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What is wrong with this lawn?

Discussion in 'Turf Renovation' started by waylonh, Oct 13, 2009.

  1. waylonh

    waylonh LawnSite Member
    Posts: 8

    I have never applied anything to my tall fescue lawn, (other than starter fertilizer) and it's only 7 months old. As you can see, I still have some bare spots to fill in, and the third picture has my new sprouts that i have been filling in.

    Anybody know what is up with this? I initially thought it was dormant from the summer, but it's rained a ton lately, and its 60 degrees outside. I thought this stuff would have taken off by now. Is something I can take care of? PLEASE HELP!


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  2. mdlwn1

    mdlwn1 LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,443

    Rule 1. No one can tell you. Not enough info. I can only speculate that it has spent a fair amount of time "burnt"...look at the grass across the drive...then by the house across the drive. When you say "raining a ton" What does that mean? Heavy rain for 3 days starting 3 days ago?
    Rule 2. When reading other responses for the magic bullet....re-read rule number 1.
     
  3. waylonh

    waylonh LawnSite Member
    Posts: 8

    looking for any help here. Lawn across the street is new bermuda. This is fescue, and I'm clueless. Also, this is Tennessee.


    Thanks
     
  4. atouchofnature

    atouchofnature LawnSite Member
    Posts: 206

    Honestly mdlwn1 was not just being sarcastic, you really aren't giving us enough information for us to help. The pictures are helpful, but it could still be any one of several things.

    If the lawn is 7 months old, it really didn't have enough time to establish a good root system before summer, so it was prone to being damaged. The fact that you thought it may be dormant from summer tells me that you know that you didn't water enough during summer to keep it growing. I don't know how much rain you got in your area, but if the soil was allowed to dry out 3 or 4 inches deep for any length of time, odds are that the lawn is dead. That is just my best guess based upon what you have told me, but it has as much chance of being wrong as being right.

    Give us more information so we can try to help. We really aren't trying to be sarcastic, but just want to be able to give you an educated guess rather than a shot in the dark.

    One thing that will help you out, no matter what the situation would be to take a soil sample to your county extension office for testing. The results will give you a ton of insight.
     
  5. mdlwn1

    mdlwn1 LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,443

    TY...I just dont have it in me today....
     
  6. waylonh

    waylonh LawnSite Member
    Posts: 8

    Please escuse my ignorance, but what other information would you need? I slacked off of the watering during the last part of summer. However, this grass would look brown, and then a rain and poof, its would turn green again. Now, it's looking like crap, and thinning out. It has to be dying, but from what? It looked really good the last time i mowed which was 3 weeks ago.


    ....now that I think about it.


    we just had a baby, and my dad mowed the yard while we were out, with his big grasshopper. I thought he shaved it a little close. Do you think he killed it?


    Honestly I hope its dead. I have spent hundreds of dollars trying to grow this fescue. Everyone told me not to do it, and I should plant bermuda. However, everyone has bermuda here, and I think it looks like $hit in the winter. I didn't listen, and I think I will admit failure.
     
  7. waylonh

    waylonh LawnSite Member
    Posts: 8

    Last question, should i give up and wait for next summer to grow bermuda. I'm sick of the 150-200 water bills.
     
  8. mdlwn1

    mdlwn1 LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,443

    Relax dude. Your dad mowed it..lol I guess thats what I meant by saying it looked "burnt". I dont know a thing about bermuda or its water requirements. Heres what you can do for fescue....Make sure it gets a decent soaking ONCE a week next summer. Cut it at 3-4 inches. If its too dry...dont cut it. Feed in the fall...not so much in the summer.
     
  9. chuckny

    chuckny LawnSite Member
    Posts: 8

    Hello all, I bought a house in upstate NY with about 2 acres. The lawn is established with a fine bladed grass . However about a third of an acre is probably 85% weeds the rest ok. I'm sure I can take care of that by killing the weeds and planting new grass. MY problem is I have a sandy loam an the soil where the grass is thinner has alot of ants in it. I just bought a 2005 walker ghs and it is hard to keep the lines straight when the lawn is so bumpy. Half of the stripes are a full two acres long. If I was able to kill the ants without contaminating my well water how would you go about smoothing that much lawn out? Thanks for any help you could give me
     
  10. atouchofnature

    atouchofnature LawnSite Member
    Posts: 206

    That piece of information likely tells the story. The lawn quickly greened up after a rain because the root system was so shallow that the rain didn't need to soak in very far to make it to the roots. I am 200 miles north of you, and get fair results, at best, from fescue seeding in the spring. The repeated wetting & drying combined with the shallow root system is likely the problem. The roots dried out quickly between rainfalls, putting the lawn into a dormant state. Because of the shallow roots, even the lightest of rains managed to make it to the root system, bringing it out of the dormant state. A few dry days, and the roots dry out again, and it's back to dormant. This is a very stressful situation for a lawn. The scalping didn't do it any favors, but it was not the sole perpetrator of the problem.

    Again, do the soil test, it will tell your lawn's deepest secrets. Contact your local extension office and ask them which tall fescue cultivars are the best suited for your area. They may tell you that you are wasting your time trying to grow fescue. If they do, ignore all of the information I am about to give you, because your local agent definitely knows your climate better than I. My experience with Southern Tennessee has been limited to just passing through.

    Assuming your county agent gives you a few examples of tall fescue cultivars that will perform well in your area:

    Take your soil sample right now, don't wait until the weekend, you need to get things rolling ASAP. When you turn the sample in, ask your agent if you can pay a few extra dollars and get a rush on the results.

    Next get your hands on some good quality compost tea. If you don't have access to any locally, contact ICT Organics and ask Bill to get some Instant Compost Tea out to you, they usually ship the same day that you call, if you call early enough.

    Aerate the lawn, go over it several times with the aerator. The following day, slit seed (sometimes called power seeding or slice seeding) the lawn with the variety of fescue that your county agent advised. Immediately after slit seeding, spray the lawn with the compost tea, and water it in. If it is possible, you will greatly improve your results by topdressing the lawn with 1/2 inch of good quality compost. The presence of the compost will also greatly reduce your watering.

    Be sure the lawn gets at least 1 1/2 inches of water per week. If mother nature doesn't give it to you, then water. The lawn should get at least a small amount of water at least every other day if it is not too sunny. If temperatures are above 75 or so, and it is sunny, water lightly morning and afternoon.

    When your soil sample results come back, apply the recommended amount of amendments. If possible, at least half of your nutrients should come from organic sources. Cottonseed meal is likely reasonably priced in your area, and breaks down to a fertilizer analysis of 7-1-1.

    It would be best if you can get all of this done before first frost.

    If anyone who is geographically closer to you tells you that I am wrong about anything, listen to that person, because I am not familiar at all with your climate.


    If bermuda is your only option, you can help improve the winter appearance by aerating & overseeding with annual ryegrass when it starts to brown out. The rye will be green during winter, and help hide the brown bermuda.
     

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