Feeling doomed and trying to plan

Kentucky bluegrass, Fescue, Rye and Bent, etc
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scottf4
Posts: 22
Joined: October 3rd, 2018, 6:52 pm
Location: Northern Kentucky
Grass Type: Tall Fescue
Lawn Size: 5000-10000
Level: Some Experience

Feeling doomed and trying to plan

Post by scottf4 » October 3rd, 2018, 7:12 pm

I've been reading on this site for a little while now, soaking in as much information as I possibly can. I feel like it has become my biggest hobby (is that good or bad?). All of you have been a tremendous resource. Unfortunately, I did not find this site before my second reno attempt, this fall. In its absence, I've followed pretty typical advice. But here is where I find myself....
I bought my house about 1.5 years ago. The house was a flip, and had been in really bad shape before. My understanding is the yard had never been cared for; whatever grew, grew. The renovators then used heavy equipment, which may have compacted some of the soil. They laid down grass seed and straw, but it didn't take particularly well, and the yard was very uneven, which led to me scalping certain areas while mowing. Last fall, i brought in supposedly high quality top soil to level things out and top dress, laid down high quality seed, watered religiously, and used a starter fertilizer. I wasn't thrilled with the thickness of growth I saw. Over the next few months, the back slowly thinned, until I basically had 50% mud pit, 50% grass back there. The front is patchy and thin, as well. So I followed what "experts" elsewhere had told me to do: plug aerate and overseed. My germination rate is probably as pathetic as possible right now. It's been plenty of time for the seed used (blend of creeping red fescue and tall fescue; last fall was all tall fescue). But I've seen almost no germination and no improvement from all the effort and cash.
I am trying to come up with a longer term plan to attack this. But what I would like is some advice from all of you. Where did I go wrong and what are my next steps? I know mechanical aeration is unpopular here; understood. I've already bought and mixed all the ingredients for KH and BLSC; today was the first application and I plan to do it weekly until I can get some improvement. Is my problem likely due to soil quality? Would top dressing have made a huge impact this year?
My other question is related to trying to wrap my head around all of this. I've sent away for a soil test. I plan to target those nutrients that need improving, and I will continue to mulch clippings and cut high. But is there realistically any chance of me growing a quality stand in the next 1-2 years? Or is the remediation likely to take significantly longer? It seems the most common issue is low OM. If that takes years to build, are any nutrient applications in the meantime wasted? Or does the OM just support a more sustainable system? If I can fight the nutrient problem in the mean time, so to speak, that would be great. I'm lucky in that I have a very small amount of grassy area, so money and time are of little concern. I'm willing to do this the right way. But I'd like to know what I'm up against as I get started.

Aviator8
Posts: 36
Joined: September 7th, 2018, 8:50 pm
Location: Atlanta Ga
Grass Type: Tall and Fine Fescue
Lawn Size: 5000-10000
Level: Some Experience

Re: Feeling doomed and trying to plan

Post by Aviator8 » October 3rd, 2018, 8:08 pm

soil test will be the most informative on what is happening.

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darkcrisis
Posts: 171
Joined: October 20th, 2014, 9:31 pm
Location: Knoxville, TN
Grass Type: TTTF
Lawn Size: 5000-10000
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Re: Feeling doomed and trying to plan

Post by darkcrisis » October 3rd, 2018, 9:32 pm

Once you get your soil interpreted, you will have a plan for next year. Follow the soil amendments, follow the triangle approach for weeds, and start making your renovation/overseed plans for next fall. Your soil may not be perfect by then, but you will have it heading in the right direction.

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andy10917
Posts: 29160
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: Feeling doomed and trying to plan

Post by andy10917 » October 4th, 2018, 7:50 am

A few notes for the soil test and plan:

(1) We will only interpret and build plans for soil tests performed by Logan Labs. Is that who you sent the soil to? We can't interpret soil from random labs - they all have different suites of tests that they use.

