Help......Browning Yard

Discussion in 'General Industry Discussions' started by NCLawnMedic, May 27, 2005.

  1. NCLawnMedic

    NCLawnMedic LawnSite Member
    Posts: 78

    Out of 35 yards that I mow weekly I have one yard that is turning brown depsite all efforts to prevent it. The front is a fescue sod and that back is a patchy fesue area that the customer insisted the I reseed this spring. I gave customer instructions to water every 2-3 days depending on weather and he insists that he is compliant. However everytime I maintain his yard, the soil is dusty and there are cracks in the open yard. I applied the first round of Pre-M to the sod only in late February and starter in the back yard. At the end of 6 weeks (time for Pre-M round 2) there was slight browning and I advised customer to water lawn more. Customer states he waters the yard enough that it reflects in his water bill. Well anyway, he call last night irate about his yard and tells me that if it is not fixed by June 30th that he was going to take care of it himself. I know that in the back of my mind it is most likely a dought problems, what what are some other thoughts?
  2. Shadygrove

    Shadygrove LawnSite Member
    Posts: 26

    I have had this conflict with customers several times, and haved learned that you really have to be careful of your wording. I will take a soil probe and demonstrate to the customer that this section of the lawn is dry. If he states that he is watering and his water bill can prove it, I calmly tell him that I'm not saying that he isn't watering, just that this spot is dry. Maybe the sprinkler isn't working properly in that zone. He can water all day run up a huge water bill, not supply adequate moisture to that spot. Suggest he put out tuna cans and collect the water in that area like a rain gauge. Worst case I had I finally asked the customer to water that area and meet me on the lawn just as the sprinklers finished. I then probed the lawn and demonstrated that the spot was still dry (it had become hydrophobic and would not percolate water). He was convinced. Try to steer the converstion away from your not watering, I am so..... and into I know your watering but lets try to figure out why this spot is not recieving adequate moisture.
  3. pagefault

    pagefault LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 492

    It is also possible that there are some underlying soil problems. Water tends to move in the easiest path. If you go down an inch or two and the soil in that area is very compacted, the wated may move sideways, into looser soil, rather than downward. This can lead to soil that does not retain moisture well and grass with shallow roots.

    You said that the customer had you reseed this area. That implies that he had the same problem in this area before. Is that correct? Is this the only area with cracked soil when you arrive?
  4. NCLawnMedic

    NCLawnMedic LawnSite Member
    Posts: 78

    Yes, the back yard had little grass to begin with but the front is sod. The browning is happening in both the the front and back. When I pulled soil samples after several days of rain, the ground was moist in the 10 areas I pulled from to a depth of 4+ inches. The day I pulled the samples was the dampest I have seen his yard. However, the ground under the sod was hard as a rock. As far as I can tell from talking to the customer, the yard is about 1.5 years old and has not beencommercially cared for.
  5. pagefault

    pagefault LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 492

    I am certainly open to any comments from anyone who thinks I'm wrong, but I think the soil under the sod is a big part of the problem. The soil in the sod is much looser than the soil below and the water will tend to stay in the upper soil. In addition to the problems I mentioned before, I think that it is much easier to over-water in this condition. Because so much of the water will stay in the top 4" of soil, it would be easier to saturate and create anaerobic soil conditions.

    I would probaly aerate and topdress, but I am still learning, so I would be very interested to see what others say.
  6. Guthrie&Co

    Guthrie&Co LawnSite Senior Member
    from nc
    Posts: 784

    you might want to try a surfactant to help the water leech into the soil. you could use this if you find dry spots/ compacted areas. a water surfactant will break the surface tention on the water.
  7. Chris Wagner

    Chris Wagner LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 252

    Who knows if happy homeowner tried to be "helpful" and do some fert of his own too.

    Sounds like a water issue primarily.
  8. out4now

    out4now LawnSite Bronze Member
    from AZ
    Posts: 1,796

    Ok. Could be an over water problem as well. Does the grass pull out by hand easily? Is there mycelium (looks sort of like white stringy threads, fungus) in the morning? You could have insects, fungus, compacted soil, improperly adjusted sprinkler heads, are they fixed or rotating? How deep are the roots of the grass? If they are shallow and water logged then yes I'd be inclined to believe soil as well. If you aerate while the grass is stressed it may cause more harm than good. If you need to take a grass and soil sample to cooperative extension office for evalutaion.
  9. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 21,653

    The only time I've ever had any lawn turn brown (actually, it turns yellow first) is when I cut it too frequently OR the other possibility is maybe it's actually getting too much water...

    Maybe try this:
    - Lay off the watering AND the grass-cutting for at least 14 days, and let the grass GROW between cuts. I like my stuff to be at least ankle-height, I haven't killed a lawn since my 1st year.

    Sorry, I believe in natural solutions.
  10. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 21,653

    OH hell yeah if you're cutting weekly that is likely the problem, I'd say go for 10-12 days, check it, and if it can go longer, let it go 14 days. I mean the ONLY way you should continue to cut weekly is if it grows to ankle-height, otherwise you need to let it rest. I have a yard that's primo A-1 class grass, and I just let it go 16 days, LOL it was a little high but man that grass looks rich and it turns out beautiful every cut.
    The only other problem I see is, once a lawn turns brown, it's usually dead. I try to lay off mine if they so much as start to turn yellow, it's time to lengthen cutting frequency considerably.
    All the other solutions are only going to cost you or the customer a fortune.
    Peace out, and good luck!

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