Ken-n-Nancy's 2020 "Driveway Side" Lawn Renovation

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 2020 "Driveway Side" Lawn Renovation - 2020-09-28 - Sprout an Pout Over!

Post by ken-n-nancy » September 28th, 2020, 6:41 pm

The evidence suggests that "sprout and pout" is now OVER for Ken-n-Nancy's renovation this year! Decided today that the baby grass is showing significant growth, so we're looking forward to mowing before long!

Today was a gorgeous day to be outside! Ken mowed the established portions of the lawn, Nancy blew the leaves off the renovation and then felt inspired to hand-pull the most significant weeds. It looked so nice Ken just had to take some pictures! (Oh, and today's forecasted rain didn't end up happening -- hopefully starting Tuesday night...)

Pouting No More! 2020-09-28 - Day 33
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Nancy Hand-Weeding the Renovation on 2020-09-28
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Re: Ken-n-Nancy's 2020 "Driveway Side" Lawn Renovation

Post by edslawn » September 28th, 2020, 6:49 pm

Whoa... Looks beautiful!

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Re: Ken-n-Nancy's 2020 "Driveway Side" Lawn Renovation

Post by DevilDawg81 » September 28th, 2020, 9:22 pm

That is looking great, and congrats on making it out of S&P. Hopefully you get a nice soft rain tomorrow night!

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Ken-n-Nancy's 2020 "Driveway Side" Lawn Renovation - 2020-10-01 - Reno Day 36 Photo Update

Post by ken-n-nancy » October 1st, 2020, 11:38 pm

Today is Day 36 from seed-down and the time for the next weekly installment of photos.

We are so thankful that "sprout and pout" is over! The grass grew enough in recent days that we did our first mowing today and also applied additional fertilizer.

The renovation has clearly passed the point of looking like a "bare lot with some grass coming up" to a "new lawn with a few slow spots" -- now it is just a matter of taking care of it via mowing, watering, and fertilizing to let the KBG do its thing and fill in everywhere. We know that density and color are now just a matter of being patient. The renovation is far from done, but the worst is behind us, as long as we remain free of disease.

We took photos of the main area before and after mowing.

"Lliac Area" Before Mowing as of 1 October 2020 (Day 36)
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"Lliac Area" After Mowing as of 1 October 2020 (Day 36)
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"Far End" Repair Area as of 1 October 2020 (Day 36):
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Closer View of a "Sparse Valley" in the "Lilac Area" as of 1 October 2020 (Day 36):
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Re: Ken-n-Nancy's 2020 "Driveway Side" Lawn Renovation

Post by DevilDawg81 » October 2nd, 2020, 6:34 am

Looks great! What was your height of cut?


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Re: Ken-n-Nancy's 2020 "Driveway Side" Lawn Renovation

Post by ken-n-nancy » October 2nd, 2020, 8:36 am

DevilDawg81 wrote:
October 2nd, 2020, 6:34 am
Looks great! What was your height of cut?
Oops! I had meant to provide some of the "technical details" on the various lawn tasks I did yesterday, but didn't remember to do that...

The "first mow" was with a new-to-me Fiskars StaySharp Max manual push reel mower that I purchased on CraigsList explicitly for the purpose of mowing the new renovation. I purchased it for $50 which seems to be a common rate for used ones. I could have bought one cheaper if I had waited a bit more. The one I got is in pretty good shape and hasn't had a lot of use, but seems to have been stored outside, as it has a lot more rust on bolt heads than I would expect to see in a 2-year old mower.

The "bench" height of cut was 1.5" which is lower than I've ever mowed my lawn with a rotary mower, due to issues with scalping. I started out with the manual reel doing a few passes at 2.0" and decided I could go lower without danger. At the 1.5" height, most of the grass blades were getting cut. It's fun to be able to see the grass blades getting cut and flying out instead of having them magically disappear under the mulching mower.

I don't normally maintain the KBG at such a low height (this year, I maintained the front lawn at 3.25" for the summer, but dropped that to 2.75" at the beginning of September.) However, I have read and heard others report that lateral spread of "baby grass" is encouraged by low mowing for the initial mowings, so I've mowed the renovation shorter than I likely will in the long term. (Although I'm thinking of maintaining a portion of the renovation area as a croquet court, so we'll see...)

I also applied fertilizer. On the renovation, I applied 2.5# of Scotts TurfBuilder 32-0-4 on 2.25ksqft, giving a rate of 0.25#N/ksqft. I intend to continue weekly feedings at that level for a couple more weeks.

On the main lawn, I applied urea (46-0-0) at 10.75# on 10.2ksqft, for a rate of 0.48#N/ksqft.

