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meskinct
Mad Scientist at Work
Premium
join:2002-01-07
Southbury, CT
Reviews:
·Charter

[House&Home] Lawn Care and Fertilizer

So what does everyone do for lawn care? The wife and I are kind of new to this whole lawn care thing since we were in a condo previously. Now we have a wonderful home with about an acre of lawn to care for.

The weather was perfect last fall and it came in awesome! I had to mow four times last year and even our builder was like, "Wow! What did you do to get it to come in like that?" Of course it was just the fact that we got the perfect amount of rain every few days.

Agway's 4 Stage program was recommended to us by the guy that hydro-seeded our lawn last fall so we are going with that for now. In mid-November last year, I put down Stage 4. Then in early April this year, I put down Stage 1. Stage 2 says April 15- June 15. It seems to be a late spring this year so I'm thinking I'll shoot for June 1st or so. We need rain!!!!

Thoughts? Am I throwing money away by fertilizing a relatively healthy and fairly weed free lawn?
--
Rich. My Website


SwedishRider
Rider on the Storm
Premium
join:2006-01-11
not Sweden
kudos:2
No, you are not throwing your money away, but you've got some other maintenance tasks that you should seasonally consider.

If you have a garden tractor or lawn tractor, you need to consider buying or borrowing a dethatcher, core aerator, and a sweeper (all-tow-behind units).

Dethatching (or just "thatching" depending on how you want to say it) is best in the spring. It pulls up some of the dead grass that builds up over time, especially if you mulch your grass clippings. Then follow that with your sweeper to pick up all that dead stuff. It'll get your yard off to a great start, allow water to penetrate into the root system, and give it a manicured look. Be careful not to remove all the thatch, as some thatch is helpful.

In the summer, you should plan to cut the grass leaving it a bit taller to deal with dry conditions, as we've had some pretty dry weather in the summer and grass tends to survive better when it's a bit taller and well fertilized.

And in the fall, you should use the core aerator (not a spike aerator, which is almost worthless!!!). It rips out plugs from your yard to ensure your yard isn't getting compacted, and it allows air, water, and fertilizer to get down to the roots of your lawn. It makes your yard look crummy for a short time, but it is essential to the long run health of your yard.

I like to fertilize, lime, and overseed in the fall after core aeration. But keep mowing until all the grass is done for the season... leaving no leaves or other debris on the grass as it can create a lawn rot situation.

Sorry for being so verbose. I hope you don't think this will become a part-time job. It's really not too much more time investment, but it'll pay off in the longer run!


meskinct
Mad Scientist at Work
Premium
join:2002-01-07
Southbury, CT
*crickets*

Wow, looks like we are the only two people on this board that fertilize!

Thanks for the tips.
--
Rich. My Website


SwedishRider
Rider on the Storm
Premium
join:2006-01-11
not Sweden
kudos:2
Yeah, I thought you'd get 20 different opinions and schedules to follow.

But if you don't own a tractor, I'd consider one. It'll be uber useful when working on your property. Obviously, I like Swedish Riders: »www.husqvarna.com/us/products/ri ··· eowners/

Once you have all your seasonal implements (either owned, borrowed, or shared by neighbors) you'll be good to go!


gregamy

join:2003-05-22
Middletown, CT
reply to meskinct
said by meskinct:

Wow, looks like we are the only two people on this board that fertilize!

No, I just agreed with his analysis.

I use the Agway 4-step and do not water the lawn, instead letting it go dormant in the Summer.

BTW, the time for thinking about improving the lawn is the Fall, not the Spring. In the Spring you're putting down pre-emergent, which does not allow seeds to germinate. Since seeds cannot germinate, you cannot plant seed to fill patches. Since you cannot plant seed to fill patches, you cannot remove patches of undesirable weeds (e.g., crabgrass and dandelions). Ergo, if you remove all the undesirables in the Spring, they either grow back ('cause no pre-emergent) or you have ugly mud spots until mid-Summer or later ('cause no grass seeds germinating).

Wait until the Fall, then go nuclear on all the undesirables and then fertilize and overseed. In the Spring use pre-emergent to keep them from coming back. And go buy yourself a Weed Hound to have fun attacking dandelions (I spent 10 minutes a day after coming home from work). After a few years of doing this consistently you'll have a nice lawn that requires minimal maintenance.

- GA


meskinct
Mad Scientist at Work
Premium
join:2002-01-07
Southbury, CT
Reviews:
·Charter
reply to SwedishRider
I have a Deere D140. I bought it directly from Deere last year. No attachments yet but I'll look into the thatcher and core aerator. The soil is pretty compacted so I think that suggestion of loosening it up to breathe will serve me well come fall.

