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Help on sickly lawn!

Discussion in 'Pesticide & Herbicide Application' started by hobbsd, Sep 21, 2006.

  1. hobbsd

    hobbsd LawnSite Senior Member
    from west wi
    Messages: 448

    I have a commercial property that will not co-operate! The lawn is around 18000 Sq. Ft. Is about 5 years old, has 4-5 inches of beautiful black soil in it, and is on a irrigation system. The property is in a business park that is built on top of an old landfill (covered in 20+ feet of sand). I have the lawn on a good fertilizing program for our area.

    THE PROBLEM: the grass is fairly thin, slightly pale, will not thicken into a nice mat, doesn't have a lot of beefy top growth, and there is moss growing is some of the thin areas. I thought it was a PH inbalance, but I just had a soil test completed and the PH is at 6. Also, the test reported super high phosphorus and somewhat high potasium, but I didn't think that these would cause the problem.

    Does anyone have a suggestion on what could be the problem?? The customer is not very happy, and I'm not sure of what I should do.

    I need help =(*trucewhiteflag*
  2. lawnboy

    lawnboy LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 321

    could be to much water, expecially late at night. I have had some lawns like this, and we cut the sprinklers off or set them during the hottest part of the day so the lawn would air out at night.
  3. Rob Spread & Spray

    Rob Spread & Spray LawnSite Member
    Messages: 205

    WHat should the soil pH be for your area? I try to keep ours as cloe to 7.0 as possible.

    pH Affects Nutrients, Minerals and Growth

    The effect of soil pH is great on the solubility of minerals or nutrients. Fourteen of the seventeen essential plant nutrients are obtained from the soil. Before a nutrient can be used by plants it must be dissolved in the soil solution. Most minerals and nutrients are more soluble or available in acid soils than in neutral or slightly alkaline soils.

    Phosphorus is never readily soluble in the soil but is most available in soil with a pH range centered around 6.5. Extremely and strongly acid soils (pH 4.0-5.0) can have high concentrations of soluble aluminum, iron and manganese which may be toxic to the growth of some plants. A pH range of approximately 6 to 7 promotes the most ready availability of plant nutrients.

    But some plants, such as azaleas, rhododendrons, blueberries, white potatoes and conifer trees, tolerate strong acid soils and grow well. Also, some plants do well only in slightly acid to moderately alkaline soils. However, a slightly alkaline (pH 7.4-7.8) or higher pH soil can cause a problem with the availability of iron to pin oak and a few other trees in Central New York causing chlorosis of the leaves which will put the tree under stress leading to tree decline and eventual mortality.

    The soil pH can also influence plant growth by its effect on activity of beneficial microorganisms Bacteria that decompose soil organic matter are hindered in strong acid soils. This prevents organic matter from breaking down, resulting in an accumulation of organic matter and the tie up of nutrients, particularly nitrogen, that are held in the organic matter.

    Want to learn how ESF is improving your world? Click HERE.clear giflogo for Daring to Dream

    Changes in Soil pH

    Soils tend to become acidic as a result of: (1) rainwater leaching away basic ions (calcium, magnesium, potassium and sodium); (2) carbon dioxide from decomposing organic matter and root respiration dissolving in soil water to form a weak organic acid; (3) formation of strong organic and inorganic acids, such as nitric and sulfuric acid, from decaying organic matter and oxidation of ammonium and sulfur fertilizers. Strongly acid soils are usually the result of the action of these strong organic and inorganic acids.

    Lime is usually added to acid soils to increase soil pH. The addition of lime not only replaces hydrogen ions and raises soil pH, thereby eliminating most major problems associated with acid soils but it also provides two nutrients, calcium and magnesium to the soil. Lime also makes phosphorus that is added to the soil more available for plant growth and increases the availability of nitrogen by hastening the decomposition of organic matter. Liming materials are relatively inexpensive, comparatively mild to handle and leave no objectionable residues in the soil.

    Some common liming materials are: (1) Calcic limestone which is ground limestone; (2) Dolomitic limestone from ground limestone high in magnesium; and (3) Miscellaneous sources such as wood ashes. The amount of lime to apply to correct a soil acidity problem is affected by a number of factors, including soil pH, texture (amount of sand, silt and clay), structure, and amount of organic matter. In addition to soil variables the crops or plants to be grown influence the amount of lime needed.

    In addition to monitoring soil pH the nutrient status of the soil should be examined. To obtain soil sampling instructions and kits along with specific recommendation contact Cornell Cooperative Extension listed in your local phone book under United States Government Offices - Agriculture Department.


    Text prepared by Donald Bickelhaupt, Instructional Support Specialist, Faculty of Forest and Natural Resources Management. Illustration by Robert Schmedicke.

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  4. lilmarvin4064

    lilmarvin4064 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 757

    do a micronutrient test; see if it's deficient in iron. What are the base saturations of Ca, Mg and K?
  5. upidstay

    upidstay LawnSite Bronze Member
    from CT
    Messages: 1,575

    I would aerate it, hit it with some lime and a good quality fertilizer. Make sure the fert has a good mineral profile too, not just n-p-k. I like Lesco's 24-5-11 w/5% iron and 1.5% manganese. It also has alot of other nutrients in it too. Used it for years and always had terrific luck with it. It will kick start a struggling lawn nicely.
    You also might have the wrong kind of seed. If it is shady, and you planted alot of blue, then it won't do well. If the pH is 6, and you have alot of moss, I'd say you have alot of shade. Grass needs sunlight to grow, regardless of seed type. To much shade and no good turfgrass will ever flourish.
    Regardless, I'd lime it. Grass like a 6.5 to 6.9, roughly, to grow.
  6. hobbsd

    hobbsd LawnSite Senior Member
    from west wi
    Messages: 448

    There is no shade on the property, and because of the moss, I think they might be over watering and washing all the nutrients out. Does anybody have expeirence with overwatering??
  7. kootoomootoo

    kootoomootoo LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,369

    Step 1 .....take photos.

    If you want it green Hit it with 2lbsN / 1000 of urea next time it rains and turn off the sprinkler system.
  8. tremor

    tremor LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,476

    Do a soil test with micros. Post the results. Don't just start throwing poop against the wall.

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