Dead lawn, grass seed won't take

amckenzie4April 24, 2013

Hey folks.

So I've just moved into a new house, as of late January.

While the flower beds are fantastic, the lawn area is, well... not. There are two problems I need to deal with.

The long term problem is that the ground is exceedingly rough; there's probably 3-4 inches between the highest bumps and the lowest troughs. I'll be dealing with that slowly, by filling in the low areas with compost and topsoil, so I'm not too concerned about that at the moment.

My short term problem, and one I'd really like to get dealt with before it gets much hotter, is that there are areas where grass simply doesn't grow. There are a few big spots -- maybe two feet by four -- and a bunch of smaller spots.

I tried new seed: Scotts was what was available at the local store, so that's what I got. About two weeks ago, I did what has worked for me before: I raked heavily, then mixed the seed with good topsoil and covered the dead areas. Since then, the area has been watered more or less daily: it's rained some, and I've sprayed it with a hose some. I had the flu and missed a few days, but it rained most of the time I was sick, so that shouldn't have made a difference.

That was about two weeks ago, as I said. As near as I can tell, not a single seed sprouted. None. Every area that was bare still is, and I have no new grass anywhere.

So what's going on? Did I put the seed down too early? Did I manage to get a bag that was totally defective? Is my yard cursed?

I'd love to hear any ideas, because I'd really like to get this dealt with. I've reseeded patches before (usually where things lay on the lawn all winter and killed the grass) with no problems, so I'm reasonably sure my technique isn't the whole problem.



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Did you have any weed & feed or pre-emergent herbicide products put on the lawn prior to your attempted seeding? Did you seed with KGB (Kentucky Blue Grass)?

If yes to the former the grass will not grow (the herbicide is doing its job of preventing germination). if yes to the latter it may just about to sprout (KGB has a very long period between seeding and visible grass).

Other than that I have no idea. Even on poor soil and not great watering practices you should be able to see a couple blades coming up. I don't really like the idea of mixing soil + seed before spreading for small areas since you will get different depths of seeding (too deep and it won't grow, too shallow and you run the risk of drying out if/when you miss a watering).

Ideally you want the grass seed to be very close to the surface but still covered for water retention. I seed and then lightly topdress by hand with

    Bookmark   April 24, 2013 at 1:50PM
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To the best of my knowledge there's been no herbicide of any sort applied -- the previous owners said they hadn't done anything to the lawn for several years.

It is a Kentucky Bluegrass mix, so it may just not have germinated yet. I'll keep watering for a few more weeks, and see what happens. Hopefully somewhere along the line I'll be able to make it back to where I used to live and pick up some of the mix I got there. It was from a local place, and the bags of seed were just labeled "grass mix." I'm reasonably sure it was locally produced, and it tended to start sprouting within a week, then thicken over the course of a few more weeks.

Thanks for the input, and I'll see what happens!

    Bookmark   April 24, 2013 at 2:03PM
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What part of the world do you live in? What has been the air and ground temp? In my area, southwest Ohio, the ground temp has not reach a temp to allow kbg germination. This year's weather has been crazy!

    Bookmark   April 24, 2013 at 8:15PM
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Adding on to what rphudes said, if temps are too low, it's not going to germinate. If it's high enough for germination, but still on the cool side, then it's going to take a long time. Ideal air temps for KBG germination is 59-86 degrees (thats the range for the day which usually gives soil temps in the mid to high 60's). Also if you don't keep those seeds continually moist, germination will take longer, and will probably not be ideal. KBG is generally the longest seed to germination, sometimes taking up to 3 weeks, especially in cooler weather.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2013 at 8:24PM
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Looks like it was a time issue: some of it, at least, has started sprouting. We also had a cool week, so that may have slowed things down.

Thanks for the advice and information, all!

    Bookmark   April 27, 2013 at 7:58PM
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