taking the lawn to a new level

Discussion in 'Pesticide & Herbicide Application' started by Squirter, Jun 8, 2008.

  1. Squirter

    Squirter LawnSite Member
    from Zone 5
    Posts: 172

    greetings,

    i live in central indiana (zone 5) and have about 10,000 sq.ft. of turf (50-50 mix of kentucky bluegrass and perennial rye). as a homeowner, i do as most do-it-yourselfers and purchase Scott's "best" lawn pro, 4 step fertilizer program. in the spring, i apply step 1 (preM) and continue to follow the application instructions as well as the schedule directed by Scott's. the lawn is really pretty nice (only 1-2 years old) and is clearly head and shoulders above others in the neighborhood. i am meticulous in maintaining a beautiful lawn...mowing at the recommended heights (i keep it longer than most) ..sharp blades...different directions...broadleaf weed control (redzone)...annual core aeration, etc. etc.

    i try to do all the right things and even installed a sprinkling (irrigation) system that was the cadillac of all systems. this year, so far, i haven't needed to use it much due to plenty of rain which should be good for the lawn. when i do use the system, the watering is done by the book.

    my problem is, i'm just not satisfied with the results i'm getting with Scott's. seems my lawn could be much greener, more lush, and healthier. the blades of grass (tips) seem to be white in color...or even a bit brown looking. i also have several spots (1' diameter) that look as though the grass is dead, brown, etc. i suppose it could be pet urine but i don't own a pet and it's awfully peculiar when the spots are throughout the lawn as opposed to being near dog walkers traffic areas. oh well, just a thought. my question is...what can i do to take my lawn to a new level????? i want it perfect. scott's "best" 4 step program isn't gettin it done. can i use better products???

    what about applying fertilizer in-between my scott's applications (6-8 weeks between aps). can i supplement my "feedings' by using more fertilizer in-between". i'm not afraid to throw the water to the lawn if that's what it takes. HELP!!!!!

    what about a soil sample??? when would i do it (at what stage of fertilization)??? i wanted to do a core aeration in the fall followed by topdressing but i'm just not comfortable being able to obtain a good quality mixture (compost-topsoil-sand-peat)...and not comfy i could find an easy way to spread it. besides, that would have to be done in september and i want results now!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    thanks for the feedback.
     
  2. Hissing Cobra

    Hissing Cobra LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 702

    First of all, you will NEVER achieve a "perfect" lawn. Every lawn will have issues at some point during the course of a growing season. It's inevitible. Mother Nature holds all the cards and we can only counter her moves.

    That being said, there are some things that you can do to help you in your goal. The first thing that you should do get a soil test. Ideally, you want to fill up a Ziplock freezer bag with 1 pound of soil that you've collected from different areas of the lawn. Make sure you take the soil from a 3" soil depth as that's where the roots of the grass blades are. Once the results come back, you'll be able to determine the Soil PH level. It should be between 6.5 - 7.0 for maximum plant uptake of the fertilizer's nutrients. If it's low like the majority of the lawns around here (5.1 - 5.3 average), you'll have to add Limestone at a very high rate. The most that you can apply at one time is 50 lbs/1,000 sq. ft so if you're soil test recommends more, you'll have to apply it twice per season (spring/fall). For instance, if your test comes back and the recommendation is 75 lbs/1,000 sq. ft, you can apply 50 lbs/1,000 sq. ft on the first application and in the fall you can apply it at a rate of 25 lbs/1,000 sq. ft.

    Now that we've got that out of the way, Fertilizing is next. Generally speaking, fertilizer will last approximately 8 weeks. Applications should be made at 6 week intervals due to the fact that you usually won't see results until 2 weeks after application. Overlapping the applications will allow the lawn to remain green between feedings. Fertilizing at the halfway mark isn't really needed and "overdoing" it can create problems during the hot summer months. Fertilizer generally should be applied so that each 1,000 sq. ft of lawn is receiving 1 lb of Nitrogen during each application. Four to five applications will be sufficient during the growing season.

