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Old 08-20-2012, 10:05 PM   #1
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Can I save the lawn?


Late spring and early summer was brutally hot and dry. I tried to keep up with watering, but while I watched the water bill go up, the lawn didn't change much. Then we went through a wet spell and the grass turned nice and green. Last month or so, hot and dry again.

Well, the yard is very dry, grass is mostly brown and crabgrass is prevalent. Now that we are getting towards the end of summer and the beginning of fall, wondering what I can do to keep from losing it completely? Fertilizer while watering it? Too late to do seed? Any thoughts, tips?

Oh, and to add - we have a 90 pound German shepherd that hangs out in the front yard during the day. She has access to the entire lot, but the action is out front. She'll run and play, chasing kids and dogs - and this doesn't help the grass much.

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Old 08-21-2012, 07:04 AM   #2
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The turf will probably snap back. You could do one final fall feeding soon. Cut the application rate in half and apply at two week intervals rather than all at once if your turf is very stressed. Skip the second if the turf responds badly to the first. Fall fertilizers tend to be time released and/or lower in nitrogen than those used other times of the year. Nitrogen content is represented by the first number of the NPK ratio---that three number string on any package or bottle of fertilizer showing available nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium.

Regular turf feeding is actually the best defense and strategy for any turf problem. Combine fertilizing with good watering and mowing habits and you greatly reduce maintenance. In the business of turf management, and when budgets allowed, we sought to provide 1 pound of nitrogen per 1,000sf per month as a staring point.

Crabgrasses are usually annuals and the typical approach has been to deal with them with PRE-emergent herbicides broadcast over the entire yard in the Spring or early summer. For environmental and monetary cost reasons, turfgrass managers are shifting to POST-emergent control---or a combination. You could try a post emergent now to see what happens but you are almost too late and the plants will soon die on their own. What you want to prevent is it going too heavily to seed you will have to deal with next year.

You should post your location to your profile as it would make a difference on whether I would say it is too late to seed or not. Fall is actually a good time to seed or overseed unless you are prone to early hard lingering frosts you cannot rinse off in the morning. Just remember that while perennial rye grass will germinate in 7-10 days grasses like bluegrass and fescue take 14-21 or more under ideal conditions. Will this be too late for where you are? If you can get new turfgrass germinated, roots on their way to establishing and your soil stays warm through Fall and into early winter? Go for it.

Note that you may have better access to custom blends of grass seed in the Spring when it is sold in bulk if this is a factor for you (no reason to plant a sun and shade mix if you have only full sun). The seed may also be fresher---be sure and check the date if you buy now or get it from a reputable nursery or dealer and not a box store.

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Old 08-21-2012, 09:58 AM   #3
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Can I save the lawn?


@sdsester - Great tips! I've added my location (Lexington, KY). I'll do a "final" feeding, split in 2 as suggested. We are in the bluegrass/fescue region, which is a longer germination period under ideal conditions, as you say. Would it be best to wait for seeding and do it in the spring when it is of better quality and more likely to germinate? When I *do* seed, would it be best to keep the dog off the lawn? Lastly, I will try to do pre-emergents this spring. I held off this year as we have a toddler that was learning to walk and I didn't want to have him crawling through the yard after it was sprayed. I think it'll be easier this coming spring.
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Old 08-21-2012, 10:08 AM   #4
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@sdsester - G When I *do* seed, would it be best to keep the dog off the lawn?
For sure. The dog will be even more devastating to young seedlings as he/she is to established turf. Can you plan a dog run of some kind other than turf into your new planting plans?

As mentioned, seed is sold in bulk by individual variety in the Spring. A seed store may still have the option to blend your own though. It all depends on how much and how soon you can get it done. We are near the first of September. Assuming you got everything planted your first fescue and bluegrass seedlings would appear first part of October. I seem to remember Cincinnati getting frost by the end of October so assume your are not far enough south to have a climate too much different?
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Old 08-21-2012, 10:27 AM   #5
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For sure. The dog will be even more devastating to young seedlings as he/she is to established turf. Can you plan a dog run of some kind other than turf into your new planting plans?