(2) The soil test interpretation season ends on October 31, so that we have the winter to focus on projects. Don't delay if you want a test this year.

(3) Make sure to edit your Profile to include your lawn size and experience level - I'm no longer dealing with spending 20 minutes trying to ascertain that info by reading all the prior posts - it takes one minute to add the info to the Profile.

scottf4
Posts: 22
Joined: October 3rd, 2018, 6:52 pm
Location: Northern Kentucky
Grass Type: Tall Fescue
Lawn Size: 5000-10000
Level: Some Experience

Re: Feeling doomed and trying to plan

Post by scottf4 » October 4th, 2018, 10:22 am

Andy, thanks for the reply.
1-2) I originally sent it to the county extension service, based on the "Soil Management Part 1" article recommendation. I will have to work on getting one sent to Logan.
3) I added these details to my profile.


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andy10917
Posts: 29160
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: Feeling doomed and trying to plan

Post by andy10917 » October 4th, 2018, 10:36 am

Sorry, that article was published a decade ago. Read the sticky thread "Posting a Soil Test for Interpretation" at the top of the Soils Forum for testing and interpretation specifics.

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ken-n-nancy
Posts: 2512
Joined: July 17th, 2014, 3:58 pm
Location: Bedford, NH
Grass Type: Front: KBG (Bewitched+Prosperity); Side: Bewitched KBG; Back: Fine Fescue Blend + Prosperity
Lawn Size: 10000-20000
Level: Experienced

Re: Feeling doomed and trying to plan

Post by ken-n-nancy » October 4th, 2018, 12:02 pm

andy10917 wrote:
October 4th, 2018, 10:36 am
Sorry, that article was published a decade ago. Read the sticky thread "Posting a Soil Test for Interpretation" at the top of the Soils Forum for testing and interpretation specifics.
It would be good to update that portion of that article. I fell into the same issue (sending off to a different lab based upon what was in the article in the "Articles" section of the site, rather than the "sticky post" in the Soil Management forum) when I joined the site here 4+ years ago.

schreibdave
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Re: Feeling doomed and trying to plan

Post by schreibdave » October 8th, 2018, 10:47 pm

To answer one of Scott's original question - if you do 5-6 basic things mostly right your lawn will come in fine. IMO those things include fall seeding (I know missed it this year), fertilizing based on the test results (this is my 3rd house since becoming a lawn nut and every one of them was/is deficient in P and K) PLUS milorganite monthly during the growing season, irrigate to prevent dormancy and general suffering, mow high with a sharp blade, weed b gone kills 99% of the weeds that most homeowners want to kill. Good luck

scottf4
Posts: 22
Joined: October 3rd, 2018, 6:52 pm
Location: Northern Kentucky
Grass Type: Tall Fescue
Lawn Size: 5000-10000
Level: Some Experience

Re: Feeling doomed and trying to plan

Post by scottf4 » October 11th, 2018, 3:30 pm

Thanks, Dave. That's generally how I feel; if I'm nailing the basics I should be on the right path. It's just disappointing to put so much effort and money into things and not have it turn out well. It amazes me that the 50%-ish of my backyard that is bare dirt did not germinate. And based on 1) not applying any herbicides beforehand, 2) watering religiously, 3) using high quality seed, I'm still questioning the cause for it. If soil quality is a likely culprit, that makes me feel somewhat better. It's a problem that can be targeted. Some other sites make it sound like soil quality is irrelevant to germination. But that doesn't make much intuitive sense to me.

scottf4
Posts: 22
Joined: October 3rd, 2018, 6:52 pm
Location: Northern Kentucky
Grass Type: Tall Fescue
Lawn Size: 5000-10000
Level: Some Experience

Re: Feeling doomed and trying to plan

Post by scottf4 » October 11th, 2018, 4:08 pm

I should also mention that the grass that I do have is quite healthy looking. It’s a matter of filling in some bare spots out front and figuring out the issue in the back.

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