sftong
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Posts: 3
Joined: Thu Apr 19, 2018 6:16 pm

Help! Blue Grass Lawn

Hello Helpers, I live in Central Ohio, and have been a homeowner for 15 years. I even have irrigation system for the lawn, and water bills run around $200/month of my 8,000 sqft lawn size during the 2 hot summer months.

Anyway, last 2 years my Kentucky Blue grass lawn seems getting into worse shape. Every springs, I notice some patches of "light brown" grass which I think had died over the winter, and my grass are getting thin! So that means Bittercress have flourished last 2 years. Following is what I did for my lawn care last 10 years. Please tell me what am I missing. The first 4 points below are consistent.

1) Every spring early-to-mid April, I put down fertilizer with Crab grass prevention. This is done mostly using Scott products.

2) Around mid-to-end of May, I will put down Scott Step 2 fertilizer with broad leaf weed herbicide.

3) Every year, I probably use spray-herbicide 2 to 3 times to spread on targeted area with weeds. Mostly broadleaf.

4) The summer season, I would may skip fertilization. If I do fertilization, I typically using Scott Turf Builder All Season or other generic brand fertilizer.

Between Summer and Autumn, I will do at least once fertilization.

5) In autumn, I may skip fertilization. Some times I may use Scott Turf Builder All Season, or use generic brand winter fertilizer or Scott Winterguard.

6) Every 2 years or so during last 4 years, I would put down $60 worth of blue grass seeds during Sept with sprinkle turn on every day for a short period to help with the seeding.

Please see the attached pictures. Some part of my lawn are thick, some are thinning out. I know central Ohio is notorious for clay soil, and I think my builder was giving only thin layer of Top soil when house was built.

Question:
A) What do you think that I am missing here? I am thinking going nuclear with putting down say $200 worth of bluegrass seeds, and then put on an inch layer of top soil during Sept. Heard this really help with seeds germination and giving a better soil base.

B) I recently read that I should put down either Crab Grass preventer or Broad leaf weed (Scott Step 2) during the late autumn to kill those Bittercress or over-winter-weeds. Any recommendation?

Thanks much!
Sean
Good and Bad part of Lawn
Good and Bad part of Lawn
Close up of dead grass
Close up of dead grass

imafan26
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Posts: 11261
Joined: Tue Jan 01, 2013 1:32 pm
Location: hawaii, zone 12a 587 ft elev.

Re: Help! Blue Grass Lawn

A soil test would be good. While you have seeded and fertilized and put down weed and feed, the lawn is getting worse and overrun with bitter cress which usually means over watering, or poor drainage. I also don't see you doing any aeration, dethatching or top dressing to improve the soil conditions. If you are going to weed, make sure you use a method that targets the weeds you have. Weed and feed products target broadleaf weeds, but not all weeds and apparently not the weeds growing in your lawn. If you have a healthy lawn, it should be able to crowd out most weeds. Lawns have a life cycle and the soil becomes depleted. Dead grass (thatch) builds up and over fertilizing, over/under watering will take its toll.

I have a different kind of grass, but I only fertilize twice a year (old lawn). Aerate, dethatch, fertilize and topdress in the Spring and again in the fall. If my grass makes me mow more, I feel less sorry for it and I only fertilize it once a year instead. If thatch is more than 1/2 inch, it is hard to do dethatch it enough. Usual causes of thick thatch are the type of grass, over fertilizing, and not dethatching regularly. I usually have to renovate in sections that way to remove thatch and take runners to replant the grass.
Watering should be = about an inch a week of rain or watering. Your lawn should spring back when you step on it, if it takes longer to Spring back, leaves a footprint or is extra crispy you need to water more and sooner. It is better to deep soak the grass rather than water for a few minutes a day and water shallowly. The grass will be more drought tolerant and the roots will go deeper and not clog up the surface. Usually grass only needs to be deep watered once or twice a week when it does not rain enough. Top dressing adds organic matter and a place for the grass roots to grow into. It helps with moisture retention. Lawns that are over fed and overwatered will look green for awhile but it is not the healthiest thing for them in the long run. BTW I went to a lecture once that recommended lawns be renovated every 7 years. The norm here is for people to keep the same lawn for 20 years or more without renovation.

