Lawn Care Forum banner
1 - 20 of 25 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
20 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm pretty sure I posted this in the wrong section, so saving the mods a few clicks by reposting here.

I apologize that I have no idea what kind of grass I have. Very amateur.
Here's a general idea of what I've got going on:

http://imgur.com/a/K0pij

I know very little about lawn problems so far (just joined too! Hi!) and only know as much maintenance as the average internet research finds (ie. tuna canning, screwdriver tests, not cutting more than 1/3 of the grass, etc.) and what my father taught me when I was a kid.

With my little knowledge, I'm assuming I have a dehydrated lawn due to a 1"+ thick layer of thatch. Previous owners never cared for the lawn beyond a for-hire weed spraying company. They said they never aerated, seeded, fertilized, or anything for 50 years.

I ran a 15" wide manual dethatching rake on the strip along the driveway seen in the pictures and just doing that one row of the lawn pulled up enough dead stuff to build the 3 Little Pigs a new home.

My main question here is: Are my suspicions right?

Secondly, if it needs a thorough dethatching to breathe and take in water, do I just do it even though it's summer and 90º every day? I figure doing it now and getting the lawn nutrients, even though I'll promote weed germination, is better than not doing it and letting it suffocate all summer again.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,721 Posts
Welcome to the forum! I'm a new member here, and it appears that you have some crabgrass poking through. It appears that the yellow areas might be exhibiting signs of drought stress, but that's without knowing how much water the area has been getting. I do know that having a thick thatch layer will prevent a lot of moisture getting down to the root zone, so the thatch layer is definitely contributing to that issue.

If it were me, and you know that there's been nothing done to the lawn, I'd go ahead and dethatch, treat for the crabgrass, fertilize and water. The good thing about your lawn is that it appears to have a healthy enough stand of turfgrass to overcome the weeds, once you take some of the pressure off. Other than the thick bladed crabgrass, are there any other weeds that you can identify? Also, I'd recommend getting a soil sample, rather than throwing down a random bag of fertilizer, since you'd get more bang for your buck. But I'd at least throw down some Milorganite to supplement until you can get the soil test results back and come up with a better application for your situation.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
188 Posts
Hi soco, welcome

I don't have a lot of experience either, but I doubt having thatch would cause it to dehydrate, rather, I think thatch decreases evaporation and actually increases moisture retention, possibly leading to fungus, so you do want to detach it to get it aired out, but I might wait until it cools down a little bit, unless you've been getting a lot of rain lately. After you dethatch, if it's pretty thin, I would go ahead and overseed afterwards. Keep us posted.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
20 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Colonel K0rn said:
Welcome to the forum! I'm a new member here, and it appears that you have some crabgrass poking through. It appears that the yellow areas might be exhibiting signs of drought stress, but that's without knowing how much water the area has been getting. I do know that having a thick thatch layer will prevent a lot of moisture getting down to the root zone, so the thatch layer is definitely contributing to that issue.

If it were me, and you know that there's been nothing done to the lawn, I'd go ahead and dethatch, treat for the crabgrass, fertilize and water. The good thing about your lawn is that it appears to have a healthy enough stand of turfgrass to overcome the weeds, once you take some of the pressure off. Other than the thick bladed crabgrass, are there any other weeds that you can identify? Also, I'd recommend getting a soil sample, rather than throwing down a random bag of fertilizer, since you'd get more bang for your buck. But I'd at least throw down some Milorganite to supplement until you can get the soil test results back and come up with a better application for your situation.
Considering it's summer, how would I go about treating for the crabgrass? Something I can pick up at a garden center and drop spread? Guy below you mentioned overseeding; agree?
Also, where would I send a soil sample? Never heard of that.

We've been getting a pretty decent amount of rain. All of my neighbors' lawns are nice and lush, while mine looks thirsty as hell. I think I should just dethatch with a power lawn machine.

As for other weeds, there's a bit of clover along the sidewalk, but it's very little and pretty low on my priority list. The main areas of the lawn are pretty grass-only.

Thanks for your help too.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
20 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Fronta1 said:
Hi soco, welcome

I don't have a lot of experience either, but I doubt having thatch would cause it to dehydrate, rather, I think thatch decreases evaporation and actually increases moisture retention, possibly leading to fungus, so you do want to detach it to get it aired out, but I might wait until it cools down a little bit, unless you've been getting a lot of rain lately. After you dethatch, if it's pretty thin, I would go ahead and overseed afterwards. Keep us posted.
Curious what you're basing that on. I've always read that thatch dehydrates a lawn when it gets much more than 0.5" thick.
 

