Did I ruin my lawn? Please help!

greennewbieMay 12, 2010

First, I am sorry if this is the wrong place to ask this question, I don't mean to upset the order of things on this site...

I have lived in a building most of my life (I am only 25 now) so I have MUCH to learn about lawncare and gardening, so any suggestions are greatly appriciated.

This is my second growing season that I have been responsible for my very own peice of the earth, and I am really trying to make it beautiful, but it seems like the more research I do, the more I screw it up...

For example, last year, I tried to use "weed killer" on the weeds on my lawn (yes, VERY stupid, I know this now) needless to say, I had patches after that for the whole year. So, this year I tried to make up for it by overseeding and fertalizing the lawn at the beginning of May, which is what I read to do online. Problem is, I didn't consider the fact that there might still be some frosty evenings, and so I fear I may have already failed to make my lawn full again this year...

Here is what I did;

- Raked dead grass and thatch out of lawn.

- Heavily raked "spotted areas" where I killed the grass, and exposed the soil.

- Mowed the lawn fairly short.

- Raked again, this time disturbing the soil a bit.

- Applied a seed/fertalizer mix evenly with a push spreader.

- Applied more grass seed (just seed) with a push spreader.

- Watering often.

My big concern is, in the past week, the evenings and mornings have been frosty and a little chilly... have I just wasted all my time? Did the frost kill everything? Is there anything I can do while I still have time to save my lawn and have a chance to make it nice again this year?

I know this has most of you shaking your heads, and I am sorry I offended the green thumbs on this forum, but I am at a loss. I am too new at this to be any good, so if there is anyone out there that is sympathetic enough to guide me to success, I would be very grateful.

Thank you for your time and advice in advance!

God Bless.

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bonniepunch(USDAz4 AgCanz5a)

It should be ok. Grass is usually pretty tolerant of light frosts. Leave it alone until your seed has had time to sprout and get a decent set of roots.

One thing I would suggest you change is that you do not cut the grass short. Especially at first. 2" is a minimum good length for a healthy lawn, and 2 1/2 to 3" is better. Longer grass has a healthier and deeper root system - this means the grass is much more tolerant of drought. Also weeds and insects will have a harder time getting established in a healthy lawn.


    Bookmark   May 12, 2010 at 12:46PM
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Good advice, Bonnie. Here are a few more tips:
- use a grass seed mix that is high on the fescues and low on the Kentucky Bluegrass. Bluegrass is a water-hog and very high maintenance. Stick to the deep-rooted fescues.
- lay off on the watering. You want the grass seedlings to develop roots that will go deep for water and nutrients. Grass needs no coddling.
- lay off on the fertilizer. Again, it's the roots, not the top growth, that matters most when you're getting plants established. Most commercial fertilizers are high nitrogen, so you get a flush of green, and your pampered lazy grass develops a taste for fast food. Ok, metaphors aside, once you get your overseeded areas established, topdress with some quality, weed-free compost and let the grass develop as it should
- establish some white clover in your lawn and let the grass go dormant during the hot, dry spell in August. The clover will stay green and, being a legume, will help develop healthy, rich soil. Diversity is good.
- stop worrying about weeds. Remember, diversity is good. This spring I had a bumper crop of creeping charlie, blooming for all it was worth. All the early-emerging bees had flowers to visit. Bees are good.

All for now. Link below is very good.

Here is a link that might be useful: Organic Landscape Alliance Fact Sheets

    Bookmark   May 12, 2010 at 1:18PM
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You did well. No worries. Grass will probably germinate when you have 2 weeks of continuing warm weather. Grass seeds only remain dormant in cold weather. I actually do reseed my lawn in the fall of the previous year so I get a headstart when spring comes along. I agree with the others on their assessments.
The only thing I would change in your technique is to topdress your lawn with a thin layer of good triple mix topsoil & rough sand mix. I add rough sand (or builder's sand) to help creat drainage. I don't normally fertilize - but rely on the composted manure in the topsoil. I also reseed every 2 weeks until early summer -- just on spots that remain bare. I do water though but not heavily. No way do I leave a sprinkler on. I water for a few minutes and that's it. This is to start the seeds to germinate and to get my existing grass to be healthy.

Next season when your grass starts to come up --- do one more thing, aerate! -- You can get a service to do this or simply get a tool that pulls up plugs from your yard. Then topdress thinly with triple mix and then reseed, water and let it go lush. Always choose a good mix of sun and shade grass mix.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2010 at 2:32PM
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Thank you for the advice everyone! I will go down to my local garden center and have a look around for some topsoil tommorow then. Is the application process as simple as applying a thin even layer by shaking it out of the bag and then gently rakeing it to make sure it covers the whole lawn?
Either way, after that, I won't water it anymore unless I see that it is getting very dry. I made the mistake of soaking it after I seeded and fertalized it, so I hope I didn't do too much damage there. It's also been pretty rainy here lately, so I'm sure that didn't help.

Also, a couple of questions...
Is it too late to airate it? Because I can do that before I apply the topsoil tommorow. And before I apply the topsoil, should I apply a bit more fescues seeds just for good measure? Or would that be overdoing it?

Again, thank you all for being so kind and helping me!

    Bookmark   May 12, 2010 at 6:42PM
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I would wait until the seeds you've already laid down are up and growing before you topdress. Topdressing is for established turf.

re: aeration. As Ianna suggests, aerate next year.

I would wait until your current seed germinates before you consider seeding again. See what you've got. You can overseed with a mix that is high in the fescues.

The OLA fact sheets I linked in my post above are very good. They will answer all of your questions.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2010 at 9:03PM
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I agree with bev. You've already set down seeds so don't disturb them.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2010 at 10:20PM
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casper1(5/6- -10F Ont)

Hi, first of all,why do you need a lawn? It takes a lot of work,raking, feeding,watering, mowing,raking,feeding,watering mowing,and come Aug. it dies anyway.
A few flowering shrubs, a few rocks,various perennials,and a bit of imagination, and you have an out door room to relax in on a pleasant afternoon or evening.
I haven't had any grass for 32 yrs, and thats two houses side by side. Give it some thought. rai

    Bookmark   May 24, 2010 at 6:45PM
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I like having grass because it's a nice soft, durable surface for the kids to run and play on (often barefoot). Plus it's required that I have/maintain a lawn in the community I am living in.

Thank you for the suggestion however.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2010 at 7:49AM
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