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TMO84August 23, 2014

I am looking for some advice as to where to go next.

Short story:
Live in Northern Massachusetts. Moved into a new home December. Yard was literally dirt in the spring. I raked, aerated, and overseeded/fertilized the entire lawn. Lawn came in great.

Now the typical end of summer blues are taking over my lawn. I have plantains and dandelions spreading, some crab grass, and a nice big patch of clover. In addition (you can see it in the pictures), part of my lawn is covered in "rust" fungus.

I mow at the highest setting, once a week, and have watered infrequently about to an inch. Lawn looked great, dark green, used Milorganite in early July. I've never used weed killer because I'd like to keep it organic but not sure where to go from here to prep for the fall.

Do I just let it go, aerate, seed and fertilize late fall and deal with the weeds in the spring? If so, what is recommended that is not too harsh?

Should I just blow up the lawn now and grow from scratch this coming fall?

Thanks all! I'm still learning!

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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

Seeding in the spring always brings weeds. You can't get away from that. You're just lucky you have any grass at all after the summer. The reason you do is because you're so far north. Summer heat often kills new grass plants.

You have too much shade for KBG to thrive. You might consider seeding some fescue into the area under the tree canopy. Do that NOW. Fall is NOW for you in NoMass. Don't wait a couple weeks.

Everyone has a different outlook on organic. If you really want to get rid of weeds, try spot spraying each weed with the strongest vinegar you can find. I can get 20% acidity at my local garden nursery, but 5% will work (slower). If you can shield the grass using cardboard cutouts, that will help prevent killing the adjacent grass. Strong vinegar works in anywhere from 10 minutes to 2 days depending on the weed. If the vinegar seems to bead up and roll off, then spray those plants with a little soap and then the vinegar.

If you have a larger area of weeds and spot spraying each plant is impractical, I'm afraid there is not organic solution for that. You can pull them out individually or spray something like Weed-B-Gone over the areas where the weeds are. Once you do that, the KBG should fill back in and not leave any room for new weeds to get established.

The weeds which are germinating now are spring weeds. Those will lie dormant for months until the days get longer. So sometimes it seems like the fall application of preemergent worked but then in the spring you have all these wildflowers.

Corn gluten meal is the only organic preemergent. My experience with it is that is has about zero effect on weed seed establishment. It makes a nice fertilizer, but not preem. So if you want to use a preem, it will have to be a chemical choice. I'm not up to speed on preems because I don't use them.

No need to aerate unless you have an extra $75 burning a hole in your wallet and you need the workout. If you were doing it just to do it or because everyone else is doing it, just don't. If you think you have hard soil, then there is another option that seems to work much better and more reliably. Search this forum for shampoo.

There is no typical end of summer blues. Next year you should have an excellent end of summer experience. If you are using organics only, you can fertilize a little more often. MorpheusPA will probably be along soon to advise you to apply a winterizer to get your lawn ready for spring. He's got one of the nicest organic KBG lawns on the planet and knows what he's talking about. He'll have more details.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2014 at 1:17PM
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The yard gets mostly sun/shade 50/50. Sun in the morning until 12 or so, then shade until 6, then a bit more sun....would fescue still make a difference? Would it be a glaringly different color than the KBG mixture?

So basically oversexed with fescue now is what your saying and deal with the weeds in the spring?
Thanks again.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2014 at 2:50PM
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I understand the drive for perfection, but I have to say your lawn actually looks very nice, with only normal issues and not many of those.

>>He's got one of the nicest organic KBG lawns on the planet and knows what he's talking about.

See, I like being complimented. A lot. :)

Planet? Probably not. City? Yes. Right now, I'm experiencing Late Summer Blues myself. It's normal. August featured low rainfall and I hate throwing drinking water on a lawn, so I have burned spots, just as you do.

The patio furniture is causing a lot of compaction and wear on the grass, so that little area may never look that great. You learn to live with it.

Although something like white clover would be an option there, I don't recommend it. Clover attracts bees. Lots of bees, Right at your feet. Not a good idea. :)

I'm not a fan of aeration and counsel against it in most cases, but like David, if you're set on doing it and have the cash to burn, I also don't particularly object. There are other methods of doing the same thing better and more permanently.

I can't tell how much sun you get as I'm not sure when you took the photo nor how many blocking trees overshadow the lawn. If that shot was at noon, you have too much shade for KBG. My investigative skills (poor) say it was about 3 PM and that your lawn gets good morning and mid-day sun. If that's true, KBG will do fine except under the tree.

Getting rid of weeds is a nightmare. I tend to use Tenacity (bottlebrush plant extract) on most of them, although it's not a perfect cure for some things and they won't respond to it. Then and only then do I step it up to something else--usually I paint a little Round Up on the leaves, which is easy on the one or two garden weeds that remain after Tenacity.

Forcing out weeds by encouraging the lawn is, fortunately, very effective.

At this point, I feed organically four times per year--May, August, September, and October, and then winterize in November when growth stops on the lawn. However, one year I dumped 37 pounds of organic nitrogen per thousand square feet. The lawn just grew like mad, spread like mad, and turned an incredible dark green.

It's hard to mess up organics.

Re the winterization when top growth stops, that actually is the most important feeding. It has to be done synthetically as temperatures are too cold for organics to decay in and work properly, but many people choose a urea nitrogen source as urea (although synthesized these days) is still an organic molecule that we produce naturally in our urine, and that the soil bacteria can handle easily and are used to.

I'm sort of all over the map here, but it's a question of the actual sunlight amount the lawn sees. Answer that and we'll have a better route to where you want to go.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2014 at 12:50PM
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