Help with my lawn

Reply

  #1  
Old 09-08-16, 08:44 PM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jan 2013
Location: USA
Posts: 192
Help with my lawn

I been battling with my lawn for 3 years and I am running out of ideas. I am constantly battling dead and spotty grass including urine patches from my son. I live in North Jersey and my house is built on a very rocky terrain. The rocks in the back yard were actually removed to build my house. The backyard was originally sod so I have about 4-6" of dirt and then ROCK. I've had more luck with the side/front yards that get more sun and have a bit more soil depth but still have issues. I have sprinklers that typically run 3-4 days a week and 30 minutes for each of the 4 zones. I use fertiziler with crab grass control (Scotts) in the spring and then 1-2 more applications throughout the summer, and typically a fall and winter application. Every fall, I overseed the entire lawn with Pennington seed using a spreader and repair the various spots on the lawn from the dog. For the first 3 years, I used an electric mower using the mulch feature but I think the mulch choked the yard and resulted in extra thatch. I am speculating. Last fall, I had the entire lawn split seeded and aeriated. I also had a soil test performed by Rutgers and everything looked good except a VERY slight PH issue which was fixed with a bit of Lime. The lawn recovered nicely but went down hill from there. I replaced the electric mower with a TroyBilt and I bag the trimmings but the lawn still sucks. Please help. My pride is hurting and I'd love to throw it back in my wife's face who lost trust in me.

I am looking for a short and long term solution. For short term, do I need to rip out the bare areas and lay down more top soil and seed? Or can I just heavy overseed the areas including top soil? If I start digging up the bare/missing areas, the lawn is going to be really messed up looking but I am desperate at this point.
 
Attached Images           
Sponsored Links
  #2  
Old 09-09-16, 06:46 AM
Group Moderator
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: NC, USA
Posts: 17,623
What type of grass do you have?

Read the directions carefully for the products you are applying. Some can prevent seed germination so your weed prevention may be preventing your seeding from being effective.

You said how frequently and how long you run the sprinklers. How much water are you actually putting down on the lawn in inches of water? Are you running each zone for half an hour to achieve a certain level? 30 minutes is generally a long time to run a zone especially when watering 3 or 4 times a week.

You mentioned "1-2 more applications through summer". Applications of what? And when? Then you mention fall and winter applications. That's a lot of "applying". Fertilizing in late spring and summer can be dangerous especially with your heavy watering schedule. The rapid growth and greening coupled with excessive water can make some grasses suseptible to fungal diseases.

Switching mowers and going to a bagger likely was no help and possible actually hurt the lawn. Without returning clippings to the lawn you are constantly removing nutrients which must be replaced. Mother Nature usually helps out be breaking down clippings to become a natural fertilizer and ground cover to help retain soil moisture.

There isn't much you can do for urine patches except to stop the peeing that causes the problem. Dogs are usually the culprit as human pee (if you drink enough water) is a mild fertilizer.

Your first photo could be a water and heat issue depending on what type of grass you have. Fescue has trouble in July and August with the heat and areas bordering pavement can get hot enough to kill it. If that area also doesn't get enough water it can exasperate the problem.
 
  #3  
Old 09-09-16, 06:56 AM
Member
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: North East Kingdom of Vermont
Posts: 2,351
The spottiness of your problem looks a lot like the initial stages of a "Chinch Bug" Infestation. Have you checked your turf for Chinch Bugs ?
 
  #4  
Old 09-09-16, 07:29 AM
Group Moderator
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: WI/MN
Posts: 18,566
I think the mulch choked the yard and resulted in extra thatch
Nope, that's not how it works. Keep mulching.
 
  #5  
Old 09-09-16, 08:10 AM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jan 2013
Location: USA
Posts: 192
[quote]What type of grass do you have?[/uote]


I am not 100% sure but I suspect is a mix of fescue/kentucky bluegrass/ryegrass. If I take a closer pic, will that help with identification?


Read the directions carefully for the products you are applying. Some can prevent seed germination so your weed prevention may be preventing your seeding from being effective.

The only one that prevents germination was the spring application of fertilizer with crab grass control. This forces me to wait a few months for reseeding.


You said how frequently and how long you run the sprinklers. How much water are you actually putting down on the lawn in inches of water? Are you running each zone for half an hour to achieve a certain level? 30 minutes is generally a long time to run a zone especially when watering 3 or 4 times a week.

Truthfully, I don't know how many inches of water. My house is in an HOA so I have similiar turfs and 2 different sprinkler companies have set the water to be 25-35 minutes per zone. I am not sure the justification but suspect the low soil depth would require less water but more applications. Since both companies said the same thing, I ASSumed it to be true.


You mentioned "1-2 more applications through summer". Applications of what? And when? Then you mention fall and winter applications. That's a lot of "applying". Fertilizing in late spring and summer can be dangerous especially with your heavy watering schedule. The rapid growth and greening coupled with excessive water can make some grasses suseptible to fungal diseases.

1-2 more fertilizer applications but usually just 1. I typically apply fertilizer in early spring (April), summer in July, fall in late August/September, and winter in late October/November.


