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Fescue seeding in tennessee need help

Discussion in 'Turf Renovation' started by 35DollarLawns, Apr 25, 2014.

  1. 35DollarLawns

    35DollarLawns LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 801

    In short is it ever to late in the spring to seed poor areas 1in lawns?

    I see homes built every year where they throw out seed, never water it and it still is green come fall.
    I have some lawns with large areas needing repaired from winter damage and it is not practical to water these spots.
    I was told it will die come summer and it's best to wait until fall.
    I plan to power seed these areas, anyone have ideas?
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  2. whiffyspark

    whiffyspark LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,284

    I would. I personally think it's an old wife tall that you can only seed in fall

    Generally people don't seed in spring because of pre emergent

    I'd seed and not worry about it
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  3. 35DollarLawns

    35DollarLawns LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 801

    That is kind of how I took it as well but the buy at the
    Coop said its a waste to do it now without irrigation.

    My issue is several of our newest jobs we just got has no fescue growth after heavy fertilize ( no green ) or obvious clumps. If the rains today and through the weekend fails to recover the lawns I dont have many options.

    I wish this spring was typical with plenty of rain.
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  4. RigglePLC

    RigglePLC LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 13,556

    Good point, Wiffy. Cold soil temps slow down the germination process--no problem. See my other posts--rye has germinated in Michigan. Moist conditions of spring are better for seed. Start early to avoid the hot dry conditions of June. Use plenty of seed, 8 to 12 pounds per thousand sqft--too thick is way better than too thin--allow for a few percent to not germinate. Use some salesmanship--get the customer to upgrade to a premium seed--and--get him to pay for an extra heavy rate.
    Naturally there is a good chance of a huge crabgfrass problem--I mean crabgrass. This is typical for a lawns that where you are fixing a die out situation. Be prepared to deal with it--either siduron as a seed-safe pre emergent or Drive as a post-emergent, or both.

    Remember if you use new topsoil--typically it won't have too much crabgrass--but rather lots of assorted summer annuals. Whatever is typical in a neglected hayfield or your source of purchased topsoil.
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2014
  5. RigglePLC

    RigglePLC LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 13,556

    Actually your Growing Degree Days (Base 40) are well ahead of Michigan. About 877, and warmer than average.

    I think you should be OK. Include careful soil preparation. Include starter fert. Include battery-operated sprinkler timer, if possible.
    Be sure to not guarantee anything. All reseeding and call backs should be at the customer's expense. Let him approve the preparation. Take the check when you are about half-finished with the seeding. Protect yourself. Let him see the seed bag and how much you used and what the percent germination was at the seed testing laboratory. If he wants to sue anybody--let him sue the seed company.

    Better yet--get it hydroseeded--their experience is very valuable.

    Or lay sod --reduce your risk.

    My pictures of new seeding this month.
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2014
  6. Skipster

    Skipster LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,075

    Where are the professionals on this board? We need to find them because they’re surely not posting here.

    The concept that the best time to seed cool season grasses (mainly tall fescue) in the transition zone (which includes TN) is the fall has been supported by experience and research for more than 50 years. The premise is simple: cool season grasses grow best when the weather is cool and struggle in the hot temps of the summer. If I plant my tall fescue in September, I can get 9 months of growth before the hot temps come in June. But, if I plant my tall fescue in April, I only have 2 months of growth before the hot temps come in June. Would you rather have an older, heartier, more mature plant to face the stressful temps in summer, or would you rather have a young, immature, defenseless plant to face the summer?

    As for the seeding rate – use the right rate for the species you’re seeding. Seeding lighter is ALWAYS preferable to seeding heavier. Seeding heavier produces chlorotic stunted plants that have trouble competing with each other for nutrients. You can always grow in from seeding lighter or you can plant more seed, but recovery from seeding too heavy is always ugly.

    When seeding, always use the PLS rate: Pure Live Seed. If you don’t know this term and haven’t heard it before, stop your business and don’t hurt another customer until you’ve learned it.
  7. whiffyspark

    whiffyspark LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,284

    Riggle is probably the best person on the board to answer his question.

    I don't believe in waiting until fall. What if we have sudden cold snaps and that itty bitty grass stalk can't survive? You waited all year for nothing.

    I know my fescue is dormant all winter long.. I just cut my own lawn for the first time since November and it barely had any growth
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  8. Skipster

    Skipster LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,075

    I’m not saying that you can only seed in the fall and absolutely not any other time of year, but you need to know what kinds of stresses your new young plant are going up against and what kinds of resources (or care) that you can give them.

    Although you’re not getting a lot of top growth in the fall, cool season grass roots (tall fescue, fine fescues, Kentucky bluegrass, and creeping bentgrass especially) keep growing until soil temperatures reach the 32 F range. These plants are better prepared to take advantage of the spring growing conditions and further the maturation process, leaving them better prepared for the summer.

    At the end of the day, you’re free to do whatever you want. But, the facts are the facts, whether you want to believe them or not.

    BTW, what PLS rate do you use when seeding your tall fescue?
  9. RAlmaroad

    RAlmaroad LawnSite Silver Member
    from SC
    Messages: 2,248

    Fescue is just like other seed. When it germinates, a hair root is sent out to start finding moisture and nutrients. If moisture is there then the roots can do their work finding food. I seed almost any time of year--fall seeding does not require as much moisture and nutrients as spring seeding. For spring seeding a good layer of sphagnum peat moss over the seed will hold moisture and provide a cool shady place for the seed. Further strawing will hide the seed from birds and scratching turkeys. BUT A KEY FACTOR IS MOISTURE IN THE SOIL. If there is moisture when the seed sprouts then it drys out--dead plants. Hold off on fertilize until grass is up and growing and then lightly on the Nitrogen. Use plenty of high quality seed like Pennington and look at germination rate and chaff. I'm out here in East TN. Best of Luck--it will grow
  10. crgstvrs

    crgstvrs LawnSite Member
    Messages: 66

    here in east tn. I am in the Kingsport area, weather generally falls all over the place rain for 4 to 5 days then two weeks of sunshine. I have had success but it always has consisted of common sense things. 1. a good quality seed this year lesco transition blend had 38.4 gabrina tall fescue, 29.45 Brockton tall fescue, and 29.45 gabrina platinum tall fescue. I've heard of Brockton but both gabrina and gabrina platinum cultivars are new to me. 2. good prepared soil, loose soil but not tilled to a dust bowl, roughened up 2 to 3 inches perfect. 3. personally I like penn mulch, but have been known to buy greenview version from lowes on sale for 9.99 a bag. to me it just seems to hold up better , hold water longer. 4. IN CAPS BECAUSE UNLESS YOU KEEP THE SEED DAMP BY WATERING IT ALL YOU HAVE DONE IS WASTED MONEY AND TIME. START OFF WITH LIGHT WATERINGS THEN WHEN GROWTH HITS CUT BACK WITH DEEPER WATERING FORCING ROOTS TO GROW DEEPER. Good luck when loosening soil get as many rocks, pebbles out as possible. if you have kids pay them by the bucketload they bring in. keep in mind I am no pro but have had some success in this area. also I left out I prefer to fertilize shortly after there issome growth of the new seeds
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2014

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