Starting lawn care late in season?

bizub2000July 22, 2014

Hello all,
We just bought a home where the grass appears to not have been taken care of for some years. It has been cut but it has obviously not been cared for beyond that.
Question is- a lot of the lawn has crab grass and weeds, What type of fertalizer should I be putting down this late in the season without any prior treatments being done earlier this year?
Any advice would be helpful.
Thanks!
-Greg(Novice)

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morpheuspa

Actually, late summer and fall are a great time to begin revamping an ignored lawn--nearly perfect, in fact!

For now, don't feed. It's exactly the wrong moment and you have other things to do first.

First thing, let's clear the weeds and see what you have left. You report crab grass, so purchase some Weed B Gone with Crabgrass Control (any other brand of crabgrass killer will be just fine as long as it also contains 2,4-D to wipe the deck of some other weeds).

I recommend spot-spraying weeds as you have time. It'll keep you from wasting the herbicide, or putting it in places where you don't need it. If you absolutely must, blanket spray as per the bottle instructions.

You may find you have a good lawn under that, or it could be a mess. We won't know until the herbicide works, so I'm giving you the plan below if the grass is OK, reasonably dense, and just needs a little TLC.

Feed around Labor Day with any good fertilizer (this year, I'm not concerned about organic vs. synthetic). Feed again October first. Feed one last time when top growth stops on the lawn--for me, that's usually Thanksgiving, but you might be somewhat earlier than that where you are.

If it's a real mess, we may consider overseeding, complete renovation, and a soil test...

    Bookmark   July 22, 2014 at 4:44PM
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bizub2000

Morpheus thanks for the reply!
I've never used a forum like this, but I think I can get used to it!
I'll post some photos I took this evening if the front yard. In addition to thick blades of grass, I have also noticed a fair amount of clover in the back yard.
I will give your plan a shot. Will most likely use the weed be gone spray you connect to your hose. I have used this before with great results.

Will post some photos of current condition. Thanks again!

    Bookmark   July 22, 2014 at 9:48PM
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bizub2000

Front sample

    Bookmark   July 22, 2014 at 9:50PM
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morpheuspa

I'm dreadful at weed ID, but for the most part that looks like good grass that's been treated badly.

Kill the weeds, feed, mow high, and water appropriately and it looks like it should bounce back on its own.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2014 at 9:57PM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

Wait until Labor Day to feed. If you want to feed now, use an organic fertilizer.

How are you watering it now? How often and for how long?

    Bookmark   July 22, 2014 at 10:36PM
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bizub2000

Thanks for the input guys. As far as watering goes I was going to start this weekend- 30 min/day in the very early morning 5am-ish.
Thoughts?

    Bookmark   July 23, 2014 at 12:50PM
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morpheuspa

Too little too often. Unless you mean only weekends, in which case probably too little, about the right time between waterings.

Optimally, one inch per week, delivered "all at once" (which means in a relatively reasonable time period) is optimal. To figure out what an inch is, use tuna cans on the lawn (or any other straight-sided can, but tuna works well as it's short) to measure how much you're putting down.

For younger or poorer lawns, in poorer or sandier soil, or during very hot weather, twice per week is sometimes required to keep things from wilting badly. That's not a problem during July and August; roots aren't growing anyway.

Watering daily is asking for disease issues.

With that lawn, I'd probably apply Milorganite at bag rate before irrigating. It'll slowly start moving in some resources that the lawn clearly needs.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2014 at 1:41PM
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bizub2000

Morph,
I should be trying to water .5inch twice a week?

    Bookmark   July 23, 2014 at 6:52PM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

bizbu2000, you're going to have to unlearn the bad watering habit. If people in Phoenix only need to water once a week, then one inch, all at once, is all you should need for a week or more. Seriously! Put out some cans and time how long it takes to fill them. That day is day zero. Then watch the grass for signs of wilting. You can't know how deep your roots are at this point so watch the grass. Completely ignore how the soil feels. It can dry up all the way and the grass can remain nice and fresh looking for many more days. As soon as any part of the lawn looks wilted, water again for the same length of time you timed with the tuna cans. That time is going to be your guide from now on, so memorize it. My time is 8 hours. Your time will likely be less than that. Some people can fill the cans in 20 minutes in a high flow system. Anyway, go back and watch the grass again. It should go longer without wilting the next time and longer still the next time.

