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adgjqetuo 08-19-2013 10:36 PM

De-thatching lawn
 
Hoping for some advice:

My lawn is in need of dethatching and over seeding - but I'm not sure when would be the best time. I didn't want to have new seed down in our back yard during my daughters birthday party which is the last week in September.

Can I get away with doing it late August? What are your thoughts / advice on this? I planned to rent the power rake at HD and do it myself to save some money.

I assume the process is to push mow as short as possible, run the power rake, manually rake and dispose of what's left on top and then over seed using a push seeder (thinking of using Scott's turf builder - how much would i need BTW??) And then water more heavily for the next couple weeks. IE - run my irrigation system daily instead of 3 days a week?

Any suggestions / advice would be much appreciated as lawn care is very new to me! My property is about 11k sq feet and I'm located in central NJ if that helps any.

gregzoll 08-19-2013 10:58 PM

How many square feet is the lawn? What is the length & width of the area? Check around your local area that rents auto dethatchers and vacuums to suck up all the thatch. Also price out what it would cost for a plugger to pull plugs from the yard, after, so the new grass and current grass has room to thicken up.

If not that large, just get out there and use a De-Thatching rake to pull it out and bag. As for overseeding, it is not going to show quick enough results, that you are going to have a lawn that looks like a golf course driving range, by your daughter's birthday in September.

Now of course pictures of the current yard would help, to see what is going on. Also check for your state university for its Ag extension office, who can take a sample of the soil, and tell you what needs to be added, to help it, or what type of pre-mixed fertilizer in the bag is needed.

I personally go to the local farm store for all my yard care stuff, or the local Ace Hardware, depending on who is cheaper. I try to stay within the same grade & mix for fertilizer and pre-emergent, along with Winterizer. I do stay away from Scott's, Bayer's and the other name brands, due to I have found out over the past six years, that they are watering their stuff down to the point, that you are using twice as much, and spending three times more than you should per year, to get the job done.

djlandkpl 08-20-2013 07:30 AM

You have some options. 11K sq feet isn't a huge area.
1) Power thatch then seed with a spreader
2) Core aerate the seed with a spreader
3) Power thatch then slice seed.

Why do you need to thatch? You may have a compaction problem which core aeration will help.

Slice seeding uses a machine to get the seed down into the soil. Depending upon how thick your lawn is, you will waste seed using a spreader as it will not get down to the soil.

I would avoid the trendy seed with coatings to save on water. I haven't had good luck with it. Initially you will need to water 2 to 3 times a day for 10-15 minutes--roughly 2 weeks. You don't want the seed to dry out. Then scale it back to once a day.

Being in Jersey, you could start this now. My big hang up is the party. The new seedlings are going to be too young to have kids running all over it. If you can't keep the kids off perhaps put it off until next fall and plan on a party elsewhere.

user1007 08-20-2013 02:50 PM

You need to keep seed evenly moist until it germinates so you may need to water several times per day, especially if planting when it is hot. Make sure to top dress to discourage birds and keep it from getting sunburned.

Under ideal conditions perennial rye will germinate in 7-10 days, fescues 14-28 and bluegrasses 21-28. So I agree, the kids will be stomping seedlings to death the end of September even if you could de-thatch or power rake and get the seed down in the next week.

Core aeration is not a bad idea for restoring lawn you have but any new seed will end up to deep in the cores for them to do new seeded lawn any good unless you rake in some organic matter to fill the cores.

You will not got a hard freeze until November right? So if you seeded after the party you should be alright. Just be diligent about rinsing any frost off if it shows up mornings. Winter feed. You do not want to use a pre-emergent herbicide anytime close to seeding.

Can you wait until spring to be absolutely safe? Are you sure the lawn will not fill in with a better feeding schedule?

Usually there are armies of lawn care people weighing down door handles with hag tags this time of year offering to do aeration and dethatching for cheaper than you can rent and hassle with a machine.

TarheelTerp 08-20-2013 02:59 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by adgjqetuo (Post 1231604)
I didn't want to have new seed down in our back yard during my daughters birthday party which is the last week in September.

find some other place for the party.

adgjqetuo 08-20-2013 06:38 PM

6 Attachment(s)
What kind of pictures were you looking for? The yard as a whole isn't too bad but when you look closely it's when you notice things. Like it being rough / hard to walk on. Some spots real thin and others real thick. I have some patches which look decent other area which seem to be all weeds.

