First Time Homeowner Looking for Help

A forum to learn and discuss the importance of lawn care basics
falcon
Posts: 27
Joined: October 24th, 2019, 11:43 am
Location: Reading, MA
Grass Type: Northern Mix
Lawn Size: 1 acre-2 acre
Level: Novice

First Time Homeowner Looking for Help

Post by falcon » October 24th, 2019, 2:32 pm

Hello everyone,

This is my first post and it's long...my apologies!

I recently purchased a house, so this is the first time that I have had a lawn that I need to do more than just mow. I've done a bunch of reading here, which has been pretty helpful already. I live just north of Boston and we will probably have our first frost at some point in the next couple of weeks.

The property has about 1.75 acres of grass. I have not had time to do anything except keep in mowed consistently. Now that I am more settled in, I can devote some more time to the lawn - although it is pretty late in the season.

I'll try to give some context of the current state of the lawn and what my plan is before I ask my questions.

My lawn has essentially three sections: 1) a small front yard (guessing 750 sq.ft.), 2) the immediate back yard, and 3) the back back.

The front yard is in terrible condition. There is grass, but it is mostly crab grass and weeds and there are some brown spots near the road.

The back yard is in pretty decent shape. The left side was used by the prior owner as a very large garden a few years ago (now all nice grass) and the soil was kept in good condition. This side also is shaded early in the day due to the angle of the sun and some trees. It's gets full sun for part of the day. There aren't many weeds and the grass was pretty green most of the summer until the last few weeks when things got dry. Now it's got some brown. The right side of the back lawn gets direct sun nearly all day and the soil was not maintained like the left side, which is evident in the condition of the grass. This side was more brown for more of the year and has some weeds and completely dead spots.

The back back yard gets some sun, but is shaded by trees so it's not getting pounded by the sun all day. There are some areas where I'm told by the neighbors that will get wet for a while in the spring, and there is moss in those areas. This part is generally in decent shape.

Because of the cost of municipal water and the size of the lawn, it would literally cost $825 to give it an inch of water every week! I have no current plans to dig a well. I plan to only water the front lawn given the cost of the water. I would maintain the soil in the front yard and immediate back yard only, leaving the back back the way it is.

So now for the questions:

1. Given the time of the season, what, if anything should I do to the lawn before winter? Is it too late to core aerate? Should I put down nitrogen even though I don't have soil test results yet?

2. Will it be beneficial to maintain the soil in the back yard even though I don't intend to water it? I may also water this part earlier in the spring to try to help the new growth, but not water it later in the year.

3. How do I know whether or not to scalp the front lawn and start over, or just try to fix it?

4. What is the most important thing to get prepared for in the spring?

I'll leave it there for now, but I am sure I will have many more questions. Hopefully I don't irritate everyone!

Thank you for your help.

Andy

User avatar
andy10917
Posts: 28174
Joined: February 23rd, 2009, 10:48 pm
Location: NY (Lower Hudson Valley)
Grass Type: Emblem KBG (Front); Blueberry KBG Monostand (Back)
Lawn Size: 1 acre-2 acre
Level: Advanced

Re: First Time Homeowner Looking for Help

Post by andy10917 » October 25th, 2019, 8:29 am

It's difficult to predict what will happen when there are so many unknowns, but here are a few ideas:

I'd use 2020 to set a baseline and learn what will happen with no irrigation, but 1.75 acres is a lot to try to tackle. Maybe make the front yard be the first set of efforts to see what happens. The soil in the Boston area tends to be pretty crappy, so get a soil test in the Spring and see what you're dealing with.

For this year, I'd just get down a Urea-based winterizing fertilization of 2 lbs/K when the grass comes to a complete stoppage of top-growth.

In the Spring, get a Pre-M down when the Forsythia bloom - that will prevent a repeat of the crabgrass invasion.

Then run the Triangle Approach to knock out the weeds and see what you really have to work with, going forward. BTW, scalping will NOT be adequate to get rid of existing grasses should you decide down the road to start over - that would require killing the lawn with Round-Up. Restarting is a task done in August, but requires that you stop Pre-M applications well before any reseeding attempts.

