Education Center Index

Over-Seeding & Spring Lawn Care*

While it’s important to attend to your lawn in the spring, serious renovation should be done around Labor Day

  1. What kind of lawn do you want?
    1. How are you planning to use it?
    2. How much time and money are you willing to spend on it?
  1. Know you square footage.
  1. Test the pH.
  1. Mow the lawn shorter than usual—about 2”
  1. Remove as many weeds and as much debris as possible.
  1. Thoroughly rake or dethatch the lawn.
    1. Thatch:  is comprised of living and dead material (i.e. grass clippings, grass stems, and other debris)—usually hidden by the grass the material accumulates and decomposes over time.  Many cool weather grasses don’t create heavy thatch.  Warm weather grasses, like bluegrass do create heavy thatch.
      1. Thatch can prevent fertilizer from reaching the soil.  It can also play host to insects and fungal diseases.
    2. Usually, using a hand rake will do all you need for dethatching; however, some lawns may require the use of a dethatching machine.  The machine makes vertical cuts into the lawn and pulls the dead material to the surface.
  1. Based on the pH results add the soil amendments.
    1. Lime
    2. Fertilizer
    3. In that order
  1. Over-seed with grass seed at about half the normal rate (for instance, most AS&L lawn mixes are applied at a rate of 1lb per 200 sq.ft. for a new lawn—for over-seeding use 1/2lb. per 200 sq.ft.)
  1. Water daily until established.
  1. Create a regular maintenance plan.


* Based on Paul Tuckey’s The Organic Lawn Care Manual

Maine Yardscaping

“An attractive, carpet-like lawn adds value and enjoyment to any home. But these benefits can come at tremendous cost to our environment. Lawn care practices can impact water quality. At risk are lakes, streams and eventually the ocean–the sendpoint of all watersheds.

The pursuit of the "perfect" lawn now drives many homeowners to use an unprecedented volume of herbicides, insecticides, fungicides, fertilizers and herbicide-fertilizer cocktails known as weed and feed products.

This offers little or no benefit to turf. By applying horticultural knowledge instead of pesticides and fertilizers, YARDSCAPING practices can create quality turf that delivers recreational and eye-pleasing benefits.

YARDSCAPING isn’t about using good chemicals instead of bad ones. Rather, YARDSCAPERS put to work horticultural principles that deliver robust turf and landscapes that demand less of any chemical!”

Quoted from and for more information:

DIY Steps to a Successful Plant Installation

Bill in front of his AMAZING Joe Pie Weed

  1. Position plant in suitable location for the growing conditions needed for the plant . Allow enough space around plant for mature growth.


  2.  Locate the point at which the trunk flare begins.(This often called the crown). Dig a hole twice the width of the root ball and as deep as the root ball. (no deeper) Measure from the trunk flare to the bottom of the root ball to calculate the depth needed for the hole. The top of the root ball should be even with  existing grade.


  3. Remove the plant from the container or remove rope and top 1/3 to 1/2  of burlap. If a wire basket is used, Remove the basket or bend the wire basket down flat against the lower portion of the root ball. For large root balls it is advisable to do this step in the hole. Carefully place the plant in the hole while taking care not to loosen soil of root ball. Make a few shallow vertical cuts in root ball to break up circular root growth caused by growing in the container. This encourages lateral root development.


  4. To back fill the hole, We suggest mixing 1/3 Living Acres Kompost 1, 1/3 Fafard Top Soil, 1/3 of the existing soil that came out of the hole. Mix. Sprinkle 1 packet of Plant Heath Care mycorizal fungi into hole around root zone. Back fill the hole with mixture making sure that the plant is orientated as desired. Add Espoma Plant Food to top layer of soil according to directions.


  5. Tamp soil around the root ball to remove any air pockets. Leave a ring of soil around  the outer edge away from the trunk creating a berm to hold additional water. Water thoroughly and deeply.