As mentioned, seed is sold in bulk by individual variety in the Spring. A seed store may still have the option to blend your own though. It all depends on how much and how soon you can get it done. We are near the first of September. Assuming you got everything planted your first fescue and bluegrass seedlings would appear first part of October. I seem to remember Cincinnati getting frost by the end of October so assume your are not far enough south to have a climate too much different?
Plan a dog run, you mean make a plan to keep her off the front lawn why seeds are growing? It'll be difficult, but doable. We are not fenced in and she can go wherever she wants. We would need to plan walks throughout the day.

Lexington isn't too far south of Cincy - just over an hour. Climate is the same. So yes, we'd be looking at early Oct for seedlings to appear. Is that pushing it? If so, I'll just feed and wait till spring to seed.
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Old 08-21-2012, 10:39 AM   #6
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Is there a regular path she takes as she plays in the front yard? I am suggesting giving up on that as turf and putting in something else, like gravel perhaps, she can run on and not do damage.

You will have to keep her off the newly planted seed for sure.

Up to you whether you want to try seeding this Fall. I might be inclined to wait until Spring.
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Old 08-21-2012, 03:28 PM   #7
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Gotcha...there really isn't a path at all. The front isn't that large, the house sits towards the front of the lot. The entire thing is brown and not doing well. I'll keep this post and wait until spring and seed then. Great tips for the yard, appreciate it.
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Old 08-24-2012, 12:42 PM   #8
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@sdsester - hopefully you're still watching this thread. I was going to do a feeding this weekend (half as you suggested) but through a friend I can get some seed for free. I was going to hold off until spring to seed the lawn, but since I'm not wasting any money just my efforts to put it down and water, figured I'd give it a shot. If I spread seed this weekend, what about fertilizer timing? Do it at the same time? Before, after? Tips if I go forward with the free seed?
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Old 08-24-2012, 04:25 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by thaKing View Post
@sdsester - hopefully you're still watching this thread. I was going to do a feeding this weekend (half as you suggested) but through a friend I can get some seed for free. I was going to hold off until spring to seed the lawn, but since I'm not wasting any money just my efforts to put it down and water, figured I'd give it a shot. If I spread seed this weekend, what about fertilizer timing? Do it at the same time? Before, after? Tips if I go forward with the free seed?
Go for it! You just don't want to risk burning new grass shoots with another, later feeding.
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Old 08-26-2012, 08:52 AM   #10
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Can I save the lawn?


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Originally Posted by thaKing View Post
Late spring and early summer was brutally hot and dry. I tried to keep up with watering, but while I watched the water bill go up, the lawn didn't change much. Then we went through a wet spell and the grass turned nice and green. Last month or so, hot and dry again.

Well, the yard is very dry, grass is mostly brown and crabgrass is prevalent. Now that we are getting towards the end of summer and the beginning of fall, wondering what I can do to keep from losing it completely? Fertilizer while watering it? Too late to do seed? Any thoughts, tips?

Oh, and to add - we have a 90 pound German shepherd that hangs out in the front yard during the day. She has access to the entire lot, but the action is out front. She'll run and play, chasing kids and dogs - and this doesn't help the grass much.
I think your lawn will recover from the heat and drought. Here in Omaha we've had a drought, the likes of which I cannot remember. WEEKS of 100+ temperatures, and 2 months with no rain. The brown grass was actually brittle. But we've had rain these past 10 days, and the lawn is actually getting green again. Amazing!

I would suggest holding off on doing anything but maybe some watering. Do not fertilize during this time, since that could lead to further "burning." Give it a really good watering before it goes dormant this fall, and see what happens next spring. You might be pleasantly surprised.

However... Wear from the mighty hound dog - if it is too deep - will not come back.
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Old 08-26-2012, 08:55 AM   #11
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Can I save the lawn?


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Originally Posted by sdsester View Post
Is there a regular path she takes as she plays in the front yard? I am suggesting giving up on that as turf and putting in something else, like gravel perhaps, she can run on and not do damage.

You will have to keep her off the newly planted seed for sure.

Up to you whether you want to try seeding this Fall. I might be inclined to wait until Spring.
Right. We've got two smaller dogs that we let run & play in our fenced-in back yard. There is a path worn, where they always run around the back of the garage - from the back patio to the gate by the driveway - whenever somebody drives in. That path is a hard-packed rut. I decided to give up on it looking nice, and concentrate on the rest of the lawn.

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