Sleepless in Rexford - Scheming

Discuss how to and whether you should renovate your lawn
KnickLeDime
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Sleepless in Rexford - Scheming

Postby KnickLeDime » December 1st, 2018, 1:32 am

New poster, found this board, been reading a lot and really need help. Not sure where to even start but I got a real mess on my hands. Please excuse the length of this post if it gets to wordy.

Built a brand new house in 2017. Builder brought in fill and then hydro-seeded grass. I'm sorry I'm not expert and I don't know what grass was seeded but this is upstate NY Albany area. 1.5 acre lot and approximately 35000sqf feet of cleared land some of that is obviously the house driveway etc. The entire cleared portion where there is grass is covered by 36 in-ground sprinkler heads. The soil here is very sandy, doesn't retain moisture well as I think the water just runs through it so I water is daily, 8 zones, 18 minutes a zone.

This was my back yard when the grass came up this spring in 2018...
Image


Now to the trouble at hand, from the minute we moved in in June of 2017, I've been faithfully using scotts and their entire program. Been spending probably upwards of $600+ a season putting on the crab prevention, the yellow lawn food, winterizer etc. Faithfully and religiously, without missing a single recommended application. The grass never thrived truly but was OK, the picture above was probably at it's best. As the summer wore on even with ample watering etc. the grass seemed to dull as the summer went on. In the spring I was watering every 2 times a week but deep water, 30 minutes a zone, but it continued to show signs of stress and I kept watering more and more. This was in late May, early June...as you can see the grass started to dull and patched started to appear, I tried spot seeing but zero grass would come up...

What I never put on because there was no indication of an issue is GrubEx or similar product. This summer, in August took a family trip and were gone 2 weeks, mid-late August. Came back to this...I want to caution that it didn't start out like this but VERY VERY rapidly in a span of about 3 weeks from a few small patches to daily huge pieces of the lawn dying off.


Image



The back yard roughly 80% is completely decimated, about 25% of the front and sides are dead as well. I was shellshocked and didn't know what to do. I did poke around in the grass and it became very clear that this is a grub infestation. In one spot I found 10+ grubs in a square foot. Daily, more and more lawn was dying until in late September I had to do something and in a panic I threw down a significant amount of Bayer Advanced Grub Killer Plus. At this time at least several moles moved in, other disease like weird mushrooms and other crap sprung up like wild-fire. I don't know how effective Bayer was but the damaged stopped spreading, not sure if it's because it was basically October and grubs started to go into hibernation and stopped feeding and it being winter now, obviously the progress of this plague has stopped.

I don't know where to start next spring and thus my coming here asking for advice...I know I'm going to have to rip all that up, it's a significant surface area and I won't be able to do it by hand. I'm not afraid of hard work, part of me is pissed and embarrassed that my lawn looks like that in a neighborhood of million dollar homes. See attached picture before the devastation... I could hire this out but I take pleasure in working on my lawn so I want to try and repair this myself.

I've been reading a lot, spending time here as well as the websites of national lawncare product companies like Scotts, Jonhathan Green etc. I know lots of people hate JG but the reviews on their products appears to be somewhat positive. I've been a user of Scotts for probably 8 years going back to previous home and it's just OK. Problem is most of us layman don't know any better and use what's available. I'm not a lawncare professional, I'm trying to learn but clearly not putting down some form of grub control has done huge damage very quickly, so quickly in fact I had almost no time to stop the damage.

Where do I start, what do I do? I'm trying to spend these next few months going into the new year and eventually spring reading, learning as much as I can and putting together some form of a game plan. Help a brother out!


Image
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andy10917
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Re: Sleepless in Rexford - Scheming

Postby andy10917 » December 1st, 2018, 10:28 am

Welcome!! I'm somewhat familiar with soils in your area - I have relatives in Clifton Park, and have spent, and have spent enough time in Malta to have some familiarity with the area's soils. That's not necessarily a favorable opinion of the soils.

I can see by your post that you've spent a lot of time trying to discern what happened this summer. Unfortunately, you're lacking a lot of critical data and it will have to wait to Spring to get that data. But that said, I see one sentence in your posting that stands out as a likely trouble spot to me:
Builder brought in fill and then hydro-seeded grass.
Arrrgh!! That could be the lynchpin of the troubles, and it's not easy to fix at all. We'll have to wait until Spring to find out, and you're probably not thrilled to hear that myself and others will recommend spending much of the 2019 season fixing the problems and then trying to seed the lawn in mid-August.

The first step is to get a soil test from Logan Labs once the ground is workable in late March/early April - let's see just how poor the fill is, in an area with poorer soils in general.

