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Prepping & growing GRASS!! No, not that kind!!

Discussion in 'Off-Topic Discussion' started by Janster, Nov 3, 2010.

  1. Nov 3, 2010 at 11:45 PM
    #1
    Janster

    Janster [OP] Old & Forgetful

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    This summer was the worst summer I'd ever seen in the 12 years+ we've been living in this house. The drought conditions really killed a lot of our grass especially in areas where the water runs off. Re-seeding is a no brainer for next spring. I know nothing about lawns other than Scotts 4 step method, mowing it, and dandellions & clover love my yard!! :rolleyes:

    So, my questions to you guys are....what types of things do I need (or should) do to prep the lawn NOW for reseeding next spring?

    This week, I've been manually de-thatching the front yard. Not that it needed it but we have these two annoying oak trees and there are shit-tons of acorns imbedded in the grass/thatch. Figuring, grass seed ain't gonng germinate on thatch or acorns/shells come spring time. A lot of work to manually do it, but it's good exercise and gets me outside. Aside from keeping all the leaves off when they finally do drop......

    I often hear people putting lime on lawns and I have no idea why?? Is there something I should do to test the lawn for ...whatever?? Or is that something I need to do in the spring?

    We had our lawn airated a few years back - with a rental airator.

    What about weeds? Is it better to pull them out now (if I can) or wait to the spring and spray with weed killer?

    I realize that Mothers Day is supposed to be the 'no more frost' date....
    Does that mean everything (reseeding) should be done after mothers day?

    God, I hate being illiterate to lawns! It's grass fur god sake!!! Grow damnit!!
    Thanks!
     
  2. Nov 4, 2010 at 10:19 AM
    #2
    The Wombat

    The Wombat Active Member

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    Clean the lawn and dirt as much as possible, which it sounds like you're doing.

    Heavy raking (even with a leaf rake) is just as good as a thatch rake. Blow off all the debris after you rake it (or vacuum if you have one of those leaf blowers that'll do it). You want it clean, clean, clean. Then start lowering your mower every time you mow until it's pretty low - you want your grass clipped really short before it sleeps for the winter.
    As for the lime - it's all about PH balance. There's 2 kinds of lime, powder and pellets. Pellets dissolve slower, but are cleaner to use. Lime helps control acidity - you want to be somewhere between 6 and 7. Only way to do it, get a PH kit. I live under pine trees, and they wreak havoc on the soil - so I use a lot of lime. Remember to test in several locations, especially under different trees, or where there's lots of runoff (runoff removes more nutrients). That'll tell you where to lay it on thicker or thinner.
    Other than that - the only thing you might consider is plugging the lawn. You have to rent a plug machine, all it does is aerate the lawn by pulling out little plugs of dirt. That lets more nutrients and stuff down into the soil (it basically makes your fertilizing more effective). You could hold off until spring before you do that though, as your PH balance is going to change incredibly throughout winter.

    For spring, do lots of research about what kind of seeds to buy. I'd say avoid crappy lowes/home depot seeds - go to a nursery and get the opinion of a professional. He'll help you mix up the right stuff based on your location and the amount of sun, etc. Use a small amount of water several times a day until the seeds sprout, don't over water - just keep it moist. Also - avoid scotts regualr fertilizer if you're going to seed, it'll kill your seeds. Get special seeding fertilizer, again your local nursery should help you out there. Same for weed killer - don't do it for a month before or after you seed - it'll kill everything. Now shouldn't hurt, since you're months away from it. Winterizing isn't a bad idea, but I hate scotts - it killed my yard after I did all this same work. Lesson learned - err on the side of caution, you can't remove fertilizer once it's on - but you can add more later. So use a smaller amount than they suggest, and reapply if you feel you need to.

    You're looking to do what's called "overseeding" - which is adding seed to an existing lawn. Just google a bunch on it, and find out what temperate zone you live in.
     
  3. Nov 4, 2010 at 10:26 AM
    #3
    solus

    solus HOME!!!

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    wait till late winter/early spring...

    I've done this before thru trial and error

    you'll need to aerate and use a heavy rake to clear out thatch on top of soil intermingled around the individual blades.

    I did this in too early a few years back... grass died and I wasted money

    use a lot of seed and spread it as even as possible. Water immediately to get it off the blades and on the soil

    grass germinates quick... just wait till early spring/later winter... after any chance of frost. Frost will kill new grass quick... so will too much hot sun

    oh and fertilize fertilize fertilize... I used almost triple the amount one year and my new grass grew so quick and was so green for hella!
     
  4. Nov 4, 2010 at 10:31 AM
    #4
    nd

    nd Radical Town. It's a hell of a place!

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    good thread, as a new homeowner i'm curious myself. (btw, i just got my first riding mower and mowing the yard is fun as hell!)
     
