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Deck 04-26-2011 12:40 AM

What the hell happened to my lawn? (also: reseeding when weeds are present. N.Y.)
 
4 Attachment(s)
Hi,

My front yard lawn is very patchy this year, and there are violets and crabgrass and some weird flutey type grass look-a-like. It now looks like my back yard lawn has for years (we don't maintain the back yard lawn). I'd really like some input on what could have happened to cause this.

We had a really tough winter in New York, which may have had something to do with it. Also I didn't put down fertilizer before this winter, although I never do and the lawn has always been fine.

Unfortunately I have no pics from last year. Here are some pics of my front yard lawn that I took this afternoon:
http://img812.imageshack.us/img812/6296/041wp.jpg

http://img541.imageshack.us/img541/8205/064zy.jpg

http://img827.imageshack.us/img827/8557/067tw.jpg

http://img821.imageshack.us/img821/7333/069rm.jpg


I'm at odds for how to best address this lawn. I usually use peat moss and soil that I mix and add some seed to for patches. But this is like I basically need to put that mix over most of the lawn. Compounding the problem are the different types of weeds. Dandelions, voilets, crabgrass, some weird sprouty stuff, etc. If I use some herbicide I assume I'll prevent seed germination.

Right now my plan is buy seeds and buy Scotts Starter Fertilizer with Crabgrass Preventer. Plans change of course and I'm curious what you guys think. I do have budget issues as I'm trying to stay under ~$100. Between the peat moss (4 @ 3cu.ft.ea.) and dirt (10 @ 40lbs ea -- I'll probably need more) I've already bought $60 in material so far. I'm trying to keep it under $200 for everything, basically.

Also one more thing, specifically I've read about this 2-4D stuff and is it worthwhile for a situation like this?

Thanks guys

pjordan4477 04-26-2011 11:22 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Deck (Post 636667)
Hi,

My front yard lawn is very patchy this year, and there are violets and crabgrass and some weird flutey type grass look-a-like. It now looks like my back yard lawn has for years (we don't maintain the back yard lawn). I'd really like some input on what could have happened to cause this.

We had a really tough winter in New York, which may have had something to do with it. Also I didn't put down fertilizer before this winter, although I never do and the lawn has always been fine.

Unfortunately I have no pics from last year. Here are some pics of my front yard lawn that I took this afternoon:









I'm at odds for how to best address this lawn. I usually use peat moss and soil that I mix and add some seed to for patches. But this is like I basically need to put that mix over most of the lawn. Compounding the problem are the different types of weeds. Dandelions, voilets, crabgrass, some weird sprouty stuff, etc. If I use some herbicide I assume I'll prevent seed germination.

Right now my plan is buy seeds and buy Scotts Starter Fertilizer with Crabgrass Preventer. Plans change of course and I'm curious what you guys think. I do have budget issues as I'm trying to stay under ~$100. Between the peat moss (4 @ 3cu.ft.ea.) and dirt (10 @ 40lbs ea -- I'll probably need more) I've already bought $60 in material so far. I'm trying to keep it under $200 for everything, basically.

Also one more thing, specifically I've read about this 2-4D stuff and is it worthwhile for a situation like this?

Thanks guys


Was there anything sitting in that area? Christmas decorations or something? It could be too early for the lawn to repair it's self from that.

I'd wait till september and till the yard and plant new seed or don't rack the leaves and do the same thing next spring. I just did that in a shady area and the leaves being tilled in have really spurted the grass growth.

Deck 04-26-2011 12:46 PM

Thanks for your reply. No, no Christmas decorations. The lawn just looks pretty bad this year. I would like to get it looking good for the summer so I am going to buy seed. I still don't know how I can put herbicide down or something to kill the weeds while I am planting the grass seed. Marigolds are taking over the lawn right now.

user1007 04-26-2011 01:35 PM

You have an awful lot of what looks to be bare, compacted soil. You are going to have to till that or something or the seed will never take.