We can keep discussing your issues over the winter, but I would start by filling out the "Lawn Size" and "Experience Level" fields in your profile, and try to find out what grasses were hydroseeded into the current lawn - lots of "I Don't Know" background answers leads to "I Don't Know" recommendations from us here. I know that you posted the lawn size in your first post, but that will get lost quickly as the thread grows....
KnickLeDime
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Joined: October 24th, 2018, 2:59 pm
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Re: Sleepless in Rexford - Scheming

Postby KnickLeDime » December 1st, 2018, 11:15 am

andy10917 wrote:
December 1st, 2018, 10:28 am
Welcome!! I'm somewhat familiar with soils in your area - I have relatives in Clifton Park, and have spent, and have spent enough time in Malta to have some familiarity with the area's soils. That's not necessarily a favorable opinion of the soils.

I can see by your post that you've spent a lot of time trying to discern what happened this summer. Unfortunately, you're lacking a lot of critical data and it will have to wait to Spring to get that data. But that said, I see one sentence in your posting that stands out as a likely trouble spot to me:
Builder brought in fill and then hydro-seeded grass.
Arrrgh!! That could be the lynchpin of the troubles, and it's not easy to fix at all. We'll have to wait until Spring to find out, and you're probably not thrilled to hear that myself and others will recommend spending much of the 2019 season fixing the problems and then trying to seed the lawn in mid-August.

The first step is to get a soil test from Logan Labs once the ground is workable in late March/early April - let's see just how poor the fill is, in an area with poorer soils in general.

We can keep discussing your issues over the winter, but I would start by filling out the "Lawn Size" and "Experience Level" fields in your profile, and try to find out what grasses were hydroseeded into the current lawn - lots of "I Don't Know" background answers leads to "I Don't Know" recommendations from us here. I know that you posted the lawn size in your first post, but that will get lost quickly as the thread grows....
I've updated my profile...

I know who the landscaper was, I'll reach out to them and ask what blend of grass they use. I'll follow up as soon as I have that info.

Here is a picture of just how much fill they used, I came to check on the house daily, they used tens of full dump trucks.
Image

I'm prepared to send samples to lab, the ground I don't think is frozen yet, I may still be able to collect a sample or does the sample need to be collected during normal growing conditions?

Thank you for your response, I appreciate it.
KnickLeDime
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Joined: October 24th, 2018, 2:59 pm
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Re: Sleepless in Rexford - Scheming

Postby KnickLeDime » December 1st, 2018, 11:19 am

P.S. here are more pics of the damage...and what I found doing spot checks.


Image

Image

Image

Oddly enough the cutoffs between the living and dead grass is extremely sharp, like someone painted the green on. I'm not sure if that's usual or not.
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andy10917
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Re: Sleepless in Rexford - Scheming

Postby andy10917 » December 1st, 2018, 11:19 am

I don't recommend sampling at this point in the season. There is nothing you'll be able to do, anyway. I don't even do soil test interpretations from November 1st until the lawns begin to wake up down south (late February).

KnickLeDime
Posts: 16
Joined: October 24th, 2018, 2:59 pm
Location: Capital Region NY
Grass Type: 1/3 Kentucky Blue, 1/3 Fescue and 1/3 Perennial Rye
Lawn Size: 20000-1 acre
Level: Novice

Re: Sleepless in Rexford - Scheming

Postby KnickLeDime » December 1st, 2018, 11:32 am

andy10917 wrote:
December 1st, 2018, 11:19 am
I don't recommend sampling at this point in the season. There is nothing you'll be able to do, anyway. I don't even do soil test interpretations from November 1st until the lawns begin to wake up down south (late February).
Got it...wait we will.
KnickLeDime
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Joined: October 24th, 2018, 2:59 pm
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Grass Type: 1/3 Kentucky Blue, 1/3 Fescue and 1/3 Perennial Rye
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Level: Novice

Re: Sleepless in Rexford - Scheming

Postby KnickLeDime » December 1st, 2018, 11:36 am

What is your opinion of my move to throw down the Bayer? Was it the right move considering the high rate of grub infestation or should I have not done that?
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andy10917
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Re: Sleepless in Rexford - Scheming

Postby andy10917 » December 1st, 2018, 11:49 am

What's the number of grubs you found per square foot of soil?
KnickLeDime
Posts: 16
Joined: October 24th, 2018, 2:59 pm
Location: Capital Region NY
Grass Type: 1/3 Kentucky Blue, 1/3 Fescue and 1/3 Perennial Rye
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Level: Novice

Re: Sleepless in Rexford - Scheming

Postby KnickLeDime » December 1st, 2018, 11:50 am

andy10917 wrote:
December 1st, 2018, 11:49 am
What's the number of grubs you found per square foot of soil?
It varied but anywhere from 3-4 to concentrations as much as 8-10 on the extreme. In general probably 4-5.
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andy10917
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Re: Sleepless in Rexford - Scheming