When you water if you get runoff before the time is up, stop watering and allow the water to soak in for 30 minutes. Then resume watering. You might have to stop and start several times to get the full inch into the soil. If that happens, write back. Then you would be dealing with hard or hydrophobic soil which is a different issue.

That lawn looks a heckofalot better than most lawns we see here. Once you get the watering right, and once Mother Nature stops helping you out, your weed pressure will subside considerably. Weed seed needs continual surface moisture to germinate. When you stop giving continual surface moisture to them, they stop germinating.

Again, water only once a week in the heat of summer. As the temps cool down, back off to watering once every 2 weeks and then 3 and 4. And always water for your memorized time. If you get help from rain, then reset your calendar to day zero and watch it. If you got 3 inches of rain, the grass might go for a month not needing more water. If you got 1/4-inch of rain, you might need to supplement with 3/4-inches of your own.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2014 at 7:30PM
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bizub2000

Hey call!
This is great!
I grew up in a neighborhood where the smiths wanted to out do the Jones' so everyone was always watering their lawn... everyday morning and again at night. This is a very useful tip. I will put it in to play this weekend. Going to do the ortho weed be gone spray tomorrow!
I think, with your guys help, I could have the nicest lawn on the street next year... seriously, what kind of man doesn't want that???
Thanks again guys!
Keep the tips coming if you got 'em!

    Bookmark   July 23, 2014 at 7:46PM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

Manly men want nice lawns!

You could easily have the nicest lawn on the block. Read and reread what morph said. Have you seen his lawn?

He's THE MAN alright.

Seriously, that is his lawn, and you can have something very close to that with proper watering, mowing, and fertilizer. Once you get rid of the weeds, the dense turf and watering will keep future weeds out.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2014 at 8:08PM
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morpheuspa

>>I should be trying to water .5inch twice a week?

Like DCHall said, at the most. 1 inch once a week is probably fine.

Me? I've watered the lawn twice this year. Nature's been OK about delivering enough rainfall, and mine has been trained to go at least 7 days before it wilts (in very hot weather, it will wilt at 7, in cooler weather it can go up to 14).

>>I grew up in a neighborhood where the smiths wanted to out do the Jones' so everyone was always watering their lawn... everyday morning and again at night. This is a very useful tip. I will put it in to play this weekend. Going to do the ortho weed be gone spray tomorrow!

The Smiths AND the Joneses ended up with massive diseases.

Seriously. My back neighbor waters daily at 7 AM. He's currently got brown patch over 300 square feet.

Definitely organically feed! I'd expand, but we're getting a severe storm right now...

    Bookmark   July 23, 2014 at 9:11PM
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morpheuspa

...storm's slackening off.

Well, there's at least another four days where I don't have to think about watering anything, including the gardens. :-)

Anyway. On that lawn? I smell soil issues, so a soil test is definitely in order. That color just isn't right and the stems are going every which way.

For now, I'd pick up some Milorganite. It doesn't look like you have a huge lawn, and one bag can go 2,500 square feet. I'd start feeding it every month of the growing season, lightening up a little bit in July and August every year except this one.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2014 at 9:39PM
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yardtractor1

Get WBG concentrate and a tank sprayer. You'll want a tank for future spot spaying and its just all around better than hose end spraying herbicides.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2014 at 1:26AM
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bizub2000

Put down ortho wbg today. will follow-up in 2 days

    Bookmark   July 24, 2014 at 4:21PM
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yardtractor1

You are not likely to see any signs for 7-14 days. Ortho recommends a follow up treatment about that time.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2014 at 4:35PM
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bizub2000

hey guys!
Im itching to get this yard turned into something worthing looking at-
Do I need to wait till Labor to put this Milorganite down?
I just sprayed the entire lawn with ortho wbg this morning using hose end application.
I will water for the first time this weekend.
Also, there was an insane amount of clover and creeping charlie in the back yard under a large tree that shades the area most of the time. Hoping this WBG will take care of that as well...

    Bookmark   July 24, 2014 at 4:36PM
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yardtractor1

You can put Milo down anytime. For the clover get WBG CCO.

CCO= Chickweed, Clover, Oxalis

This post was edited by yardtractor1 on Thu, Jul 24, 14 at 16:48

    Bookmark   July 24, 2014 at 4:45PM
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