I would also feed what you have to see where you stand in the more established areas. You can treat the weeds when you give the turfgrasses more of a fighting chance.

Deck 04-27-2011 08:12 PM

I bought some seed and two small bags of starter fertilizer. I don't know of any way to kill the weeds while I am overseeding the lawn without preventing the seed from germinating. So I will put this stuff down and then in a month I'll kill the weeds I guess. I bought a spray bottle of ortho? and I sprayed that on each dandelion.

user1007 04-27-2011 08:48 PM

A post emergent weed killer or even something universal like Roundup shouldn't keep seeds from germinating but I would still wait until you have fed everything and plant new seed.

And folks, there is a lot of talk about "grass seed" as if it were all the same. The less expensive, "contractor special" stuff is going to have mostly if not all annual ryegrass in it. It will germinate in 3-5 days but it is coarse and will only last one season.

What you probably want, depending on where you live and sun/shade conditions is some nice blend of perennial ryes, bluegrass, fescue and so forth. It will not be that much more expensive if you buy it in bulk from a feed store, nursery, etc. The Tru Value hardware store in my old hood used to sell seeds by type you could blend yourself.

And be patient. The bluegrasses and fescues will take longer to germinate than the annual or perennial ryegrasses.

Leah Frances 04-27-2011 08:57 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by sdsester (Post 637972)
And be patient. The bluegrasses and fescues will take longer to germinate than the annual or perennial ryegrasses.

:yes::yes::yes: I seeded more than three weeks ago with bluegrass/fescue mix, we've have had consistent rain/moisture, and just today starting to see teeny tiny little grass seedlings.

user1007 04-27-2011 09:10 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Leah Frances (Post 637981)
:yes::yes::yes: I seeded more than three weeks ago with bluegrass/fescue mix, we've have had consistent rain/moisture, and just today starting to see teeny tiny little grass seedlings.

You will see more soon and they will grow quickly. It sounds like you had near perfect conditions for keeping the seed moist without irrigation!

Mow high when it is time and your mower blade should be especially sharp for newly planted lawns.

Breakthecycle2 04-28-2011 10:16 AM

To the OP..we just bought a house and moved in this pas October. Being the inside needed to flooring and painting, I had no time for the outside. Well over the past month - month and half, that's all I've been doing. We just had about 10 bushes removed front and back. I fertilized it and overseeded twice. I had many spots that looked liked what you posted. I seeded way too early, so what I did was, cut the grass and rented a thatcher. Thatched (as best I could) and raked everything up. Afterwards, I over seeded using a sun/shade mix and also Scotts EZ seed in other spots. This past Sunday grass started sprouting up. Some of the spots even started greening up and regrowing on their own. That's my suggestion to fix that up.

BTW, what are those small purple weed's called? I just noticed a few on my front lawn as well.

Deck 04-28-2011 01:39 PM

3 Attachment(s)
Quote:

Originally Posted by sdsester (Post 637972)
A post emergent weed killer or even something universal like Roundup shouldn't keep seeds from germinating but I would still wait until you have fed everything and plant new seed.

I looked at several weed killers that did not also kill grass. The ones that can be attached to a hose said or inferred something about not applying to an area where new grass seed will be germinating until after some period. What I ended up buying was a small Ortho Weed-B-Gon 24oz sprayer for $6 from Home Depot. It says wait 4 weeks after application to reseed barespots. This is more of a spot shot type application rather than apply to the whole lawn, and I went this route because I want to put seed down. So I will be forced to treat the weeds selectively. Here's a picture of what I purchased:

http://img864.imageshack.us/img864/5739/clipboardu.jpg


Quote:

Originally Posted by sdsester (Post 637972)
What you probably want, depending on where you live and sun/shade conditions is some nice blend of perennial ryes, bluegrass, fescue and so forth. It will not be that much more expensive if you buy it in bulk from a feed store, nursery, etc. The Tru Value hardware store in my old hood used to sell seeds by type you could blend yourself.

