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pr0digals0n
08-16-2009, 11:26 AM
I was hoping to get some opinions or advice from the more experienced members here, on what I'm hoping will be my late summer/early fall lawn renovation procedure. I'm a new home owner and am only vaguely familiar with what is the best or most accepted lawn care methods. I've attached a few pics of the current state of my lawn for more detail.

I have sent my soil out for analysis and will plan to implement the recommended lime/sulfur applications.

Main questions:

should I de-thatch (I understand it's quite stressful)?

am I applying my lime, seed, and fertilizer in the right order and in the right time frame of each application?

Do you recommend a layer of top soil (I've just recently learned about this)?

My Plan:

Dethatch - August 29

Aerate - September 12

Lime application (if needed) - September 13

Overseed - September 13

Fertilize - September 19

Water accordingly.

Any thoughts, opinions, or advice would be greatly appreciated!

Kiril
08-16-2009, 11:40 AM
...... Location?

pr0digals0n
08-16-2009, 11:47 AM
Sorry. Northern Virginia.

Grass: Tall Fescue.

Kiril
08-16-2009, 01:47 PM
I have sent my soil out for analysis and will plan to implement the recommended lime/sulfur applications.

Good!

should I de-thatch (I understand it's quite stressful)?

If you have thatch, yes. If not, power rake instead.

am I applying my lime, seed, and fertilizer in the right order and in the right time frame of each application?

No, see below.

Do you recommend a layer of top soil (I've just recently learned about this)?

No. Only use topsoil if you need to level low spots.


My Plan:

Dethatch - August 29

Aerate - September 12

Lime application (if needed) - September 13

Overseed - September 13

Fertilize - September 19

Water accordingly.

Any thoughts, opinions, or advice would be greatly appreciated!

There is too much time between your steps here. Ideally everything above should be done on the same day. Alternatively you can aerate/power rake on day 1, over seed and compost top dress on day 2. Fescue seed likes a covering of about 1/4"

Keeping the seed moist (not wet) is critical to a successful over seed. If you don't have an irrigation system that is functioning correctly, then your chance of getting seed evenly established is minimal unless you have sufficient rain to keep the seed moist. Hand watering almost never works effectively. Any repairs/modifications to the irrigation system in order to ensure good distribution uniformity (i.e. how evenly water is applied over the area being irrigated) should be done prior to starting this project.

Soil temperatures should be roughly in the mid 50's to low 60's for fescue in order to get the highest percent germination. This typically corresponds to an average air temperature of 60-75 or so. Your project should start when soil temps are in this range.

Fertilizer amendments (if needed) should be added based on soil tests and can be added at a different time depending on the amendment. If nutrient amendments are needed that are critical for establishing seed, then they should be added just prior to seeding or at the same time. If you need lime, then the pelletized would be the best choice for a home owner. The type of lime to use depends on what your soil test shows.

Be sure to post the results of your soil test when you receive them.

pr0digals0n
08-16-2009, 06:03 PM
Wow. Great info. It never occurred to me that the soil had to be a certain temperature.

OK. So it seems I'll have a new plan. It still hovers around 90-100 degrees here in late summer, so clearly I'll be doing my thatching/aerating in mid-September.

I completely agree with you on the irrigation system, but unfortunately I do not have one and will have to make due with manual sprinklers. I plan to water both morning and evening to ensure the proper amount of moisture. It won't be ideal, but I'll have to make due.

Before proceeding, I will post the results of my soil test as I'd like to ensure that I'm applying the proper type/amount. Great suggestion on pelletized lime, as I would surely have gone with the normal kind.

So my new plan will be:

Wait until the temperature hovers between 60-75 (which will be mid-Sept), then:

Day one: de-thatch and aerate.

Day two: apply lime (if needed), overseed, and fertilize.

I do plan to use an automatic de-thatcher, instead of a power rake as it seems that I have so much thatch that a power rake would take an inordinate amount of time. Hopefully this won't damage my lawn too much.

Another question: will waiting until mid-September limit my lawn's ability to germinate and grow sufficiently before the cold weather sets in? It does stay fairly warm (above 70 degree or so) well past October 31st, so I would have at least 6 weeks at the minimum.

Silly question here, but when you write that fescue seed likes a covering of 1/4", do you mean that I'll be laying a quarter inch of seed on the ground? Just wanted to clarify.

Thanks so much for the help, this has been very enlightening for me.