Ken-n-Nancy's 2018 Front Lawn Renovation - "War on Triv"

Discuss how to and whether you should renovate your lawn
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ken-n-nancy
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Ken-n-Nancy's 2018 Front Lawn Renovation - "War on Triv"

Post by ken-n-nancy » August 30th, 2018, 8:04 pm

This thread is intended to document our 2018 Front Lawn Renovation. Before getting in to the log of what we're doing, though, a little background is probably in order...

As of 2015, we had completed renovations of all of our lawn areas over the course of the prior 3 years: In 2016, we did some unexpected mini-renovations due to septic tank replacement and an oil spill from an electrical transformer.

In 2017, we commenced a war on poa trivialis, which is hopefully now reaching the turning point with this fall's renovation of the front lawn!

We've been planning this front lawn renovation for about a year. Our desired result is a front lawn of dark green, compact Kentucky bluegrass which self-repairs from winter damage and is free of weeds, particularly poa trivialis.

We actually have three different renovation projects going on this year:

1 - Front lawn renovation to a 50/50 blend of Bewitched and Prosperity Kentucky bluegrass on a total of about 5300sqft. The prior front lawn had been a northern mix, which got us started on our lawn care hobby, but in which we were starting to have trouble with poa trivialis.

2 - Side lawn patch repairs of about 350sqft. The bare spots were the result of a combination of (a) killing off poa trivialis patches and (b) transplanting sod to repair other poa trivialis patches in other areas of the lawn.

3 - Front driveway-side lawn experiment to see if the fine fescue in a northern mix can be mostly eliminated by the use of Tenacity at 8oz/acre dosages. We are also experimenting with a KBG overseed into this northern mix at the same time even though my past experience with overseeding KBG into a dense northern mix has always been ineffective.

We'll talk about each of these projects in this thread. Hopefully it won't be too confusing to have the different mini-projects interspersed. Please feel free to provide encouragement, ask questions, or hurl ridicule at our attempts, odd approaches, and mistakes!

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Re: Ken-n-Nancy's 2018 Front Lawn Renovation - "War on Triv"

Post by ken-n-nancy » August 30th, 2018, 8:41 pm

Before the Renovation.

Below: Front lawn on 1-year anniversary (9 Oct 2014) after prior renovation (fall 2013).
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Why did we decide to renovate the front lawn?

Post by ken-n-nancy » August 30th, 2018, 9:51 pm

In 2016, we had been pretty happy with the front lawn. Even though it was a northern mix, our front lawn had excellent color, was thick, and earned us the reputation on the street as "the people with 'the lawn.'" Just mowing, fertilizing, and controlling weeds was a sufficient hobby.

Below: front lawn on 2016-09-07:
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However, what we hadn't anticipated would be the devastation caused by the truck that delivered our new septic tank getting stuck in the soft soil of our front lawn on 2016-10-05:
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Due to the late date in the fall of the septic tank installation (October 5th) combined with our comparatively early autumn in New Hampshire (our average first frost is September 26th), we weren't able to get much new seed established before the winter of 2016-17.

Our seed-down date was October 11th:
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And we had the first of many autumn hard frosts just four days later on October 15th:
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Eliminating the patches of poa trivialis

Post by ken-n-nancy » August 30th, 2018, 11:11 pm

What we didn't realize at the time was that somewhen during the next six months, maybe due to our very late fall "germination watering," or maybe our spring sowing of more seed in that area along with early spring watering and no pre-emergent on those areas of the front lawn, that poa trivialis found its way into our front lawn.

It didn't look so bad from the street, but there were some pretty significant poa trivialis patches. They're not easy to see in the photo below, but if you look carefully, you can see the light green patches in quite a few places near the large tree in the middle of the lawn.
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Knowing that the only way to get rid of the poa trivialis permanently was spraying with glyphosate, that's exactly what we did:
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Interestingly enough, about a week after spraying glyphosate on the poa trivialis patches and an area about 8 inches further around the patch, the "good grass" looks quite dead, but the poa trivialis takes a fair bit longer to succumb to the glyphosate:
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The Roadside Border Diversion

Post by ken-n-nancy » August 30th, 2018, 11:18 pm

At this point, you're probably wondering what in the world we were going to do about all those dead patches?

Well, another project we'd had in mind was to remedy recurring challenges with maintaining the grass immediately against the roadside. We have pretty harsh winters here in NH, at least compared to most of the USA. (But quite similar to those those in Minnesota, Michigan, and the Adirondacks in New York.) The last couple feet of lawn nearest the road suffers from snowplow and salt damage every spring. We had tried maintaining turf all the way to the edge of the asphalt, but it was a losing battle.

