Fescue Lawn repair in a transition zone (6B)

AgroCoders(6)June 18, 2014

OK, I have a compacted clay soil that is alkaline in Zone 6B in Somerset, Kentucky.

The coldest it gets in -5 F with occasion (once a generation) -10 to - 15 F and typical summer highs in the mid 80s F to low 90s F with once every 5 - 10 years highs hitting 100 F. We get once to twice weekly heavy rain with that decreasing as summer goes on to August when we likely get only 3 - 5 rains the entire month.

My lawn on closer inspection in 'better' shape than I thought but it turns out that's because of fescue's ability to grow were other grasses won't. The plants that aren't weeds in my yard are almost 100% of some time of clumping fine fescue. The majority of other plants in the yard are violets, ribwort plantains, and white clover. The only one of those that is cause weekly and every bi-weekly mowing is the flower heads the ribwort plantain throw up.

So I want to get rid of the ribwort plantain and nothing else. I'd like to reseed the entire lawn in September or October if September is too hot in a good fine fescue mix and start cutting at my mower's highest height setting.

The best way to get rid of the plantain? I'd estimate about 1000 - 2000 in the entire yard.

The pictures are in different areas of my yard. The first is a concentration of violets.

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OK, this is browned lawn. I think I may have accidently scalped in early April but that is brown dead fescue underneath the green all over the yard.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2014 at 2:58PM
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OK, this is more brown lawn with dirt showing. Even the plantain has problems.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2014 at 3:00PM
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OK, this is un-mowed lawn. Looks green and lush but further inspection show the green portion is plantain leaves and some clover mostly. You can hardly see them but the picture is full of 2' tall plantain flowers.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2014 at 3:02PM
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Last one. This areas is in shade all day from the house on one side and a giant oak about 50' up a hill on the other side.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2014 at 3:06PM
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Well I was really debating whether to buy Round-Up or Weed-B-Gone to help kills the weeds and help me reseed may lawn in grass but it didn't take much research or reading to step away from that silliness.

I will simply rake my lawn out, mow my lawn at the highest setting, fertilize, soften, and acidify with corn meal (thanks dchall for the tip), and reseed every fall with fine fescues.

If I have to mow weakly because I can't get rid of the plantain I have to mow weekly. Although I hear changing the soil from alkaline to acidic will help rid the lawn of them so a lot is riding on that corn meal. :-) Well, it's not really that crucial really but appreciated if it works. The white clover and violets I can appreciate too.


Here is a link that might be useful: Roundup resistant weeds causing engineers to create Weed-B-Gone resistant crops. :-(

    Bookmark   June 18, 2014 at 6:17PM
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Mr Chall what is the best way to spread that corn meal?

Like those old communist coins with a man walking through a plowed field with a shoulder bag full of wheat seeds he's strewing about?

How many pounds of corn meal do I need for 0.25 - 0.33 acres of lawn?

How often do I need to reapply it before the composted cornmeal accumulates in sufficient quantity do soften and make my soil more acidic?

The Scotts Snap Spreader looks handy although I see no push handle.

Here is a link that might be useful: Scott's Snap Spreader

This post was edited by AgroCoders on Wed, Jun 18, 14 at 18:40

    Bookmark   June 18, 2014 at 6:34PM
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Well I've been reading all day about improving a lawn in my lawn's condition and corn meal is out of the question as too expensive. I'd have to spend about $20,000 to do may yard once and in bulk.

I will definitely use cornmeal for the hedge of Mr Lincoln roses I'm planting along the far length of the drive way.

For my lawn I'll have to settle for ammonium sulfate. I think I'll apply it soon as the ammonium should help rot some of the thatch before I go out there with a tine rake.

Once my lawn is fixed I should be able to stop using ammonium sulfate, at least for a few years.


This post was edited by AgroCoders on Thu, Jun 19, 14 at 0:15

    Bookmark   June 19, 2014 at 12:13AM
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Have you gotten a soil test? Generally grass likes 5.5-7.0 pH, though there are slightly different ranges for different kinds of grasses. If you want to do a complete renovation, glysophate is the way to go, then seed in the fall. If you don't mind the weeds that you have and just want to add more grass, overseed in the fall. Your shady area will likely have trouble growing grass. You could try a fine fescue. Or think about alternatives (mulch, ground cover, shrubs) that might work.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2014 at 1:22PM
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ForsheeMS(Lexington, NC)

For cornmeal 20lbs per 1,000 square feet is the recommended application rate however you can apply it as often as you want providing you don't completely cover the grass. At 20lbs per K you would only need 280 lbs assuming .33 acres (roughly 14k square feet) to do an application. I would imagine $20k worth of corn meal would cover your lawn several inches deep.

I wouldn't worry near as much about the plantains as I would those violets. The violets will continue to spread and only get much worse if you don't kill them completely. Round Up is not expensive if you use the off brand version. Look for 41% Glyphosate. Tractor supply has their brand and is usually about $50 to $60 for a 2.5 gallon jug which is enough to spray several acres. WalMart also carries Eliminator brand for about $15 per quart. Glyphosate is going to be your best option to kill the violets but will kill anything green you spray it on.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2014 at 2:48PM
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