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NJ Lawn Renovation - Need help.....

Discussion in 'Homeowner Assistance Forum' started by camster39, Sep 8, 2005.

  1. camster39

    camster39 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 8

    I've been in this house in northern NJ for 2 years and have taken down a total of 7 trees. This incredibly hot & dry summer apparently did a number on the predominant 'fine fescue' lawn despite full fertilizer and frequent irrigation. Last year my lawn was fairly good -- nothing outstanding but not enough to aggravate me. My thought is to renovate the backyard (as a test) --- if all looks good next year, I'll take on the side yard and front yard in fall 2006. I have approx 16,000 sq foot of grassy areas so it's kind of a big job.

    I'm getting conflicting information with my research. Here is a summary:

    Step #1 - Spray Round-Up to kill existing grass. Most people seem to agree on this
    Step #1? - Scott's "Guide to a beautiful Lawn" states 5-7 days after the round-up is applied you can begin seeding. Other articles I've read say 3-4 weeks. ???

    Step #2? - Power rake really low or rent a slit seeder and directly apply the new seed. Again, some articles are telling me that power raking is not going to do anything for you whereas other say that power raking after you apply the seed is good. The slit seeder idea sounds good -- getting the seed into the soil in 1 pass.

    How about a tiller? Seems like most people think this is unnecessary and only activates weed seedling -- although there are plenty of articles that seem to suggest the tiller step as well.

    Step #3? - Additional topsoil or top dressing? Is this really necessary - if I were to be sure that I made contact with the soil using a slit seeder why would I need additional topsoil?

    Step #4? - My ground is a decent sun and shade mix with a heavier emphasis on sun. I've been told that you can't go wrong with the Scott's premium sun & shade mix (the fine fescue will flourish in the shady areas and the blue & rye will take over in the sunny). Or am I better off applying the Premium "Sun Mix" and perhaps through down some fine fescue ONLY in the shady areas.

    Then to top it off, I've read a few articles about "Turf Fescue". People seem to swear by this grass -- it sounds like some kind of a superhero grass that is drought/disease resistant, low maintanance and does well in sun & shade (sounded too good to be true). What is Turf Fescue and is it appropriate in the NY/NJ area?

    Today is Sept 7th & I'm approaching the prime season for all this work so I'd like to get started sooner than later (how long can I wait by the way before I start loosing the benefits of the fall timing). If I were to kill the grass say next week and then seed the last week in September, am I still OK?

    Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks
  2. Lost Pine

    Lost Pine LawnSite Member
    Posts: 196

    You and I have alot in common !!!! From experience, I will tell you the BEST way to do as I have great results from.

    1. Slit seeder...Max effect for your seed into the ground.

    2. For Fescue, Scotts is OK, but there is better. I'm reseeding with Jonathan Green seed called, Black Beauty". It is more expensive but from what I hear, worth it.

    I have 20,000 sqft which need overseeding which I am doing this month...

    Good Luck and keep in touch
  3. camster39

    camster39 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 8

    BTW - where are you renting your slit-seeder. I assumed Home Depot would have them but the guy at the store said they don't carry them.

    Can I slit-seed over grass that I have NOT killed with Roundup? Or can I only slit-seed over grass that is dead?

  4. Dreams To Designs

    Dreams To Designs LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,406

    Absolutely, you can slit seed over existing turf. You will be overseeding. Best to have a soil test done before adding any amendments. You can contact your county Rutger's cooperative extension office for the soil test info. Determine your sun/shade conditions for the correct type of seed to use. A turf type tall fescue with 10% Kentucky Blue grass added in is a good mix for NJ. If your lawn is infested with perennial weeds, you should consider the non-selective herbicide route. Top dressing or bare ground amending with leaf compost is a good idea for adequate seed to soil contact. Then fertilize and irrigate and you should have good results this year and excellent results by next spring.

  5. camster39

    camster39 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 8

    Can I assume then, that the herbicide (Roundup) route is most important when there are a bunch of weeds and undesirable grass? I already sprayed Roundup in my backyard yesterday (ugly grass).

    I didn't spray any Roundup in my front -- my issue with the front yard is that most of the grass is burnt from the drought.....apparently the dominant grass is fine fescue.

    If I slit seed over existing turf (like in my front), is it OK if I use the "new lawn" settings on the slit seeder. Or should I be dropping less seed in the front vs the back where I killed the grass?

    Finally - what would you recommend as a good turf type tall fescue w/Kent Blue? Does Scott's make one or would you recommend another brand. Is this good for sun/shade or is it predominantly sun?

    Thanks again
  6. Lost Pine

    Lost Pine LawnSite Member
    Posts: 196

    Hey Dreams To Designs,

    My Lesco guy is telling me that the Transitions mix is a better seed for the value than the $65 per 25 lb for the "Black Beauty".

    Do you agree ?????????????

  7. arpat2

    arpat2 LawnSite Member
    from NJ
    Posts: 35

    Hi Camster. Here is my two cents. My lawn took a big hit this summer, even with the sprinkler system. Jonathan Green=expensive but great seed! I rented a thatcher and set it one hole lower than unusual. Blew away the dead grass and spread a thin coat of topsoil as dressing. Lightly raked in Scott's Starter Fert and Scott's premium seed sun/shade mix. I've had great success with Scott's seed. When I put down Lesco seed the lawn didn't look as nice. The last layer was a thin coating of peat moss. Not too thick, just enough to cover the topsoil. I'm watering twice daily for about 2-4wks. After that I will cut it down to once daily and between 4-6 wks. feed the seed. Unfortunately, we have some 90 degree days ahead of us. Ideal time for planting seed is between 80-50 degrees. The new grass should be established by the time frost comes. Most of my info came from doing a search on lawnsite and talking to the guys at a local nursery. Hope this helps. I'm real close in Paramus, so we are in the same climate zone.
    Hope I didn't confuse you any further. The worst part of the whole process is spreading the topsoil. Once you get through that, the rest is a cake walk.
  8. camster39

    camster39 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 8

    thanks for the info - have you used Jon Green seed before. How would you compare that to Scott's seed?

    I wasn't planning on laying any topsoil - once my grass is dead, I was going to mow to 1/2 inch and use a slit seeder to place the seed. From that point forward my plan would be exactly like yours. Do you think that the topsoil is necessary even when using a slit-seeder?

    Yes, Paramus is right around the corner from me. Did you already seed your lawn and are you now in the watering phase? I was planning to slit-seed early next week (around sept 20th). Hopefully that's not too late.
  9. arpat2

    arpat2 LawnSite Member
    from NJ
    Posts: 35

    Yes, I have used Jonathan Green before. NO WEEDS and really thick. It could have been good topsoil, though. Also because it was so thick it resisted weeds for many seasons.

    Scott's took a couple of seasons to get it to where I wanted. It has held up well to a German Shepherd and two kids.

    I used the topsoil to fill in any low spots in the lawn. We had some trees cut down and the roots are decaying where the stumps were. Therefore, creating some low spots. If you don't have any large areas that need repair or regrading, then topsoil is probably not necessary. One step that I would strongly suggest is putting down a thin layer of peat moss. It is biodegradable and retains the moisture for the seed thus keeping it from drying out.

    Yes, I am in the watering phase. You should be ok by Sept. 20. That's only a week later then I started. All I know is that I'd better see some little green hairs sprouting up in 7-10 days or I will be one unhappy camper.
    Have a great day! Let me know how things turn out especially with the slit seeder.
  10. arpat2

    arpat2 LawnSite Member
    from NJ
    Posts: 35

    I forgot to ask you where will you be renting your slit seeder from just in case I need one in ther future?

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