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Brand New here, need help of course.

 
Charles A. Burger
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My Story.

Moved to new house 3 years ago.  First summer spent fixing house, next summer sod we put KBG sod into a rather shady area in JULY.  Ah, the many mistakes I've made.  We watered plenty but because I didn't really get any soil chemistry before I laid it down, I was doomed to failure.  So by early sept the sod I put down was beaten. 

Next Idea, let's overseed.  This time I called someone to aerate the lawn and his tips were to follow the aeration with 5lbs of seed/1000 sq ft, starter fertilizer and lime.  Lot of water the first week, then scale the water back in the second, but just make sure the soil is wet. Oh did I mention I still haven't gotten my soil chemistry yet!  I'm in St. Louis which is a 6a climate zone and I tried this in mid October.   However, all that being said I got a real good germination and it filled things in very nicely.  That year we didn't get cold until thanksgiving and even then it wasn't too bad. 

So last spring starts and so does my fertilization regimen, I tried the Scott's fertilizer and wasn't real impressed with the weed control but everything looked great otherwise.  The old grass was in much better shape and the new grass couldn't have been better.  I can't remember the seed I bought so I can't tell you what it is.  I tried to not over water, measured the amount of water each sprinkler puts out.  Then the second recommended Scott's treatment went down and a few weeks later so did all my work.  I have some thin patches, some bare patches and some clover patches which is interesting because the Scott's fertilizer I used seemed to be nothing but nitrogen.  Did I mention a line of trees that follows the path of the Sun from morning till night.

What got me to this forum was someone mentioning fertilizer made from sewer sludge.  So looked it up and it mentions not burning the lawn.  Then I came here, then I started reading about all the other ways to feed the lawn that seem to be way more natural and earth friendly, not to mention, I want a lawn that I basically just have to cut at 4". 

I will say that I have seen the power of Tall Fescue, I had a situation where at our first house we removed a tree and tilled up a whole area of soil an dropped TF sod from a nursery.  It was the best, very thick always seemed to grow no matter what the conditions.  I would like my whole yard to be that way.  I just don't want to screw things up again.

I will put the effort forth to do it right but I call upon this place to stear me in the right direction.  Can I overseed with TF and have it take over?  I am also working on the tress to prune them somewhat in order to lessen the shade effect without removing all of it.  Basically what can I do now to be lazy latter on?  Before I do anything I WILL get my soil tested.

Thanks

Chuck

 
paul wheaton
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So much to say ....

First, I wouldn't touch the sewer sludge stuff.  Think of all the medications people take - where does all that stuff go?  What does it do on your growies?  And what else do people flush?

Overseeding:  If you have bare patches, improve that patch of soil and seed it.  But for everything else, just mow high and see what happens. 

Oh yeah, if your goal is some sort of fancy pants perfect lawn, I guess you can rip up all the old sod and reseed (keep in mind that tall fescue seed is a slow starter and - it isn't going to do well being overseeded - you have to start from bare soil).  Personally, I like my lawn to look a little rough. 

Whenever I see a lawn that is free of weeds and every blade is perfect, I think of astro turf, cement parking lots and forcing God (or Gaia) to do bend to the will of the chemical/gasoline-powered army.  When I see a lawn that is thick and rich with a variety of life I think that there is a humble show of respect/appreciation for that which is green. 

Hmmmm ....  perhaps I've wandered off on a bit of a tangent.


 
Charles A. Burger
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I work at in a Pharmaceutical lab with a few pH meters.  Have you ever tested it yourself?

If so, what method did you use.

Chuck
 
paul wheaton
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Yes!

Put a tablespoon or two of topsoil (taken from one to four inches deep) into distilled water and test that.  With calibrated equipment!

 
Charles A. Burger
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Warning, Rapid fire questioning to commence:


I will do the pH test soon, but what amounts per sample sit should I take?

How many places should I sample from and how many sq ft should I consider in as one data point?

I have some cedar trees in the back which will make the surrounding area acidic while other areas may be basic.  How would I handle different pH zones?

Next, I haven't put any fertilizer down yet and there was a mention of Ringer fertilizer.  So I looked that up and saw that Ringer Lawn restore should be laid out at 10 lbs/ 1000 sq ft.  Is that what how much people really use or is that split up over the year?  If I need to get 100 lbs of the stuff at the price I've seen online then I'm shelling out 80 bucks.  Is there a cheaper alternative?  At least I don't bag my clippings.

Thanks

Chuck
 
paul wheaton
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Since you have access to pH equipment, go ahead and take ten samples.  Scrape off the top inch of soil first!  Chances are that your pH will be pretty consistant (getting more acidic closer to the conifers)

Put down about 1/3 to 1/2 the recommended fertilizer.  That's what I do.

 
Charles A. Burger
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I finally tested a few spots for pH.  I used a 3 point curve with buffers of 4, 7 and 10.  My first reading was 5.52 and the second reading was 5.59.  I was about 5 or 6 inches down. So it sounds like lime is the next step as long as the rest of the readings are close.  I still haven't gotten around the conifers to see what the difference is.

How much does it take to get the pH into the good zone and should I put it on all at once?

Chuck
 
paul wheaton
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I wrote an article on pH last year.  I know I took a bunch of pictures of my son Dane getting the soil sample for the article, but ....  well ... I suppose it can wait ...

Check out www.richsoil.com/ph



 
Charles A. Burger
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What kind of lime.  I have a small bag that looks more like powdered suger than pellets like fertilizer?

Does it matter?

Chuck
 
paul wheaton
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Charles A. Burger
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Any brand name plug you want to make?

 
paul wheaton
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Nope.  Usually, wherever you go there is only one brand to pick from. 

 
Charles A. Burger
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Well I dropped 20 lbs/1000 sq ft of lime last week and then watered the lawn.  Now I have  my Ringer fertilizer.  Can I put it on at this point in the growing cycle?  I live in a 6a climate zone
 
paul wheaton
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If you are planning on watering your lawn through the summer, then yes, you can put a little on now. 

Otherwise, no, you need to wait until fall.

 
Have you seen Paul's rant on CFLs?
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