planted tall fescue seed and now the cold comes

grizzle49October 19, 2013

Hello, I have another username, but I can't remember it....

Anyway, I planted tall fescue last Saturday. Couldn't find the time earlier. The temps over the last week have been a little cooler than average--around 50-65 degrees. I have watered plenty and have noticed no germination yet. Now next week is going to be cold. A couple nights with lows at 31, only a couple highs barely above 50.

What should I do? I am worried I just wasted my money on the aerator and seed. I would stop watering and hope they come up next spring, but I imagine after seven days the germination process has begun. And also--I have a crabgrass pretty bad and putting pre-emergent down in the early spring is priority number one in my lawn-improvement plan.

I am out of luck on my seed, aren't I?

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Don't waste your money on a pre-emergent at this goes down --and you can confirm this for your June/July.

Crabgrass is an will die --if not already, pretty soon when the temperatures drop.
Same goes for your lawn're wasting your money....

Just think....grass seed is --like any other plant...needs soil temperatures that encourages it to germinate.
Its cold now....never mind the air temperature, its the soil temperature that the seed germinates in...not the air.
It could be 85 next week....and the ground would still be too cold to germinate grass seed in.

Think to do that in the spring...after the soil has been permitted to gain some temperature.

Allow your lawn to grow to heights of 3" - 3 1/2"....which will maybe make you mow your lawn more often...but the benefits are that the increased height will shade out weed seeds--including crabgrass.

Its never a waste after an aeration has been carried out....the ground benefits from its being given increased amounts of oxygen.

Next spring...and every spring from now on---whether you believe it needs it or this;
over lay 1/2" of a good topsoil/compost/triple mix....over your lawn early in spring---let the grass grow up through it.
This will enrich the ground with organic matter which will --and you can prove it yourself...encourage more worms to come and stay.
It will also retain more moisture---you'll do less watering.

If you want something to do....SAVE your bring them back next year.....better than ever.

    Bookmark   October 19, 2013 at 2:20PM
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Thanks for your response.

Fall is the best time to aererate and overseed in indiana, it just happens that I am a week or two late. I realize now is not the time to put down pre-emergent, that is not what I was saying. The reason I mentioned the pre-emergent is if I stop watering now, and hope the seed hasn't germinated, and then let the seed come up in the spring, I can't out pre--emergent down because then the seed won't germinate with pre-emergent on the ground.

Thanks for the compost tip. I think I will do that.

This post was edited by grizzle49 on Sat, Oct 19, 13 at 14:38

    Bookmark   October 19, 2013 at 2:36PM
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Clarification: I plan to put pre-emergent down in March. I think I am just going to keep watering and hope for the best...

    Bookmark   October 19, 2013 at 2:57PM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

Absolutely keep watering. Fescue seed is very well characterized. It will not germinate until the second week, so next week you will start to see new seedlings. Then by Saturday you should really see it come in. By the 3rd week it should be up at 80% of germination.

I strongly disagree with repeated top dressing of a homeowner lawn. Here is a picture of a yard where they topdressed 1/4-inch every year...for 40 years.

You can see where it is piled up about a foot against the stop sign, and they had to install landscape edging to keep the soil from flowing onto the sidewalk. Adding new soil increases the chances of bringing in weed seeds and adds nothing of benefit to a healthy soil. If you really want to top dress with something, use 100% compost with no sand or top soil in the mix.

Here is a picture of a yard that has never top dressed with any sand or top soil.

This is what it should look like. Of course the types of grass are different allowing one to be mowed at 3/4-inch while the other is mowed at 4 inches, but the lack of mounding is pretty clear in the second one.

If you want to save yourself some time and money, don't use compost either. The idea of compost was the mainstay of organic gardening during the Rodale period from the late 1920s through the 1990s. In the 1990s it was discovered that the reason soils were either healthy or unhealthy had to do with the near 100,000 different species of microbes living in the soil. Before that it was believed that there definitely a dozen different species which can be grown on a Petri dish and there may be as many as 50, which for some reason were not able to survive in a laboratory. But DNA testing proved there are more like 100,000 species. We are not in the transition stage from Rodale to what I believe could become known as the Ingham stage for Dr Elaine Ingham. What we know now is that simply feeding the microbes already living in the soil is plenty. When the microbes at the very surface are well fed, the microbes living in the soil below feed off of the waste products of the surface microbes as well as the dead surface microbes themselves. Those well fed subsurface microbes produce plant food in response to the plants' excretion of sugars from roots. This biological process will eventually be taught in schools, but for now it is considered "miraculous." If you want to read more about it, please click here. Get comfortable because there are at least 50 pages including the images.