I bought a 7lb bag of Scotts Sun & Shade mix with the special "watersmart" coating. It cost $25 from Home Depot. Here's a picture:
http://img855.imageshack.us/img855/7570/grassseed.jpg

Here's a picture of the ingredients:
http://img687.imageshack.us/img687/3...ngredients.jpg


Quote:

Originally Posted by Breakthecycle2 (Post 638262)
BTW, what are those small purple weed's called? I just noticed a few on my front lawn as well.

They're called violets. There are many different varieties. Check the wikipedia page:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Viola_(plant)

Hunter25 05-23-2011 07:49 AM

What are you my neighbor? I too live in Upstate NY and my lawn looked like that as well. I used the same Scotts seed with their fertilizer and overseeded. I also put straw over the top of all areas that Iseeded. Although it did come back totally, it is starting to fill in. I have 1 spot in my front yard that just will not grow. I've never had an issue witht he front either. Some grew and just turned brown after a week. I'm kinda lost on this one.

Deck 05-23-2011 11:08 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Hunter25 (Post 653071)
What are you my neighbor? I too live in Upstate NY and my lawn looked like that as well. I used the same Scotts seed with their fertilizer and overseeded.

I live in Westchester County, N.Y. (Southern New York). I did an overseeding application as well.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Hunter25 (Post 653071)
I also put straw over the top of all areas that Iseeded. Although it did come back totally, it is starting to fill in. I have 1 spot in my front yard that just will not grow. I've never had an issue witht he front either. Some grew and just turned brown after a week. I'm kinda lost on this one.

Well, I'll tell you, I did reseed but I probably should have used more seed. The problem is that seed is so f__king expensive. As you can see in my OP my lawn was pretty stingy a month ago, but it looks decent now. For the benefit of you and the forum I'll explain what I ended up doing. This is also for my own benefit should I have this problem years from now. Hello future me!

I split each of the four peat moss packages into four pieces and then mixed in a 40lb bag of dirt with each .75cuft piece. I mixed standing up without bending over by using a bow rake to constantly move the material until it was mixed together. I did this right on the lawn so I didn't have to move the material far. Basically I ended up with a big mound of peat moss mixed with dirt. The consistency was pretty light -- if anything I could have used more dirt. One thing that is important is some of the bags of dirt were wet and they were much harder to deal with. Their weight wasn't the big issue, the fact that the dirt was so clumped together and was harder to break up was. The dry dirt broke up much easier with the bow rake and the clumping was minimal.

I loosened up all the bare spots using my bow rake. I then spread the dirt/moss mix over the lawn by using a big aluminum scoop to spread it over the lawn the same way one might spread road salt. When I was done everything was good and orangey/red. That used about 75% of the mound.

That Scotts seed is so expensive. I bought a Scotts EdgeGuard Mini seed dispenser for less than $40 from Home Depot and I set it properly but there is no way I got even close to the amount of seed coverage I should have. I think it had something to do with the dispenser because when applying the fertilizer I got the coverage I expected. I had had an AccuGreen 1000 but the axle rusted over cracking the plastic on the wheels, which is a shame because that thing was really accurate. Unfortunately it's predecessors are expensive so I just went with the mini.

Anyway I ended up using the edgeguard to spread the seed. I ran out of seed and had to go back to Home Depot to buy another bag. In hindsight I probably should have just brought an extra bag and returned it if I didn't need to open it. Then I put down the scotts starter fertilizer. That went down properly.

After the seed and fertilizer was down I covered it with a very very light coating of the peat moss and dirt mixture (the last 25%). Beforehand I made a real attempt at raking the seed in first (as Scotts suggests) using a fan rake but I had a lot trouble doing it without totally moving the seed away from where it should be. Maybe I didn't have the right type of rake to do that? I needed a thin tine rake maybe? Anyway when I finished I couldn't see the seed/fertilizer as it was covered/mixed in.