Postby andy10917 » December 1st, 2018, 11:55 am

At 10 grubs per square foot, grubs might cause that type of damage. To my eye the damage is too widespread for grub damage. That looks like generalized damage from heat with shallow rooting to me. We'll see what the TEC says about the soil structure in the Spring...
KnickLeDime
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Location: Capital Region NY
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Re: Sleepless in Rexford - Scheming

Postby KnickLeDime » December 1st, 2018, 11:58 am

andy10917 wrote:
December 1st, 2018, 11:55 am
At 10 grubs per square foot, grubs might cause that type of damage. To my eye the damage is too widespread for grub damage. That looks like generalized damage from heat with shallow rooting to me. We'll see what the TEC says about the soil structure in the Spring...
What concerns me is that even in areas where the grass is dead there are spots I had a hard time finding grubs...not sure how mobile or transient they are but...many if not most of these areas, the grass pulls up like a rug, I can move it or for a lack of a better term scrape it with easy with my foot. It just comes up as if it was just laying on the surface with little resistance.
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andy10917
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Re: Sleepless in Rexford - Scheming

Postby andy10917 » December 1st, 2018, 12:01 pm

That DOES make a case for grub damage.

Leaving now for the day - construction work (electricity and plumbing work today). We'll pick up the conversation this evening.
KnickLeDime
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Re: Sleepless in Rexford - Scheming

Postby KnickLeDime » December 1st, 2018, 12:09 pm

andy10917 wrote:
December 1st, 2018, 12:01 pm
That DOES make a case for grub damage.

Leaving now for the day - construction work (electricity and plumbing work today). We'll pick up the conversation this evening.
Thanks for your responses...whenever you see this...not to put cart in front of horse but usually in the spring I'd put down scotts crab grass prevention and lawnfood etc. Considering we don't know what's in the soil and the possibility that I didn't kill off the grubs, should I be thinking about feeding the lawn in the spring and putting down weed prevention as well as GrubEx or something around memorial day (to break grub cycle)? I understand I may not be able to seed until August but I'd hate to do absolutely nothing all summer as I think weeds and everything else will move in.

Does the fact that I have great irrigation (36 heads) play into when I can try seeding. Sure, lots of work to do before then to get the soil right etc. Make sure grubs are destroyed etc.
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HoosierLawnGnome
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Re: Sleepless in Rexford - Scheming

Postby HoosierLawnGnome » December 3rd, 2018, 8:00 pm

I echo previous posts that your woes are likely rooted (pun intended) in poor root systems damaged by grubs or insects and too frequent watering.

In addition to the standard LL soil test, i would recommend a soil structure test when you send in your soil for another 20 bucks or so. You can save money and DIY following the article in the soil management article here. Only have to do this once ever, normally.

The grubs eventually hatch and leave the soil so you won't find them once the damage is to the point you are pulling up dead sod laying on top of hard dirt. Before that you might also notice flocks of birds poking around and find holes the diameter of a pencil all over. Signs of grubs or insects. Next time you'll notice the signs and be able to respond sooner with an insecticide to stop damage, then help it fill in with good fertilization and cultivation.

BUT, do plan on a grub prevention app this coming spring.

But that damage is SEVERE. You'll know this spring how much survived for sure, but that one area looks almost totally dead. Sorry man.

The good news is your climate is milder that far north so you might be able to get a little earlier seed down date than others. I wouldnt recommend a spring renovation as a first renovation on 1.5 acres. It's a lot of work, and you'll be pretty upset if you go for it and it fails.

But who know you may have some areas come back and be able to do some overseeeding and fertilization to save them.

You wont be out much as you'll be fertilizing per the soil test anyway, so if an area comes back, great. If it doesnt, it will be ready to go for renoavtion anyways, and you're not out extra effort.
KnickLeDime
Posts: 16
Joined: October 24th, 2018, 2:59 pm
Location: Capital Region NY
Grass Type: 1/3 Kentucky Blue, 1/3 Fescue and 1/3 Perennial Rye
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Level: Novice

Re: Sleepless in Rexford - Scheming

Postby KnickLeDime » December 3rd, 2018, 9:20 pm

HoosierLawnGnome wrote:
December 3rd, 2018, 8:00 pm
I echo previous posts that your woes are likely rooted (pun intended) in poor root systems damaged by grubs or insects and too frequent watering.

In addition to the standard LL soil test, i would recommend a soil structure test when you send in your soil for another 20 bucks or so. You can save money and DIY following the article in the soil management article here. Only have to do this once ever, normally.

The grubs eventually hatch and leave the soil so you won't find them once the damage is to the point you are pulling up dead sod laying on top of hard dirt. Before that you might also notice flocks of birds poking around and find holes the diameter of a pencil all over. Signs of grubs or insects. Next time you'll notice the signs and be able to respond sooner with an insecticide to stop damage, then help it fill in with good fertilization and cultivation.