Switching mowers and going to a bagger likely was no help and possible actually hurt the lawn. Without returning clippings to the lawn you are constantly removing nutrients which must be replaced. Mother Nature usually helps out be breaking down clippings to become a natural fertilizer and ground cover to help retain soil moisture.

Agreed. However, there was a large buildup of thatch/dead grass at the base which I thought was choking the lawn. I also felt the mulching wasn't doing a great job leaving A LOT of trimmings on the lawn. I am lost at this point.


There isn't much you can do for urine patches except to stop the peeing that causes the problem. Dogs are usually the culprit as human pee (if you drink enough water) is a mild fertilizer.

There are definately urine patches which I have to accept but the large chunks of dead grass and spotty grass is my concern.


Your first photo could be a water and heat issue depending on what type of grass you have. Fescue has trouble in July and August with the heat and areas bordering pavement can get hot enough to kill it. If that area also doesn't get enough water it can exasperate the problem.

The sprinklers should be applying adequate water perhaps too much?


The spottiness of your problem looks a lot like the initial stages of a "Chinch Bug" Infestation. Have you checked your turf for Chinch Bugs ?

I didn't "notice" them but not sure what to look for. Aside from just applying something to kill them. How do I identify?


I need to apply a long term solution but what do i do with regards to reseeding and the current turf? Should I just lay down heavy seed? Seed + top soil? Should I dig up the bare / spotty spits and lay down top soil and seed?
 
  #6  
Old 09-09-16, 08:23 AM
Group Moderator
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: WI/MN
Posts: 18,566
there was a large buildup of thatch/dead grass at the base which I thought was choking the lawn
Thatch is not dead grass, it's a buildup of leaves and stems and if you truly have it with cool season grasses it's likely due to adding too much high nitrogen fertilizer.
 
  #7  
Old 09-09-16, 08:36 AM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jan 2013
Location: USA
Posts: 192
Thatch and/or dead grass clippings. Either way, it feels like it was just laying on the turf choking it.
 
  #8  
Old 09-09-16, 09:13 AM
Group Moderator
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: NC, USA
Posts: 17,623
Unless it's a pile of thick cut grass on top like you'd get if you let the lawn go too long without mowing it won't hurt. Clippings and other bits down at ground level are actually beneficial. Honestly, I've never seen a lawn that actually needed de-thatching.
 
  #9  
Old 09-09-16, 11:24 AM
Member
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: North East Kingdom of Vermont
Posts: 2,351
Originally Posted by sagosto63
". . . I didn't "notice" them but not sure what to look for. Aside from just applying something to kill them. How do I identify? . . ."
Googling "Chinch Bugs" ought to give you plenty of pictures to identify them; the adults have the white on their backs and the nymphs are often shades of orange.

Lifting dead grass often gives you an opportunity to see them; but the best method is to cut off both ends of a large metal can like a 3 pound coffee can, and insert it into the ground an inch or so near where you suspect activity - on the margins of your brown spots (that grass is already dead), and then fill the inserted can with 3/4 full of water. If the Chinch Bugs are present, they should float to the surface in 3 to 5 minutes, while they're trying to avoid drowning. Then you'll know for sure who you're dealing with; and the same method can be used to determine how large the affected area is before you do anything.

I spray the areas surrounding the infestation with Liquid Sevin (carbaryl); but others can probably recommend better chemicals . . . . the important thing is to get the correct diagnosis first so that you don't treat your lawn for maladies that it doesn't suffer from.
 

Last edited by Vermont; 09-09-16 at 11:49 AM.
  #10  
Old 09-09-16, 11:33 AM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jan 2013
Location: USA
Posts: 192
I can dig a little and look. Coffee can approach would be a ***** given the lack of soil depth and high rock. How do I approach the current issue of dead grass?
 
  #11  
Old 09-09-16, 03:21 PM
Member
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: North East Kingdom of Vermont
Posts: 2,351
You should be able to push the coffee can into the turf with your foot, or cut the sod around the lip of the can with a knife . . . . not really a big deal. It only has to enter the soil an inch or so to seal the bottom for a few minutes.

On the other hand, if you've got an underlying layer of granite or hardpack less than an inch below your turf, then maybe your problem in those areas is due to a failure to retain a sufficient amount of moisture for the grass to grow.

And "if" it is chinch bugs, then your brown spots will be aggressively filled back in by the surrounding living grass plants as soon as you eliminate the cause.

Without treating the cause, any effort to plant new grass seed in those brown areas is destined to meet with failure.
 
  #12  
Old 09-09-16, 06:45 PM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jan 2013
Location: USA
Posts: 192
If it is cinch bugs, why go to the dead area where there is no food? Wouldn't they have moved out? Would a few checks reveal if they exist? What if there aren't that many?
 
  #13  
Old 09-10-16, 03:33 AM
Member
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: North East Kingdom of Vermont
Posts: 2,351
Originally Posted by sagosto63
". . . why go to the dead area where there is no food? . . ."
That's why I suggested you examine the "margins" of the brown areas where they would be actively expanding their territory.

If you wait long enough, cooler weather will cause their activity to subside this year; but you can prepare for next year.

Regardless of when you do it, the proper diagnosis is still most important.
 
Reply

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Display Modes
'