I watered every night for two weeks using a hose sprayer. There is no one position for a sprinkler on this lawn so I just used a manual sprayer. It took me about 15-30 minutes every night. One thing I had trouble with was making sure the waterflow didn't blow away the seed. I had to stand away and use more of a misty type to moisten the soil each night without disturbing the seed. Another thing to keep in mind is it was dry for like two weeks after I put down the seed and that's why I watered every night. The third week we had rain so I skipped a lot.

After two weeks I saw sprouts. The next two weeks the lawn has started coming in. It is still weak and this is my own fault. For the entire lawn I used the overseeding application which was not enough for the bare spots. In hindsight I should have gone over the bare spots twice on the overseeding setting or once with the new seeding setting.

Of course during this all time I encountered weeds once in a while and I spayed them selectively. That weed spray worked pretty well.

Pictures!
Here's a picture of what the lawn looked like with the dirt/moss mixture before any sprouting:
http://img580.imageshack.us/img580/6780/peatmoss.jpg
Here's a link to picture if it doesn't display above: peatmoss.jpg

Here's one of the worst areas four weeks later. This is the area that was so bare I should have just gone over twice with seed. Most of the grass in this area is new. You'll notice it's darker green. From the walkways though it doesn't look bad just thin. Here's the picture:
http://img52.imageshack.us/img52/5843/thingrass.jpg
Here's a link to picture if it doesn't display above: thingrass.jpg

Here's typically what the rest of the lawn looks like now four weeks later:
http://img831.imageshack.us/img831/3908/fullgrass.jpg
Here's a link to picture if it doesn't display above: fullgrass.jpg

And that's it!


As to your question about the spot that won't grow, that did happen to us because we have a dog and he had a favorite spot and his urine would always would end up burning the lawn in spots in a 10 ft radius. Otherwise I wonder if maybe you've considered peat moss? Every landscaper around here uses peat moss. And many years ago when I found that out I had called Scotts because they didn't say anything about that (still don't). And the guy I spoke to was like, yeah, you could. And I was like, great now that I'm done and the seed didn't grow I know that.

On a more technical note soil ph is important. The right ph basically means more nutrients can be taken easily from the soil by whatever is growing. Maybe you don't have the right ph to grow grass in that particular area. I do know with enough peat moss you can change ph to be more acidic but I don't think just a coating on top of the grass can change the ph. Although maybe someone who does landscaping for a living knows.

Hunter25 05-24-2011 05:55 AM

i'm in Schenectady which is pretty close to Albany. I am going tot ry the peat moss this weekend. I also have a dog but she doesn't go in the front yard. I thought of that too because of the brown spots I have in back. this 1 spot is very strange though. I have always have my front yard very green and thick. Have you ever used the Scotts Patchmaster? I have never really had good luck with that but my neighbor used a ton of it in his back yard and now he has a nicer lawn than me. Amazing in only about 3-4 weeks he is mowning every week now and it does actually look great.

biggles 05-24-2011 06:38 AM

grubs ate your lawn roots:wink: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oWKqR349MlM

Deck 05-24-2011 12:45 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Hunter25 (Post 653778)
Have you ever used the Scotts Patchmaster? I have never really had good luck with that but my neighbor used a ton of it in his back yard and now he has a nicer lawn than me.

I did. You mean the blue stuff? There are two types of scotts' patch now I think. That type in the jug you can shake and the blue stuff. If you mean the light foamy blue stuff that comes in a white bag the same way as seed and fertilizer does then yes. And yes, it did work. I used it a few years ago on a small area, maybe 3sqft. There was no need for peat moss with that stuff because it's mostly some type of material mix that can retain moisture already (the blue). For very small areas I was happy with it. To do 30+ sq ft (my front lawn) I don't think so. And yes grubs can eat your lawn. From what I understand that's usually a summer issue though. Correct me if I'm wrong please.


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