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skittles1984 11-09-2010 01:33 PM

New grass seed planted- next steps to fix problems?
Hi all,

We had a fescue sod yard in our house that we bought this spring in Atlanta, GA that died by late summer. Apparently it was a very hot and dry summer and I didn't water enough. So we cut down the amount of lawn space, and put in a bunch of groundcover plants where there is full sun, and re-did part of the lawn where there is part sun/shade.

The old stuff was tilled, then about 2-3" of good screened topsoil was spread on top. A starter fertilizer was spread, and then tall fescue mix grass seed was applied, both using a rotary spreader. Finally, it was covered lightly with straw. This was on October 24th.

Unfortunately, 2 days after planting, there was heavy rain, on and off for 2 days. The rain was predicted but it wasn't supposed to be that heavy. Anyway, the tilling and fresh topsoil allowed much of the water to drain away. About 1 week after planting, with regular watering to keep soil damp, we saw grass beginning to grow.

It's been a little over 2 weeks, and I've been keeping it moist with 2x a day light waterings on days it hasn't rained.

My questions are:

1. When should I ease off on the water and make it less frequent and more deep?

2. Either because of the heavy initial rain or other reasons, there are definitely patches of the soil that have little or no grass. Other patches have fairly dense grass- I'm assuming now that it is too late to add more grass seed to these patches- or is it? What's the best way to do this? Will this grass grow into those patches? How soon?

3. What steps should be taken to prevent weeds from coming up till we can overseed again next fall? I am planning on putting down corn meal gluten in the beginning of March as a pre-emergent in any case.

4. The soil was not tested, and I will plan on doing that as well, but for now the seed is doing well in the spots where it has sprouted.

I will attach some pictures later in the evening/tomorrow to give a better sense of what it looks like when I'm back home.


downunder 11-09-2010 05:49 PM


About 1 week after planting, with regular watering to keep soil damp, we saw grass beginning to grow.
That's what happens when you do it right!:thumbsup:

I would suggest that you could have applied the straw a little heavier. I have seen times when even I thought it was too thick and the grass came in just fine but the fact that you have heavy grass and bare/thin areas really suggests to me that you didn't have quite enough straw. We have had really quirky weather here lately haven't we? This past weekend (40's, windy, damp) and now 70's on Tuesday.

We should still be good for re-seeding. If not, when I do so sometime during this week both of us will be disappointed. Been doing some grading and moving things the last couple of weeks around here and have some spots that need covering for the winter.

Right now with the low humidity, 2x day should work but generally after you have germination once a day back to every other day is better. Check a couple of spots and make sure the soil is getting damp to about an inch down at least (you would be surprised how dry my beds were after the 3 inches we got last week!).

skittles1984 11-09-2010 06:07 PM

Hmm, so you suggest giving it a shot? The weather sure has been strange the last month or so. The next 10 days looks fairly stable and mild, so I might put some more seed down.

Should I just hand broadcast on the bare spots and then cover with straw?

What about filling in- does fescue tend to do that anyway? And steps for the next season- pre emergents etc?

It's too dark now to take pictures, but I'll do so tomorrow hopefully. The tall, dense clumps are about 3" tall now.

downunder 11-11-2010 05:15 PM

Sure! I have some areas that I'm going to seed tomorrow or Saturday. Rain supposed to come in maybe next Mon-Wed. If it doesn't I'll have to water a few days I guess. The biggest concern with seeding, transplanting, etc is the soil temp. As long as you still have around 50* soil temp at 4 inches roots can grow.

Which fescue are you using?

downunder 11-15-2010 07:03 PM

I seeded, fertilized, raked it in and covered with wheat straw yesterday afternoon just before the rain started. So far we have had 3 1/2 inches today. Sure glad I got that straw on there. I will update when it comes up.

skittles1984 11-15-2010 07:07 PM

Thanks DU,

As it so happened, I did exactly the same thing at the same time, without the raking it in part, as there weren't really any patches with NO grass. So hopefully the seed hasnt been washed away.

I did water it myself, not realizing that the forecast was for rain at night, I thought it was only due today.

Lets see how it goes...

skittles1984 03-09-2011 01:17 PM

update and some new problems
Hi all,

So the spring is almost here and the majority of my lawn is green now. There are a couple of things I am worried about though:

1. There are patches of grass that are dark green- like I imagine fescue should look, like our sod last year looked. Nice and thick and lush. Range from 6-18 inches across, oval shaped. Some of them have a dead/dying/yellow patch in the center- but I haven't seen any mushrooms in those patches. Are these fairy rings? How do I get rid of them?

2. The rest of the lawn is not really growing. The grass is a more light green in color. Is it still too early for the fescue to start growing vigorously? Is there anything I can do to help this grass grow and cover up the less dense areas?

3. I applied a pre emergent weed n feed at the end of february, which was a little too late apparently as there was a warm spell that caused all the weeds to emerge early this year. Mid Feb might have been a better bet.

If pictures would help, I will take some when this rain eases up tomorrow and attach those.


Gerald Allen 03-11-2011 03:08 PM

Turf Type Tall Fescue is a clump grass and does not spread like a bluegrass variety will. Often the fescue varieties you buy at a garden store do come with a small % of bluegrass mixed in and the b-grass does the filling in. Do you know if this is the case with seed you bought? If not, then you should go ahead and do some seeding this spring in those bare patches and cover with straw. You might also want to pull the riens on the watering a bit. Several reasons. One, make those new roots go searching for water by deepening them. Two, one of these days you're going to have to mow and you don't want the yard so sloppy that you're mower will put ruts in the level grade. Three, moisture eventually can creates fungus and mold problems especially in the hot humid weather

skittles1984 03-13-2011 10:01 AM

You know, I don't remember exactly, but I'm quite sure it was not a mix with bluegrass.

As for watering- I havent watered at all for about 4 months probably, just letting the rain and snow provide the precipitation.

Someone told me the dense clumps could be where a dog (possibly ours) urinated on the lawn and provided some extra nitrogen. Our dog generally is not walked out on our lawn so its very possible that this could be the explanation.

I'm still wondering if anyone can tell me when the grass starts growing vigorously again- is it still too early in the year? I might do some reseeding for the sparse patches.

creeper 03-13-2011 10:49 AM

Hi All a ya'all,

This is my first post, although I've been enjoying reading other posts for awhile. I have to say how jealous I am that you're all talking about grass seeding and gardening already, as we are still covered in snow....agh!!. Typically, the danger of last frost passes in my area in the last week of May. So whats with the straw covering? I would be inclined to think that it would smother the tender new grass, but apparently its crucial. As for the dog pee...would'nt that tend to burn the grass? Maybe the other dog deposits would promote growth...not sure. Also, why could'nt Skittles address those bare spots by broadcasting by hand?
Thanks for letting me ask these questions...I guess thats what learning and this site is all about.

Blissfully dreaming of my garden in Canada eh !

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