·
Administrator
5.6ksqft Bewitched KBG in Fishers, IN
Joined
·
15,314 Posts
Some info here around thatch. https://mdc.itap.purdue.edu/item.asp?item_number=AY-8-W It blocks both ways, water going in or out. I would not recommend dethatching in the middle of summer. It does some damage to your lawn (cuts some of the roots). It is better to wait until the fall.

From your images, It looks like you are mowing too high with a dull blade. How high are you mowing and how often?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,053 Posts
From the pictures, there's an acute lack of water. I don't think the thatch is causing it. How much and how often are you watering? With temps in the high 80s and 90s, it will need 0.5" every 3-4 days.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
20 Posts
Discussion Starter · #8 ·
g-man said:
Some info here around thatch. https://mdc.itap.purdue.edu/item.asp?item_number=AY-8-W It blocks both ways, water going in or out. I would not recommend dethatching in the middle of summer. It does some damage to your lawn (cuts some of the roots). It is better to wait until the fall.

From your images, It looks like you are mowing too high with a dull blade. How high are you mowing and how often?
I was mowing at a whopping 3.5" until a couple weeks ago when I went down to 2.5. You may be right about the blades. They haven't been sharpened since early last year and I recently read you should sharpen multiple times a summer.

Is it fixable?
The lawn, not the blades.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
20 Posts
Discussion Starter · #9 ·
j4c11 said:
From the pictures, there's an acute lack of water. I don't think the thatch is causing it. How much and how often are you watering? With temps in the high 80s and 90s, it will need 0.5" every 3-4 days.
I'm currently watering 1" every Tuesday.
This week less because it's been pouring a lot.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,721 Posts
socopithy said:
Considering it's summer, how would I go about treating for the crabgrass? Something I can pick up at a garden center and drop spread? Guy below you mentioned overseeding; agree?
Also, where would I send a soil sample? Never heard of that.

We've been getting a pretty decent amount of rain. All of my neighbors' lawns are nice and lush, while mine looks thirsty as hell. I think I should just dethatch with a power lawn machine.

As for other weeds, there's a bit of clover along the sidewalk, but it's very little and pretty low on my priority list. The main areas of the lawn are pretty grass-only.

Thanks for your help too.
What I would do is a systematic approach to some of the issues that you have. Since you've got some areas that are pretty yellowed, I would mark them out, say a 20'x20' area, and try dethatching that area, and another area about the same size, but not right next to it. Then water as needed. See which area responds better, then apply your findings accordingly. If you've got these areas in the back yard, I'd try there, that way it's not right out front should something go awry.

I would follow the recommendation to wait until the fall to use a power dethatcher, as it is pretty stressful to the turf. The reason I'd suggest doing any hand dethatching is that you're not going to be as aggressive as a machine. But when it's time to do the whole lawn, definitely look into doing it with a machine.

To treat crabgrass that has emerged, you'll need an herbicide with Quinclorac. I'd recommend giving Drive XLR8 Herbicide a try. Good thing is that it'll take out the clover too, and several other weeds that might be hiding as well. The label recommends that you use an MSO surfactant when applying, so you can pick that up as well. The nice thing about the site I linked is that they will price match if you find the same product for less on Amazon. Southern Ag makes an MSO that I can pick up at my local Tractor Supply; in your area, check at Menards or your farm supply stores. I have a trading post in my town that usually has better prices on stuff to kill weeds than Lowe's/HD/WalMart, etc. Plus it's always nice to patronize local businesses.

You might have a little sticker shock with the price of some of the herbicides, but I have to say that your cost per treatment is far less, with greater results than anything that you buy at the big box store. It's the same stuff that the pros use, so get educated on the right equipment that you'll need for your turf-ventures, do your homework, and you'll have a great lawn in no time. dfw did a fantastic job with that writeup, and I can't stress enough how important it is to have a calibrated sprayer.

Your county extension agent can be a huge help to you when it comes time to get some questions answered, ranging from how to grow larger tomatoes, and how to get your soil to be the optimal medium for your turf to grow. Find your county office, drop by or call and ask for a soil test kit. They'll explain what you need to do in order to get it tested. When you get your results back, the master gardener there (usually the agent) will go over the results from the test, answer any questions you have, and help you come up with a program for your lawn. I've found my county agents to be a huge help when it comes to all things related to the dirt.

Hope this helps you with some reading material, and a point in the right direction! Remember, this a marathon, not a sprint. :thumbup:
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,053 Posts
j4c11 said:
From the pictures, there's an acute lack of water. I don't think the thatch is causing it. How much and how often are you watering? With temps in the high 80s and 90s, it will need 0.5" every 3-4 days.
From the pictures it looks like there's some Tall Fescue and some Kentucky Bluegrass. There's a finer bladed grass in the pictures but I can't determine whether it's a different grass type like fine fescue or KBG that has rolled up from lack of water.

