Check out my lawn - need some help!

Discussion in 'Homeowner Assistance Forum' started by BBdude, Feb 23, 2014.

  1. BBdude

    BBdude LawnSite Member
    Messages: 9

    Thanks for all the responses. My only concern is all the emphasis on "properly". Is aerating and the various spray/fertilizer mentioned here pretty easy to do if you follow the instructions?

    Here are some wider photos a few were asking for. I do have a few areas where there isn't much grass and an area in the front (between the trees) where water sits when it rains a lot. These photos are outdated as I've cleared out the beds in the front and trimmed back the trees a bit, but you get the point.

    Backyard - I don't have any grass (nor do I care to) back between the trees in the woods

  2. mpkav

    mpkav LawnSite Member
    Messages: 138

    To keep a nice looking lawn is a constant endeavor. This is what I do each year.......

    -Dethatch....use a rake and get up all the dead grass/leaves ect. can rent one at a local tool rental shop or Home Depot. They are pretty easy to use. Watch out for invisible fence lines and sprinkler heads. You can go over your yard twice in a cross pattern.

    -Fertilize....I use Scotts fertilizer (I use Lowes) and a broadcast spreader. Stay away from a drop spreader. If you aren't paying attention you will get tiger stripes in your lawn where you have missed with the fertilizer. I fertilize 5-6 times a year. Scotts has a pretty easy system with months to apply the different applications. Scotts has good information on their website. I fertilize every 5-6 weeks. I also fertilize a little more than the recommended setting. If you use a Scotts spreader and it calls for a spread rate of 3 1/4 I will do 3 1/2 or 3 3/4. Just don't go crazy with the fertilizer or you can burn up your lawn.
    ***If you are going to seed don't use the crabgrass preventer "pre-emergent" fertilizer, it will not let the new seed grow. Just use the turf builder or +2 weed control some good grass seed and use the same spreader to spread the seed. The seed and the fertilizer will drop down in your plugs. You really can't spread too much seed but don't go crazy!! Try to time all this when there is rain in the forecast (that night or next day). Sun will dry your seed out and too much rain will wash it all away. You can also seed/patch bare spots. I like to get some top soil and spread it in the bare spots, spread seed over the top soil and spread some more top soil over that. I then spread straw over the area to prevent the sun from drying things out. Then WATER...a couple times a day. Don't let your new seed get dry!!!

    Weed control....I use a simple pump sprayer from Lowes ($20 found in paint/deck stain section) and buy the large bottle of Ortho weed B gone CONCENTRATE!!! You mix the concentrate (a little goes a long way, just a splash in the sprayer) and fill the rest with water. You now have a TON of weed spray to walk around the yard and spray every broadleaf weed you see. MAKE 100% SURE YOU DON'T BUY THE STUFF THAT KILLS GRASS ALSO!!!! Around April you can fertilize again with Scotts turf builder with weed control.

    Mowing...As previously mentioned, mow LONG. 4" or 4 1/2 ". This will be the highest or second highest setting on any mower. The longer grass will provide shade for the grass roots and prevent it from burning in the sun. Longer grass also chokes out weeds. Weeds grow in the bare spots of your lawn.

    Spring and Fall are good times to aerate and seed. Some do one or the other but I do both. It looks like you have good shad in the front yard which will help!! You can also spread some insect control (granular like fertilizer) to kill grubs ect. Some might even do a soil test but I don't know too much about that!! I'm no expert so take bits and pieces of what everyone is saying and figure out what works best for you. Once you have a general idea down it's not difficult just a little time consuming!! Well worth it in my opinion!!!
  3. BBdude

    BBdude LawnSite Member
    Messages: 9

    Thanks for all the input. I've summarized everything below as a means to plan for this year's lawn maintenance program I'll execute. I have some questions in bold. I welcome any thoughts / opinions!

    1. Dethatch - Rake yard once spring is on the horizon.
    2. Aerate - Rent core aerator and cover yard twice in cross pattern.
    3. Follow Scotts fertilizer schedule using broadcast spreader
    • Early Spring - Turf builder w/ crabgrass preventer (do this immediately after core aeration)
    • Late Spring - Turf builder weed and feed
    • Early Fall - Turf builder winterguard w/ weed control
    4. Use pump sprayer with weed b gone on weeds as they appear throughout the year.
    5. Mow 4"+ high
    6. Around labor day reseed as appropriate the day before it rains. For bare areas, add top soil seed / re-seed. Add straw to prevent drying out. Water couple times a day.

    1. Do I need to dethatch AND core aerate?
    2. Should I core aerate and put down turf builder w/ crabgrass preventer before I mow the grass for the first time?
    3. How do I know when I should mow the lawn for the first time?
    4. In the fall when I seed/re-seed thin or bare areas, can I apply winterguard fertilizer to the new grass?
  4. Valk

    Valk LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,758

    How much actual thatch do you have? Thatch is dead root system and is fibrous. Thatch is not clippings.