I had week killer put on by a lawn care company and that helped for a couple months but it all came back. He is due back in September for a second application.

Here are some close ups - let me know exactly what you are looking for and I can snap some more for you.

djlandkpl 08-20-2013 06:55 PM

Pics 1,3,5 & 6 all show crabgrass. Weed killer won't get rid of it. I my experience crabgrass killer won't do it either. Once it gets to be that size, I've found pulling it up to be the most effective way to get rid of it. In the spring, put down a pre-emergent like Scotts Step 1.

A power rake will pull up a good amount of the crabgrass.

adgjqetuo 08-21-2013 05:58 AM

So what is 2? I have about 10 or so throughout the lawn. I had a lot more in the spring but I pulled them all out by the roots, it was good all summer and now more are appearing.

I missed the crabgrass treatment in the spring - I will get that done next year for sure.

Once I de thratch and seed, how does that work for cutting the grass in the fall? Do I let it go the rest of the season? My fear is what I do have - will it looking overgrown from not cutting?

Also the lawn care guy is due for a fertilizer and weed kill treatment come September - should will that damage any seed I laid down?

Should I let the remaining crabgrass the power rake missed go until the spring treatment?

djlandkpl 08-21-2013 07:17 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by adgjqetuo (Post 1232126)
So what is 2? I have about 10 or so throughout the lawn. I had a lot more in the spring but I pulled them all out by the roots, it was good all summer and now more are appearing.

I missed the crabgrass treatment in the spring - I will get that done next year for sure.

Once I de thratch and seed, how does that work for cutting the grass in the fall? Do I let it go the rest of the season? My fear is what I do have - will it looking overgrown from not cutting?

Also the lawn care guy is due for a fertilizer and weed kill treatment come September - should will that damage any seed I laid down?

Should I let the remaining crabgrass the power rake missed go until the spring treatment?

#2 is some kind of broadleaf weed. I would pull it up by hand. I gave up on chemicals a few years ago as I found pulling to be more effective.

When you are ready to seed, cut your lawn short. When it needs cutting, use a push mower, bag the clippings and it should be OK.

Pull up any crabgrass that remains. It's an annual an will just leave a dead spot you have to address in the spring.

The weed killer application will harm the new seed. I would have them just fertilize.

Short story: One year, my front lawn was overrun with crabgrass. I spent the entire summer pulling up the crabgrass by hand and filling in the spots with seed as I moved along. Now I no longer have a crabgrass problem. Each year I buy 2 applications of the pre-emergent (Step 1). I put the first application down in April/May and the second in June/July. If you follow the 4 step program, step 2 is a weed and feed. If step 1 works, there are no weeds for step 2 to kill. The second application of the pre-emergent stops the late sprouting weeds and crabgrass.

user1007 08-21-2013 12:26 PM

Actually there is an effective post-emergent herbicide for crabgrass but I doubt a box store will have it. A real nursery might or certainly a turf chemical company will. As hinted, most crabgrasses are annuals and the approach has been to deal with them with a broadcast pre-emergent herbicide. The post-emergent product is nice though and especially for limited areas of weeds.

The thing is, if you are planning to seed soon all herbicides need to be avoided. Pick up with that come spring. You could use something like Weed-B-Gone with a hose end sprayer for broadleaf weeds. Even then, I would wait at least a month before seeding.

Your lawn growth, even if fed, should begin to slow down by the end of September. Actually the plants will still be doing their thing but concentrating energy into roots rather than green top growth. Not a bad situation for seedlings at all. Just remember some of the grass bland will not be germinating until the end of October if you plant in late September. A layer of early snow will not hurt it much unless it is wet and icy. Frost is the real danger.

Do be careful uprooting crabgrass at this stage in its cycle. You may end up doing more harm than good if you knock its seeds off to germinate next June or July!

adgjqetuo 08-21-2013 01:08 PM

Thanks for all the advice so far - here is what I kind of gathered from your responses as a game plan for my lawn - please correct me if any are misguided - I also have some questions mixed in:


1) Rent a power rake and dethatch around the end of August.

