Lawn not doing well this Spring Chicago area

gwenbobApril 28, 2014

Were in zone 5
Having problems this Spring with our lawn. Laid new Sod in Sep of 2012. It weathered the winter of 2012-2013 just fine. Looked great all summer and I to fall of 2013. But after this harsh winter we had it does not look good. Recently had it power raked thinking that would do it but it still looks awful. Not sure what to do. Looked up and down the block and I see everyone is nice and green. Posting a picture.
Any ideas of what is going on?

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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

How often are you watering and for how long?
When were the last two times you fertilized and what did you use?

    Bookmark   April 29, 2014 at 5:09PM
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After a hard winter, topgrowth often gets so damaged that it doesnt recover. It appears temperatures haven't become warm enough for your lawn to come out of winter dormancy. Once temps raise high enough to kick-startt growth, new growth will revive the shoots.
You can do an easy check by pulling one of the dead leaves at the soil level and check for green life at the base.
Mid-May give it a dose of any triple NPK or atleast a high N fertilizer.

"The Philes Phertilizer Lecture follows:

These new KBG lawns are hungry for fertilizer. Very much like, (and if you renovated, exactly like) a sod farm, those guys that start with bare ground, throw some seed around, and by late July of every year, they are selling product: a deeply rooted, dense intertwined dark green carpet of lush (no bare spots) Kentucky Bluegrass. Now how do they do that every year? (And, of course, the implied question "How come you and I can't do it also?")

They do it with frequent, rather than heavy, applications of fertilizer. Literally, every two weeks, a light application of fertilizer. At seeding time, they start with an 8-8-8 or a 10-10-10. Upon the grass reaching the 'first mow' stage, they add Milorganite, and then it's Milorganite every two weeks, as the weather gets warmer. Every two weeks would seem to you (and in the old days, to me) as 'excessive'. It's not. Not only is it not excessive, it may well be Required.

There's only one difference between the sod farm, with that lush green grass for sale every year, and the typical homeowner here (I'm leaving out the general public: the public is a 2 or a 3, as you know, and you guys and gals are a 6 or a 7. Twice as good. But I'm trying to get y'alls up to a 9, which is where the sod farm is), and that difference is Frequent Applications of Fertilizer.

Especially with KBG, more fertilizer than you are used to putting down is good. A typical homeowner would fertilize once in the fall. Not the first year, but every following year, on these newly renovated (or overseeded) KBG lawns, two full applications are required in the fall.

Spring? A lot of people don't like to fertilize in the spring. A KBG lawn requires an application of big-first-number fertilizer, in May. A newly renovated KBG lawn requires yet another application in mid June. That lawn needs the nitrogen, for all the growing, both above, below, and across the ground, that it's wanting to do, and will do, if you feed it. Density? It requires nitrogen. Color? Requires more nitrogen. Aggressiveness? You already know what it requires.

Even an old KBG lawn, the Merion sods of this world, needed more nitrogen than they received. As proof, drive through the subdivisions of ten or twenty years ago, and look at the lawns: those lawns were not exactly treated like a sod farm, were they? If you want your new lawn to turn out just like that, here's all you have to do: fertilize once in the fall, and once in the spring. That's it. The results are guaranteed.

By now, somebody is saying (and should be), "Is it possible to OVER fertilize a lawn?" Yes, it's possible. But not what you'd think. The 'typical' overfertilize stripes that we all seem to fear came from the old drop spreaders, when the rows were overlapped. That overlap caused a doubling of the fertilizer along that narrow, overlapped row, and it was all delivered in one day. What most people forget, while imagining the scorn of neighbors and children, is that those bands of over fertilization did not last until fall, they went away in less than a month. Repeat: the so called over fertilization went away, in less than a month. The homeowner had not created another Love Canal toxic zone, the homeowner had instead managed to put down more than the grass could handle all at once, but in fact the lawn handled it, and probably even needed it. The lawn just didn't need it all at once. Nor in summer's heat. Disaster? No. Bad delivery technique? Yes. It wasn't too much fertilizer, it was too much fertilizer all at once, and there's a difference, isn't there?

These days, with the rotary far-flinging spreaders, a more evenly spread application of fertilizer is the norm. Now that we want to emulate the sod farms (and their turf success), we know that there's no sin in putting down a half application, in one direction, and putting down the other half application, in the other direction a week later. Now that we want to emulate the sod farms, we will want to feed the lawn during summer, rather than letting it starve while it battles the hot summer sun. So Milorganite, or other organic fertilizer is required, rather than a big-first number fertilizer. At least once in summer, but if you've renovated, or over seeded, that new KBG needs two applications. It needs the food.

So there's my recommendation for the renovators and overseeders: two applications in the fall (not the first year, on the seedlings, they can't use the food yet, as they haven't grown enough yet) at least one application in the spring (two if you renovated or overseeded. That application we skipped last fall goes down the following spring), and you must feed the lawn in the summer: that new KBG needs the food.

So here we are, end of August. You know you are going to fertilize in the fall, probably twice, and perhaps didn't do enough during spring or summer. You can do a half application right now, of big first number fertilizer, or a full application of Milorganite. And still do the regular fertilizing when fall gets here. But your lawn likely needs the meal, and if you provide that light meal right now, before fall gets here, I think you'll love the visible results.

Good luck with it."

    Bookmark   April 29, 2014 at 11:33PM
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