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Re: Ken-n-Nancy's 2020 "Driveway Side" Lawn Renovation

Post by DevilDawg81 » October 4th, 2020, 9:37 pm

ken-n-nancy wrote:
October 2nd, 2020, 8:36 am
DevilDawg81 wrote:
October 2nd, 2020, 6:34 am
Looks great! What was your height of cut?
I don't normally maintain the KBG at such a low height (this year, I maintained the front lawn at 3.25" for the summer, but dropped that to 2.75" at the beginning of September.) However, I have read and heard others report that lateral spread of "baby grass" is encouraged by low mowing for the initial mowings, so I've mowed the renovation shorter than I likely will in the long term.
I’m curious to read/see what your observations are. I’ve done the same by lowering the HOC for my reno this year.

How has the reel mower been? I have never used one, but can definitely see the benefits of having one instead of using a heavier engine powered machine on infant grass.

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Re: Ken-n-Nancy's 2020 "Driveway Side" Lawn Renovation

Post by stack316 » October 5th, 2020, 6:05 pm

I for one wished I had a reel mower when I was mowing my renovation, I think I am lucking out using my tractor.

Great job!!

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Ken-n-Nancy's 2020 "Driveway Side" Lawn Renovation - Day 45 Photo Update

Post by ken-n-nancy » October 10th, 2020, 8:56 am

This has been a crazy-busy week for work for Ken, so we're a couple days late with this week's photos, but that ends up having the pics be on Day 45, which seems like more of a milestone than Day 43 or Day 44, so we'll take it as providential that today is the next weekly installment of photos.

We've progressed to the point of mowing every three days at 1.5" with the Fiskars push reel mower and taking a bit over a half-inch off with each mowing. We've also been fertilizing weekly, too, with an average of about 0.5#N/ksqft with each application. (A little bit more the first week, a little bit less the second week, and in yesterday's application for the third week, right at 0.5#N/ksqft.)

The most developed sections of grass are getting to be mostly mature-looking KBG blades, with flat blades and boat-shaped tips, rather than the immature grass blades that are instead roundish and spindly.

The thin areas are still, well, thin, and some spots along the edges of the woods have very thin grass, we think due to having not been watered sufficiently due to poor sprinkler coverage in those spots, but it's coming along. Various neighbors on the street mention that they "don't know how we do it with our lawn renovations -- the grass always looks so nice and even!"

Just the basic photos today. The color is also starting to darken with the transition to more mature grass blades.

"Lliac Area" as of 10 October 2020 (Day 45):
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"Far End" Repair Area as of 10 October 2020 (Day 45):
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Closer View of a "Sparse Valley" in the "Lilac Area" as of 10 October 2020 (Day 45):
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Re: Ken-n-Nancy's 2020 "Driveway Side" Lawn Renovation

Post by ken-n-nancy » October 10th, 2020, 9:10 am

DevilDawg81 wrote:
October 4th, 2020, 9:37 pm
ken-n-nancy wrote:
October 2nd, 2020, 8:36 am
I don't normally maintain the KBG at such a low height (this year, I maintained the front lawn at 3.25" for the summer, but dropped that to 2.75" at the beginning of September.) However, I have read and heard others report that lateral spread of "baby grass" is encouraged by low mowing for the initial mowings, so I've mowed the renovation shorter than I likely will in the long term.
I’m curious to read/see what your observations are. I’ve done the same by lowering the HOC for my reno this year.
I don't really know if the lower mowing has really helped with lateral spread or not. Unfortunately, the only way to really be sure would be to do some sort of side-by-side comparison test. However, we homeowners practically never do that in our lawn care, so almost none of the things that we do are particularly "scientific" but mostly impression-based -- which can often lead to mistaken (or at least biased) conclusions.

Anyway, it sure seems like the grass has filled in well with the lower mowing. I'm happy with it, although it still stresses me when mowing sections with a ridge in it that the grass will get scalped. Only did that to one section in the renovation so far.
DevilDawg81 wrote:
October 4th, 2020, 9:37 pm
How has the reel mower been? I have never used one, but can definitely see the benefits of having one instead of using a heavier engine powered machine on infant grass.
I've been happy with the manual reel mower. It's nice to have it be quiet when mowing, and it's fun seeing all the grass blades fly up and end at my feet! The Fiskars is still heavy enough that one needs to be careful when doing a "pivot turn" on the new grass to not ruin a section of grass where the wheel pivots in place (I've done that a few times, too). Our rotary mower is a comparatively light one, so there isn't much of a weight difference, but I think the "scissors cut" of the manual reel is probably better for the grass. I've been towing with the idea of doing today's mow of the established front lawn with the manual reel to see how that goes...
stack316 wrote:
October 5th, 2020, 6:05 pm
I for one wished I had a reel mower when I was mowing my renovation, I think I am lucking out using my tractor.
Great job!!
Thanks for the kudos. With more square footage, the tractor would be a lot more time efficient! Our prior renovations never used a reel mower, so it definitely isn't necessary to use one.