  6. For large trees or in windy locations, stake plant for the first full season. AS&L  recommends Dewitt’s Tree Stake Kit. This kit allows for tree movement for stronger root systems and protect from abrasion of plant bark.                               




     Watering is a must! Most plants that fail in the first season do so because of              incorrect watering practices. A newly installed plant does not have an established root system; Therefore, it is much more susceptible to stress or harm during extreme dry or wet conditions. Water “deeply weekly” as the adage says. Deep weekly watering is necessary to start your plants of on the right foot. The water must penetrate to the depth of the root ball to be adequate. If drought conditions occur it may be necessary to water more often. Fall watering up until ground freeze is needed. Shallow watering produces shallow roots! A water soluble fertilizer such as Saltwater Farms Seaweed/Fish maybe added with watering. (Saltwater Farms Seaweed/Fish fertilizer adds beneficial micro organisms, micro nutrients which help with transplant shock).



    In addition to the initial fertilizing at the time of the planting, Periodic fertilizing is necessary for the proper growth of the plant. AS&L recommends feeding with a highly organic fertilizer such as the Espoma plant food. Apply 2-3 times per season or as manufacturer directions suggest. Heavy feeding plants may need additional nutrition. Foliar feeding with Saltwater Farms seaweed/fish adds immediate nutrition to plants and aids in “stress relief” for the plants i.e.: disease, insect infestation and environmental conditions.



Use of a well composted bark mulch or compost will enhance the water holding capacity of the soil and reduce weed infestation while enhancing visual appeal. Apply mulch at a rate of 1”-3”. Be sure to keep mulch away from the stem or trunk. Piling mulch around trunk can induce damage of bark.


For further information please feel free to consult your friendly AS&L staff member, call us at 207-781-4142

Fertilizer Spreader Chart

The following chart is meant to provide general guidance when an actual setting is not available. The age and condition of the spreader may affect the flow of product. The spreader may need to be calibrated to get proper coverage.

To calibrate your spreader:

1.        Determine the amount of fertilizer needed for 100 sq. ft.

2.        Divide the number of square feet the bag of fertilizer covers by 100.

3.        Divide the weight of the bag by this number.

4.        The answer is the amount of fertilizer needed to cover 100 sq. ft.

5.        Place this amount in the spreader.

6.        Mark off a 10-foot by 10-foot area.

7.        Apply using the suggested setting.

For example: The fertilizer bag weighs 25 lbs. and covers 5,000 sq. ft.
5,000 divided by 100 = 50
25 lbs. divided by 50 = .5 or 1/2 a lb. of product needed to cover 100 sq. ft.

If product runs out before completing the area, decrease the setting. Mark off another area the same size and repeat the test until the correct application rate is achieved.

If product remains in the spreader, increase the setting. Mark off another area the same size and repeat the test until the correct application rate is achieved.

DIY Planting Instructions for Trees & Shrubs




 Following these steps will get your plant off to a great start and will improve your plant’s ability to grow and thrive in its new home: your landscape.

AS&L's Nursery manager Bill's evergreen garden in August.

  1. Position plant in the proper site.

    • Sun or shade.

    • Correct distance from foundation.

    • Allow enough space for mature growth.


  2. Dig a hole twice the width of the root ball and the same depth as the root ball.

    • Bottom of the root ball should sit directly on top of undisturbed soil.

    • Top of root ball should be even with existing grade.


  3. Remove plant from container.

    • Cut a few shallow vertical slashes in root ball to break up circular root growth.


  4. Place plant in hole and sprinkle 1 packet of Plant Health Care “Tree Saver” around the root ball.

    • “Tree Saver” contains mycorrhizal fungi, that improves plant health and vigor.


  5. Backfill around root ball with a mixture of soil removed from the hole, compost or manure and peat moss.

    • We offer several premier products.


  6. Tamp soil lightly around root ball to remove any air pockets.  Leave a raised ring of soil around the edge of the hole to hold water.


