Help with Knoxville, TN lawncare

Kentucky bluegrass, Fescue, Rye and Bent, etc
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Sawbonz
Posts: 5
Joined: December 14th, 2020, 4:19 pm
Location: Knoxville, TN
Grass Type: tall fescue
Lawn Size: 1000-3000
Level: Novice

Help with Knoxville, TN lawncare

Post by Sawbonz » January 13th, 2021, 4:15 pm

Hi All,
First time post. Moved to Knoxville from Orlando, FL 6 months ago. We did a major renovation in 2019 before moving. Yard was sodded in Nov 2019. Don't have any specific info about the type of sod other than fescue. I hired someone to maintain the lawn for 2020 since we were not actually living here to start the year. Lawn size is about 3000 sq ft. This was his care plan:

Feb: pre-emergent herbicide, post-emergent herbicide, fertilizer
March: post-emergent herbicide
April: post-emergent herbicide
May: pre-emergent herbicide, post-emergent herbicide, fertilizer
June: post-emergent herbicide, preventative fungicide and grub control
July: post-emergent herbicide, preventative fungicide and grub control
Aug: post-emergent herbicide, preventative fungicide and grub control
Sept: fertilizer, aeration and overseeding
Oct: post-emergent herbicide, touch up seed if necessary
Nov: post-emergent herbicide, fertilizer

Again I don't know what type of seed was used for the overseed in Sept 2020

Overall most of the lawn looks good
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Have had some thinning/loss close to the house
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I think the problem may be from shade. The back of the house faces north and that area stays shaded by the house in the winter. It seemed to be OK in the summer. There may be some traffic damage as well since we usually have the dogs cross that to the pinestraw.

So I am planning to try to take over the lawncare for 2021. I am a novice to this. From reading I understand that I live in a transition zone between cool and hot weather grasses. I was thinking of trying to drop some seed in the spring, but again from reading that seems to be discouraged. Should I live with it until the fall? I was used to St Augustine grass in Florida that would self repair. I guess I need a month by month plan. Any thoughts appreciated.

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MorpheusPA
Posts: 16597
Joined: March 5th, 2009, 7:32 pm
Location: Zone 6 (Eastern PA)
Grass Type: Elite KBG
Lawn Size: 10000-20000
Level: Advanced

Re: Help with Knoxville, TN lawncare

Post by MorpheusPA » January 14th, 2021, 1:22 am

I'm going to presume the Post-Emergent Herbicide is on an as-needed and spot spray basis. If that's a blanket app, then we just found the reason that the Atlantic Ocean has a detectible herbicide problem. :-)

If you want to stick with all fescue, great. If you'd rather add in some bluegrass to add a little self-repair ability...well, it might work. That's a really thick and nice-looking lawn, so maybe it'll take. Maybe not. It's worth a shot, just choose something that looks similar.

We often recommend getting a soil test if you wish, through Logan Labs. It'll tell you what is, and is not, wrong with your soil. Fix those and the grass tends to take care of itself. Dealer's choice on that one, though, and nobody will say boo if you choose not to.

That February fertilizer is damaging the lawn, discontinue it--you're forcing early growth, which looks amazing in spring and is bright green and cushy and wonderful, and tapping all the energy in the root systems and leaving it with nothing to survive the summer. Trust me, the lawn will green up all on its own, a little later, grow a little less, need a little less mowing (all to the good in spring), and look nearly as good without it. We're going to move that feeding to later in the year anyway, when the lawn wants to be fed. Growth will naturally slow in April or so, which is normal, but that's the time people get itchy to feed the lawn. Resist. It's not time yet. When I say May, I mean Memorial Day, although if you down there in TN feed on May 15th, that's fine.

Grub control like Grub-Ex should go down in May for grubs that hatch in September, but check the bag and apply it as recommended. Post-emergent controls like Merit would go down when you have the problem, but I don't recommend those for use casually. They're very powerful and wipe the lawn of every good insect as well as bad ones (and there are far more good insects than bad). I'd recommend Grub-Ex in May.

