts on what I should do?

Look forward to hearing from you. Thanks.

I would buy some Tom Cat Mole Killer. You should be able to find this at a garden center [or even Amazon.com]. Please go to our website and read more about moles, or check out the applicable Google Search Results for “purdue lawn moles” which ensures the results are REGIONAL and BASED ON SCIENCE – HERE’S A LINK TO THOSE RESULTS

Another FAQ –  Is it a Good Time to Seed My Yard?


Click on this PHOTO to Sign Up for Red Hen Turf Farm’s e-Newsletter

We get this question year round, and many people are surprised to learn that there are certain times of the year that are MUCH BETTER to plant grass seed than others.

We’re officially into mid-August, and NOW is the best time of the year to plant grass seed – typically any time between August 15 and September 15.

When you are out of that window you can have problems like we had last year. Remember the snow we had last November? So I recommend you get on this as soon as you can.

We you purchase seed, make sure you know what you want even before you go to a store. Some things to consider:

  • Does your yard get full sun or partial shade?
  • Do you want to fertilizer a couple of times or 4 times a year?
  • Do you what just green or deep green color?

Generally, the more expensive the seed the better the quality is going to be. If you stay away from ads in newspapers and fancy containers, you will be a wise shopper.

If there is ever a main point I would like to pass on and hope a wise consumer would remember is this:  When it comes to lawn care for the Michiana area, just because a product sits on a shelf does not mean it is good for your yard.

As always, let us know if you have any questions – 574-232-6811 is the Number to Call.

Jeremy Cooper
Red Hen Turf Farm, Turf Operations Manager



More Tips for Improving Grass Seed Germination

FacebookpinterestlinkedinmailLike we mentioned in our previous post on planting grass seed in the late summer / early fall, certain conditions are necessary in order for the seed to GERMINATE at its highest potential rate.


Here are some things to keep in mind when you’re trying to get your newly planted grass seed to germinate:

  • Soil temperature and air temperature play a critical roles in this process, and different varieties of grass may germinate best at different temperatures.
  • The seed hull, or hard outer casing, may delay this process until conditions are favorable.
  • Once the germination process begins, if the environment changes significantly (for example, if it becomes too hot and dry), the seed or young plant (a.k.a. grass seedling) will be vulnerable and may even die.  If conditions become unfavorable, the seed or seedling may become unable to begin the growing process, or it may pause and restart the growing process when conditions become better again.  On the other hand, if conditions are unfavorable, some or all of the grass seed or seedling may simply die.
  • When the grass seedling breaks through the seed, it also needs oxygen for the growth process. If the soil is over-saturated with water or if the soil is too compacted, there won’t be adequate oxygen and the new grass plant will likely die.
  • If the grass seed is planted too deep (more than ¼ inch), seedlings won’t be able to break through the surface in order to get the sunlight required for the photosynthesis process to occur and create food for the plant.
  • The grass seed should be in direct contact with the soil to absorb moisture.  Rake the soil two times to incorporate the seed into the ground. Some seed will be visible on the surface. Again, seed buried deeper than ¼ inch will not likely come up.
  • If you’ve used any chemicals like weed killers, weed & feeds, or pre-emergents on the lawn area you’d like to seed, you will need to wait the appropriate length of time before planting seed.  The product label should indicate the waiting period.
  • Avoid purchasing inexpensive “too good to be true” grass seed varieties when establishing or renovating lawns.
  • Be aware that birds love to eat uncovered seeds.
  • Kids and pets are known to disrupt the grass seed germination process.
  • CONSISTENT, LIGHT, FREQUENT WATERING is essential. Avoid over-watering. Avoid under-watering. When you see new plants emerging, reduce watering to the point where you prevent the soil from drying out but do not keep the soil saturated.
    • Mow your new grass when it needs it.  CLICK HERE to read more about grass seeding, including Purdue Extension’s recommendations for mowing new grass grown from seed.

Call Red Hen Now

  • AND OF COURSEYou can always feel free to give Red Hen Turf Farm a call and we’ll do our best to help you out.  Our phone number is 574-232-6811 (or toll free 1-800-359-8035).  For our current hours, please CLICK HERE to visit the “About” page of our website.


The Window for a Fall Grass Seed Planting Will Be Here and Gone Before You Know It!