Below: Roadside edge next to driveway on 2017-10-04.
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Below: Far roadside edge on 2017-10-04.
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Quite a few years earlier, on the short roadside edge on the other side of our driveway, we had laid a border of cobblestones (more accurately, Belgian block) to separate the lawn from the road, with a sacrificial dirt/gravel "nitpack" area between the cobblestones and the road which would just remain a "shoulder" that is free of vegetation.

We liked the way this looked and found that it wasn't too difficult to keep the grass growing right up to the cobblestone edge. Each winter, road salt/sand would end up in the sacrificial area which would make it a pretty inhospitable environment for weeds. A little bit of hand weeding or glyphosate kept that "sand & gravel" area looking desolately bleak.

Below: Laying the cobblestone road border on the other side of the driveway in 2014.
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Below: The short cobblestone road border in 2017.
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ken-n-nancy
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Transplanting Sod from Roadside to Trivialis Patches

Post by ken-n-nancy » August 30th, 2018, 11:22 pm

Our plan was to use the sod from the roadside edge to fill all the now-killed poa trivialis patches in the lawn.

To do that, we rented a sod cutter to cut out the long strip of sod along the road for the length of our road frontage, and to cut the dead sod out of all the poa trivialis patches.

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However, while we were at it, we also wanted to fix a "too-high" area along the road that wasn't graded properly when the front lawn was renovated in 2013. The plan for this area was to lower that section of lawn by cutting the sod off the top, then excavating a couple inches of soil, and finally putting the sod back again. One would think that isn't too difficult of a task with a sod cutter, but it turned out to be a lot more work than we envisioned!

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ken-n-nancy
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Too Many Poa Trivialis Patches!

Post by ken-n-nancy » August 30th, 2018, 11:32 pm

However, what we had not anticipated was that we had too many poa trivialis patches! The sod we cut out from the roadside border wasn't enough to fill in all the dead spots.

In hindsight, this turned out to be a good thing, as we ended up having two different approaches for battling the poa trivialis:

1 - spray glyphosate on dead patch, replace with transplanted sod, or

2 - spray glyphosate on dead patch, allow to "fallow" until next year.

We ended up learning that either approach worked, except that "option 1" resulted in a repaired poa trivialis patch by the end of the following spring which was practically indistinguishable from the rest of the lawn. We've since decided that this will be our technique for dealing with future poa trivialis patches, but more on that later...

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Laying Cobblestones...

Post by ken-n-nancy » August 30th, 2018, 11:38 pm

We then spent a lot of the remaining time before winter laying cobblestones. We knew we would love the way this would turn out as we had done the other side of the driveway a few years prior. However, this was a huge investment of time.

Ken is quite detail-oriented, so getting each cobblestone properly straight, level, and set on a firm-packed base so that it won't shift excessively during a New Hampshire winter took about 10 minutes each.

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A Long Line of Cobblestones...

Post by ken-n-nancy » August 31st, 2018, 12:21 am

There ended up being 164 cobblestones in that line of blocks.

Ken didn't get the last one set in place until the 2nd of December.

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27 July 2018 - Last Day Before Glyphosate

Post by ken-n-nancy » August 31st, 2018, 12:25 am

These photos record the condition of the lawn on the last day before spraying glyphosate.

The lawn shows a lot of summer stress as we'd neglected the lawn a fair bit in the month or so leading up to this time because we knew we'd be killing it all off...

We are planning to regularly capture these three views during the course of the renovation.

Mailbox View as of 2018-07-27:
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Lamp Post View as of 2018-07-27:
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Far End as of 2018-07-27:
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28 July 2018 - Glyphosate Day

Post by ken-n-nancy » August 31st, 2018, 12:34 am

This is the "day of no return." The evening before, I had cut the lawn to a 3.25" height - one notch (a half-inch) lower than the height at which I had been maintaining the lawn during July.

Killing off the lawn is a bittersweet occasion.

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31 July 2018 - Three Days After Glyphosate

Post by ken-n-nancy » August 31st, 2018, 12:37 am

Three days after the glyphosate was sprayed, I did an initial lowering of the height-of-cut from the pre-glyphosate height of 3.25" to a height of 2.25" as there would be a lot of grass to remove and I didn't want to take it all off in one go, as I've had trouble with that in the past.

Notice how the effects of the glyphosate are more pronounced in the sunnier areas. Even though the grass in the shade is just as doomed as that in the sun, the grass browns more quickly in the sunny spots.