Don't bother spending money/effort on core-aeration - it''s a solution in search of a problem.

The moss can be dealt with using diluted Dawn dishwashing solution, but it is a temporary fix. You have to find the underlying issue, or it just restarts again and again.

TimmyG
Posts: 2178
Joined: May 15th, 2012, 6:04 pm
Location: Dracut, MA
Grass Type: Northern Mix
Lawn Size: 20000-1 acre
Level: Experienced

Re: First Time Homeowner Looking for Help

Post by TimmyG » October 25th, 2019, 11:20 am

falcon wrote:
October 24th, 2019, 2:32 pm
Hello everyone,
Welcome!
falcon wrote:
October 24th, 2019, 2:32 pm
2. Will it be beneficial to maintain the soil in the back yard even though I don't intend to water it? I may also water this part earlier in the spring to try to help the new growth, but not water it later in the year.
The fewer challenges your grass has to work against, the more likely it can cope without supplemental irrigation. So, yes, it will be beneficial to maintain the soil in the back [back] yard. Specifically, get that Logan Labs soil test done that Andy recommended and get your cations (indirectly the pH) and phosphorus in order.

Grasses here can really struggle in our naturally acidic soil. With fewer deficiencies, you stand a good chance of maintaining a decent lawn in the back back without supplemental irrigation. My neighbor doesn't irrigate, but he maintains good mowing practices and fertilizes a minimally sufficient amount at the right times, and his northern mix lawn looks good both spring and fall but goes completely dormant in the summer some years. It's always amazing to see it come back to life in the fall. I personally wouldn't have the cojones to risk it, but he still has a lawn 21 years later and doesn't overseed or reseed.

falcon
Posts: 27
Joined: October 24th, 2019, 11:43 am
Location: Reading, MA
Grass Type: Northern Mix
Lawn Size: 1 acre-2 acre
Level: Novice

Re: First Time Homeowner Looking for Help

Post by falcon » October 25th, 2019, 1:31 pm

andy10917 wrote:
October 25th, 2019, 8:29 am
It's difficult to predict what will happen when there are so many unknowns, but here are a few ideas:

I'd use 2020 to set a baseline and learn what will happen with no irrigation, but 1.75 acres is a lot to try to tackle. Maybe make the front yard be the first set of efforts to see what happens. The soil in the Boston area tends to be pretty crappy, so get a soil test in the Spring and see what you're dealing with.

For this year, I'd just get down a Urea-based winterizing fertilization of 2 lbs/K when the grass comes to a complete stoppage of top-growth.

In the Spring, get a Pre-M down when the Forsythia bloom - that will prevent a repeat of the crabgrass invasion.

Then run the Triangle Approach to knock out the weeds and see what you really have to work with, going forward. BTW, scalping will NOT be adequate to get rid of existing grasses should you decide down the road to start over - that would require killing the lawn with Round-Up. Restarting is a task done in August, but requires that you stop Pre-M applications well before any reseeding attempts.

Don't bother spending money/effort on core-aeration - it''s a solution in search of a problem.

The moss can be dealt with using diluted Dawn dishwashing solution, but it is a temporary fix. You have to find the underlying issue, or it just restarts again and again.
Thank you for your reply.

For the urea, when you say 2 lbs/K, does that mean 2lbs per 1000 square feet? Sorry...very new here. I think urea comes in liquid or solid delivery forms. If so, is one more desirable than the other? Are there specific concentrations for the product? Anything you would recommend? Thanks again.

falcon
Posts: 27
Joined: October 24th, 2019, 11:43 am
Location: Reading, MA
Grass Type: Northern Mix
Lawn Size: 1 acre-2 acre
Level: Novice

Re: First Time Homeowner Looking for Help

Post by falcon » October 25th, 2019, 1:33 pm

TimmyG wrote:
October 25th, 2019, 11:20 am
falcon wrote:
October 24th, 2019, 2:32 pm
Hello everyone,
Welcome!
falcon wrote:
October 24th, 2019, 2:32 pm
2. Will it be beneficial to maintain the soil in the back yard even though I don't intend to water it? I may also water this part earlier in the spring to try to help the new growth, but not water it later in the year.
The fewer challenges your grass has to work against, the more likely it can cope without supplemental irrigation. So, yes, it will be beneficial to maintain the soil in the back [back] yard. Specifically, get that Logan Labs soil test done that Andy recommended and get your cations (indirectly the pH) and phosphorus in order.