2) Rake up and dispose of all raised thatch, also remove plugs throughout yard. Don't bother pulling out leftover crab grass. (Should I remove all visible broadleaf weeds?)

3) Run irrigation that night, then use a seed spreader and over-seed the lawn the following afternoon. - Is there a setting on the spreader recommended?

3A) Use seed from Ace or somewhere local rather then HD brand Scotts - (hopefully they can guide me to the correct type, as I don't want to mix grass types).

4) Run irrigation that night, and 2-3 times per day (10-15 min each zone) for the next two weeks. Run 1-2 times per day thereafter until time to be winterized 3-4 times per week. (What times would you recommend for running? I currently only have it run at 3am).

5) Cancel lawn service weed control mid-September, and only have fertilizer treatment done instead. Let grass grow out until the spring - no mowing.

6) Springtime - April / May have lawn service spread crab grass treatment.

7) May / June continue with normal lawn care treatment schedule such as weed treatment and fertilizer. Continue to water 1-2 times per day / 3-4 times per week.

djlandkpl 08-21-2013 02:05 PM

MY COMMENTS IN ALL CAPS


1) Rent a power rake and dethatch around the end of August. YES. CUT YOUR LAWN SHORT FIRST.

2) Rake up and dispose of all raised thatch, also remove plugs throughout yard. Don't bother pulling out leftover crab grass. (Should I remove all visible broadleaf weeds?) YES, BUT I WOULD PULL UP THE CRABGRASS AND THE WEEDS. THE CRABGRASS IS JUST GOING TO DIE AND SIT ON YOUR LAWN UNTIL IT DECOMPOSES PREVENTING NEW GRASS FROM OCCUPYING THE SPACE. THE CAUTION IS THAT IF YOUR CRABGRASS HAS STARTED TO SEND OUT SEED, WHEN YOU RAKE, IT WILL KNOCK THE SEED OFF THE PLANT AND SOW IT FOR NEXT YEAR. IDEALLY, YOU GET RID OF THE SEED HEADS BEFORE YOU POWER RAKE.

3) Run irrigation that night, then use a seed spreader and over-seed the lawn the following afternoon. - Is there a setting on the spreader recommended? I DON'T SEE THE NEED TO WATER FIRST. YOU CAN SEED THE SAME DAY AS YOU THATCH, TIME PERMITTING.

3A) Use seed from Ace or somewhere local rather then HD brand Scotts - (hopefully they can guide me to the correct type, as I don't want to mix grass types). THE IDEAL IS A MIX DESIGNED FOR YOUR GEOGRAPHIC AREA. LOCAL NURSERIES ARE A GOOD SOURCE.

4) Run irrigation that night, and 2-3 times per day (10-15 min each zone) for the next two weeks. Run 1-2 times per day thereafter until time to be winterized 3-4 times per week. (What times would you recommend for running? I currently only have it run at 3am). TO GET THE SEED GERMINATED, KEEP IT MOIST. RUN IT AT 11AM AND 2PM. IF YOU GET A HOT SPELL, ADD A RUN TIME TO KEEP THE SEED FROM DRYING OUT. THEN RUN IT EVERY OTHER DAY UNTIL YOU GET SOME GOOD GROWTH. ONCE THE WEATHER COOLS, YOU SHOULDN'T HAVE TO WATER AS MUCH AND THE GRASS WILL TAKE OFF ON ITS OWN.

5) Cancel lawn service weed control mid-September, and only have fertilizer treatment done instead. Let grass grow out until the spring - no mowing. YOU CAN MOW IT. IF YOU DON'T MOW IT, THE EXISTING GRASS WILL SHADE OUT THE NEW GROWTH. JUST BAG THE CLIPPINGS.

6) Springtime - April / May have lawn service spread crab grass treatment.
YES. THIS IS A GOOD DIY TASK.

