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Help identify wild/unknown grass, thatch issue (?)

Posted by dtay_us 6 (My Page) on
Mon, May 17, 10 at 16:51

About four years ago when we moved into our home (it was new construction, and the the builder put down sod), for the first year, the grass looked great. It was growing well.

This year, the lawn seem looked its worst. We had several dry/drought-like conditions the years prior and not having an irrigation sprinkler system didn't help either. Add in two young kids and working 50+ hours work weeks and you have the perfect formula for lawn neglect. :( In the NoVA area, the ground is pretty much all clay/rocks (you should have seen some of the boulders that was dug up when we finally had an irrigation sprinkler system installed last summer!), just so that I don't have to spend all the time watering the lawn.

We have some wild grass growing in our yard which orignally started at the front, and is rapidly spreading everywhere. They're also very hardy and resilient. My wife hates them, and it's a constant battle trying to pull them out or get rid of them. My neighbors also have the same issue as well as I've seen him and his wife trying to pull them out sometimes when they're out in the yard. I've had numerous opinions as to what they are exactly, and some say it's crabgrass, others say it's actually wild Fescue that is native to Virginia. Here are some pictures:

Anybody know exactly what kind of grass this is? I've had the local Davey Tree guy come out to give me an estimate on lawn maintenance services and he mentioned that these are native Virginia fescue and the only way to get rid of them is use Roundup on them, and then reseed/overseed with new grass.

And speaking of reseeding/overseeding, I'm still at uncertain and frustrated as to trying to identify what kind of grass that I have. I've taken samples of my lawn (not the ones pictured above) to the local county extension office and the "grass guy" there identified it as Kentucky Bluegrass! Somehow, most of the lawn care folks that I've talked to seem to disagree; most have said that it's a mixture of some kind of fescue and perennial ryegrass, and some have even said it's Zoysia!

Note: I'll take some photos and post them here tonight, though you can see some of it on the sides of the first photo. The blades of the grass are thinner and softer.

I did purchase a bag of Scott's Kentucky Bluegrass seed from Home Depot last sumumer and I couldn't belive how expensive a small bag was, and am now reluctant to make the same mistake of buying the wrong grass seed (and being stuck with an opened bag), if you can understand.

The second issue that my lawn seem to be "thinning" or if it's just a case of thatch. See photo below:

Is this thatch? Should I be using a thatching rake and remove them, and apply topsoil and new grass seed to cover it? It's pretty much my whole entire lawn, unfortunately. :(

We're considering signing up with Davey Tree's to give them a try for one year to see if they can resolve these issues but am not 100% sure yet. They're not cheap (about $35-40 for the seasonal applications) and then the other recommended services (e.g. lime, grub control, pelletized composting, overseeding, aerification, etc.) all adds up to about $400+ for the year. Most of my neighbors seem to use some lawn care company of sort (Lawn Doctor, TruGreen, Scotts, etc.) but all have mixed results with them. One neighbor almost had his yard killed by Lawn Doctor last year, and another one just left TruGreen for Davey Tree.


Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Help identify wild/unknown grass, thatch issue (?)

It looks like TALL FESCUE but definitely not KBG and the only way to remove them is to (YES) use RU and overseed the dead area.

RE: Help identify wild/unknown grass, thatch issue (?)

How big is your lawn? By the looks of it, I would nuke all of it and reseed. But I won't do it now. Fall is the best time to reseed your lawn (Sept 1 +/- 1 week).

You need to buy quality seeds but you need to have a very good lawn watering habit for the grass seed to flourish. It needs at least an inch of water per week. Your lawn looks like it has been water starved imo.

If you are looking on the best seeds for you location, try this site and use the seedexpress. They have quality seeds but it comes with a price.

RE: Help identify wild/unknown grass, thatch issue (?)

That looks like K-31 or Kentucky 31. The K/Kentucky part makes people think it's KBG, but it's an unimproved tall fescue. It's very hardy, but it has a bunch growth pattern, wide leaves and fast growth, so it tends to stick out like a sore thumb.

The second picture does not look like a thatch problem to me, but to be sure, you need to dig down and show a cross section of the soil/roots, thatch layer and a bit of grass.

RE: Help identify wild/unknown grass, thatch issue (?)

It's all fescue grass, you just need to apply some nitrogen now, and change your habit of watering and mowing. Mow it long, at least 2 to 3 inches long, water deeply and infrequently, you will see that all the grass will become as thick and green and those bunches

RE: Help identify wild/unknown grass, thatch issue (?)

I would suggest gettng that lawn very wet for a week before you put the nitrgen on there, to reduce the risk of any fertilizer stress, it really looks like you aren't watering it well enough. Water it deeply, and infrequently once it's revived, don't water it until the blades of grass start to curl a little lengthwise.

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