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General Lawn and Fertilizer Questions

Discussion in 'Fertilizer Application' started by NewAtThis1892, Mar 2, 2008.

  1. NewAtThis1892

    NewAtThis1892 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 2

    Hi. I really do not know anything about lawn care and just recently became interested in it when the snow melted and I saw how terrible my lawn looked. I have a few questions about what I plan to do to improve my lawn and most of them deal with fertilizer. But first, you probably need a little information about the current state of my yard to answer my questions. I live in Ohio and my lawn is currently Kentucky Bluegrass. The grass growth on my lawn is very spotty and there is mud seperating little patches of grass. My goal is to have my entire yard thickly covered in grass by summer and have the best looking lawn on the street. After doing some research, I have come to the conclusion that I should stick with Kentucky Bluegrass as it is best suited for the climate I live in and the results I want. Now, to the questions.

    First, what brand of seed should I buy? I was thinking of going with Scotts Kentucky Bluegrass Seed and mixing Scotts Premium Shady Grass Seed (a mix of Fine Fescue, Kentucky Bluegrass, and Perennial Ryegrass) with it in the few shady areas of my yard as I know they carry it at my local hardware store. Is there a better brand for the money than Scotts?

    Second, I know I probably need some kind of starter fertilizer. What is the best kind of starter fertilizer? There is one restriction with the starter fertilizer, however. I have 2 dogs so it must be pet friendly. If you can, try to give me the name of a brand.

    Third, do I need to make any preparations before spreading the seed other than the starter fertilizer? Should I put soil down over the muddy areas? Should I simply rake the muddy areas to loosen up the dirt? Also, is it necessary to cover the seed with hay?

    Fourth, what is the best kind of fertilizer to use once I have the grass growing? It also must be pet friendly.

    Thanks for any help you can give me.
  2. Landude

    Landude LawnSite Member
    Messages: 18

    Before the big guns jump on ya you probably should have posted this in the homeowner section. I'm in PA and am hooked on the Lesco Team Mate Plus grass seed. They have great starter fert too. Hell everything the have is good.
    www.lesco.com there's gotta be one near you somewhere. I'm just a homeowner too, just sit back and read. You learn more then you will ever want too here and the wife will get pissed till she see's how nice the lawn looks.
  3. Whitey4

    Whitey4 LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,448

    I am not a fan of using just one strain, like Kentucky blue. Each variety has it's own advantages and disadvantages. I like a mix of seed. For instance, if KB gets a disease, the whole lawn could get wiped out in one catostophic event. Many diseases that KB can get won't bother rye or fescue strains, and vice versa. The thing with rye is that it germinates faster than the others, so you don't want too much of it in the mix or that's what you will get... a rye lawn. I like a 10% rye, 20% tall fescue and 70% KB.

    Don't skimp on seed. Usually, the more expensive it is, the better it is. Look for 99.99% weed seed free. Use a slit seeder when sowing. Definitely use a starter fert, and a pre-emergent crabbgrass control like Tupersan. Tupersan will give a reasonable amount of crabbgrass control until the new seed once sprouted can handle a stronger PreM application.

    There are some retail consumer starter ferts out there that have a Tupersan AI in them.

    I would:
    1. Aerate with a core aerator.
    2. Using a slit seeder, apply a high quality seed.
    3. Overdress the entire lawn with a peat/compost material, about 1/4 to a 1/2 inch thick.
    4. Put down the starter fert with Tupersan. Water it in.

    Keep it well watered, and try to avoid mowing until the new grass is 3" high if possible. Use sharp blades in the mower... very important. Maybe about 6 weeks after new growth is apparent, use another less selective preM for weed control.

    I would prefer doing this in the fall, as you can ignore the preM issues then. Doing it in the spring is more costly. Others I am sure would have somewhat different approaches, but this would be how I would attack the problem.
  4. rcreech

    rcreech Sponsor
    Male, from OHIO
    Messages: 6,163

    That is some pretty good advice Whitey!


    I am just North of you, up here around Eaton.