You can feed your soil microbes by scattering organic fertilizer or, as many of us are doing, livestock feed. If you look at the ingredients of organic fertilizer and livestock feed, you'll see the same list of materials including soybean meal, alfalfa, corn, wheat, cottonseed, flax, and other feed stuffs. Look at the label of any dry dog or cat food - same ingredients. These provide basis food to soil microbes. Food means protein, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, and enzymes.

The difference between these materials and compost is compost is the result if you allow these food materials to decompose. Whereas if you apply them directly to the soil, you get the full benefit of the food immediately (well, 3 weeks later) in the form of green grass. Mother Nature has been feeding Her plants like this for billions of years. It took us until the late 1990s to figure it out and a few more years to develop a simple plan to try and duplicate what She does. Now here is a picture of a test of alfalfa pellets used as the only fertilizer on a zoysia lawn. This picture was posted here by mrmumbles in June of 2011. The fertilizer was applied in mid May.

You can see the improved color, density, and growth. I use this picture often to demonstrate that these ground grains are real fertilizers and not gimmicks. If you try this test this time of year your results will vary considerably from mrmumbles post-springtime test. Soil temps are dropping now which reduces the activity level of the microbes; however, the microbes still need food for the winter. Just don't expect to see such a miracle in your lawn right now.

For many of these same reasons, I don't like core aerating either. Bringing up the cores resurfaces old weed seeds for germination. It also does not allow as much air in as you think. I used to have the math on this handy, but we've pretty much stopped talking about it. In essence, the cores allow a certain amount of oxygen to the soil. But when you have hundreds of miles of healthy but microscopic fungal hyphae opening up the pores in the soil, the benefits are much more real and even noticeable in the soil. You get these results with microbe food (the grains listed above) and with proper watering - not with core aerating.

Sorry for the lecture but I really don't like the idea of top dressing with anything unless it has protein in it.

Anyway I believe your seed will be fine. What you have lost is the opportunity to reseed if this does not come in or if it comes in thin. Next year, get started renovating in August.

    Bookmark   October 19, 2013 at 5:08PM
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Thanks, dchall. I hope you're right on germination. Thanks for the input on fertilizers.

    Bookmark   October 20, 2013 at 1:13AM
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Don't know what zone you're in, but in your situation I'd keep watering (but remember that you dont' need as much water as you would have a month ago). You're right that you've watered enough such that stopping at this point is a guarantee that the grass will die.

Sticking with it means that at least some have a chance.

If you have areas that don't come in, maybe skip the pre-emergent on them in spring. Seed as early as you can, and apply Tenacity at seeding? (Google it.)

    Bookmark   October 20, 2013 at 11:01PM
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This week we've had highs in the 40's and right around or below freezing for the lows. I have seen some decent germination and seedlings in the small area where I planted some perennial rye. Yesterday for the first time I saw a few really small fescue seedlings.

The ten day forecast says the lows will be 27-30 with highs in the 40's for the next few days and then the lows will creep up to the 40's with highs in the 50's.

We shall see....

This post was edited by grizzle49 on Thu, Oct 24, 13 at 9:33

    Bookmark   October 24, 2013 at 9:31AM
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Turns out that the temps went the other way. Was 60 yesterday, and again today, 70 tomorrow. Hopefully this week gets me the weather I need. The rye has come in somewhat thin so far, and the fescue just barely at all. Saturday it will have been 3 weeks.

Since I had some cold shots in there and germination is taking longer than normal, when should I mow? With cutting it short and the cold weather, I might be able to wait another week unless it grows like crazy over the next week.

This post was edited by grizzle49 on Tue, Oct 29, 13 at 8:28

    Bookmark   October 29, 2013 at 8:27AM
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Ended up getting grass to come up in most places. Lets just hope it survives the winter. Looks like I've got at little while before everything goes dormant. Thanks to those that encouraged me to keep watering--that was definitely the way to go.

    Bookmark   November 4, 2013 at 7:24AM
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