7) May / June continue with normal lawn care treatment schedule such as weed treatment and fertilizer. Continue to water 1-2 times per day / 3-4 times per week.
NO NEED TO WATER SO MUCH. THIS YEAR WILL BE IMPORTANT FOR GROWTH SO MAYBE EVERY OTHER DAY. DURATION IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN FREQUENCY. YOUR LAWN NEEDS ABOUT 1 INCH OF WATER PER WEEK. IF YOU HAVE CLAY SOIL, YOU COULD GET AWAY WITH WATERING ONCE A WEEK ONCE THE LAWN IS ESTABLISHED. USE A RAIN GAUGE OR CAN PLACED IN EACH ZONE SO YOU CAN FIGURE OUT OWN LONG EACH ZONE NEEDS TO RUN TO GET 1 INCH OF WATER. IF YOU HAVE SANDY SOIL, SPLIT IT UP TO TWICE A WEEK. WATERING A LITTLE BIT TOO FREQUENTLY WON'T ENCOURAGE YOUR ROOTS TO GO DEEP WHICH IS WHAT YOU WANT.

adgjqetuo 08-21-2013 02:16 PM

This is very helpful - thank you so much for your reply!!

I just want to question two points:

Quote:

5) Cancel lawn service weed control mid-September, and only have fertilizer treatment done instead. Let grass grow out until the spring - no mowing. YOU CAN MOW IT. IF YOU DON'T MOW IT, THE EXISTING GRASS WILL SHADE OUT THE NEW GROWTH. JUST BAG THE CLIPPINGS.
When can I start to mow? I don't want the mower to ruin or remove fresh seed laid down.


Quote:

7) May / June continue with normal lawn care treatment schedule such as weed treatment and fertilizer. Continue to water 1-2 times per day / 3-4 times per week.
NO NEED TO WATER SO MUCH. THIS YEAR WILL BE IMPORTANT FOR GROWTH SO MAYBE EVERY OTHER DAY. DURATION IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN FREQUENCY. YOUR LAWN NEEDS ABOUT 1 INCH OF WATER PER WEEK. IF YOU HAVE CLAY SOIL, YOU COULD GET AWAY WITH WATERING ONCE A WEEK ONCE THE LAWN IS ESTABLISHED. USE A RAIN GAUGE OR CAN PLACED IN EACH ZONE SO YOU CAN FIGURE OUT OWN LONG EACH ZONE NEEDS TO RUN TO GET 1 INCH OF WATER. IF YOU HAVE SANDY SOIL, SPLIT IT UP TO TWICE A WEEK. WATERING A LITTLE BIT TOO FREQUENTLY WON'T ENCOURAGE YOUR ROOTS TO GO DEEP WHICH IS WHAT YOU WANT.
I don't believe our soil is clay or sandy. It seems like just regular soil? My yard generally is more on the wet side then dry side. I don't know how much water the system is putting out. I currently run 10-15 minutes per zone, MWF. I will try the rain gauge trick.

If the system puts down say 1/4" of water in a zone per run, should I run more times a day or more times a week? (IE - twice for 2 days, or once for 4 days?)

djlandkpl 08-21-2013 02:28 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by adgjqetuo (Post 1232318)
This is very helpful - thank you so much for your reply!!

I just want to question two points:



When can I start to mow? I don't want the mower to ruin or remove fresh seed laid down.




I don't believe our soil is clay or sandy. It seems like just regular soil? My yard generally is more on the wet side then dry side. I don't know how much water the system is putting out. I currently run 10-15 minutes per zone, MWF. I will try the rain gauge trick.

If the system puts down say 1/4" of water in a zone per run, should I run more times a day or more times a week? (IE - twice for 2 days, or once for 4 days?)

You'll have to be the judge on when to mow. Once the seedlings are about an inch tall, it should be safe to mow. Post back with some pics and we should be able to help.

If you run your system for 15 minutes and it puts down 1/4" of water, run it for 30 to get 1/2". If you soil is on the wet side, water less frequently but longer. If you don't have a rain gauge an empty soup can will work too.

adgjqetuo 08-26-2013 07:22 AM

Hi -

So I decided this upcoming Saturday I'm going to start this process.

I plan to cut my grass Wednesday twice - normal height, and one stop lower. Then twice Friday afternoon, same lower stop as Wednesday, then again with the shortest stop on the mower. I assume it would be be best to bag this time? I've never bagged before, but I assume it's pretty straight-forward.

How much seed should I be buying / using when I overseed? My lot is approximately 95' x 115' (excluding my house which has a 1st floor footprint of about 53' x 35').

Is there a specific setting I should set on the spreader? (Min, Max, Med)?


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