    If you water your lawn you can go with a KYB/PR, but if not.....I would HIGHLY recommend using the TeamMates Plus mentioned above. This is the best IMO. It is 80% Turf Type Tall Fescue (TTTF) and works great. Had a very good stress package and is low maintenance. Its only drawback is it is a bunch type grass. But this mix does have some KYB and PR in is so it helps!

    Good Luck,
  5. SpreadNSpray

    SpreadNSpray LawnSite Senior Member
    from MN
    Messages: 363

    I've always grown great lawns with Lesco premium athletic. It's got a few different KYB hybrids, along with Rye and Fescues.
  6. DA Quality Lawn & YS

    DA Quality Lawn & YS LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 9,280

    New at This....
    If you have dogs, please keep in mind dogs and healthy lawns absolutely, positively DO NOT MIX. Keep the dogs off the yard until your seed is well established (and even then keep their toxic poo off of the grass to reduce lawn burn spots)
  7. Whitey4

    Whitey4 LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,448

    That's a good point.... having some hybrid KB, and not just one strain. That sort of approach lessens the chances of having one strain that may have a suseptability to a particular disease. Good mixes take these things into account when they get designed.

    I have a guy that was a sod farmer for 20 years here before he went into the supply side. Best seed man in the state, so I'm told. He uses a hybrid KB mix too. I rely on his expertise, but I have to admit, I have only done a few renovations to date. He hasn't steered me wrong yet. I will be doing a major renovation on my own lawn this fall.

    Thanks there, Rodney!

    I would think you would have a better idea on seed in that area of the country given the typical soil composition, etc.

    New, I would follow rcreech's advice as far as what strains might be best to use. I have a pretty good idea of what I want in my sandy loam, but clay soils are a different situation.

    Rodney, you think using TTTF would work in an overseeding on top of KB? Just wondering... in a total renovation, I can understand that, but having never used TTTF to overseed a KB is something I've never tried. Seed could have a freakin sub forum all of it's own. I rely on my guy for most advice. I personally only enough to be dangerous!
  8. NewAtThis1892

    NewAtThis1892 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 2

    Thanks for all the help so far, guys. I do have a few follow-up questions, though.

    Right now, I'm leaning towards the Lesco TeamMates Plus, but it seems like I might run into a few issues if I go that route. I'm not an expert like most of you guys, but I don't know how putting the Lesco TeamMates Plus over the Kentucky Bluegrass would go. It seems like I would have to kill my existing Bluegrass lawn first to be safe and I don't think this is a feasible option considering my 2 dogs. Perhaps it would be better to stick with the Bluegrass and go with something like the Lesco Premium Athletic.

    Also, do I have to cover my entire lawn with soil and essentially start over? I understand this would probably give me the best results, but it seems awfully pricey and time consuming to bring in and spread that much soil. There is also the issue with the dogs. I can keep them off certain areas of my lawn, but I cannot keep them off the whole thing and I cannot even imagine how muddy they would be with all that soil. I plan to seed the entire lawn no matter what as the grass growth is very spotty, but would it be enough to simply cover the mud areas with soil?

    Finally, what about hay? Is it really necessary? I understand its purpose, but in my limited grass growing experience, it has been a real nuisance. It takes forever to get rid of and remains on my lawn long after the grass has taken root.
  9. Whitey4

    Whitey4 LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,448

    Call me skeptical on the Lesco seed mixes. I'll leave it at that.

    You don't need to start over... just core aerate and slit seed. Overdressing won't bury your KGB. It only needs to be spread very lightly.

    I missed the part about the dogs. I have two, a Boxer and a Lurcher. I won't even attempt to fix my backyard. It can't be done. The poop isn't the problem.... it's the N in their urine and the fact that if they are getting proper excersize, running around, chasing each other.... no turf can withstand that kind of traffic combined with urine spots. They even kill the crabgrass with their super charged nitro urine!

    Turf just isn't going to work unless you install a dog run. Only let them on the turf when it isn't wet. If you can't keep them off of the new seed, don't waste your money and effort, it aint gonna happen.
  10. DA Quality Lawn & YS

    DA Quality Lawn & YS LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 9,280

    Whiteys right...it is primarily the dogs pee that will do grass in, not the poo. Although dog poo on grass isn't great either...

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