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Joined: Mon May 13, 2013 9:21 pm
Location: CT, USA

Lawn Diseased? Help!!

Hi all!

I purchased my first home last spring...the house was in immaculate condition, but the yard had much to be desired! So now that I'm settled in, I'm trying to rehab the yard little by little. My main priority is the front yard (for the curb appeal, ya know?!).

When we bought the home, the front lawn was very spotty, meaning there were patches of grass and patches of moss and/or dirt. I had my soil tested at a local university and besides having fertilizer levels all on the low side, the main issue was the soil was very acidic (hence the moss issue). I've applied a few applications of lime and I'm noticing the moss is dying.

In the meantime, I've been overseeding and planting grass in some of the dirt patches... It's been working well and my front yard is finally starting to look somewhat respectable (still has a long way to go before I'm happy though!).

However, over the past few weeks, I've noticed that I'm developing a few patches of dead grass in the part of the yard I had rehabilitated. The patches keep growing and the grass looks like it's dead and matted down:
Image Image Image
(Sorry for the crummy cell phone pictures!)

For fertilizer this year, I've only put down an application of starter fertilizer, since I overseeded and re-seeded some of the patches where the moss had died.

At first I thought that maybe my dog might have used that spot to use the bathroom over the winter but it has been spreading and she hasn't been allowed to go in the front yard since winter. Then I thought it might be grubs, so I pulled up some of the grass to see what's under the roots...and there's nothing. Maybe some ants, but no grubs.

So what does it look like it could be and how can I correct it?? I don't want to let it sit because I've put a lot of time and money into getting the yard to where it is today. FWIW, I'm located in north central Connecticut.

Thanks for any help!

Posts: 13986
Joined: Tue Jan 01, 2013 8:32 am
Location: Hawaii, zone 12a 587 ft elev.

The lawn needs to be renovated. The soil has probably compacted over the years and it has not been fed in many a moon. The compacted soil is probably not draining well either and that is why the moss is growing.

The easiest thing to do is hire a contractor to install a lawn for you. If you don't have a sprinkler system it is better if you put one in at the same time. The contractor will give you a price that should include adding the amendments and starter fertilizer and will select the grass that is best for the site. You will get a better price if you have a one year maintenance contract.

If you want to do this yourself. It is possible.

Since you got a soil test, and if you asked for lawn recommendations, it will have given you the amounts of fertilizer that you need to apply. Remember to spread the nitrogen recommendation out over several applications.

I would get a couple of truckloads of compost from your local supplier. It is cheaper to buy it by the truckload than by bags. They can fill a half ton pickup bed with about a cubic yard of compost. You could also purchase some chicken or steer manure about 1 bag for every 100 square ft. Mix the manures with the compost.

If the grass has a lot of weeds in it, use roundup and kill the lawn first. If it is not too weedy, pull the weeds. Scalp the grass with a mower or weed whacker. Spread 3-4 inches of compost mixture over the area. Apply the fertilizer as recommended. Till it all into the top 8-10 inches with a roto tiller. Grade the lawn to direct water away from the house foundation and to make sure water flows and does not pool in low spots.

Install a sprinker if you don't have one yet.

Water the tilled area 1 hour twice a week. Wait for weeds to come up and remove them. Continue watering and weeding until most weeds have been eliminated.

Go to a sod farm and see what grass is available and recommended for your area. Ask about how fast the grass grows (fast means more mowing), drought resistance, army worm resistant, how well it competes with weeds, and takes to foot traffic.

I live in Hawaii and most people buy sod. The only grass seed available is for a grass that spreads quickly but has very tall seed spikes or centipede grass. Other grasses sold are not appropriate since they contain fescue and Kentucky blue grass which do not grow well in warm climates.

You can seed instead if you have seed that is appropriate for the area. Talk to the master gardeners about what the grass options are for your state.

Grass can be planted in plugs or by stolons. Newly planted grass needs to be watered up to 4 times a day and weeds need to be pulled regularly. Feed lawn fertilizer once a month for the first year. After the grass starts growing, water can be slowly decreased to approximately 1 hour every 3-4 days. Test by checking soil dryness with your finger. Poke down in the soil about 3 inches and water when the soil is almost dry. Avoid walking on the grass. Use a piece of plywood to move across the lawn to weed it.

After the first year and the grass has filled in, aerate, dethatch, top dress and fertilize once in the Spring and again in the Fall.

Mow when grass gets about 3 inches tall. Grass heights are best about 1 1/2-2 inches depending on the grass. Fast growing grasses will need to be mowed every week or two.

Full Member
Posts: 18
Joined: Wed Apr 10, 2013 12:21 pm
Location: North Carolina
Contact: Website

I'm guessing its fescue. Always tough to overseed in the spring. I would personally make sure you put out some sort of pre-emergence in addition to the fertilizer you already put out. Otherwise you are going to have a ton of weeds germinate throughout the rest of the year.

Then, this fall, aerate it, rake the bare areas, reseed, and then put out your starter fertilizer. You could get it back in good shape over the next few years over the year or two if you do what you need to. This is the cheaper route.

You could do what the above poster recommended, but it will cost a decent amount of coin. Even if you do that, what til the fall.

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