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Old 09-06-2011, 12:23 PM   #1
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Sick lawn?


I have a lawn in need of some help. It's tall fescue, about 10 years old, on "iffy" soil (shallow, with questionable content, so I'm told). My climate is fairly dry & hot from June-Oct, then very wet. I have a three-zone sprinkler system I run 3 days/week, 10 minutes/station.

The lawn seems to do really well in the wet months, but is anemic during the summer,even with the watering cycle. Lot's of brown spots, weeds - even after spring fertilizing. I'm wondering if the ph (which I just learned is short for "percentage of hydrogen") is off. How do I test the soil for ph? Is there a kit to buy?

I mow it fairly short, and I bag the clippings. Maybe I should leave the clippings & mow higher? I don't notice any thatch build-up. Even tried some Scott's seed/fertilizer combo - didn't take at all, even after repeated waterings.

One other thing to mention is our water is very hard -21 grains/gal, 185 total dissolved solids ppm - could this be the problem? I'm not really suspicios of this problem, as other neighbors have the same water & much healthier lawns.

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Old 09-06-2011, 03:51 PM   #2
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Sick lawn?


There are certainly several things you can do to help yourself. First off, as you mentioned mow the grass taller (2.5" - 3") and mulch the clippings can't leave them on the lawn. Secondly you're better off to water less often for a longer period of time. By watering multiple times for a short period of time you are encouraging shallow roots. It would be better for your lawn to only water once or twice a week for a much longer period of time. You need to be putting at least 1/2" of water down during each watering cycle (even more is better).

Additionally I would take a soil sample and have it analyzed to see what additional needs your soil has. You should be able to have the test run at an agricultural extension office or most of the large landscape store. By the way PH have nothing to do with Hydrogen, it is a measure of acidity/alkalinity! It may require lime, iron or some other chemical you're not providing it.

Lastly I would consult one of your local seed stores as to what type of grass is best for your area, I would then over seed with that this fall.


Last edited by Msradell; 09-06-2011 at 03:54 PM.
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Old 09-06-2011, 04:25 PM   #3
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Sick lawn?


Thanks, Msradell,

I am going to try mowing higher and reducing the watering days with increased runtime. One neighbor (who owns a landscaping business) said that the soil in our area is prone to run-off. He suggested I run and time a cycle manually and check the street for when run-off occurs. That would indicate saturation. Then I should back off the run cycle time (I don't think he works for the local Water Dep't...)

RE type of seed - the entire 12 year old neighborhood has Tall Fescue, which I've been told was chosen for the area.

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Originally Posted by Msradell View Post
There are certainly several things you can do to help yourself. First off, as you mentioned mow the grass taller (2.5" - 3") and mulch the clippings can't leave them on the lawn. Secondly you're better off to water less often for a longer period of time. By watering multiple times for a short period of time you are encouraging shallow roots. It would be better for your lawn to only water once or twice a week for a much longer period of time. You need to be putting at least 1/2" of water down during each watering cycle (even more is better).

Additionally I would take a soil sample and have it analyzed to see what additional needs your soil has. You should be able to have the test run at an agricultural extension office or most of the large landscape store. By the way PH have nothing to do with Hydrogen, it is a measure of acidity/alkalinity! It may require lime, iron or some other chemical you're not providing it.

Lastly I would consult one of your local seed stores as to what type of grass is best for your area, I would then over seed with that this fall.
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Old 09-06-2011, 04:41 PM   #4
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RE type of seed - the entire 12 year old neighborhood has Tall Fescue, which I've been told was chosen for the area.
They are actually many different kinds of Tall Fescue that in itself is a very generic name for a type of grass. There are many many types of grass that fall in that category. Some are much better suited for dry climates, hot climates, etc. A local landscape supplier should help you pick a specific variety that would be best for your area.
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Old 09-07-2011, 07:58 AM   #5
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Sick lawn?


"By the way PH have nothing to do with Hydrogen"

pH has everything to do with hydrogen:

pH is a measure of the concentration of hydrogens ions (= H+) (= protons) in a solution. Numerically it is the negative logarithm of that concentration expressed in moles per liter (M). Pure water spontaneously dissociates into ions, forming a 10-7 M solution of H+ (and OH-). The negative of this logarithm is 7, so the pH of pure water is 7. Solutions with a higher concentration of H+ than occurs in pure water have pH values below 7 and are acidic. Solutions containing molecules or ions that reduce the concentration of H+ below that of pure water have pH values above 7 and are basic or alkaline.
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Old 09-07-2011, 10:50 AM   #6
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"By the way PH have nothing to do with Hydrogen"

pH has everything to do with hydrogen:

pH is a measure of the concentration of hydrogens ions (= H+) (= protons) in a solution. Numerically it is the negative logarithm of that concentration expressed in moles per liter (M). Pure water spontaneously dissociates into ions, forming a 10-7 M solution of H+ (and OH-). The negative of this logarithm is 7, so the pH of pure water is 7. Solutions with a higher concentration of H+ than occurs in pure water have pH values below 7 and are acidic. Solutions containing molecules or ions that reduce the concentration of H+ below that of pure water have pH values above 7 and are basic or alkaline.
Technically I probably should have clarified my statement. It's certainly not the percentage of hydrogen. I tried to make it a very simple statement because very few people who participate here have a knowledge of chemistry.

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