I've been killing a bunch of pricker bushes in what I call 'my field' (unseeded area) by first using Gly-4 Plus on them, letting them die, chopping them down and then pulling out the whole damn root ball and all the roots. Two applications of the stuff wipes out most everything! Nothing will grow there for a year or more. I've also been spot killing the few dandelions we have with the stuff. I really don't care about the bald spots right now. I'll go back and dig out that tiny bit of dead soil in the fall, replace with fresh topsoil and seed then.

Mowed yesterday, praying for rain today!

Thanks again guys.

--
Rich. My Website


SwedishRider
Rider on the Storm
Premium
join:2006-01-11
not Sweden
kudos:2
reply to gregamy
I guess my question is: what defines Spring and Fall? We've had some wacky weather in the last few years. Fall is definitely prime time for lawn care to finish out the season and prep for the following year, but when specifically should it be done? Post-Labor Day or wait for Oct/Nov? What say you CT lawn care adherents?


gregamy

join:2003-05-22
Middletown, CT
reply to meskinct
"Fall" in terms of lawn care should start after the summer heat has abated, the grass comes out of dormancy, and we're getting occasional rains. By then the pre-emergent is no longer effective and anything you plant/seed will grow. That "season" lasts until we start to get sub-freezing overnights, but if you're waiting that late it's probably too late. I'll dig up and overseed any time around mid-September through mid-October.

"Spring" in terms of pre-emergent and weeds starting to grow is usually early- to mid-April. The general rule-of-thumb is when the Forsythia starts to bloom. Fortunately, I have one right outside my kitchen window, and when my wife seeds the blooms I get my "time to hit the lawn!" call...

- Greg


SwedishRider
Rider on the Storm
Premium
join:2006-01-11
not Sweden
kudos:2
reply to meskinct
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said by meskinct:

I have a Deere D140. I bought it directly from Deere last year. No attachments yet but I'll look into the thatcher and core aerator.

I have a 40" Brinly-Hardy Core Aerator I bought from Home Depot last fall. They make a 48" model too. I am impressed with it. It can handle up to 150 lbs and works very well. I got the 40" because it is more nimble, and I have some weird spots where 48" would be very tough to manipulate. Check them out:

»www.homedepot.com/p/Brinly-Hardy ··· uPZUijFI

»www.homedepot.com/p/Brinly-Hardy ··· uWZUijFI

I would also recommend a solid dump cart. I bought mine from Husqvarna, but you can get just about any type you want (plastic, JD branded, etc). I thought the orange cart would look sharp behind my Rider.

And my neighbor and I share (he has the dethatcher and sweeper).


meskinct
Mad Scientist at Work
Premium
join:2002-01-07
Southbury, CT
Those are less than I thought they'd be. Looks like the dethatcher and aerator can both be picked up for less than $400 total. Well worth the investment.
--
Rich. My Website


Grumpy
Premium
join:2001-07-28
NW CT

1 edit
reply to meskinct
I'm big on lawn fertilizing. A lush lawn is a joy, to be sure.

Some mistakes I've learned from over the years.

Never fertilize in extreme heat waves. I didn't make this mistake, but was lucky enough to be told about it before hand.

I fertilized a few weeks before dormancy last year in hopes that I could heal some of the heat damage we experienced from one of the hottest Summers on record. To my disappointment, it didn't "take" by the time the grass went dormant, and the results this Spring have been nill.

Pelletized limestone - One major brand has some issues with chunks. A section of 1/4" hardware cloth over the top of the spreader during the fill cycle will catch the chunks before they can clog the spreader. A clogged spreader during application - an event that can cause a 300 plus cuss word incantation.
All possible human and animal languages acceptable.

I tried some weed killer fertilizer one year - found out this stuff is NOT intended for weak young weedy lawns. The bag could have been labeled "powdered napalm - just add lawn"

Tried to spot kill dandelions witha liquid herbicide. A few drops onto the plant itself method. It worked so "well" that it left a 10" circle of dirt wherever I used it. Apparently some herbicides can be used this way. Apparently the stuff I used could not. I definitely created a 47 dead spots on the lawn "WTF happened to the grass?" landscape. Had to invent some weird Bill Clinton style non-answer for that one. Don't wanna be a liar, but a 10 year long audible history of "Remeber the year you made the lawn a polka dot quilt visible from space" lesson was not high on my list either.


gregamy

join:2003-05-22
Middletown, CT

1 recommendation

said by Grumpy:

Tried to spot kill dandelions witha liquid herbicide.

»www.hound-dog.com/products/detai ··· neId=171

An hour a day the first year eventually becomes 5 minutes each time you get home in the Spring.

- GA




meskinct
Mad Scientist at Work
Premium
join:2002-01-07
Southbury, CT
"Features the new ergo hammer ejection slide for easy weed release"

OOOOOOOh!
--
Rich. My Website


Rungel
Run A Mile Live Awhile
Premium
join:2001-12-05
CT
reply to meskinct
Greenview weed and feed. I use there 2 stage works fine for me