  5. Nov 4, 2010 at 10:33 AM
    #5
    JimBeam

    JimBeam BECAUSE INTERNETS!! Moderator

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    for the record

    Chris managed to successfully grow grass in his desert in arizona...why is everyone else having issues?
     
  6. Nov 4, 2010 at 10:49 AM
    #6
    macgyver

    macgyver Well-Known Member

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    I doubt scotts killed your lawn. You probably killed it by not following the label. Fertilizer is just peletized nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium/potash and will not kill your lawn if applied according to the label. If you apply it in the wrong ratios, you can potentially burn or kill your lawn. Scotts products are perfectly fine (just WAY over priced). I own a small landscaping company and I use Lesco products which I buy from John Deere Landscape supply.

    Any grass seed from home depot will be fine, however you can probably buy it from JDL/Lesco or a local nursery for cheaper than you would pay at a big box store.

    You should Aerate your lawn EVERY YEAR. If you have a warm season grass (bermuda, zoyzia, St augustine/centipede) it should be done in the spring. Cool season grasses (fescue, blue grass, etc) should be aerated and overseeded in the fall. Cool season grasses grow in clumps so they have to be overseeded. Warm seasons grow from Rhizomes and Stolons and spread on their own so they do not require overseeding. Since you are in PA you probably have fescue or blue grass.

    Sounds like you have already dethatched so you are good there. Make sure you aerate really well. Only use a core aerator not the triangle spikes. A topdressing of good rich topsoil wouldn't hurt. Depending on how big your lawn is, you may need a dumptruck load or a pickup truck load should be good. Spread it evenly across the lawn filling in low spots. I prefer to cover bare spots with peat moss as opposed to wheat straw. You will need a broadcast spreader to apply the seed. Your most common spreaders settings should be listed on the bag. Can I re-iterate again FOLLOW THE DIRECTIONS ON THE LABEL! You will then want to apply a starter fertilizer. Just buy the cheapest you can, fertilizer is fertilizer...like I mentioned before. Seed takes about 1-2 weeks to germinate and should not be mowed or walked on for at least 2 weeks (hence the reason for cutting really short to start)

    Make sure you do a shallow watering twice a day for the first 2 weeks. Then after that about an inch of water once a week will be fine. If you aren't sure how much an inch is, place an empty tuna can in the yard w/ the sprinkler running, then time how long it takes to fill the tuna can. Thats how long you should run the sprinkler to get an inch of water.
     
  7. Nov 4, 2010 at 11:05 AM
    #7
    OmahaStylee

    OmahaStylee Beating Anorexia since 1976

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    I think the correct advice is gonna depend on what region you're in.

    I just did a major overhaul of my yard this fall.
    All the info I found online through a lot of searching seemed to suggest late Sept./early Oct. is the best time to overseed a lawn in the midwest for cool season grasses.
    This was my plan of attack, & so far it's coming in great.

    Step 1:
    kill the weeds - I had a LOT of crabgrass this year, spent a lot of time out in the yard with a 3 gal sprayer. I used two different kinds of concentrate because I bought them at different places. I started with Spectracide, and when I ran out I switched to Bayer crabgrass killer. After spraying, I had to wait it out... supposed to wait about 2 weeks to make sure it works.

    Step 2: Mow it really short - I set the deck on my mower to almost as low as it would go. Just shy of scalping the dirt.

    Step 3: Power Rake - I have a small engines shop close to home that rents out small equipment. I rented a Bluebird power rake, and went over my whole yard with it. After this step I had to go back over my yard with a regular rake & clean up all of the thatch & debris that was scratched up. This really thinned out my grass.

    Step 4: Aeration - I went back to the same shop & rented an aerator. These are fun to use :D

    Step 5: Seeding - I went back AGAIN to the same shop & rented a power seeder.
    * On the way home I stopped at a local feed & grain store & picked up a big-ass bag of Tall Fescue mix.
    The power seeder tore up my yard as well, after all - it does dig into the ground just like the power rake, but the difference is it has a trough at the back of it which you fill with grass seed and it drops it in the grooves.

    Step 6: Fertilize - I used a drop spreader as opposed to a broadcast spreader. As for the actual product, I used Scotts Starter Fertilizer.
    By this time I was like "f#$k it... I'm soooo tired of walking back & forth over my lawn" :mad:

    Step 7: WATER - water it a bunch & keep it wet at all times (or as much as possible) for about 2 weeks.
    Right at 2 weeks I noticed it just kinda started springing up overnight. It was about 1/2 to 3/4 inch tall when I first noticed it.
    *Gotta keep watering it even after it comes up.
    *Make sure to mow it before it gets too tall.
    (I read that this is necessary because if you mow it short it'll promote better root growth.)