    Installing your Irrigation system was a very good idea but watering correctly is more important than using it frivolously. Water DEEPLY but INFREQUENTLY! Three days per week is generally fine if you're watering deep enough. Ideally, you want to maintain soil moisture at a depth of 3" at all times. That's where the roots are taking it in. Cutting a 3 sided square into the soil and peeling it back is a great way to see how far down the moisture is going. DO THIS REGULARLY because your watering schedule may have to change from time to time! If you water everyday or every other day for a 1/2 hour or even 45 minutes, chances are you'll have a dry lawn. The hot summer sun will evaporate the majority of that moisture and you'll only wet the top 1/2" of soil at best. NOT GOOD!

    Because you've got 10,000 sq. ft. of lawn and it's a 50/50 mix of Bluegrass/Ryegrass, you may have to deal with Red Thread Disease or Dollar Spot Disease during different parts of the season. These could be the "spots" that you've described in your post. Educate yourself on these diseases. A granular fungicide such as Bayleton may be something that you might want to try if you're having these issues.

    For a lawn of your size and the fact that it's comprised of "sunny" grass types, I'd definitely recommend two applications of a Crabgrass Pre-emergent control each season.

    Good luck!
     
  3. tlg

    tlg LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 647

    Sounds like your lawn has dollar spot disease to me. The temps have been up and there has been a lot of rain to keep things to wet. Pull up a few grass blades in the problem areas and check for white lesions in the middle of the blade. If you find this you may want to fertilize with a equal amounts of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potash. Make sure your not over watering as this promotes the problem. Watering should be early morning. A disease control may still be needed if the problem persist. Of course if you hire one of your local professional lawn fertilizing companies they can help you out. Anybody can spread a little fertilizer. It's when you don't know what the problem is that causes all the grief.
     
  4. rcreech

    rcreech Sponsor
    Male, from OHIO
    Posts: 6,072

    I am probably pretty close to you as I am right on the IN - OH line just South of I-70.

    Here is what I would recommend as I would put up my four applications against anybodies 6 or 7 app program. My lawns look awesome and not just because we are getting tons of rain. You not only have to use the correct product, but there is something to timing also!

    If we continue to have adequate rainfall, you may want to add a fert sometime in the early July timeframe such as using the 30-0-10 50%SCU or go with a fert/grub or insect control if needed.

    I would highly recommend using Lesco product! This is like something I would do.

    April 1 - 19-0-6 Dimension
    May 20 - 30-0-10 50%SCU
    Aug 15 - 30-0-10 50%SCU
    Oct 20 - 35-3-5 No SCU or 32-3-8 30%SCU (DEPENDING ON WEATHER)

    Good Luck!
     
  5. Squirter

    Squirter LawnSite Member
    from Zone 5
    Posts: 172

    incredible information!!! thanks!

    i'm familiar with dollar spot but didn't know the proper way/definitive method for diagnosis. i'll check it out. i do water early in the am (4:30) and only water 3 days per week. i would consider my watering schedule to be of a deep watering nature...allowing a couple days of dry weather between waterings.

    as for the Lesco plan...i'm gathering this is a liquid fertilizer plan, something I am completely unfamiliar with using. however, i may already have a piece of equipment that could be used to apply liquid fert. i just bought a backpack sprayer...it's suppose to be a pretty good quality sprayer (4.0 gal.) i think the brand name is SP. i've used it to spray for broadleaf weed control and it works fabulously. however, i'm not doing "blanket spraying" with it. rather, i'm just spot treating. so, i'm not sure it would be the ideal tool should i switch from the granular fert to a liquid fert.

    i guess i was just wondering if there were better products for a do-it-yourselfer homeowner who is trying to look for better alternatives to the Scott's 4 step lawn-pro stuff.

    as for the soil sample...how often during "the season" should one have the soil analized??? should the samples be pulled immediately before...or after the application of fertilizer. what is the ideal time to pull my sample? who do i take it to? how much???

    i'm also wanting to core aerate and overseed in the fall. is it possible i may want to incorporate another type of seed into my lawn at that time??? again, currently i have 50-50 kbg and perennial rye. i don't have alot of shaded areas (3- 30' trees) if that makes a big difference in the recommendation.
     
