Scotts + Crabgrass control - burnt lawn or patches still dormant?

andyx123March 24, 2012

First time living in a house with a lawn....

I fertilized with the scotts + crabgrass control a week ago and since it didn't rain, I watered the lawn two days later. I am in northern virginia and did not rake before fertilizing.

My grass was brown (dormant? from winter) before the application and now some patches are green but others are still brown (dormant?). That is, some patches never got green and stayed the same brown. There is no pattern to the patches (like lines of missed area of application, they appear random)

Now, what could be going on? did I burn some patches? or under fertilize those?

Is there anything I could do (another product or re-fertilize)? rake? anything.

I don't know what type of grass it is, I can post pictures if it would help.

Thanks for the help

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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

First of all you should have waited to fertilize until the grass was growing. In fact you should have waited until after you mowed the grass for the second time.

Secondly it is possible you burned the grass that had greened up or was just taking up nutrients. With chemical fertilizers you have to wash the fertilizer off the grass blades immediately. You cannot trust Mother Nature to help you on that. If you do not wash the fertilizer off, the next morning dew will start to dissolve the fertilizer and form an extremely strong salt solution which burns the grass blades. If you wash the fertilizer off the blades and down into the soil, you are starting to dilute the dissolved fertilizer and pushing it down where it can work.

At this point (and what you should have done in the first place) all you can do is wait for the grass to come out.

Where do you live and what kind of grass do you have?

    Bookmark   March 25, 2012 at 12:23AM
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Thanks for the tips. I am a complete newbie to lawn care and simply grabbed a scotts bag from lowes - it seemed simple enough.

I've added a pic of the lawn a few days ago. It has rained considerably since then and it is improving. What I noticed is that there are area with thick/luscious new grass blades (the green patches) and other brown areas that have some thin grass blades that are getting greenish....

So, at this point, just water it? I haven't mowed it yet.
Also, do I apply the second round of scotts (the one with weed control) in mid may? Or do I use a different product?

btw, I am in northern VA. We got some nice dry days of high 70's F, but the last days have been colder....

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   March 26, 2012 at 8:36PM
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What kind of grass is it?

    Bookmark   March 26, 2012 at 10:53PM
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I think it's what we refer to in the business as "Miscellaneous"....

Honestly - looks like he has some sort of cool season turfgrass mix with either Bermuda or Zoysia mixed into it... Maybe all of the above...

so... Two of the keys in this whole process are....
Identifying what you have - so decide on what you want to try to keep..
Picking what you primarily want to end up with so you can work towards skewing the balance in your favor....

I suppose it's worthwhile to think a bit about what you want out of a yard.... Not everyone particularly wants or needs the "Best lawn on the block" or a high maintenance lawn... If you just want something for the kids to play in - then fertilize spring and fall, mow it, and don't worry too much...

Just a warning about Bermuda.. It's pretty tough to get rid of the stuff....


    Bookmark   March 27, 2012 at 2:37PM
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It is Fescue with 10% kentucky blue grass. I had to get this from the builder. As far as I know it was laid down around september (maybe even beggining of summer) 2011.

I've always lived in a city environment and never had a lawn/mow or had to take care of more that a few planters. So, basically, I want to make sure the lawn is good enough for kids to play in and that it looks at least quasi-greenish and even.

So, now that I know what it is, what shall I do? Thanks.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2012 at 5:38PM
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I took some additional pics to show what's going on.

On one of them you can see my neighbors lawn (that was laid down less than 2 months ago), however, on that same picture to the far right you can see part of the lawn belonging to the community (on which I didn't fertilize).

I plan to mow tomorrow...good or bad idea?

Can I re-fertilize? Perhaps with something "natural"... I think I read somewhere that alfafa (alfagrow is a name I've seen) is used for such purpose, I figured there is little change of hurting my lawn with the alfalfa stuff, rather than reapplying scotts.

Thanks for the tips...

Here is a link that might be useful: Updated pics....

    Bookmark   March 28, 2012 at 6:16PM
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Had a chance to talk to someone who seemed knowledgeable at Lowes about lawn care.

It was suggested to (1) rake/dethatch and (2) add milorganite now even if I dimutse Scotts with crabgrass control a few weeks ago.

My fear is of course burning my lawn, but I was told adding milorganite would not do so.

Any comments?

    Bookmark   April 2, 2012 at 12:03AM
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even if I ***did use** Scotts with crabgrass control a few weeks ago.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2012 at 12:05AM
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TTTF +KBG Sodded lawn last September.... Hmmm... Not too good...

