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Old 10-09-2007, 10:28 AM   #1
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Why can't I grow a proper lawn?

I got my house about 5 months ago, and have made 2 completely separate attempts at having a good lawn. Both have been moderately successful off the bat, but both quickly develop heavy weed cover, and once that starts, it just gets successively worse until it's crap and then I round up again and start over. I'm within a week or so from beginning my winter grass (I'm in FL so my grass goes dormant over the winter, and we overseed with ryegrass for the winter). I'm seriously considering my 3rd roundup application so that my ryegrass can be good.

Anyways w/o knowing what I'm doing it'll be hard for anyone to answer, so this is what I'm doing each time I attempt a new lawn:
1) roundup and kill the entire lawn
2) after waiting period for roundup, spread seed according to directions
3) spread starter fertilizer with my seeds
4) top dress with soil amendments (I've been using a ~50/50 peat moss/compost mix)
5) water religiously twice daily while establishing, back to once a day once looking good, then as needed once established.

And when I mow I use a bag to catch my clippings, I'm not mulching the weeds over the lawn or anything.

But after the grass is established, even while it's establishing, the weeds come back and outcompete my grass! I thought it was supposed to be the other way around, that the grass outcompetes the weeds if done properly! Am I missing something here? I'm getting soo tired of restarting this lawn, I mean I'm likely going to be doing my 3rd lawn in a 5 month period, and doing it the same way which will probably put it right back where it is... I just don't know what else to do / what I'm doing wrong.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Oh I should've added I actually hand weed many of the weeds that are really large as well, out of fear they're gonna start spreading their seeds.
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Old 10-09-2007, 01:21 PM   #2
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Not sure if this will help but I'll try. I'm assuming that you actually have grass growing during this time, before the weeds start to take over. I would double check the seed you are using. Then, as the grass becomes 2 or 3 inches and only then, you can mow. I would NOT bag any clippings as these clippings go to the ground and protect the base of the grass. After your first couple mowings, I would add a weed and feed type product. This will encourage growth for your grass but eliminate weeds. It would also be helpful to know what kind of weeds your lawn is getting.

Also, when seeds are germinating, they are like a sickness. Your mower can transport seeds on the wheels and blades to other areas of your lawn. If, and when weeds start growing, bag, but only then. When you are done mowing, give your mower a quick spray down to make sure you don't contaminate other areas. Hope this helps.
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Old 10-09-2007, 03:08 PM   #3
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I find grass pretty aggressive and can out crowd some weeds if you let it grow a bit longer before mowing...

Also, what are you doing to weed the lawn? Manual spot weeding? What type of weeds? Instead of Roundup, are you opposed to using a selective herbicide like 2,4-D?

I found 2,4-D very effective, even controlling field bind weed and creeping charlie and creeping buttercup. But with all the hub-bub around "environmentalism" many people are opposed to it. But I love it!
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Old 10-10-2007, 02:35 PM   #4
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What type of soil do you have ? Do you have any pics ? I went through a tough time with a clay soil and bluegrass. It was tough to get ahead of the weeds. Made a lot of progress this year.

Fertilized/weed killed 4x this summer, and used two bottles of spray to spray the weeds directly. We were very dry and then very wet in Aug. I ripped up and re-did the worst areas, and the filed in ok so far....
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Old 10-11-2007, 03:24 PM   #5
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The three most important pieces to a successful lawn. Get the best quality seed possible. Fall is the best time to re-seed. and always keep seeds most until full germination which can be weeks depending on the type of seed.
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Old 10-12-2007, 08:03 AM   #6
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You have to find out where you are at before you can move ahead to solve your lawn problem.
1. Call a well stocked nursery and ask if they sell a soil sample kit for testing purposes.
2. After obtaining one, follow the sample taking instructions (no shortcuts) and do not touch the sample with your hands and send the sample to the address indicated. In some areas, its usually the State College.
3. The results will tell you what your soil lacks or needs and also if it has too much of any mineral. You will also get instructions for corrective actions.
4. The most important is pH of the soil. You can start with obtaining a book on lawn grasses and maintenance. You will learn all about pH, adding lime or sulfur, fertilizers, aeration, dethaching and others.
I am not familiar with Florida's growing season and I get the impression that when you are overseeding, the seeds you are putting down are not the same grass you are trying to grow. Its best to let the lawn go dormant if that is normal for your area and concentrate on establishing one type of grass. Bermuda and Zoysia seem to be the favorites in the South. I just got done geting rid of Zoysia as it is an invasive species of grass (some call it a weed) as it has roots that travel above and below the ground and gets into areas where you do not want it to go, such as flower beds. You need a very sharp knife to cut these roots.
5. Once you educate yourself to the lawns needs, then do not allow uneducated landscapers to do maintenance on it. We have people in the North who call themselves landscapers but they are nothing more then grass cutters who know nothing about proper cutting heights of the differant species of grass. Their equipment will also bring in weed seeds from weed filled lawns and release them on yours. You will be safer doing most of the work yourself.
6. When you add fertilizers, mineral supplements or lime, measure and weigh it and do not guess that a few scoopfuls is a lb. Too little is always better then too much. One other important thing is to make sure that whatever instructions you read is interpreted properly, such as nitrogen needs of the lawn. Its recommended in the North to put down no more then 4 lbs of nitrogen per 1000 sq. ft of lawn area per season. Notice I said season. That means you have to apply it at four intervals at a rate of 1 lb per application. You have to determine the nitrogen needs for your area based on the grass you are growing.
7. Be aware of the proper cutting heights as the temperatures change.
8. I hear that Florida's summers are hot. So I would make sure that when you water, that the water gets down deep into the soil from 4 to 6 inches because you want the roots to dig down that far. Watering lightly makes most of the roots concentrated near the surface and then they are subjected to the surface temperature of the soil. There is a recommendation to put out a tuna can on the lawn and allow it to fill up using a sprinkler.
Florida's temperatures may require watering no less then 3 times a week. This information should help you get off to a good start.
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Old 10-22-2007, 11:02 PM   #7
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Good advice above.

It's been my experience that bermuda is much harder to kill than grow.

If there's nothing hideously wrong with your soil, spend the money next spring to get some good hybrid bermuda sod. Doing it right the first time is usually cheaper than trying to save money.
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Old 11-21-2007, 11:36 AM   #8
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thanks for all the advice, my current lawn attempt is with a 'winter grass' for FL (ryegrass), it's going okay, I think I found a trick though..

I have a few spots that are growing insanely well, I mean I've gotten golf course comments from multilpe people on some of the spots. The thing is, these spots were seeded by hand, and waaay overseeded!

I'm going to go buy another bag and overseed even more, unless there's some kind of 'too much seed' issue that I'll hit I think this is a good approach!!! Even if there's too much seed, I'd presume it'd be survival of the fittest and the end result would still be awesome!

(Oh I've also been very, very diligent about my top dressings, twice daily waterings, and fertilizer. I'm using lesco brand, it was the best they had at the local home depot, highest slow release nitrogen, more micronutrients than many others, etc)
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