Grasses here can really struggle in our naturally acidic soil. With fewer deficiencies, you stand a good chance of maintaining a decent lawn in the back back without supplemental irrigation. My neighbor doesn't irrigate, but he maintains good mowing practices and fertilizes a minimally sufficient amount at the right times, and his northern mix lawn looks good both spring and fall but goes completely dormant in the summer some years. It's always amazing to see it come back to life in the fall. I personally wouldn't have the cojones to risk it, but he still has a lawn 21 years later and doesn't overseed or reseed.
Thank you!


TimmyG
Posts: 2178
Joined: May 15th, 2012, 6:04 pm
Location: Dracut, MA
Grass Type: Northern Mix
Lawn Size: 20000-1 acre
Level: Experienced

Re: First Time Homeowner Looking for Help

Post by TimmyG » October 25th, 2019, 2:51 pm

For the winterizer app, apply granular urea at 2 lbs of product per 1,000 sq ft. Sold in 50-lb bags. Granular urea is 46-0-0, so 2 lbs/K is nearly 1 lb of N/K.

falcon
Posts: 27
Joined: October 24th, 2019, 11:43 am
Location: Reading, MA
Grass Type: Northern Mix
Lawn Size: 1 acre-2 acre
Level: Novice

Re: First Time Homeowner Looking for Help

Post by falcon » October 25th, 2019, 4:33 pm

TimmyG wrote:
October 25th, 2019, 2:51 pm
For the winterizer app, apply granular urea at 2 lbs of product per 1,000 sq ft. Sold in 50-lb bags. Granular urea is 46-0-0, so 2 lbs/K is nearly 1 lb of N/K.
Got it. Thanks. Since you are so close, do you have any places you recommend for supplies?

falcon
Posts: 27
Joined: October 24th, 2019, 11:43 am
Location: Reading, MA
Grass Type: Northern Mix
Lawn Size: 1 acre-2 acre
Level: Novice

Re: First Time Homeowner Looking for Help

Post by falcon » October 26th, 2019, 8:28 pm

The closest product I could find (this weekend) to 46-0-0 urea was a Lesco 24-0-11 fertilizer. Should I apply this at 4lbs/K since it is half the nitrogen as the recommended 46-0-0 urea? This seems obvious, but I am just checking so I don't nuke my lawn. Thank you!

TimmyG
Posts: 2178
Joined: May 15th, 2012, 6:04 pm
Location: Dracut, MA
Grass Type: Northern Mix
Lawn Size: 20000-1 acre
Level: Experienced

Re: First Time Homeowner Looking for Help

Post by TimmyG » October 26th, 2019, 9:37 pm

falcon wrote:
October 25th, 2019, 4:33 pm
Since you are so close, do you have any places you recommend for supplies?
Depends what you think is close. I don't consider Boston close when it comes to supplies. I get urea (and MAP 11-52-0 and MOP 0-0-60) at Dodge Grain in Salem, NH. I have gotten SOP 0-0-50 and 0-0-7 w/ Dithiopyr at Valley Green in Wilmington. They have other locations and may also carry urea. Lowe's is best for fast-acting calcitic lime, namely Sta-Green Rapid Lime.

falcon
Posts: 27
Joined: October 24th, 2019, 11:43 am
Location: Reading, MA
Grass Type: Northern Mix
Lawn Size: 1 acre-2 acre
Level: Novice

Re: First Time Homeowner Looking for Help

Post by falcon » October 26th, 2019, 10:00 pm

TimmyG wrote:
October 26th, 2019, 9:37 pm
falcon wrote:
October 25th, 2019, 4:33 pm
Since you are so close, do you have any places you recommend for supplies?
Depends what you think is close. I don't consider Boston close when it comes to supplies. I get urea (and MAP 11-52-0 and MOP 0-0-60) at Dodge Grain in Salem, NH. I have gotten SOP 0-0-50 and 0-0-7 w/ Dithiopyr at Valley Green in Wilmington. They have other locations and may also carry urea. Lowe's is best for fast-acting calcitic lime, namely Sta-Green Rapid Lime.
Thanks again. Can you help me with my post right above my prior post. The post regarding the dosage...