See.. It would have been really nice to START off the original post with that information... because this changes EVERYTHING.... We thought you were talking about a Warm season grass that is dormant all winter... not a DEAD cool season lawn...

1st thing (Gulp!)... TTTF and KBG are both cool season grasses... That means that they look spectacular in Spring and Fall in our neck of the woods... They stay GREEN all Winter long.. and sometimes brown out in the SUMMER from Heat/drought....

They DON'T turn brown in the winter unless they are dead. Your pictures show a lawn with about 70% dead Cool season grass...

Did you water the sod this past fall to get it established?

Are you SURE SURE SURE that you actually have KBG/TTTF? Pull up a little clump of grass and carry it over to your local University Extension office... Ask them what type of grass it is....

If it really is that... then you are looking at a whole lot of work this fall... Probably at the minimum - a large scale overseed... More likely a 100% renovation... Sorry...

Going forward...
#1. It's mostly dead. You will need to more or less start over this fall.
#2. Get a soil test at either Logan Labs or your local Extension Office...
#3. Work on your soil this summer with plans for a big overseed this fall...


    Bookmark   April 2, 2012 at 3:28PM
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1. I saw the house for the first time around early Oct. The lawn seemed new, I can't remember if it was all green or not. The house was built around Sept, so I am guessing around that time or during the summer the lawn was installed.

2. Builder said it was fescue + 10% kentucky blue grass.

3. I moved into the house late Nov. I watered the lawn once, but it was fairly cold already. The lawn was brown.

It's rained a few time and getting slightly greener. I have also dethatched the worst part of my lawn. There were thin green blades under the brown patches.

I will find out how to get the soil tested and assume it can't get worse if I use the milorganite stuff.

So for the rest of the summer, just water it and fertilize once more in late spring and summer?

Then, what happens in the fall?


    Bookmark   April 2, 2012 at 8:34PM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

As your research has shown, you can fertilize with most organic products any day of the year, as much as you can afford, without fear of burning anything. The only organic material that burns is blood meal. Stick with grains or Milorganite and you're good to go. Whatever Alphagrow is, it sounds expensive. If it costs more than $14 for a 50 pound bag, then visit your local feed store and get a bag of rabbit or chinchilla food.

Any grass that remained green in the winter was likely to be the fescue. Kentucky bluegrass might have remained green or turned brown/dormant. I would hold tight until you see what happens. If your neighbors' lawns are all green and yours is not, then this growing season will seem like a lifetime. Any fescue that died since it was installed is gone until you reseed. Good news is that any KBG that survived will spread to fill it in.

Dethatching is a waste of time on new sod. Thatch is usually only a problem in a mostly Kentucky bluegrass that was watered and fertilized improperly.

You can do a soil test if you want, but acting on a soil test is beyond your general skill level. You're still at level of mastering watering, mowing, and fertilizing. I'd wait until August to think about a soil test. I've been doing my lawn(s) for 45 years and never did a soil test. The theory behind soil testing is that your grass will perform much better once the macro and micronutrients are perfected. Nitrogen will always be needed, but potassium and phosphorous might be a little out of line. Acidity can also be addressed, but again, I'd wait until you are deep into summer. You have to pass Lawn Care 101 before you can take LC 201 or 301.

What happens in the fall depends on how things look in July. Wait until then to make those plans. Until then...

1. water deeply and infrequently. Deeply means about an inch each time. Infrequently means monthly in the cool months and gradually moving to every 7 days in the hottest heat of summer.

2. Mulch mow at your mower's highest setting for fescue. Mow it one notch lower for KBG. Start that now.

3. Fertilize with chemicals no earlier than May in your neighborhood. Then don't fertilize with chems again until Labor Day. Fertilize with organic any time you want to. Apply organic at 20-40 pounds per 1,000 square feet depending on your budget. Corn gluten meal is the best organic fertilizer and currently the most expensive. Soy bean meal is second best. Alfalfa is in the middle. Cottonseed, ordinary corn meal, and used coffee grounds round out the bottom of the list.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2012 at 8:56PM
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"If your neighbors' lawns are all green and yours is not, then this growing season will seem like a lifetime"....It already is :).

One of my neighbors uses the scott's system and lots of it. On a similar sized lawn, they used about twice as much scott's as I did. His lawn is green. I am sure I used too little of it since I was afraid of the chemical stuff and burning the lawn.

I am sticking to organics until I learn more. I will follow your watering and mowing advice.

I will apply milorganite tomorrow.

