Aeration, Power/Slit Seeding, and Weed Control...

Discussion in 'Turf Renovation' started by anon4once, Aug 27, 2013.

  1. anon4once

    anon4once LawnSite Member
    Posts: 9


    Connecticut Shoreline here.

    New lawn from seed late last year and this year I fought a ton of problems from summer patch (verified by the state testing lab), hard crappy clay soil the contractor used (I applied Gymsum to help this), sparse lawn at beginning of season (reseeded in spring with Siduron applications the first few months).

    Anyways... I was so focused on controlling the summer patch I wasn't able to get the weeds undercontrol and now I have alot of various weeds all over my lawn.

    My questions are:
    1. When is the best time time aerate and power/slit seed - I know fall... but when?? Am I waiting for leaves to change, a certain average soil temp, a certain date, etc...
    2. What should I do now or in fall about the weeds? I just applied Merit + Fertilizer (no weed control) 2 weeks ago. Should I do post emergence weed control in fall if I'm going to seed? Should I just worry about it in the spring?
    3. What else should I be doing (or considering) for the rest of the year... lime? winterize? etc...

    This year is the first year I've started focusing on my lawn and really want to get on the right track.

    Thanks everyone in advance - you are all awesome.
  2. foreplease

    foreplease LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,940

    One thing you want with Fall aeration is for the holes to heal up before the grass stops growing for the year. Here things are running a little earlier than normal this year. At least that appeared to be the case until late Sun when warm humid weather returned. You're looking for improved rooting as a result of aerating but if you do it too early roots will generally be short, causing more stress and possibly a less than optimum aeration. General rule of thumb here is Labor Day or later. What I look for is a period with daytime temps conducive to aggressive growth with reliably cool nights (even an occasional frost). In my experience, the greater the difference between day and night temps the better turf grows following aeration.

    When you aerate, be as aggressive as possible. It is nearly impossible to overdo it. Your body will likely give out (if you are using a rental store typical aerator) before the grass gives out. Once you have aerated, put down a medium-heavy or heavy amount of a balanced fertilizer.

    September and October are a great time of year to go after broadleaf weeds. Don't use a granular or weed and feed type broadleaf product. Spray or have someone spray. Any crabgrass you have will die once you've had a couple heavy frosts. The herbicide label will indicate when you can spray after seeding and how long after spraying you should wait before seeding. At this point, I think I would get it aerated and seeded and go after the weeds around October 1. You will have fine results spraying that late and it is preferable to Spring.

    Hope this helps. You have a lot of work ahead it sounds like!

    PS: buy excellent seed. Now that you have a history of Summer Patch, look for cultivars that are resistant to it or at least not terribly succeptible.
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2013
  3. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 10,081

    For clay you'll want to plug aerate probably more often than once a year... when you have the holes it would be good to add a sandy compost on top of the seed...
    Fungal diseases occur readily on soils that don't drain well, but there are other cultural practices that can help prevent it from becoming an issue...
  4. anon4once

    anon4once LawnSite Member
    Posts: 9

    Thanks for your suggestions guys... a few follow-ups.

    I just recently realized I had the very clay like soil.. I'm learning as I go here and my contractor that did the new lawn screwed me with crappy seed and "top soil".. turns out to be clay, sand, and rocks with very little organic material at all.

    I will definitely be aerating more often so I can condition the bad top coat I have and get some organics mixed in.

    Some follow-ups:
    - foreplease; you mention not doing granular weed killer in fall. Is this an absolute no-no?? I only have a residential pump sprayer and want to avoid spending any more money than I have to. If I really cant/shouldn't use granular and my spreader, is there a suggestion on what I can get from the Lesco dealer that may work well in a pump sprayer. (I have 10,000 sq feet, so I may need to buy a better sprayer)

    - Considering I just used Merit+Fertilizer 2 weeks ago, if I aerate and seed in the next 3 weeks, what should I use for fertilizer when I seed (from Lesco)

    - will I risk over-fertilizing so close to the last application?

    - I have some VERY sunny sunny areas and VERY shady areas. Should I try to use different seed mixes in both areas, or just one mix for all areas and let the strong seeds "win" in their favorite areas?"