You are not alone. My 10 year old grass needs renovation. I have more nutsedge than grass. I have thatch that is 2 inches thick and my sprinkler valve needs replacing. All on my to do list.

https://www.extension.umn.edu/garden/yar ... enovation/
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

sftong
Newly Registered
Posts: 3
Joined: Thu Apr 19, 2018 6:16 pm

Re: Help! Blue Grass Lawn

imafan26 wrote: Aerate, dethatch, fertilize and topdress in the Spring and again in the fall. ... is better to deep soak the grass rather than water for a few minutes a day and water shallowly. .... Top dressing adds organic matter and a place for the grass roots to grow into.
Thanks IamAFan

How do you de-thatch? I did aeration once a year, or one every 2 years, typically in the fall.

It sounds like my lawn need a top dressing of 0.5 inch or so huh? Probably would do a test run first, i.e. first put down seeds in July, and then then add compost into the top soil, and spread the mixture on top of the seeds using a broadcast spreader. If this prototype works out, I will then do a Aeration in fall, immediately followed by the prototype steps in July.

But How about De-Thatch?

Thanks

sftong
Newly Registered
Posts: 3
Joined: Thu Apr 19, 2018 6:16 pm

Re: Help! Blue Grass Lawn

Hello, some updates here regarding my soil. I use a DIY tool kit and found my lawn soil to be pretty Alkaline, very low in Potash, and need some boost in Phosphorous and Nitrogen. Again, I live in Central Ohio with tons of clays in my soil.

Based on my initial study and checking around, seems like I need 3 things:
1) Sulfur to lower the pH -- https://www.homedepot.com/p/20-lb-Fast- ... /203342315

2) Milogranite as some recommend here. But it is not cheap, found better price at Walmart $11.57 / 36 pound bag. I need 3 bags just for 1 application -- https://www.walmart.com/ip/Milorganite- ... s/16794889

3) Chicken poop.

4) Potash? Any recommendation?

5) Phosphorous and recommendation?

Can I apply all 5 above in 1 application?

Thanks
Sean

imafan26
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Posts: 11261
Joined: Tue Jan 01, 2013 1:32 pm
Location: hawaii, zone 12a 587 ft elev.

Re: Help! Blue Grass Lawn

Chicken poop = nix that. Chickens are fed calcium to help harden their eggshells. What goes in comes out. Chicken manure will raise you pH an average of half a point making it more alkaline,

Milorganite is organic nitrogen. You can use Scotts organic lawn fertilizer instead if you want slow N. For myself, I would calculate the total nitrogen required and divide it into three installments. Apply the first half of the nitrogen after the seedlings emerge, 1/4 of the total nitrogen in 4 weeks and the rest in the fall. I use sulfate of Ammonia which has 21% fast release nitrogen and it is an acidic fertilizer that contains sulfur so it will not add to the alkaline problem. Nitrogen is needed most when young grass is growing so that is why it gets the biggest boost after seedlings emerge. You do not want nitrogen too high before you seed because it can prevent seeds from sprouting.

Soil prep for complete renovation. Kill old grass and weeds. You can remove it by hand or use regular round up. Water and let the weed seeds come up. repeat removal and watering until you don't see weeds popping up.
add organic matter. Most composts are alkaline unless you use peat moss which is expensive. The water holding capacity and feeding the soil web are a good tradeoff. Put on a layer of 4-6 inches of compost on the top of the soil.

You can mix your starter fertilizer in with the compost before spreading. You can use something like Scotts starter fertilizer. It has more phosphorus and slow N. NPK 25-25-4. It covers about 5,000 sq ft. (15 lbs). if you want to do something more organic, you can get gro power high nitrogen for turf . It has an NPK of 18-3-7 and contains humic acids to help the soil bacteria. You can add bone meal to the starter fertilizer. It is easier to just go with a commercial starter fertilizer. Once grass is established it does not need much phosphorus at all. Too much phosphorus can pollute the groundwater as well as make too much thatch.

You can get a thatching rake at hardware stores like home depot and Lowe's. If you have a large lawn or a lot of thatch, it can be a real work out so consider renting a power rake or vertical mower instead. I usually dethatch, aerate and top dress with fertilizer added to the topdressing twice a year for an established lawn. If the grass makes me mow more often, then I will only do it once. I do like gro power for maintenance fertilizer.
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

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