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mulchosgrassious
10-17-2002, 06:20 PM
I hope you guys (and ladies) don't mind helping out a do it yourselfer.

I am currently using a mulching mower on my lawn. I understand that this helps return fertility to my lawn, but I can't help but notice that the guy down the street (who bags his clippings) has a much nicer lawn. Also, I've never seen a professional who mulches. Despite doing a very thorough job dethatching (by hand), my lawn seems to get patches of dead and/or dry grass in the summer. The color, texture, and thickness of the lawn is definitely best in the shad under the two oak trees in the front yard. I am watering the lawn adequately and evenly. Under the trees, the lawn is fairly thick, with minor patches of dirt showing through. Where the lawn is not shaded by the trees, you'll see the patches of dead/dry grass, and not so much the dirt patches. It also seems as though the grass under the trees is different than the grass that gets the sun.

What can I do to make my lawn look better? What are the advantages/disadvantages to mulching vs. bagging? The soil in my neighborhood is on the sandy side and the natural pH is between 6.5 to 7.0. Should I consider planting only a certain breed of grass rather than the mixes you commonly see in the stores? Ideally, I would like to see the lawn come in thicker under the trees, and avoid the dead and dried grass in the sunny parts of the yard.

Thanks,
John

IBGreen
10-17-2002, 09:41 PM
Don't worry as far as the mulching part goes your doing good. Most of the pros will mulch. A lot of the companies are too big to bag anyhow, you can wind up hauling off a tractor trailer load of that stuff everyday. Are you just a homeowner or are you going to start cutting commercially?

Brandon Shaw
Evergreen Landscaping Concepts

MCGRAIL LAWN
10-17-2002, 09:45 PM
All I will say on this subject is:

I currently use a stealth 33" mower and bag the grass in the SPRING & FALL. During the summer i mulch the lawns.

You have to bag in spring and fall because that is when the grass is growing very very fast (3 days).

In the summer most of my customers dont water there lawns and the grass does not grow very mutch s MULCHING doesnt not a big differnce on appereince.


The way the lawn looks is 99% of what makes the customer happy

fprintf
10-17-2002, 09:52 PM
I hope you don't mind a slight hijack of your thread...

In the summer months, do the guys who "mulch" use the mulching attachments on walkbehinds or do you just side discharge the clippings since you are not cutting that much?

Is there any success in double cutting opposite directions?

I have just posted a thread (I am a newbie homeowner) in the Homeowner forum about possibly purchasing a Toro Proline G 48 Fixed and I am still questioning whether I will need to purchase the bagging kit and/or the mulching kit. For your information, I am in CT which has *really* thick bluegrass Spring and Fall lawns. My Toro 21 mulcher can only handle it if I mow every other day. :)

MCGRAIL LAWN
10-17-2002, 09:58 PM
My company currently uses a mulching attachment
because if you side dicharge the grass clipping are more likley to end up in the landscape beds.

As I said before the way the lawn looks is 99% of what make the customre happy

Fvstringpicker
10-17-2002, 10:01 PM
Your problems can range from too much/little fertilizer, improper watering, turf disease/insects etc., etc. Best advice is to have a rep from your state's dept of agriculture/extention service take a look at it. You mentioned the ph of lawns in the area.Have you had a soil test? When you locate the Extention Service, take a sample of the grass from the middle and from the edge of the brown spots and let them analyze them. In any case, you need better turf management.

SWD
10-17-2002, 11:52 PM
you never mentioned a type of turf grass. Once you figure out what you are dealing with let me know - it sounds like turf type tall fescue yet it may also be perennial ryegrasss mix. Species selection and adaptation to your growing site makes all the difference.
Call and I will help you more.

mulchosgrassious
10-18-2002, 12:21 AM
Are you just a homeowner or are you going to start cutting commercially?

I am just a homeowner.

you never mentioned a type of turf grass

I overseeded this past May with the following mix:

46.55 % Perennial Ryegrass (Palmer III variety)
29.14 % Creeping Red Fescue
11.90 % Kentucky Bluegrass
6.79% Chewings Fescue

This was a Lofts Sun & Shade Mix

I have spoken with my neighbor down the street, who puts at least 20 hours a week in on his lawn (he's retired), and he seemed to indicate that his seed is all fescue (didn't specify what kind). His lawn looks fantastic. He keeps his trees trimmed quite high to let the sun through and keep down the moss. I have followed suite and cut all branches below 15 feet off of the two oak trees in the front yard. I tested the pH in the yard with a kit and it was 7.0

Fvstringpicker
10-18-2002, 09:59 AM
Some questions:

How large are the brown patches? Do you see any mold, spider web looking material or greasy wet spots on the grass especially in the morning? Time of day and how often do you water? If you pull up a patch of weak/dead grass, what color are the roots? Is the dead turf a solid patch or does it form a ring with green in the middle? Have you limed the yard lately? What analysis of fertilizer do you use (3 numbers) Does the grass leaf seem to die from the bottom up or the tip down?