Mailbox View as of 2018-07-31:
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Far End as of 2018-07-31:
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2 August 2018 - Five Days After Glyphosate

Post by ken-n-nancy » August 31st, 2018, 12:40 am

Five days after the glyphosate, death's irreversible approach is unmistakeable.

Dying grass sure stripes nice, though!

Mailbox View as of 2018-08-02:
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Lamp Post View as of 2018-08-02:
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Far End as of 2018-08-02:
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19 August 2018 - Scalp to 1.25"; Shave High Spots to Fill Low Spots

Post by ken-n-nancy » August 31st, 2018, 12:54 am

Following the prior set of photos, our family went on vacation for a couple weeks. When we returned, the dead grass had become matted down too much in order to easily scalp it at our planned 1.25" cut height.

We first "fluffed up" the matted grass using a leaf blower for most of the lawn. In some particularly stubborn areas, we needed to result to using a rake to fluff up the grass which had been matted down with nearly 5" of thunderstorms in the prior two weeks. After fluffing the grass up, we scalped it all down to a 1.25" height in preparation for seeding.

Over the course of the next couple days, we shaved the topsoil off some high areas and used it to fill in some low spots to make the lawn surface a little more level.

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24 August 2018 - Seed Down Day!

Post by ken-n-nancy » August 31st, 2018, 12:58 am

At long last -- about 10 months after spraying glyphosate on the poa trivialis patches, it's finally seed-down day!

Today we started out by making an additional pass of glyphosate on any areas which seemed like they may have had some just-germinating weeds. Spread a 50/50 Bewitched/Prosperity seed blend across the entire front lawn, rolled in the seed, sprayed Tenacity at a 4oz/acre rate (0.55tsp/ksqft), spread peat moss on the bare soil areas, and started "germination watering" to just wet the top surface of the soil six times a day (at 7:30am, 10am, noon, 2pm, 4pm, and 6:30pm.)

Now the waiting begins with prayers that any summer thunderstorms and accompanying downpours stay away from us for at least 7 days and hopefully 10-14 days!

Mailbox View as of 2018-08-26:
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Lamp Post View as of 2018-08-26:
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Far End as of 2018-08-26:
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Airplane Rock as of 2018-08-26:
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Re: Ken-n-Nancy's 2018 Front Lawn Renovation - "War on Triv"

Post by Paul » August 31st, 2018, 10:26 am

Looks very good, i'm sure it will turn out very nicely. For me, Bewitched can't be judged until the second full year. Areas that I thought wouldn't make it because of the shade, did allot better the second year. They are not thin like the first year.

One thing you stated:
ken-n-nancy wrote:
August 31st, 2018, 12:58 am
At long last -- about 10 months after spraying glyphosate on the poa trivialis patches, it's finally seed-down day!
10 months? You killed the lawn in July 2018?

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ken-n-nancy
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Re: Ken-n-Nancy's 2018 Front Lawn Renovation - "War on Triv"

Post by ken-n-nancy » August 31st, 2018, 12:43 pm

Paul wrote:
August 31st, 2018, 10:26 am
10 months? You killed the lawn in July 2018?
Well, not quite. We didn't kill the entire lawn 10 months ago, just the poa trivialis patches.

Back in October 2017 (10 months ago), the lawn looked like this after our killing of all the poa trivialis patches (below photo taken on 2017-10-04):

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We filled in about half of those holes with sod cut from along the road, but about half of the dead patches (those farthest from the road and driveway) remained as just bare ground for 10 months until being seeded last week. Those bare patches are the ones where peat moss was spread in the photo below. Yes, those bare patches have been bare for 10 months (since October 2017) -- we've had them remain bare all spring and summer this year!

We'll be glad once we can see good germination of Bewitched/Prosperity all across the front lawn!

(Below photo taken on 2018-08-26, two days after "seed down.")
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Re: Ken-n-Nancy's 2018 Front Lawn Renovation - "War on Triv"

Post by KBGkicksazz » August 31st, 2018, 6:23 pm

I wish I could do stone along the road like that but the town plow would almost suredly tear mine up every year.

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Re: Ken-n-Nancy's 2018 Front Lawn Renovation - "War on Triv"

Post by darkcrisis » August 31st, 2018, 10:46 pm

Thanks for sharing this progression. With all the hard work and planning I'm sure it will turn out great I'm looking forward to the updates!

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Re: Ken-n-Nancy's 2018 Front Lawn Renovation - "War on Triv"

Post by DevilDawg81 » September 1st, 2018, 7:41 am

I can appreciate the fact how you packed each stone so it was level/straight. A lot of folks wouldn’t do that. It’s a lot of work, but you did it right!

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