    This process worked for me so far, but I'm in Nebraska.
    Check online for a local extension office or possibly a local university website that would have an agronomy department (or something like that) they'll have helpful links... hopefully.

    Good luck!! & let us know how things turn out.
     
  8. Nov 4, 2010 at 11:06 AM
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    Simon's Mom

    Simon's Mom Wag More Bark Less

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    After having a garage built, I hired a local guy to fix all the areas that were tore up from the site work.

    He wore something that looked like a ghostbuster backpack & sprayed grass seed mixed with chopped up recycled newspaper.
    The mix was green/gray, went on wet then hardened. I watered it a couple of times.

    Within a couple weeks the lawn was like a chia pet.
    That was the best darn grass, put shame to all the rest of my lawn wish I had him do the whole thing :eek:

    That is all I know about growing grass...our climates are somewhat similiar...and this was done in October time frame.
    I vote to find someone that uses that pack...
     
  9. Nov 4, 2010 at 11:09 AM
    #9
    chris4x4

    chris4x4 With sufficient thrust, pigs fly just fine. Moderator

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    Correct......though it only lasted 6 months.....BUT...Im gonna try again. :)
     
  10. Nov 4, 2010 at 11:14 AM
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    bwood_usmc

    bwood_usmc Wiskey Tango Foxtrot....

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    I should be able to answer all your questions because im a turfgrass/golf course management major, but i just started so im also somewhat illiterate still
     
  11. Nov 4, 2010 at 12:04 PM
    #11
    Janster

    Janster [OP] Old & Forgetful

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    Thanks Gang!!

    I'm starting to get a headache!! :D

    Majority of the leaves haven't fallen yet, so my husband & I will be out there with the mower and bagging all the leaves & grass along with using the blower. Keeping things clean this fall will be 'automatic'. We should definately fill in some holes & low spots. We've got a lot of those since we removed a couple big trees a few years back. The roots are decaying and the ground is lower in spots. Good idea!!! Laying topsoil down - is that something we can do this fall after the final mow?

    We have about 1/3 acre. I'm more worried about taking care of the front/side yards than the back yard. The back yard seems to survive a lot better since its flat, under the shade and seems to retain moisture. The front yard has trees but the ground is sloped and it just dries out quicker. With limited time - not sure how much I'll be able to get done before the snow flies.

    I have a scotts spreader and have applied two steps this past spring/summer. But by the middle of the summer, it was sooooo dry and the grass was limp/dead - that I never applied the other two steps knowing it wouldn't save anything. So - we can definately apply the seed ourselves. I'll have to do some research and learn a bit more...

    Keep the thoughts coming!!
    Thanks again!!
     
  12. Nov 4, 2010 at 12:46 PM
    #12
    macgyver

    macgyver Well-Known Member

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    Yes cut the lawn really low before applying the topsoil, this will help you determine your low spots better.

    You're never going to get any grass to grow well in the shade so just give up and put down some ground cover. The stuff your contractor put down was probably rye grass in a hydroseed type mixture. That stuff grows like crazy but usually doesn't survive through hot summers. A turfgrass blend is what will do well. Like someone mentioned before, check your local county AG extension office, they will help you out. Its kinda a little late in the season so be doing this..you really should have aerated and overseeded about a month ago. Just do it now, then in the spring put out some seed again but don't worry about aerating in the spring as its not necessary.

    I forgot to mention on the lime. Lime balances the PH in the soil but it takes many months to affect the PH. Take a few soil core samples from various places throughout your yard and put them in a ziplock bag and take them to your local extension office, they can run a soil test for about $20 and they will tell you if you even need to put down lime or gypsum.

    In regards to the leaves, its never a good idea to leave them on the lawn for an extended period of time as they choke out sunlight from the turf.

    Since you have a scotts spreader, pretty much all of your leading seed and fertilizer companies will have the settings listed on the bag.

    edit: oops forgot to mention...You probably wanna apply a pre-emergent weed control product to the lawn in March-ish before the spring weeds begin to germinate. Pre-emergent puts down a gaseous chemical barrier that prevents the weed seeds from germinating. NOTE: this will also prevent grass seed from germinating too which is why you should overseed in the fall. If you plan on seeding in the spring too then hold off on pre-emerg till next year. Scotts pre-emerg is called "Halts". Lesco's pre-emerg is called Dimension.
     
  13. Nov 4, 2010 at 12:49 PM
    #13
    Zombie Runner

    Zombie Runner Are these black helicopters for me?

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    i got sick of the weeds in my yard so I have Perm-o-green come spray mine with their mixture like once a month and I water it in and mow it... i know i could do it cheaper but I like to not have to worry about it.
     
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