If it's fine fescue, it will go brown during periods of high heat no matter what you do.

Let's start simple and test the water penetration hypothesis. Grab a 6" Phillips screwdriver and stick it in the ground. Does it easily go in all the way to the handle? Report back.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
20 Posts
Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Colonel K0rn said:
What I would do is a systematic approach to some of the issues that you have. Since you've got some areas that are pretty yellowed, I would mark them out, say a 20'x20' area, and try dethatching that area, and another area about the same size, but not right next to it. Then water as needed. See which area responds better, then apply your findings accordingly. If you've got these areas in the back yard, I'd try there, that way it's not right out front should something go awry.

I would follow the recommendation to wait until the fall to use a power dethatcher, as it is pretty stressful to the turf. The reason I'd suggest doing any hand dethatching is that you're not going to be as aggressive as a machine. But when it's time to do the whole lawn, definitely look into doing it with a machine.
With regard to the dethatching, I just went out and used my 15" thatch rake to manually dethatch a 3'x3' spot just to see how much it pulled up, and boy does it pull up a lot.

After lunch I'm going to expand that to the 20'x20' as you recommended, but I'm curious if I can handle manually doing the whole lawn, do I just go for it since it's not as abusive as the machine?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
20 Posts
Discussion Starter · #13 ·
j4c11 said:
j4c11 said:
From the pictures, there's an acute lack of water. I don't think the thatch is causing it. How much and how often are you watering? With temps in the high 80s and 90s, it will need 0.5" every 3-4 days.
From the pictures it looks like there's some Tall Fescue and some Kentucky Bluegrass. There's a finer bladed grass in the pictures but I can't determine whether it's a different grass type like fine fescue or KBG that has rolled up from lack of water.

If it's fine fescue, it will go brown during periods of high heat no matter what you do.

Let's start simple and test the water penetration hypothesis. Grab a 6" Phillips screwdriver and stick it in the ground. Does it easily go in all the way to the handle? Report back.
Just did this test and the screwdriver went down to the handle in every spot I tested across the lawn, just using my bodyweight to push down - with the exception of two spots where it obviously hit a rock or something.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,053 Posts
socopithy said:
Just did this test and the screwdriver went down to the handle in every spot I tested across the lawn, just using my bodyweight to push down - with the exception of two spots where it obviously hit a rock or something.
So you're definitely not dealing with a water issue. I think your problem might be fine fescue going brown due to sun/heat.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
20 Posts
Discussion Starter · #15 ·
j4c11 said:
socopithy said:
Just did this test and the screwdriver went down to the handle in every spot I tested across the lawn, just using my bodyweight to push down - with the exception of two spots where it obviously hit a rock or something.
So you're definitely not dealing with a water issue. I think your problem might be fine fescue going brown due to sun/heat.
Well I hate it! haha

Any way to confirm the grass type?
If it is Fine Fescue causing the browning, what do I do? Is the only solution to re-do the whole lawn from scratch?

All my neighbors must have better grass types because theirs are all nice and green.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,053 Posts
Here's a link that describes cool season grasses and should help you identify the species in your lawn:
http://plantscience.psu.edu/research/centers/turf/extension/factsheets/cool-season-turfgrasses-id

And another one for fine fescue:
http://turfid.ncsu.edu/csPagedPdField.aspx?PlantID=FESLO
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
20 Posts
Discussion Starter · #17 ·
j4c11 said:
Here's a link that describes cool season grasses and should help you identify the species in your lawn:
http://plantscience.psu.edu/research/centers/turf/extension/factsheets/cool-season-turfgrasses-id

And another one for fine fescue:
http://turfid.ncsu.edu/csPagedPdField.aspx?PlantID=FESLO
Hm, actually sounds like a good grass to have.
Do I just deal with the browning during particularly hot periods like now?

I'd rather have the nice green lawns my neighbors have. I'm kind of embarrassed about the browning.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
20 Posts
Discussion Starter · #19 ·
j4c11 said:
Yes, fine fescue is a "shade grass" and does not do well in full sun or during periods of high heat.
That explains why the grass surrounding my front tree is beautiful while the rest (in full sun as you said) looks awful.

What can I do about this? Is there such thing as overseeding with a KBG and hoping it comes up and crowds out the old fescue?

I have it in my head at the moment that I can dethatch all over manually, overseed with KBG, fertilize, and cross my fingers.
 
1 - 20 of 25 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.
Top