BUT, do plan on a grub prevention app this coming spring.

But that damage is SEVERE. You'll know this spring how much survived for sure, but that one area looks almost totally dead. Sorry man.

The good news is your climate is milder that far north so you might be able to get a little earlier seed down date than others. I wouldnt recommend a spring renovation as a first renovation on 1.5 acres. It's a lot of work, and you'll be pretty upset if you go for it and it fails.

But who know you may have some areas come back and be able to do some overseeeding and fertilization to save them.

You wont be out much as you'll be fertilizing per the soil test anyway, so if an area comes back, great. If it doesnt, it will be ready to go for renoavtion anyways, and you're not out extra effort.
It's interesting that you bring up the holes... Honestly about 80% of the 30k+ sqf was covered in pencil wide pock marks every few inches. Oddly enough I didn't see a lot of birds bits it's undeniable what it was. I'm also positive something bigger was rooting around all over the place, maybe skunks or raccoons. In my initial post I had forgotten about the bird holes but they were ALL OVER even in areas that survived.
KnickLeDime
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Joined: October 24th, 2018, 2:59 pm
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Re: Sleepless in Rexford - Scheming

Postby KnickLeDime » December 5th, 2018, 12:45 pm

I got a response from builder on grass type used...I'll also update my profile.

1/3 Kentucky blue, 1/3 Fescue, and 1/3 perennial rye
KnickLeDime
Posts: 16
Joined: October 24th, 2018, 2:59 pm
Location: Capital Region NY
Grass Type: 1/3 Kentucky Blue, 1/3 Fescue and 1/3 Perennial Rye
Lawn Size: 20000-1 acre
Level: Novice

Re: Sleepless in Rexford - Scheming

Postby KnickLeDime » December 5th, 2018, 12:54 pm

HoosierLawnGnome wrote:
December 3rd, 2018, 8:00 pm
I echo previous posts that your woes are likely rooted (pun intended) in poor root systems damaged by grubs or insects and too frequent watering.

In addition to the standard LL soil test, i would recommend a soil structure test when you send in your soil for another 20 bucks or so. You can save money and DIY following the article in the soil management article here. Only have to do this once ever, normally.

The grubs eventually hatch and leave the soil so you won't find them once the damage is to the point you are pulling up dead sod laying on top of hard dirt. Before that you might also notice flocks of birds poking around and find holes the diameter of a pencil all over. Signs of grubs or insects. Next time you'll notice the signs and be able to respond sooner with an insecticide to stop damage, then help it fill in with good fertilization and cultivation.

BUT, do plan on a grub prevention app this coming spring.

But that damage is SEVERE. You'll know this spring how much survived for sure, but that one area looks almost totally dead. Sorry man.

The good news is your climate is milder that far north so you might be able to get a little earlier seed down date than others. I wouldnt recommend a spring renovation as a first renovation on 1.5 acres. It's a lot of work, and you'll be pretty upset if you go for it and it fails.

But who know you may have some areas come back and be able to do some overseeeding and fertilization to save them.

You wont be out much as you'll be fertilizing per the soil test anyway, so if an area comes back, great. If it doesnt, it will be ready to go for renoavtion anyways, and you're not out extra effort.
One additional point of clarification...the lawn size is 30k sqf or so...of that probably 20k sqf are destroyed. I don't don't have to repair all 30k+ sqf...I'll need to repair probably close to .45 acre.

My focus isn't a quick fix, I'm in this for the long haul. I agree that I need to continue next spring to ensure that grubs are under control, next my focus will be to establish a good soil base however long that takes, establish a good watering plan and then prepare for repair in late summer once soil is receptive to a repair.

How much does a soil test cost with LL with all bells and whistles.
KnickLeDime
Posts: 16
Joined: October 24th, 2018, 2:59 pm
Location: Capital Region NY
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Level: Novice

Re: Sleepless in Rexford - Scheming

Postby KnickLeDime » December 5th, 2018, 3:49 pm

Dissregard the questionon cost etc. Found all the information in articles here and LL website.
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andy10917
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Re: Sleepless in Rexford - Scheming

Postby andy10917 » December 6th, 2018, 9:45 am

No real need for all the bells and whistles. The basic test will give me the data needed to make a plan (in March?) and the optional soil structure test will be a confirmation only of the TEC numbers of fill instead of topsoil - but a soil structure test is not mandatory for you.
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Re: Sleepless in Rexford - Scheming

Postby HoosierLawnGnome » December 7th, 2018, 1:34 pm

Yeah, the structure test is a nice to have. I personally like doing it.

The spring test will lay it out for you. If you're in it for the long haul, plan on a late summer renovation and read up over the winter here on how to approach it.

With a good fertilization program, you may see some of the yard recover and be able to overseed if you're not going to nuke the whole thing.

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