FacebookpinterestlinkedinmailNOTE:  The post below was published a few years ago.  FOR OUR 2018 UPDATE, CHECK OUT THIS LINK:  https://redhenturf.com/blog/index.php/red-hen-2018-fall-grass-seeding-update/

This post was originally envisioned as Tip #3 in a 3 Part Series on Late Spring / Early Summer Lawn Care, but here is it August already!  

Do you agree that this SUMMER is FLYING by?  

At any rate, it’s pretty typical for us to get calls about Grass Seed, which we DO SELL in addition to our 100% Kentucky Blue Grass sod and many other lawn care products (including fertilizer).

Red Hen Turf Farm - Grass Seed


You might be surprised to learn that there are certain times of the year that are better to plant grass seed than others.

The BEST TIME to plant Cool Season Grass Seed is in the LATE SUMMER / EARLY FALL.

Specifically, in the northern-third Indiana, August 15th through September 15th is the ideal time period to plant Cool Season Grasses.

Why is this?   Well, according to Purdue turf expert, Zac Reicher, planting turf grass seed in northern Indiana within this late-summer / August 15th – September 15th window offers several advantages:

  • Air and soil temperatures are more moderate, which improves seed GERMINATION.
  • It typically rains more frequently, which helps reduce (but may not eliminate) extra watering … this also improves your chances for successful seed GERMINATION.
  • Grass seedlings face fewer pests than they do in the spring or the hottest parts of summer, again improving GERMINATION.




New grass seedlings have poorly developed root systems, which means they cannot effectively absorb nutrients from the soil.

For this reason, it is important to WATER and FERTILIZE PROPERLY after seeding to encourage germination and establishment.  

  • Fertilizer Application #1 – Do this right after planting your grass seed.   We recommend using 12-12-12 (or another starter fertilizer).  The rate of application will depend on the species of grass you are planting.  You should also water 2-3 Times each day while the seeds are in the process of germinating.  Apply enough water to keep the soil moistened. When you see the new grass plants (seedlings), you may reduce the number of times you water.
  • Fertilizer Application #2 –  4-6 weeks after planting (depending on the type of grass seed you’ve planted).  Use some more of the starter fertilizer that you applied in the first application.  Again, the rate of application will depend on what kind of grass you’ve planted.  Continue to water as needed to prevent the soil from drying out. However, be careful that you do not keep the soil saturated, leaving your new grass vulnerable to pests and diseases.
  • Fertilizer Application #3 – Do this 4-5 Weeks after your 2nd Application (once again depending on the type of grass seed you’ve planted). Our 25-0-10 fertilizer would be perfect for this 3rd Application. Or, for the 3rd Application, you could apply a broad leaf herbicide if needed to control broadleaf weeds (such as our 22-0-5+Trimec+Iron). On the other hand, if you’re dealing with grassy weeds, they are difficult to kill with herbicides, so proper mowing is your best choice for controlling them.


Here at Red Hen Turf Farm, we sell several varieties of grass seed by the pound, which is handy whether you have a very small or very large area to plant.  Contact us for prices and recommendations based on your specific needs and goals.  Some of your choices include:

100% Kentucky Bluegrass Seed … 

This seed will match our most current varieties of sod in production. Seed can be used to patch small areas in existing sod or seeding a large area next to sod. This seed takes 21 days to germinate and will be very slow to fill in. This seed will require some extra attention to establish, but it exhibits the same deep green color and disease resistance that Red Hen’s sod does.

Greenskeeper Custom Mix Seed … 

Works well in full sun and light amounts of shard.  This variety contains 3 types of grass seeds and each type will germinate at a different time.

Premium Shade Mix Seed …

While no grass loves shade, this blend has varieties that exhibit better growth habits in partially shaded areas. For more information, visit the “Grass In Shade” section of our website.

Other Varieties of Grass Seeds …

We also sell Dry Spell Tall Fescue and Annual Rye.  What’s more, we can get the seed you need. Just let us know the seed specifications you have and we will do what we can to get it for you for a reasonable cost.


  • Contact Red Hen Turf Farm … Whether you’re a recent customer, a customer from years or even decades ago, or you’re simply looking for information or pricing, we’re here to help.  What’s more, regardless of whether you end up purchasing anything from us, we genuinely enjoy talking with and educating people.  Give us a call (574-232-6811) or drop us an email (jcooper@redhenturf.com).

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