    - Is the sandy compost something I get by the truckload or something that comes in bags? I'm having a hard time finding a bulk material dealer with quality stuff and really need to introduce organic matieral into the lawn.

    Current Plan -
    1. Next week, Aerate (rent)
    2. Within a week after (depending on my schedule) - SliceSeed with a good cultivar, putting proper shade seed and sun seed in appropriate locations.
    Immediately after seeding, fertilize using _________(??)
    3. Trim trees in shady areas to let some more sun through.
    4. 4-6 weeks after seeding, attack broad leaf weeks using ____ (TBD).
    Winterize and Lime.

    Any major flaws?

    THANKS SO MUCH for all your advice!!!



  5. americanlawn

    americanlawn LawnSite Fanatic
    from midwest
    Posts: 5,852

    Heavy clay/crappy using bluegrass for that??? Better to use turf-type tall fescue.
    Summer patch = bluegrass cultivars are the most susceptable
    Gypsum = waste of time
    Lime= forget it
    Aeration holes need to heal within a certain time = wive's tale
    Want to seed soon? = better water twice a day
    Weeds -- what kind? Annuals? Perennials? In either case, it's easy to kill weeds. Most important is to establish the correct type of turfgrass so you don't have to spend money on "bandaids" every year
    I sure hope you don't have ryegrass >> easy & cheap, but gets grey leaf spot, usually grows in clumps, most susceptible turfgrass for getting rust disease.

    Got more, but.. my 2 cents p.s. Dormant seeding might also be a good option. Hard to say, cuz an onsight inspection is needed. imo
  6. anon4once

    anon4once LawnSite Member
    Posts: 9

    This is where my ignorance comes in - I have no clue what kind of grass I have. A contractor installed this lawn last year and I assume he used a blend of rye /KGB / fescue. I plan on learning the proper type of seed before I buy/apply this year - definitely something summer patch won't attack. (Suggestions?) I seem to be recovering okay from the summer patch (pic attached from mid summer).

    Parts of my lawn used to feel like walking on concrete (specifically the area under the tree in the pic above). After gypsum, it does seem to give jussssssst a tad bit more. I'm sure aeration and organics will do a much better job, but I knew I wanted to wait until the fall so I tried the gypsum.

    Weeds- again, not sure all the varieties (need to look them up), lots of clovers for sure.

    photo (1) (Medium).JPG
  7. phasthound

    phasthound LawnSite Platinum Member
    Posts: 4,584

    Best bet to rejuvenate your lawn is to aerate, seed and spread 1/2 of compost.
    Now is a good time for this in CT. Buy the best seed, I like Jonathan Green Black Beauty (tall fescue blend). Irrigate frequently enough to keep the seeds moist. At the time of first mowing, begin watering deeply and infrequently. It might be wise to mulch properly under the tree rather than to plant grass there.

    Why did you apply a fertilizer with Merit recently? Merit is used for grub control, but must be applied much earlier in the season to be effective.
  8. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 10,081

    I would think more about composting after you aerate and spot spray broad leaf weeds this fall as they appear... you don't want to saturate the entire 10k with spray anyways...
  9. anon4once

    anon4once LawnSite Member
    Posts: 9

    Do you get the Jonathan Green Black at Lesco?

    I bought the Merit and lockup in prep for the season just as I was noticing the Summer Patch - my lawn went from a B+ look to a C- look and I was getting frustrated so I decided to hire a company to do fertilization, and all care except cutting. I had 3 professional companies come out, certifications galore, and all 3 people told me I had different issues. Webworm, dollar spot, and "just drought".

    Frustrated, I sent a turf sample to the state lab for identification and they verified summer patch. In this time, I didn't treat the lawn with anything since I wasn't sure what was going on.

    By the time time I got the results back, and put a fungicide down it was too late for Merit. (was actually a little late for fungicide too, but it seemed to work/help.. most brown spots are gone)

    Anyways.. Asked Lesco what to do: fert or weed kill - they said just skip the weed kill (lockup), and use the merit+fert I already had to save some $ since the fungicide was $140.
  10. foreplease

    foreplease LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,940

    I need to sort this out in my head. This discussion has taken many turns. More later.

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