    I speak only for my region:
    I prefer not to fertilize in the early Spring at all...just makes for too much top growth. There are pre-emergents w/o fert. One can fertilize in May if they receive enough rain or regularly irrigate.

    Properly timed late Fall fertilizer is what your lawn will use the next Spring...making any early Spring fertilizer like adding gas to a fire.

    Your best defense against weeds is TALL/THICK turf.
  5. BBdude

    BBdude LawnSite Member
    Messages: 9

    So I've done quite a bit of work on my yard to date. I raked all the debris off the surface, laid some lime, and core aerated my lawn. The temps in Southeast PA are staying around 60+ during the day and everything is starting to grow/bloom.

    I was planning on putting down pre-emergent, but over the next two weeks there are only a few days with showers and no real rain until 4/27. Should I go ahead and put down the pre-emergent or wait? The penn state agricultural site says now is the best time for pre-emergent.

    I have about a 1/2 acre so this has been quite a bit of work so far so I just don't want it all to go to waste. Thoughts?
  6. agrostis

    agrostis LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,545

    Don't trust the weather forecast for more than 5 day's in the future. Put your pre down now while the soil temp's are right. Those temperature's are all important. If you don't get any rain, pull a hose and use a sprinkler.

    Your climate is a lot like mine, i can probably help you out. What is your goal for that yard and how committed to this are you?
  7. BBdude

    BBdude LawnSite Member
    Messages: 9

    Thanks. Actually just got done putting it down.

    I'd like the turf to be thicker, drain water better, be stronger, and have less weeds/crab grass. I don't need the best turf on the block so I'm not going to be installing irrigation, etc. But I'm willing to do what I can with my own two hands.

    Goal is to do what was recommended and see how things shape up come early fall to see if I need to seed or not. This is my first full spring in this house so I'm going to see what I'm dealing with now that I'm giving the turf the attention it needs.
  8. theeplaymaker

    theeplaymaker LawnSite Member
    from PA
    Messages: 22

    What is the link to the Penn State site you speak of? I am interested in checking it out as I am in the same area (Lancaster) as you are. I got my pre-emergent down 2 weeks ago and the grass is turning really green and starting to grow...hoping to do my first cut next Wednesday or Thursday at 3".

    Also I've heard really good things about the core aerators that drop seed as well. There is a place by me that rents them and I am going to try it in the fall to overseed. It has tubes that drop the seed right down in the plug holes so it contacts dirt, not sit on top of the grass and doesn't get washed away.
  9. BBdude

    BBdude LawnSite Member
    Messages: 9

    Website is

    Below is the general guide I'm working from. I used the information from this forum, Penn State, and my local nursery / garden center to build the guide. It doesn't include seeding guidance for now and the info is specific to my area of the country.

    March 15 to April 15
    • Rake lawn, clean-up sticks and other debris
    • Using broadcast spreader, apply lime
    • Core aerate lawn in cross pattern to cover yard twice.
    • Using broadcast spreader, apply turf builder w/ crabgrass preventer immediately after core aeration. Normal rain (not heavy) should be in the forecast 24-48 hours after fertilizing.
    • Sharpen mower blade. First cut should be done once grass is >4” tall. Mow grass at highest/second highest mower setting.

    May 15 to June 15
    • Using broadcast spreader, apply turf builder weed and feed. Normal rain (not heavy) should be in the forecast 24-48 hours after fertilizing. Mow at regularly scheduled interval post-fertilization.

    June 15 to July 15
    • Using broadcast spreader, apply grub and insect control. Normal rain (not heavy) should be in the forecast 24-48 hours after fertilizing. Mow at regularly scheduled interval post-fertilization.

    September 15 to October 15
    • Using broadcast spreader, apply Scott’s winter guard w/ weed control. Normal rain (not heavy) should be in the forecast 24-48 hours after fertilizing. Mow at regularly scheduled interval post-fertilization.
  10. theeplaymaker

    theeplaymaker LawnSite Member
    from PA
    Messages: 22

    Nice! Thanks and from reading around and talking to my former landscaping boss that June-July grub and insect control is only necessary if you have a problem with that, otherwise a regular fertilizer is fine for that time period.

    I am doing about the same as you (like I said same area of the country as well) just with Lesco products since they are just as good, cheaper and come with a setting on their bag for my Lesco broadcast spreader. The 4 products they have at Home Depot around me and I plan on using/have used are:

    March 27th: LESCO 19-0-7 Dimension Crabgrass Preventer
    Middle to End of May: LESCO 18-0-9 Weed and Feed Professional Fertilizer
    Middle to End of July: LESCO 24-0-11 Fertilizer
    End of September: Core aerate and over seed and LESCO 18-0-18 Fall Winter Fertilizer

    Seems like we have about the same plan going here! This is what my old boss suggested until I get my yard under control and see what I actually have. Then he said he would look it over and give me instructions on where to go from there.

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