  6. RigglePLC

    RigglePLC LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 12,345

    Perfect lawn is difficult--even the best groundskeepers in the country have problems with athletic fields like Yankee stadium, and championship golf courses. I presume you do not want to kill it all and resod with the same mixture used on your nearest baseball field (say something like Midnight, Northstar, and Moonlight). Overseeding with better seed might help. Scotts "Pure Premium" is probably the best you can find at retail stores. You need a professional with a slit seeder.
    It is important to mow at least twice per week--three times if possible,( like at baseball fields). Never take off more than an inch at a time, because this causes a slight browning effect for a day or two. A common problem in wet weather happens when the lawn is mowed when wet or near 100 percent humidity. Fungus, like leafspot or dollarspot, infects the grass blade by entering through the cut surface of the leaf blade. The fungus works its way from the cut edge down the leaf blade about a quarter of an inch. More high quality grass is more disease resistant--and seldom has this problem.

    I agree with above--you probably have either dollarspot or red thread. Find a local professional to identify the problem, and then probably treat it with liquid fungicide. Be sure to use grub control in July.
     
  7. regularguy

    regularguy LawnSite Member
    Posts: 152

    Squirter

    Because you live in Central Indiana you really should check out the Purdue University turf grass website.

    http://http://www.agry.purdue.edu/turf/tips/turftips.html

    Purdue probably has one of the very top turf grass programs in the country and they have alot on information on their web site.
     
  8. rcreech

    rcreech Sponsor
    Male, from OHIO
    Posts: 6,072

    Actually the fert program is ALL granular!

    I would recommend using all granular fert and liquid weed control. The Dimension on round 1 is a combo granular and round two and three use liquid weed control.

    Hope this helps!
     
  9. Hissing Cobra

    Hissing Cobra LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 702

    Rcreech is right. There's no need for 6 or 7 step programs consisting of that many fertilizer applications. Four to five fertilizations are all that is needed per season. His program sounds good but I just wanted to add that you may want to incorporate some control products such as Merit and weed control.

    Here's a program that I recommend for my area. Please keep in mind that the dates may not be applicable to your area.

    April 15th - 19-0-6 Fertilizer (30% slow release) + Dimension Crabgrass Pre-emergent Crabgrass control (provides 90 days of Crabgrass protection and will generally wear off around mid July)

    May 27th - 19-0-6 Fertilizer (30% slow release) + Dimension Crabgrass Pre-emergent Crabgrass control (provides an additional 90 days of Crabgrass protection and will generally wear off around late August. Also, doubles protection from May 27th until mid July). Spot treat weeds with a liquid broadleaf weed product.

    July 8th - 24-0-8 Fertilizer (40% slow release) + Merit Grub Preventative product

    August 19th - 28-5-12 Fertilizer (50% slow release) + 3% Iron

    September 30th - 21-3-21 Fertilizer (75% slow release) + 1.5% Iron

    Anytime - Dolomitic Limestone applied at a rate according to your soil test results, which you should get checked right now.

    You should Aerate every year and if you have seeding to do, save the Aeration until the last week of August and do it then. Also at this time, you can reseed and apply a starter fertilizer to get the seed up and going. Do not seed any later than this or you may run into problems where the seed doesn't have enough time to grow into a thick, healthy lawn. Of course, this will interfere with some of your regular fertilizer applications so those can be skipped so that you can grow your seed. Apply the starter fertilizer on the same day as seeding and reapply at 3.5 week intervals until the lawn is full and thick. The winterizer may have to be delayed or skipped entirely. I would continue to use the 50/50 mix of Bluegrass/Ryegrass seedlings, as they're the best for sunny lawns. Do not mix in any of the Fescues (tall, Creeping Red, Sheep's, etc....)

    As for spraying liquid fertilizer, you cannot do it out of a backpack.
     
  10. rcreech

    rcreech Sponsor
    Male, from OHIO
    Posts: 6,072

    I forgot to add that I do liquid broadleaf control on the second and third round.
     

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