User avatar
andy10917
Posts: 28174
Joined: February 23rd, 2009, 10:48 pm
Location: NY (Lower Hudson Valley)
Grass Type: Emblem KBG (Front); Blueberry KBG Monostand (Back)
Lawn Size: 1 acre-2 acre
Level: Advanced

Re: First Time Homeowner Looking for Help

Post by andy10917 » October 27th, 2019, 8:32 am

You don't want to be applying a 24-0-11 fertilizer at this point in the season. The Potassium in it (the third number) has caused increased winter damage/disease in some studies.

falcon
Posts: 27
Joined: October 24th, 2019, 11:43 am
Location: Reading, MA
Grass Type: Northern Mix
Lawn Size: 1 acre-2 acre
Level: Novice

Re: First Time Homeowner Looking for Help

Post by falcon » October 27th, 2019, 8:18 pm

andy10917 wrote:
October 27th, 2019, 8:32 am
You don't want to be applying a 24-0-11 fertilizer at this point in the season. The Potassium in it (the third number) has caused increased winter damage/disease in some studies.
Ok, with Tim's help, I was able to locate some 46-0-0, so I will use that. It looks like it should ideally be applied the day before a rain at the point in the season? Should I wait until growth has stopped or do it now?

falcon
Posts: 27
Joined: October 24th, 2019, 11:43 am
Location: Reading, MA
Grass Type: Northern Mix
Lawn Size: 1 acre-2 acre
Level: Novice

Re: First Time Homeowner Looking for Help

Post by falcon » October 27th, 2019, 8:40 pm

andy10917 wrote:
October 27th, 2019, 8:32 am
You don't want to be applying a 24-0-11 fertilizer at this point in the season. The Potassium in it (the third number) has caused increased winter damage/disease in some studies.
The other question I forgot to ask is, how soon after mowing can 46-0-0 be applied?

User avatar
andy10917
Posts: 28174
Joined: February 23rd, 2009, 10:48 pm
Location: NY (Lower Hudson Valley)
Grass Type: Emblem KBG (Front); Blueberry KBG Monostand (Back)
Lawn Size: 1 acre-2 acre
Level: Advanced

Re: First Time Homeowner Looking for Help

Post by andy10917 » October 27th, 2019, 8:50 pm

As soon as Sprout-and-Pout has ended, for new grass. There are no other limits, although applications in July and August may keep grass from going dormant when that is the right answer (lack of irrigation is the biggest).
Should I wait until growth has stopped or do it now?
If you read the paragraphs in the Fall Nitrogen Regimens thread, it should be very clear that you are past the beginning of "The Pause", and there is only the one-time Winterization left. The conditions for timing are in the thread text.

TimmyG
Posts: 2178
Joined: May 15th, 2012, 6:04 pm
Location: Dracut, MA
Grass Type: Northern Mix
Lawn Size: 20000-1 acre
Level: Experienced

Re: First Time Homeowner Looking for Help

Post by TimmyG » October 27th, 2019, 9:51 pm

Reading, MA. Much more useful info than just saying Boston. Valley Green in Wilmington should be really convenient for you. Is that where you found urea? I never checked with them for urea since Dodge Grain in Salem, NH, is more convenient for me.

falcon
Posts: 27
Joined: October 24th, 2019, 11:43 am
Location: Reading, MA
Grass Type: Northern Mix
Lawn Size: 1 acre-2 acre
Level: Novice

Re: First Time Homeowner Looking for Help

Post by falcon » October 27th, 2019, 10:00 pm

TimmyG wrote:
October 27th, 2019, 9:51 pm
Reading, MA. Much more useful info than just saying Boston. Valley Green in Wilmington should be really convenient for you. Is that where you found urea? I never checked with them for urea since Dodge Grain in Salem, NH, is more convenient for me.
I went to Dodge

falcon
Posts: 27
Joined: October 24th, 2019, 11:43 am
Location: Reading, MA
Grass Type: Northern Mix
Lawn Size: 1 acre-2 acre
Level: Novice