Overseed in August (in your case, probably very, very late August) in areas that need it. Frankly, there aren't many of those as your lawn looks great.

That February feeding? I put it in October. What, you say? The lawn doesn't grow much in October? Exactly. But those roots are getting big and thick and storing sugar for surviving that little cold spell you guys down there call a winter. Feed it well from September to November and it'll look fantastic all winter long, perk up faster in spring, and grow better in spring.

I added a December fertilizer with a question mark. If you're still mowing, fertilize again. If mowing stops in December about a month after the last fertilization, do it again. If it hasn't been a month, skip it. Fescue doesn't require five pounds of N a year, four is more than sufficient.

Plan:
(Post-emergent treatment as needed; spot spray a weed when it crops up!)

Feb: pre-emergent herbicide
May: pre-emergent herbicide, grub control, fertilizer
Aug: overseeding
Sept: fertilizer, touch up seed if necessary
Oct: fertilizer, touch up seed if necessary
Nov: fertilizer
Dec: Fertilizer(?)

Sawbonz
Posts: 5
Joined: December 14th, 2020, 4:19 pm
Location: Knoxville, TN
Grass Type: tall fescue
Lawn Size: 1000-3000
Level: Novice

Re: Help with Knoxville, TN lawncare

Post by Sawbonz » January 14th, 2021, 3:28 pm

Thanks!
I notice you don't suggest any "preventative fungicide"? The lawn guy told me that brown spot is very common here. Not sure about the accuracy of that. Would you just see if it develops and then treat? Any specific recs for fertilizer? Or are they pretty similar?

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MorpheusPA
Posts: 16597
Joined: March 5th, 2009, 7:32 pm
Location: Zone 6 (Eastern PA)
Grass Type: Elite KBG
Lawn Size: 10000-20000
Level: Advanced

Re: Help with Knoxville, TN lawncare

Post by MorpheusPA » January 14th, 2021, 5:04 pm

Oh, I forgot to mention that. Just keep an eye out and treat it if it appears. "Preventative" fungicide just works to evolve fungus that's resistant to the fungicide you're using. Fungus problems can appear pretty fast, but it does tend to happen in warm, wet weather, so that would be the time period to pay the most attention.

Without a soil test, I'd choose a high nitrogen, low everything else fertilizer for standard use. 32-0-5, 36-0-0, those are just example numbers, nothing specific. Something where the first number is much higher than the other two, and where the bag doesn't advertise that it has a lot of slow-release nitrogen (it's expensive and you don't need it). If it has some (a lot these days do), that's OK, but if we're talking 50% slow N, put it back.

Apply any of those at bag rate, which will target something around 0.7 to 1.0 pounds of nitrogen per thousand square feet.

You do not need a name brand and the best deals are with off-brands or no-names. If it has the numbers on it, it's guaranteed to be that quality. I tend to steer people toward "cheap" rather than "what you saw on TV" just because of that. Oh, and skip anything with Weed N Feed or that does anything like kills insects--combination products are always terrible at the second thing they do. :-) It's applied at the wrong time, in the wrong way, and in a blanket application that isn't doing any good anyway. Few of us here are fans of those products.

Pure urea (46-0-0) is likely to be the cheapest, but can be a little hard to source depending on what's around you. I get it at a local feed store for $15 for 50 pounds, making it the best nitrogen source per dollar I can find. Application rates are 2.2 pounds per thousand square feet, so it's a lot more DIY than a bag (but you learn fast; for me, it's a setting of 3 1/2 or so on my rotary spreader). That rate gives 1.0 pounds per thousand of nitrogen, the highest rate one should app on a lawn for any one fertilizer spreading.

Organics are another possible option but...that's more than enough info for right now.

Sawbonz
Posts: 5
Joined: December 14th, 2020, 4:19 pm
Location: Knoxville, TN
Grass Type: tall fescue
Lawn Size: 1000-3000
Level: Novice

Re: Help with Knoxville, TN lawncare

Post by Sawbonz » January 15th, 2021, 10:55 am

Thx again!

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