Does it make sense to throw in milorganite and do it all over again with a grain a few days later as a "boost" or simply to improve my chances of having a "decent" lawn?? Scotts is refunding my purchase so I can go "wild". My lawn is about 1200-1500 sq.ft. so I won't spend too much..


    Bookmark   April 2, 2012 at 10:01PM
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jdo053103(7b - NC)

if its dead there is no amount of organics or other fertilizers that can save it. i cannot tell from the photos what is going on, looks like a dormant warm season grass, but you said its fescue/kgb mix. what concerns me is that with the warm winter and spring, that lawn should be thriving even if you didn't fertilize. you said it was new sod, if the sod wasn't watered properly, then it can be dead...again cannot tell from the photos out actually seeing the lawn for myself. good luck.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2012 at 8:30AM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

The lawn should only be thriving now if you took care of it last fall. If you took excellent care of it last fall it might not have ever turned dormant. Dead grass is usually gray in color. That lawn is slightly yellowish. Any shades of green, yellow, or brown are much preferable to gray.

Yes you can fertilize with organic any day of the year, or every day of the year. One thing we have not mentioned is it takes three full weeks before you see any results with organic fertilizer. In 3 weeks you'll notice it suddenly looks better. In 4 weeks you'll notice it looks much better and you can breath that sigh of relief.

You were smart to use a light app of Scotts rather than what your neighbor used. With chems it is better to be safe than sorry. With organics the worst thing that can happen is you get a bit of a fragrance of decomposing protein. It is slightly sour. Not nearly as bad as sour milk but you get the idea. The more often you use it, the less of that smell you get.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2012 at 1:05AM
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ZoysiaSod(6a/6b St.Lou TranZone)

Andyx123 wrote:
> I will apply milorganite tomorrow.

If you have kids, I wouldn't use Milorganite. You might want to read this thread about Milorganite "issues".

Look for the December 27, 2011 posting and read onward from there, especially Ellen Harrison's views. She was the director of Cornell University's Waste Management Institute before retiring recently.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2012 at 8:57AM
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Or... you could think about these Evil Heavy Metals as what the entire rest of the Agricultural universe calls "Minor Elements"....

Guess what... Life needs a certain amount of heavy metals or else biological processes go whacko... These heavy metals form the basis of the catalysts in enzymes...

What happens when you run low on Selenium? Boron? Even "Evil" stuff like Lead, Cadmium, and Chromium... These are necessary for our body to work properly...

Guess where else ALL that same, evil stuff is found... Mulch... Leaf litter... Manure.... YES... All these things also contain Heavy metals too... Ever seen a chemical analysis report on the PPM levels of heavy metals in regular, plain, vanilla mulch out of your own yard? I have...

I look at Milorganite as a fine way to get this sort of stuff back into my deficient soils... The region I live in is famous for all sorts of weird nutritional problems... many directly linked to played out soil.... or soil that was deficient to start with....

Let me tell you... While I wouldn't let my kids eat it straight out of the bag - Milorganite makes some fine tasting tomatoes... and I don't hesitate to use it on the yard either...


    Bookmark   April 4, 2012 at 11:02PM
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i am not an expert. this is third year of me taking care of my lawn and around this time of a year it always looks like yours. i live in denver and have mixture of kbg. it turns yellow around december and starts to look like yours in late march. doesnt look dead to me. be patient it will green up. i never put any fertilizer until around late may. than i spread soybean or alfalfa or whatever feed store has on sale.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2012 at 3:11PM
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garycinchicago(Z5 Chicago IL.)

>"Life needs a certain amount of heavy metal"

I agree 100% with John in SC on this! ROCK ON !!!

    Bookmark   April 6, 2012 at 9:17PM
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Update: I followed 101 LC suggested above and have seem a considerable improvement. Lawn looks good!!

I used milorganite (despite all warnings and controversy) and alfafa feed a month later from TSC (I was curious what it looked like). The smell of milorganite while applying and for a few days later is annoying. but it goes away.

Is it ok to add alfalfa again now (during summer)? I last applied alfalfa about 6-7 weeks ago? My guess is that since it is a low nitrogen fertilizer it may need more applications than higher nitrogen fertilizers.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2012 at 10:31AM
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andy10917(NY 6a)

Alfalfa is weird. It is not just a fertilizer but also contains a growth auxin (plant hormone). It will encourage growth and that is not a great thing as we approach July. While it's OK if you do it knowing what it will cause, you might want to use Soybean Meal, Cottonseed Meal or something similar in Summer, and return to the Alfalfa in late August once the evenings start to cool just a bit.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2012 at 11:07AM
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