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Help! Customers fescue is getting discolored

Discussion in 'Fertilizer Application' started by Ijustwantausername, Jan 6, 2012.

  1. Ijustwantausername

    Ijustwantausername LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,717

    I aerated/seeded fescue and put down a little lime (red clay type soil) this past fall at a customers lawn. Just spoke to her today and she said it took off great but then some areas started turning yellow and saw the tips of the blade start to get brown.

    I took some plugs for a soil sample today but the wait period is 9 weeks and I'd love to keep this customer. Any advice at this point? Its pretty cool here, 40's-30's at night, in the Piedmont of NC.

    And no unfortunately we couldn't take a soil sample this past fall. :hammerhead:

    She did say heavy leaves were left on the turf for about 3 weeks and she did put out some straw on some areas in the lawn. Fungi?

  2. RigglePLC

    RigglePLC LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 13,705

    How much ryegrass was in the mixture? New rye often gets very yellow in late fall, particularly if rust disease appears. I am not familiar with rust if it occurs on fescue.

    What kind of soil test takes 9 weeks? Go elsewhere.

    If you suspect a pH problem buy a test kit or an an inexpensive garden-store type of pH meter and check it yourself:

    A good feeding with a high-quality fertilizer should perk it up. Brown tips is a sign of potash deficiency. Take a careful look for yourself and decide if leaves or straw on the grass is the cause of the problem in your opinion.
    Good luck. Got pictures? What variety of fescue seed did you use? How much and what type of starter fert? Is soil moisture adequate?
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2012
  3. Kiril

    Kiril LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 18,334

    It's winter. That is what happens in the winter, especially when you are getting frost.
  4. dKoester

    dKoester LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,339

    Exactly! There should be no worries on this. The grass has gone dormant.
  5. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,082

    Leaves and straw causes yellowing as well... I had let the cleanup lapse on a couple of locations becuz the frosts were coming and going, but the suffocation/shade effects of the leaf cover caused quite a bit of yellowing and it is fortuneate that I got it cleaned up when I did... My limit for leaf cover is 2 weeks...

    We are still pretty green around here and that is after losing our snow cover... no yellow tips that I've noticed... Creeping red is our main fescue.

    What is happening to other fescue lawns in your area???
  6. Ijustwantausername

    Ijustwantausername LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,717

    Riggle, it was strictly a Pennington fescue blend. They only wanted me to do the work, they bought the materials themselves. The guy at Lowe's recommended #50 18-24-12 for the "starter fertilizer" and told them it would work great. They have roughly .35 acres of grass. They also had me put out the smaller pelletized lime when I did this. I told them to keep about an inch of water a week on it until it got colder and they said they did, although the ground did seem a little dry with the soil plugs the other day.

    You mentioned a high quality fertilizer would perk it up, can you recommend anything without having the soil results?

    Almost forgot to mention, they had red clay to begin with, they had some guy do a terrible job of bringing in topsoil before me, so their is a good deal of clay under the 2 inches of topsoil...

    I really appreciate everyone's advice.
  7. RigglePLC

    RigglePLC LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 13,705

    You put down 9 pounds of nigtrogen on 15,000 sqft of turf--that is a bit light. Since most soil tests don't test nitrogen--you have to base your nitrogen on the color of the grass. If it is pale, nitrogen should correct that (provided it is warm enough). Use a slow release like Lesco 24-0-11. But if the off color is in patches or spots it may not a soil situation unless the soil is spread unevenly, (which you said it was in this case.)
    Of course you cannot judge potash or phos except based on a soil test, but that didn't stop the customer with the starter fert. New grass does not have deep roots and new "topsoil" may not be fertile. Hope this helps. Let us know what happens.
  8. Kiril

    Kiril LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 18,334

    It is winter people .... YIKES! :dizzy:
  9. RigglePLC

    RigglePLC LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 13,705

    True its winter, what is normal for your area?
    "Although the ground did seem a little dry with the soil plugs the other day."

    Never trust the customer to water as much as they say they did. Chances are the yellow spots are the farthest from the faucet.(Or thinnest topsoil). Check it with a soil moisture meter. Check it with your soil probe, screwdriver, trowel or shovel. If you cannot get the soil probe down to 6 inches deep--the soil is not moist. Just to protect yourself take a soil sample and seal it in a jar. If he sues you, just show it to the judge and have it officially analyzed by a soils laboratory. They weigh it--dry it in an oven--and weigh again. They report the exact milligrams of moisture per kilogram of soil.

    Naturally topsoil varies--one truckload is fine--the second is not so fertile, (could have come from miles away).
  10. Kiril

    Kiril LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 18,334

    Fescue typically yellows, especially if there is frost/light freeze. That is with night time temps generally in the 30's, occasional frost, day time temps in the 50's. I'll take some pics next time I am out.

    Gravimetric soil moisture determination is a bit more involved than this.
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2012

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