Maxomom
Newly Registered
Posts: 2
Joined: Thu Apr 08, 2010 3:11 pm
Location: San Diego, CA

Renovate tall fescue lawn in SoCal

Need some advice as to the order of steps to renovate my tall fescue lawn. Lawn was originally planted 10 years ago and hasn't had a lot of maintenance. It is West facing which means in SoCal it gets direct sun all summer.

Center of lawn just needs fertilizer and appears to be in good shape. Outer edges have problems:
*Some bare spots in shade prone corners that are interspersed with crabgrass
*Small area by adjacent planter bed that has flying/hopping insects and grass is now grey/brown
*Larger outer edge that has been taken over by a "spongy" carpet of grass that I cannot identify.
*Have some weeds, clover, dandelion, etc.throughout

I would like to reseed bare areas and get rid of the spongy stuff. Do I need to pull all of it out before proceeding? Should I fertilize first and then reseed? What about the weeds? In years past I have done a weed and feed in spring and fall.
I am not sure in what order to tackle these problems...
Thanks so much!!

The Helpful Gardener
Mod
Posts: 7493
Joined: Tue Feb 10, 2004 2:17 am
Location: Colchester, CT

Any interest in switching off the weed and feed?

I like organic lawns as they will do beter, while chemical culture depletes soil biology which eventually leaves issue behind, like insect attack, bacterially dominated soils that favor weeds, and unhealthy conditions for people and pets...

Reseeding should be in fall; [url=https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=23678]read this post[/url]for more...

Let me know if you want organic help. Chemical lawncare I leave to those who want it; I cannot advise or assist with that with a clear conscience...

HG
Scott Reil

cynthia_h
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 7501
Joined: Tue May 06, 2008 11:02 pm
Location: El Cerrito, CA

Re: Renovate tall fescue lawn in SoCal

Maxomom wrote: *Larger outer edge that has been taken over by a "spongy" carpet of grass that I cannot identify.
*Have some weeds, clover, dandelion, etc.throughout
These phrases caught my eye. If you can, please post a photo of the grass that you cannot identify; alternatively (and this might be even faster for you), look up photos of kikuyu grass on the Net. It took me 10 years to get an identification on this nasty piece of business. One gardening nursery who should have known better even tried to tell me it was Bermuda grass! :roll:

With regard to the weeds, clover, etc., there is a Sunset book available called Western Garden Problem Solver. The Problem Solver has very good photos of both pest insects and individual weed/invasive species.

Knowing which weeds are which is useful because they have different rooting and therefore growth habits. For instance, redstem filaree is a tap-rooted weed. Its aboveground structure can become absolutely huge, but a single taproot supports that structure. If the weed is (heaven forbid) mowed or weed-whacked, presto! the seeds/spikes have just been distributed. :x But if the taproot is popped out of the ground (as I have done), then the weed is GONE.

It only took me two seasons of attack to completely rid my street-side plots of redstem filaree, because I didn't spread the seeds/spikes around. Other California weeds are also taprooted and can be dealt with similarly.

Know the opponent before engaging in battle.

Cynthia H.
Sunset Zone 17, USDA Zone 9

Maxomom
Newly Registered
Posts: 2
Joined: Thu Apr 08, 2010 3:11 pm
Location: San Diego, CA

Lawn Renovation

Thank you Cynthia, I will post a photo of the spongy grass later on today. I looked at photos of the kikuyu grass and I don't believe this is it. What I have is low growing with shorter blades. At first I thought that it might be some variety of moss but was unable to identify it in my research -at least so far. A couple of years ago I had some mushrooms crop up in this area which was what made me think moss.

I have exactly the weeds that you describe as redstem filaree in multiple areas of my property. I am a pretty diligent weed puller and have been successful so far in getting rid of these on my slope in the backyard. This is the first time I have ever seen them in such abundance, even in a small gravel patch on the side of my house. There are a few of them in my front lawn that I pulled before my last mowing.

I am basically at a point where I either need to tear this lawn out and start over or I need to know how and in what order to tackle my problems with this lawn. A previous poster, from the East Coast, said to re-seed in the fall however the directions on the package of seed that I purchased said it was okay to reseed in Spring in my zone. Now I'm confused...

Thanks for your willingness to help! :D

cynthia_h
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 7501
Joined: Tue May 06, 2008 11:02 pm
Location: El Cerrito, CA

Scott is correct for both East and West coasts. West coast due to our late rain season. The grass seeds will put forth their roots in mid- to late September (October if you're good at the timing) and then be nourished by seasonal rain in November through March.

Getting a good attack on the weeds this year will help soooo much when you re-seed. I think you'll be pleased with the difference. :D

Cynthia

eatingorange
Newly Registered
Posts: 5
Joined: Fri May 21, 2010 5:48 pm
Location: Orange County, CA

Re: Renovate tall fescue lawn in SoCal

cynthia_h wrote:
Maxomom wrote: *Larger outer edge that has been taken over by a "spongy" carpet of grass that I cannot identify.
*Have some weeds, clover, dandelion, etc.throughout
look up photos of kikuyu grass on the Net. It took me 10 years to get an identification on this nasty piece of business.
Did you manage to get rid of the kikuyu? I bought an older home about two months ago and still formulating my plan of attack on getting this lawn under control. Fired the gardener of 17 years the moment I realized he was doing little more than mowing the lawn once a week. :roll:

cynthia_h
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 7501
Joined: Tue May 06, 2008 11:02 pm
Location: El Cerrito, CA

I've only managed to inhibit the kikuyu grass's expansion plans. It hasn't been a productive gardening season yet for me; my right knee *really* needs replacing, but one of my dogs seems to have decided that it's time for him to need help in walking, too! Aieee!

So my weeding time has been limited to pulling out the kikuyu runners and would-be resurrections of sow thistle, redstem filaree (ha! as if they have a chance...:twisted:), and others previously banished.

The trickiest place to get it out of will be among the roses. :shock: The square-shovel-severing-roots technique won't really work there; too many rose roots could be severed as well. Not the best idea....I may have to recycle my old trick vs. Bermuda grass: sieve the dirt. But this time, with finer hardware cloth and dig with a trowel.

Gotta wait until doggie's leg situation is resolved, though. So maybe later this year but before November (when I plan to have my own surgery :D).

I sure hope you are not dealing with kikuyu grass, but...Sunset says it is a "serious pest which has escaped cultivation." :(

I seldom need to suggest this particular book of Sunset's, but the Western Garden Problem Solver has excellent photos of common weeds, insect pests, and plant diseases as well as organic (and, sadly, conventional) management techniques. May as well find out what *else* is lurking in that "gardener"-maintained spread....

Cynthia H.
Sunset Zone 17, USDA Zone 9

The Helpful Gardener
Mod
Posts: 7493
Joined: Tue Feb 10, 2004 2:17 am
Location: Colchester, CT

A very short spongy grass you thought was moss...
hmmm...

Could it be Sagina?

[img]https://www.robsplants.com/images/portrait/SaginaSubulata040730.jpg[/img]

I have seen this as a weed around here, and it fits most of the description...

HG
Scott Reil

Return to “Lawn Care”