Re: First Time Homeowner Looking for Help

Post by falcon » March 25th, 2020, 2:35 pm

Following up here. Looks like rain on Sunday, so my plan is to get the pre-M down on the lawn on Saturday (I don't irrigate). The Forsythia are just starting to bud, so it seems like good timing. Got some granular Dimension (0.25% dithiopyr) for the job.

I've read the label, and have a couple questions:

1) Would you apply the maximum recommended dose 4.6lbs./1000 sq. ft. in this application?
2) Would you do a second application and possibly third application (the maximum per year), or would you wait to actually see weeds/crabgrass before doing so?
3) The label looks like the product is safe for ornamentals. I have some new beds that I want to put new flowers in. Any precautions I should take?
4) Do I need to worry about safety for my two-year old? I was told that after this is applied and you irrigate or it rains, there is nothing to worry about.

A couple other questions unrelated to the pre-M:

1) Most soil testing labs seem to be closed like everything else right now. I have not had testing done yet. Should I put down lime anyway, knowing the soil is naturally acidic here? If so, what is a safe dose I could apply without a test?
2) If I need to do a post-M application later in the season, would I be better off target spraying, or would you spray the entire lawn? I have 1.75 acres, of which probably 1.25 is grass.

Thanks for the help!

falcon
Posts: 27
Joined: October 24th, 2019, 11:43 am
Location: Reading, MA
Grass Type: Northern Mix
Lawn Size: 1 acre-2 acre
Level: Novice

Re: First Time Homeowner Looking for Help

Post by falcon » March 25th, 2020, 2:52 pm

Forgot to link to the product label:

http://valleygreenusa.com/web/wp-conten ... derson.pdf

TimmyG
Posts: 2178
Joined: May 15th, 2012, 6:04 pm
Location: Dracut, MA
Grass Type: Northern Mix
Lawn Size: 20000-1 acre
Level: Experienced

Re: First Time Homeowner Looking for Help

Post by TimmyG » March 25th, 2020, 10:27 pm

1) Why are you considering the max dose? Being in the north, our application rates are notably less than the those in the south. This label is fairly useless on that point compared to other Dimension products I've used. Reading only this label, I wouldn't consider applying any more than 3.6 lbs/k, assuming you want to control more than just crabgrass.
2) I personally do a split app, which is different than a second app. I split the recommended rate in half and apply first a wee bit early and then a few weeks later. I see no reason to apply more than the recommended rate (in total) for summer weed control. Then you have most of the maximum yearly allotment left for late summer and early fall in case you want to target Poa annua. I currently use Dimension 2EW (liquid), and it recommends substantially higher application rates for fall control of Poa annua than for summer control of crabgrass and the like.
3) Just read the label thoroughly and understand that any soil disturbance you do (like planting) after application will require reapplication.
4) I've never been paranoid, but, yeah, if you want to be cautious, just make sure it's watered in first.

1) You're not likely going to get a recommendation based on supposition. Instead, get the soil test done ASAP with Logan Labs before they have to close doors.
2) Yeesh. No matter how big the lawn, I will always be a proponent of spot spraying over broadcasting after weeds have been mostly gotten under control.

User avatar
andy10917
Posts: 28174
Joined: February 23rd, 2009, 10:48 pm
Location: NY (Lower Hudson Valley)
Grass Type: Emblem KBG (Front); Blueberry KBG Monostand (Back)
Lawn Size: 1 acre-2 acre
Level: Advanced

Re: First Time Homeowner Looking for Help

Post by andy10917 » March 25th, 2020, 10:42 pm

You're not likely going to get a recommendation based on supposition. Instead, get the soil test done ASAP with Logan Labs before they have to close doors.
I do 90%+ of the soil test interpretations, and I can say with certainty that questions like that without a soil test will be politely, but definitely, ignored.

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest