Fescue/Blue Grass Weed Control

Discussion in 'Organic Lawn Care' started by dan82775, Jun 29, 2013.

  1. dan82775

    dan82775 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 54

    Hello, Up here in Eastern Pennsylvania. Just east of Philadelphia where cool grasses seem to do well despite the luxury of a sprinkler system for the scorching months of July and August.

    I have a very nice established thick lawn now but I am finding a small patch of clover here and there. Total between back and front yard is maybe 25 square feet total. These spots are approx. one to two square feet each and spread again, here and there.

    I am battling moles I think, because the squirrels are busy doing other things.

    So.. Here is my lawn maintenance system and my results. Please tell me how I can change add subtract or apply something different where needing.

    April... thatch and over seed with a broadcast spreader. Usually put a 40lbs bag down on an area approx. 40 feet by 50 feet (front yard).

    May... I try to over seed by hand any areas that didnt take or still need seedlings. I typically run the sprinkler system enough to keep the seedlings moist 24-7 in addition to the rain.

    End of May... I start to notice either a super green lawn or a not so green lawn. The lawn at this point is about 5 years old from new growth. At first the lawn was ridiculously green and grew like crazy so, this end of May is when I start to worry and look for a way to green up the lawn and get it to grow a little more quickly. I have been thinking this is the time, when the temps are still below 85-83 on most days, to put something down, but what? and which type of application.

    June... This is were I attempt to apply a liquid home made fertilizer,(ammonia,beer,soda,) and I cross my fingers and look forward find out any mistakes Ive made, the temps start spiking to the high 80s low 90s and the grass survives off the sprinkler systems but thins out, yellows, and starts dying off with much more dead brown thatch visible. Again, when the lawn was a year or two old, it was incredible. The newly planted seedlings at this point struggle to grow because of the HOT sun all day but do make it. They are lighter in color then the newly grown GREEN seed im used to. Seems like I need to over seed early, but this year April was in the low to mid 40s at night so..... I presume the fertilizer I applied ruined my lawn OR did nothing.Should I have applied Scotts weed and feed granules ??

    July.... Weed city!! those tall things that grow at a rate of 100% faster than the lawn with four or five leaves and pull out easily, YEAH, those things, they are everywhere. Other weeds start to creep in and more dead grass and brown thatch. Sprinkler system and rain are ineffective and really hold no value or very little value at this point.

    August.... Same as above.

    September, things start to thicken up a bit and this is when I panic and over seed again with the broadcast spreader.

    Late October.... I just wait for growth and green up and apply a winterizer granule fertilizer from scotts.

    Please advise, help, laugh, feel free to comment with anything you feel may educate or help me. Learning by mistake and process of elimination is timely. Its funny, wen the lawn was brand new (new home), it was so young and green and healthy I thought everything I was doing, was correct. I feel it was not correct but I had great soil and a healthy new lawn. now im 5 years older and struggling without a clue.
  2. phasthound

    phasthound LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,161

    For starters, get a soil test first. Add organic matter. Seed in late Aug- early Sept. Use Jonathan Green Black Beauty.
  3. dan82775

    dan82775 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 54

    Thanks for the reply. Brief description doesn't equate to anything at this point in my learning experience but I will "google" what you have mentioned.

    If I test my soil and I need a change, what will I be adding, chemicals and or granules?
    Where or how would I go about testing the soil.
    When should I apply the Jonathan Green Black Beauty.
  4. dan82775

    dan82775 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 54

    OH,,, I forgot to ask what you mean by organic matter. Is this a bold statement requesting anything thats added to the solid, be it organic verses synthetic, or is "organic matter" a brand of something specific and individual in application.

    I have just recently added milorganite.
  5. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,082

    Are you mulch mowing the clippings back into the turf? Are you cutting higher during the excessive heat?? Are you allowing the soil to dry out between irrigation events???
    Dethatching every Spring is most likely what is opening up the ground for weeds to germinate in... Organic matter(OM), is something like compost or even fertilizing with cornmeal or something along those lines... The most valuable OM is the material that you remove every Spring instead of getting it to rot into the soil and increase 'soil structure'... :)
  6. dan82775

    dan82775 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 54

    I am side discharging.

    I have sprinklers set to water at 0700 and then again at 1700. I would imagine this allows the water to sink in nice a deep and I dont think it dries out totally I think it remains moist.

    As for thatch. Not all this thatch breaks down, Leaves get trapped and dead grass (Tall Fescue) is very bunchy at the base and really do not break down like id hope for. In fact, it is visibly an issue along with keep new seedlings, in April, from contacting the soil.

    This year I just used the mower to mow really short my first mow, then I used a hand rake to remove all the crap that was covering the dead spots and got it all up as to CLEAN the lawn to allow seedlings to get into those areas and grow, filling in the bald spots.

    This is the first year I have applied Milorganite and side discharged. I have always bagged and the lawn was gorgeous BUT I think its because my lawn was brand new construction, NEW, and its was crazy vibrant and healthy. Now its about 5 years old.

    What type of fertilizer to you recommend. Johnsons doesnt have prices on their site and honestly I dont want to pay an arm and a leg
  7. 32vld

    32vld LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,983

    No reason to water twice a day.

    No reason to not water in the early AM unless you have a manual sprinkler system, or have you have to use a hose and sprinkler after you get out of bed in the morning.

    Watering in the evening, shallow watering do not make a healthy lawn.
  8. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,082

    Putting the grass to bed, WET,, is the easiest mistake to avoid... Absolutely do NOT water in the evening!!! Fungus, fungus, fungus disease are the 3 major reasons why you never water in the evening... I'm surprised to hear that comment from 32vld...

    Anyways, you never let leaves sit on the lawn more than 2 weeks, especially oak leaves, becuz they easily suffocate the grass... they should not be trapped in the turf to begin with...

    Lawns can only take so much water, before the anaerobic conditions cause it to thin... stop over-watering and most of your thatch problems will evaporate...

    I use both Milorganite and some synthetic if needed... Molasses to aid the digestion of the thatch and thereby enhancing the soil structure...
  9. dan82775

    dan82775 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 54

    I read what you both said and thank you. I am not afraid to admit I am far from knowledgeable. Thank you guys for the education. Simple fix, turn the sprinklers off in the evenings and just water heavily in the early AM. Got it.. Now, with that being said, it seems as if the months of July and August are the hottest and when those really fast growing, tall, light green, weeds grow. What weed control do you recommend. This is a time when the temps are sometimes as high as 85-90. Also, when and what do you suggest for fertilizer.
  10. phasthound

    phasthound LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,161

    Since you are posting these questions on the Organic Lawn Care Forum, are we to assume you do not want to apply synthetic fertilizers and pesticides? If so, the best thing you can do is realize results will come slower with organic methods, but in the long run the results will equal that seen with conventional lawn care.

    If you want to be organic, then live with the lawn you have for this summer and begin to make improvements this fall. Since you seem to be a "Do it yourself" person, you may want to read Paul Tukey's book http://www.safelawns.org/blog/shop/the-organic-lawn-care-manual/

    I don't agree with everything in it, but then I don't agree with everything I've said over the years. :)

    BTW, you stated that you are east of Philly, so you're in NJ?

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