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View Full Version : Lawn Renovation Going a Little Rocky.....Advice Needed


Joe Birk
06-16-2009, 07:11 PM
The below is sort of a pictorial of my lawn renovation project. Up until ~2 weeks ago I was very pleased with the way the entire lawn was maturing. From then on, it has been a little rocky in some spots. I have a few areas of beautiful fescue, but some other areas that are really struggling.

I am located in Greenville SC, so Zone 7. We have been getting tons of rain this year. ~1-2 inches a week, sometimes more. Soil quality is not that good, mostly clay and for budget reasons I choose not to bring in topsoil. <---Figured that would make things difficult, but manageable.

I planted Lesco's Transition Blend tall fescue along with a starter fertilizer April 18th of this year. On May 25th, I took a soil sample. Nitrogen was very low, phosphorus and potassium were OK. Ph was just on the low side at ~5.

I put down ~1 lb/1000 nitrogen (Scotts Southern Turf) and 10 lb/1000 lime. Grass greened up and looked beautiful for the last week in May and the first of June.

Since then however, the fescue has really struggled and I have a prolific weed problem. I have tried to contain the weeds with targeted treatment of Ortho-weed-be-gone but have since stopped as the daytime temps are into the high 80's.

Anyone have any advice on what I can do to contain the weeds and help the fescue? Or am I just along for the ride until fall?

Also, are the brown spots grubs, or brown patch?

Pictures attached...

Thanks!

Joe Birk
06-16-2009, 07:16 PM
Seed Germination April 25th and start of trouble pictures...

Joe Birk
06-16-2009, 07:18 PM
Brown Spots...

bigslick7878
06-16-2009, 08:14 PM
Where did all that dirt come from?

Was it the existing soil that you just tilled and dragged?

If it is that could be the reason for the weeds,you need to kill off everything,THEN till and seed to make sure all the weeds are dead.

If you just tilled and seeded without killing off what was there the weeds don't go away.

Even with rain you still need to water 2-3x a day..did you do that?

The bare spot looks like hardpan that hasn't been watered enough.Same with the dead spots.Looks like there might be a hump as well but cant really tell.If there are any grade issues it will be impossible to get grass going on the high spots this time of year.

Speaking of time of year,looks like you seeded on about June 1st,way too late.Competition from summer weeds like you have sucking the moisture out of the ground and causing problems.

I would wait until September and then try again.

In the meantime just worry about controlling the weeds.

You can spray safely about once every month for weeds,use weed b gone with crabgrass control and it will kill those grassy weeds.

Joe Birk
06-16-2009, 08:30 PM
Existing soil that I just tilled and dragged. You're right, I probably should have killed everything off before I started. Weeds weren't really an issue before, so I didn't do that...

Listed in my little narrative, grass was planted April 18th...was doing very well till late May.



Just went and took 2 more soil samples from spots that aren't growing very well in the front and back.

Ph ~5 to ~5.5. Nitrogen is virtually non existent. We did get a pretty heavy rain after I applied the fertilizer, and the lot is sloped...Maybe it washed away?

bigslick7878
06-16-2009, 08:38 PM
Existing soil that I just tilled and dragged. You're right, I probably should have killed everything off before I started. Weeds weren't really an issue before, so I didn't do that...

Listed in my little narrative, grass was planted April 18th...was doing very well till late May.



Just went and took 2 more soil samples from spots that aren't growing very well in the front and back.

Ph ~5 to ~5.5. Nitrogen is virtually non existent. We did get a pretty heavy rain after I applied the fertilizer, and the lot is sloped...Maybe it washed away?

April??

Doesn't look like it.

Struggling is an understatement.

How high were you mowing it?

Did you follow up seed a 2nd and 3rd time??It will never come in evenly,you need to do that.

If you want to guarantee results next time,spend the money to get a bunch of top soil and spread it about 1/2 inch thick.The seed will be shooting up in 7 days and the coverage will be about 90% first time around.Good soil does wonders for new seed.

Dont know much about the grass seed you used but next time use Scotts Southern Gold turf type tall fescue....found at Lowes.Its great stuff.

Joe Birk
06-16-2009, 08:41 PM
For reference...pictures of some of the nice grass.

bigslick7878
06-16-2009, 08:59 PM
Tha'ts "better grass" but nothing special.

I have a stupid question,why did you need to start all over? What condition was the grass in when you tore the place up?

Please tell me it was all weeds or something.....

Joe Birk
06-17-2009, 10:28 AM
There was no real grass or 'lawn' to speak of before I started...

'Lawn' area is now right at a half acre. I cleared a little less than a quarter acre, the other quarter of 'existing lawn' was very poorly graded and ~10% grass.

So, I started with ~90% dirt. Does that justify grading, till, and start from scratch?

bigslick7878
06-17-2009, 02:58 PM
There was no real grass or 'lawn' to speak of before I started...

'Lawn' area is now right at a half acre. I cleared a little less than a quarter acre, the other quarter of 'existing lawn' was very poorly graded and ~10% grass.

So, I started with ~90% dirt. Does that justify grading, till, and start from scratch?

OK I was just making sure you didn't do something stupid and till up decent existing grass that could have been overseeded with awesome results.

But seriously looking at those pics again that dirt looks like complete garbage,you need some good soil in there.

Just hang in there for summer and attack it in the fall for the best results.

freddyc
06-17-2009, 05:06 PM
Joe,


Sounds like you've mostly answered your own questions.

Soil at 5 PH---- too acid, try for mid 6's

No nitrogen---obviously need some



Sounds like this is the place to start. In addition, if the soil has had that much rain I doubt you need to water---as long as it stays moist.


If if were me I'd either be liming the heck out of it or adding new soil--or both.


Grab a sample of the soil where the grass seems OK and one from where its not and test them. You might have really inconsistent soil conditions so applying lime or fert as a general setting might give an unbalanced result. Do you have compaction in some areas from the grading operation?


Work on the soil first then over seed in the fall. If you have the soil all set, aerate it to make sure there's no compaction issues then seed it again.

If you have a lot of clay there and it rained a lot the roots might be suffocating in water...root rot.

Can't tell how much sun per day the area gets.

Joe Birk
06-18-2009, 11:43 AM
Thanks for the feedback freddy.

The soil tests really were an eye opener, as I was thinking Ph and Nitrogen shouldn't be a problem after chemical application 3 weeks ago. Apparently, that is not the case.

The plan now is to work on improving the soil and controlling weeds through the summer. I'll wait until fall before worrying too much about the grass.

White Gardens
06-18-2009, 12:50 PM
Did you mow the new grass before applying weed control ????

It's suggest to mow 4-5 times before applying a herbicide.

Also, go ahead and get some soil samples and take them to a lab, or local extension office to have them analyzed, it sounds like you are doing a home PH tester, and yes that will give you a good "idea" of what is going on, but they are not accurate.

I would keep seeding in the spots and watering.

Kindarring
06-18-2009, 04:39 PM
The crabgrass looks great... Thats the problem with seeding in the spring time. Looks like the roots never got deep enough then disease and rot happened. The soil looks like crap. You should look at putting a topdressing of compost to get the soil rich go about 1.5 yards per 1000sqft (in maryland we use leafgrow). Then just core aerate and sliceseed the lawn in fall. Make sure the customer knows that this will take 2-3 years and a ton of TLC. Also by the way the lawn looks you may want to get them on a fungicide program next year to try and keep the lawn around. Seams like it could be a problem lawn.Lawns never happen over night and no lawn will be good without a good home owner.