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Old 08-15-2011, 08:33 AM   #1
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Who Else Lost their Lawn?


Well...after something like 58 days of rain out of 60 days or so in April/May....we got next to no rain in June and July....It's been about 2 to 3 weeks since some rain has returned and my front lawn which is south facing and bakes in the sun all day is showing no signs of returning. I always to a fall aerate/overseed/compost and am thinking I need to do that sooner rather than later to begin rebuilding the lawn. Part of the problem is I never got a second fert application on it after the pre-emergent/fert in May because the rain stopped and we had very high temps so I was leary of applying any fert. So with what I suspect is some nitrogen definciency, continued heat and no rain...along with very high phosphorus per spring soil test (not sure what impact of that would be)...the lawn is gone...not dormant...gone!! I applied some Ironite and organic fert about 8 days ago...still nothing. Anyone else out there lose most or all their lawn this summer? General region is PA or anywhere north or east thereof.....mostly looking for someone to commiserate with!

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Old 08-15-2011, 10:29 AM   #2
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Who Else Lost their Lawn?


I lost part of my lawn; due to poor soil conditions and the drought/heat.
See if the last few days of rain do anything; it may come back in a week or two. If not, wait until mid-September at earliest to reseed or you'll be pouring water on it all the time with reduced success.
Go to Penn State's home lawn section for very good info:
http://cropsoil.psu.edu/turf/extension/home-lawns

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Old 08-15-2011, 11:43 AM   #3
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I lost part of my lawn; due to poor soil conditions and the drought/heat.
See if the last few days of rain do anything; it may come back in a week or two. If not, wait until mid-September at earliest to reseed or you'll be pouring water on it all the time with reduced success.
Go to Penn State's home lawn section for very good info:
http://cropsoil.psu.edu/turf/extension/home-lawns
Thanks for that link. I used Penn State for my soil test last spring..but wasn't aware of all that online info.

I should have also mentioned...mine is (or was) a mostly tall fescue lawn..with some KBG and perennial rye in there too..about 3 years old. VERY heavy HIGHLY compacted clay soil....which probably accounts for the very high phosphorus. I tried to water as best I could during June/July but now wondering if I did more harm than good and should have let it be dormant. I'm wanting to do my aerate/overseed/topdress in like 2 to 4 weeks...currently the 10 day forecast has temps 83 or less with some rain here and there. Will have to see how things go in next few weeks...the way this year has been who knows what Sept will bring....

Lesson learned this year and my first project next spring will be to get in some at least basic irrigation system.
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Old 08-15-2011, 11:48 AM   #4
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Who Else Lost their Lawn?


If your soil is clay like mine (ugh), I think one approach might be to core aerate and then spread some soil amendment high in organics that would help to reduce the density of the clay, and then overseed/reseed. It is my theory only and not sure how much of an improvement it would make. The clay seems to me to be my problem and it may be yours as well. I'd appreciate the insight of a turf person on this idea.
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Old 08-15-2011, 11:58 AM   #5
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If your soil is clay like mine (ugh), I think one approach might be to core aerate and then spread some soil amendment high in organics that would help to reduce the density of the clay, and then overseed/reseed. It is my theory only and not sure how much of an improvement it would make. The clay seems to me to be my problem and it may be yours as well. I'd appreciate the insight of a turf person on this idea.
Yep..your "theory" is fact. I've learned a TON about lawns in the last few years. There are several options for dealing with the clay but none of them offer "fast" relief. Core aeration is your best friend...once in spring and again in fall. Immediately after aerating....there are a number of things....Some say gypsum helps...I've used some of that...but no more as my calcium levels are up there. Basically ditto on spreading sand. But it's universally agreed that core aeration...followed by overseed...followed by compost top dressing...and if you really want to go nuts...compost tea....and I believe you can even spread some fert at the time too. I did this (but not the compost tea..which I'm gonna start doing now) spring and fall in 2010....this year didn't do the spring and that probably hurt my case...will definitely do next spring. Repeat the above for a number of years....with at least annual soil test analysis....And as I've alluded to ...proper irrigation is essential. MAnage your ph and get the soil organic matter in the 5-10% range.
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Old 08-16-2011, 06:55 AM   #6
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Who Else Lost their Lawn?


do you change the cutting height to shade the root system in july aug,and do you mulch or bag it
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Old 08-16-2011, 07:28 AM   #7
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do you change the cutting height to shade the root system in july aug,and do you mulch or bag it

Yep; raise blade. I don't bag.
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Old 08-16-2011, 08:57 AM   #8
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do you change the cutting height to shade the root system in july aug,and do you mulch or bag it
As for me...summer blade height (tall fescue) has been 3 1/8 inches. A few things I've learned from this summer's experience....I formerly didn't like to go higher than 3 1/8 as anything higher tends to cause a bit more "grass blade lay down" from kids foot traffic etc....but next year I'll probably go to 3 1/2 inches in June/July/Aug. The second thing is...once the spring rains stop I'm just gonna let it grow unless there is at least "some" rain in the 10day forecast. Otherwise...I'll just let it go and maybe only cut down once it gets just crazy out of hand...if ever.

I mulch...only bag for first mow in spring and if the leaves are just too much in the fall.

Beyond that...I've learned SO much about lawn care in the past few years I feel I know more than many so called pro's. My "cultural" practices are fine....just need to work my soil composition and content to where it needs to be...which takes a few years or so...AND I need to get in some irrigation. I try to be as "organic" as possible...noting everyone has their own definition of that. Last night I spread some compost tea for the first time...see what that does.
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Old 08-16-2011, 11:26 AM   #9
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the first cut is a must to bag with all that fall/winter energy in the grass.i would cut mine one height in the spring then lower the blade on the second cut the first time get as much as possible back into the lawn.hit it with some lime even over lime it...then some grub treatment in May
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Old 08-16-2011, 12:14 PM   #10
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the first cut is a must to bag with all that fall/winter energy in the grass.i would cut mine one height in the spring then lower the blade on the second cut the first time get as much as possible back into the lawn.hit it with some lime even over lime it...then some grub treatment in May
This is a bit confusing to me. I bag my first cut mostly to pick up grass that died and assorted debris on the lawn...not because it has a lot of energy or nutrients or whatever..which would actually be a reason to mulch it, no? And I raise, not lower, the height thereafter.

Lime recommendations depend totally on each individual lawn and ph situation/requirements for the grass type, etc. And grub treatment is fine but only IF one has a grub problem..AND one doesn't mind dumping the pesticides broadly across the lawn and the consequences for the soil thereof.

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