MOW ED
10-19-2002, 01:14 PM
The part about dethatching by hand has me feeling some shoulder pain for you. The bad news is that you probably didn't do much more than groom the top surface of the lawn.

True thatch and the problems associated with it come when the thatch gets to be in excess of 1/2". You can cut a slice out of your lawn in some of the rougher (brown) places and measure the thatch depth.

In any case you will be on your way to a better lawn with a thorough CORE aeration. Core it to 3 inches in a crossing pattern. Leave the cores. Pick some of the cores up and check the thatch depth. You will see why a dethatcher rake doesn't really scrape down to rid the lawn of thatch.

Excess nitrogen is usually the cause. You need no more than 3# N per 1000K sq ft if you are returning clippings to a cool season lawn like yours. A soil test is the best way to find out your lawn fertilizer situation and needs.

Core it now and core it again in the spring. Core it again next fall. It is the easiest way to a better lawn. Your neighbor will be asking you what you did next year. Good Luck

bubble boy
10-19-2002, 05:02 PM
def. pay attention to the advice you've received so far to get improvement.

don't forget your bagging neighbor may have a better looking lawn for a reason other than bagging.

most companies around where i am mulch, including mine-don't sweat it

fprintf
10-19-2002, 06:09 PM
Originally posted by MOW ED
Core it now and core it again in the spring. Core it again next fall. It is the easiest way to a better lawn. Your neighbor will be asking you what you did next year. Good Luck

I have a neighbor with a weighted hollow tine aerator that is towed behind his lawn tractor. I have seen it in action and it picked up 3" long 3/8 width (guess) cores and leaves them on the lawn surface. He has offered to do my entire lawn for a quick 5 minutes behind my new walkbehind! Anyway, I fertilized with Scott Winterizer w/ weed control two weeks ago - can I still aerate it now and not destroy my fert. application, or should I wait until Spring?

If I do the aeration how long should I wait to mow it (don't want to dull the new sharp blades in the first coupla days of ownership)

mulchosgrassious
10-22-2002, 01:40 PM
First, thanks to everyone who has responded. This site is a great resource. I have thoroughly scanned many of the other threads on the site and found some very valuable information. It seems like I just can't go wrong with aerating with a core aerator, so that's a definite.

How large are the brown patches? Do you see any mold, spider web looking material or greasy wet spots on the grass especially in the morning? Time of day and how often do you water? If you pull up a patch of weak/dead grass, what color are the roots? Is the dead turf a solid patch or does it form a ring with green in the middle? Have you limed the yard lately? What analysis of fertilizer do you use (3 numbers) Does the grass leaf seem to die from the bottom up or the tip down?

Brown patches are more of a continuous "weave" through the entire lawn where it gets a lot of sun. Perhaps around 30% brown. No mold, spider web looking material, or greasy wet spots on the grass. I watered in the evening perhaps 4 days a week in the summer. Based on what I've read on this site and elsewhere, I plan to water in the AM only from now on, less frequently, but greater duration. Roots on weak/dead grass appear to be mostly brown, with perhaps a slight red tint to them. I limed the yard this past late spring and recently tested the pH at 7.0. I use the Scott's 4-step fertilizer program, but threw the bags out just 2 weeks ago. The grass leaf definitely dies from the tip down.

Excess nitrogen is usually the cause. You need no more than 3# N per 1000K sq ft if you are returning clippings to a cool season lawn like yours. A soil test is the best way to find out your lawn fertilizer situation and needs.

Is that 3 pounds per year per 1,000 sq. feet? Also, would the excess nitrogen be more detrimental on the parts of my lawn that get more sun versus the shaded portions of my lawn?

Albemarle Lawn
10-22-2002, 02:21 PM
We are in a severe drought here, and water restrictions prohibit watering.

The UPS guy came to my door last week and said I have the best looking lawn in town. (Population over 120,0000).

I use virtually no fert because of the drought and do use a good bit of lime.

KB

Clewsew
10-22-2002, 02:26 PM
Originally posted by fprintf

I have just posted a thread (I am a newbie homeowner) in the Homeowner forum about possibly purchasing a Toro Proline G 48 Fixed and I am still questioning whether I will need to purchase the bagging kit and/or the mulching kit

If you have a Gravely dealer, look at the Gravely 48" with a 15HP Kawi. You will more then likely save yourself some $, and if it is for you as a homeowner, you will get a 2 year warranty with it. The deck is thicker on the Gravely then anything else out there. I fell into a 32" Toro WB, but was saving up to but a Gravely. Don't get me wrong, I love the Toro. It cuts/Mulches like a dream! Just give the Gravely some thought before you buy.

Clewsew.

I see that you already bought the Toro, and got a very good buy on it. congrats. I tried to delete this post, but it would not let me.