  7. Water thoroughly to penetrate to the depth of the root ball.  Repeat 2 or 3 times a week for the first 3 weeks and at least once a week after that until the ground freezes.


  8. Apply a 2” layer of well-composted mulch over the planting area to retain moisture and suppress weeds.  Do not pile mulch against the stem or trunk as this can damage the bark.


  9. Large trees planted in windy sites should be staked for the first year.  Leaving staked longer could result in injury to the tree.

    • We carry Dewitt’s Tree Stake Kit which allows for some tree movement for strong roots and protects against bark abrasion.


  10. Maintenance: In addition to the previously mentioned 1st year water schedule, getting on a good fertilizer program will have a positive and visible impact on the continued health and growth of the plant through the years.  We at Allen, Sterling & Lothrop are firm believers in the benefits of organic fertilizers.  These products not only feed the plant, they also enrich and improve the soil quality to give the plant the optimum environment in which to grow and thrive.

    • Espoma granular fertilizers, rich in natural organics, are excellent choices.

    • Saltwater Farms’ line of liquid seaweed products, applied as either a soil drench or a foliar feed, nourish plants with organic nutrients and help boost the plant’s defense mechanisms in coping with environmental stresses such as drought, disease and insect damage.


Steps to a Healthy & Beautiful Lawn


Before planting grass seed be sure to have a level area (without any low places) and have at least six inches of good topsoil.

Spread lime over topsoil at the rate recommended as the result of a soil test.

Spread a high quality starter fertilizer with a 1-2-1 ratio at the manufactures recommended rate.

 Next a good blend of lawn seed, 4 to 6 lbs. per 1,000 square feet, depending on mixture.

Rake these in, raking both ways to get an even distribution.

It is important to mulch the whole area with straw or hay.  This prevents birds from eating seed, prevents washing in case of heavy rain, and moderates soil temperatures.  Do not rake mulch off after grass starts to come through.  Start to mow when grass in 3 inches tall and leave the clippings.  This protects the tender grass roots.


WATERING: Improper watering is the biggest cause of failure in a newly seeded lawn.  How much water to apply depends on soil type.  Keep the soil constantly moist to a depth of 4 inches.

NEVER let the surface dry completely.  After 4 mowings you can reduce the watering to 1-2 inches a week, depending on your soil type.  Apply the water in 2 sessions (applying large amounts of water in fewer sessions promotes deeper rooting than applying less water more often).

MOWING:     NEVER cut more than 1/3 of top growth at a time.  Cutting more growth can stop root growth for up to 28 days.  When grass has reached 3 inches, mow to 2 ¾ inches.  Continue mowing at 3 inches until Sept. 1.  Then mow to 2 ½ inches until the last mowing of the season, which should be to 2 inches.  In spring, mow 2 ½ inches until May 15, then back to 3-3 ½ inches.  ALWAYS keep mower blade sharp.  This is especially important the first 4 mowings, as the roots are shallow.

FERTILIZING:  If your lawn was properly installed, a fertilizer with a 1-1-1 or a 1-2-1 ratio was added to the soil at the time of installation.  Re-apply fertilizer with the same ratio every 6 weeks (up to 4 times total per season).  After the lawn is a year old, go to a turf builder with a 6-1-2 or 6-2-2 ratio 4 times per season.  Natural organic is best, as it builds the soil while feeding the plants.  Apply at a rate so you are achieving 1 lb. of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet.

What is pH?

 pH is a quantitative measurement of acidity/alkalinity of the soil.  pH is typically rated on a scale of 0-14; 0 being acidic and 14 being alkaline.  In the Northeast our soil is typically acidic.  Adding lime raises the pH and is commonly referred to as “sweetening” the soil. 

Proper pH can ensure that the nutrients in the soil are available to plants and that they aren’t leaching out of the soil.  Adding too much lime to raise the pH or too much sulfur to lower pH can be detrimental to your soil because it can kill off essential microorganisms.     

The goal pH for a healthy lawn is between 6 and 7.