One thing I prefer about the rotary mower is that the cuttings are well-mulched and end up down in the grass. The reel, however, makes clippings that are the full length that was cut off and just sit on top of the grass. It seems that if one isn't removing clippings, regular use of the reel mower would require much more frequent mowing in order to get the clippings small enough to fall down into the grass rather than just sitting up on top.

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Re: Ken-n-Nancy's 2020 "Driveway Side" Lawn Renovation

Post by DevilDawg81 » October 10th, 2020, 2:16 pm

That is looking really good at day 45. I can’t say that mowing lower has done anything significant. Like you said, it seems it has a positive effect, but I can’t say with any certainty. With the apps of N and irrigation it’s hard to tell if the grass is responding to that or the lower mowings...or perhaps both. 😀

As always, great update...I love following your reno along.

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Ken-n-Nancy's 2020 "Driveway Side" Lawn Renovation - 2020-10-14 - Reno Day 49 Photo Update

Post by ken-n-nancy » October 14th, 2020, 6:00 pm

This afternoon, we both had an opportunity to work on the lawn together, so Nancy donned the backpack blower and Ken pushed the mower. It was an awesome autumn afternoon for being outdoors and enjoying some fresh air!

The pics look a lot better than usual. I generally wait until late in the day to take the pictures so that there aren't shadows on the lawn, and now that the sun is so low in the sky, that's a lot earlier than a month ago. The combination of the sky being brighter and the colorful leaves makes the grass look a lot darker in the photos than it appears in person. Really, the pictures make it look a lot darker and denser than it is. But that's okay, we'll take it. ;)

The grass probably also looks a lot better from having received the biggest rainfall yesterday that we've received all year -- steady, gentle to moderate rain for about 16 hours, resulting in 4.1" in the rain gauge! Not anywhere near enough to get us out of drought conditions (we're over 10" down from the average for the year), but enough to have the plants be happy!

We've continued mowing with the Fiskars push reel mower every three days (well the fourth day today, due to yesterday's rain) at a 1.5" HOC. Growth is still continuing at about 0.50" to 0.75" for each mowing. Planning another dose of nitrogen at about 0.5#N/ksqft in a couple more days (in order to be spaced out a week after the prior dose.)

Might leave the irrigation off tomorrow to not water until the 3rd day after all the rain. The roots should be deep enough that there's no problem with that. Winter's coming before long, and the irrigation system gets blown out on Nov 3, so I'd like to have the watering spread out to no more frequently than every 4th day by then.

"Lliac Area" as of 14 October 2020 (Day 49):
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"Far End" Repair Area as of 14 October 2020 (Day 49):
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Closer View of a "Sparse Valley" in the "Lilac Area" as of 14 October 2020 (Day 49):
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Re: Ken-n-Nancy's 2020 "Driveway Side" Lawn Renovation

Post by Masbustelo » October 14th, 2020, 6:46 pm

Congratulations, this looks beautiful.

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Re: Ken-n-Nancy's 2020 "Driveway Side" Lawn Renovation

Post by gryd » October 16th, 2020, 7:49 am

Looks really good! You guys do a great job documenting your renovation. It really helps others see what it takes to do a renovation.

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Re: Ken-n-Nancy's 2020 "Driveway Side" Lawn Renovation

Post by ken-n-nancy » October 16th, 2020, 8:12 am

Masbustelo wrote:
October 14th, 2020, 6:46 pm
Congratulations, this looks beautiful.
Thanks! It really photographs better than it looks in person.
gryd wrote:
October 16th, 2020, 7:49 am
Looks really good! You guys do a great job documenting your renovation. It really helps others see what it takes to do a renovation.
Thanks, gryd. Your renovations in the past were a big motivator for me! In particular, your thread for your 2014 Front Yard Renovation was a big factor in our 2015 renovation of our side lawn to all KBG.
gryd wrote:
May 25th, 2015, 10:37 am
Quick Front Lawn Renovation Update
Below is a picture of my front lawn from the only angle it looks good from. ...

Image
Hopefully others will continue to benefit from our write-up, as we did from yours!

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Re: Ken-n-Nancy's 2020 "Driveway Side" Lawn Renovation

Post by MorpheusPA » October 16th, 2020, 9:23 am

And that's how you do it right. Yes, they always photograph better. If you walk it, there are weaker spots and holes the first season or three. Feed it, it'll look amazing by next fall. Maintain it, it'll always look like that.

You'll be removing neighbors and woodland animals who collapse with jealousy on the greensward for years to come.

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Re: Ken-n-Nancy's 2020 "Driveway Side" Lawn Renovation

Post by ken-n-nancy » October 18th, 2020, 2:11 pm

Last night was the first frost we had on our lawn; our "average first frost" is September 26th, so this is later than usual for us.

Even last night, the frost was only in the "sunny" areas that have the greatest sky exposure. The newly-renovated portion of the lawn didn't have any frost on the grass morning on the renovation, with the same situation in the side lawn, back lawn, and roadside peninsula, which all have very limited sky exposure. It was only the "sunniest" area of the front lawn that had frost. However, it made for a good pic.
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The renovation, on the other hand, has quite a few leaves only 24 hours after having cleared them all and mowed!
Image

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Re: Ken-n-Nancy's 2020 "Driveway Side" Lawn Renovation

Post by DevilDawg81 » October 18th, 2020, 3:53 pm

In that situation with the leaves...what are you going to do? Blow/mulch them off immediately? I ask out of curiosity and prep. I came home today and had leaves covering the area and I went out and mowed it the reno. (Keep in mind I’m trying to time one last Urea app before rain come) The ‘prep’ part of my question is I’m trying to think ahead to next years reno for me, and I know I’ll face similar situations with leaf coverage. Sorry for the long winded question! In general is there any best practice you try to stick to?

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Re: Ken-n-Nancy's 2020 "Driveway Side" Lawn Renovation

Post by ken-n-nancy » October 21st, 2020, 7:43 am

DevilDawg81 wrote:
October 18th, 2020, 3:53 pm
In that situation with the leaves...what are you going to do? Blow/mulch them off immediately? I ask out of curiosity and prep. I came home today and had leaves covering the area and I went out and mowed it the reno. (Keep in mind I’m trying to time one last Urea app before rain come) The ‘prep’ part of my question is I’m trying to think ahead to next years reno for me, and I know I’ll face similar situations with leaf coverage. Sorry for the long winded question! In general is there any best practice you try to stick to?
For our established lawn, for the prior seven years we have been mulching in all leaves, which is quite a lot, as our lawn is surrounded on three sides by mature woods, and even the street side has woods across the street, so leaves blow in from every direction.

For our renovated areas, we have varied a bit as to whether or not to mulch in the leaves. This year, we've been mowing the renovation at 1.5" with a manual push reel mower every three to four days. Since the reel mower doesn't mulch up leaves at all, we've been blowing the leaves off before mowing. Actually, any time the leaves accumulate on the renovation to the point of having an area approaching 50% coverage, we've been blowing the leaves off, in order to allow as much sunlight as possible on the baby grass.

In past years when using the rotary mower on prior renovations, we've mowed at about 2.25" and have generally mulched the leaves into the renovation unless it was a situation of > 50% leaf coverage, in which case we would first blow most of them off and then mulch the rest.

In general, with the renovation, I've tried to ensure that sunlight reaches the grass by keeping the leaves from covering the grass for too long. I haven't been picky about whether the leaves have been blown off or mulched in. Long-term, I know it is far better for the lawn to mulch the leaves and do that nearly exclusively for the established lawn. For the renovation, particularly early in development (say the first 45 days, which we're well past now) I will clear the leaves off the renovated area, rather than mulch them in, to ensure that recently germinated seedlings don't get covered by leaf fragments.

I also think that having a significant amount of well-mulched leaves down around the crowns of the grass is good for the grass to get through the winter in terms of reducing winterkill from either desiccation or low-temperature kill.

Looking at your lawn in your renovation photos, you have far fewer trees than we do. (Really, there is no comparison. Our lawn is a clearing in the woods, while your lawn is in a huge cleared field, with a few clusters of trees in the corners.) I would definitely plan to mulch in all those leaves. If you have a leaf blower, you may want to spread the leaves out a little bit when they are real heavy, in order to get some of the beneficial leaf material into the portions of the lawn which are further from the trees.

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Re: Ken-n-Nancy's 2020 "Driveway Side" Lawn Renovation

Post by DevilDawg81 » October 21st, 2020, 10:19 am

Thanks! That’s kind of what I figured. The first few mows I bagged everything. Now that it’s a little bit established I’ve been mulching. (Plus it saves me from stopping to dump those bags!)

I didn’t mean to hijack your thread...I apologize. Thank you again for your thoughts!

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