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Old 09-02-2010, 08:34 AM
 
9,848 posts, read 30,286,677 times
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Late summer to early fall is the best time to rennovate cool season (fescue) lawns in the Triangle. This is when soil and atmospheric temperatures are most favorable for optimum seed germination and growth. With that in mind, September / October is the best time to aerate and overseed fescue lawns in this area. Many people like to start doing their projects Labor Day weekend. Personally I find it to still be a little too hot so I usually wait until around the third week of September, though you can usually still do it throughout October and sometimes even into November.

You can either hire somebody to do the job (typically costs between $125-$200 for a good job - depending on lot size) or go in with neighbors to rent an aerator from home depot or Ace Hardware - Usually around $50 for three hours.

If you have a fescue lawn and need to rennovate it here are the key steps to the process:

1. Scalp your lawn to improve soil to seed contact
2. Aerate with a core aerator
3. Overseed with fescue grass seed
4. Apply lime and starter fertilizer
5. Spread straw to keep in moisture / prevent birds from eating seeds
6. Water daily for two weeks to keep seeds moist - Two 30 minute watering sessions a day
7. Begin mowing again once the new grass reaches 2 inches reaches 4 to 5 inches (Usually in 30-45 days)


This is what my lawn looked like in 2006 when I bought my house


This is what the lawn looks like in after aerating and overseeding twice (2006 and 2008)

Last edited by North_Raleigh_Guy; 09-02-2010 at 09:15 AM..
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Old 09-02-2010, 08:45 AM
 
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Thanks for starting this thread.

If I may ride along, any recos for seeding companies? I have used EPM in the past but I feel their seed has a lot of rye mixed in, so it shows up lush green after seeding but turns out to be rye grass and dies in Spring. So, I'm looking for a change this year.

Thanks,
tpid
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Old 09-02-2010, 08:58 AM
 
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I'd be surprised if any reputable company is using anything other than fescue and possibly some bluegrass in a cool season grass mixture.

NC State publishes their turf recommendations here:

TurfFiles - Turfgrass Information for North Carolina

Depending on the sun/shade your lawn has you might want to modify things to bit.


Frank
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Old 09-02-2010, 09:04 AM
 
Location: Knightdale
375 posts, read 1,143,600 times
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Great thread! We were just talking/looking into this.

Does anyone have any tips for changing from the thick fescue that grows in clumps to the tall thin? Our back yard is 98% thick fescue, and is a HUGE pain to mow every week. The back holds tons of moisture due to french drains, and the thick blades don't really facilitate drainage. The lawn mower will clog constantly and it takes longer than necessary. We have thin in the front, and it seems to work much better.
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Old 09-02-2010, 09:37 AM
 
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Fescue as a rule clumps. An advantage of Bluegrass is it tends to spread. As far as blade width, K31 tall fescue has a pretty wide blade. The "improved" tall fescues are typically bred to have a narrower blade and slower growth habits.

Here's an example:

Rebel IV, Rebel IV Fescue, Rebel IV Grass Seed, Tall Fescue | The Rebels (http://www.turf.com/products/rebels-iv-grass-seed.php - broken link)

Frank
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Old 09-02-2010, 10:22 AM
 
Location: Wake Forest
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NRG great lawn in the lower picture. They upper picture looks like a golf course compared to my current lawn. So I decided to take your advise and renovate my lawn by:

1. Taking your lower picture above and running it to Kinko's and get assorted size pictures that match my windows made up and tape them to the outside of my windows so that every time I look outside I can see a nice green lawn. No need to ever cut either, occasional new piece of tape or two and good to go. BTW: This is the lazy mans way to a better lawn!

2. Follow your steps above and get a better lawn. This is a sweating mans way to a better lawn.


My lawn problem is lack of direct sun light. Anyone out there recommend a grass other than in/door outdoor carpeting or asphalt to solve my shaded areas? I tried Southern blend for shade. It died just like Fescue from a rescue......also because of the lack of sunshine I can grow Moss quicker than grass. I tried the lime thing but there just is not enough lime in the mines to help my lawn.
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Old 09-02-2010, 10:48 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dansdrive View Post
My lawn problem is lack of direct sun light. Anyone out there recommend a grass other than in/door outdoor carpeting or asphalt to solve my shaded areas? I tried Southern blend for shade. It died just like Fescue from a rescue......also because of the lack of sunshine I can grow Moss quicker than grass. I tried the lime thing but there just is not enough lime in the mines to help my lawn.
What is the cause of lack of sunlight? I have a similar problem because of a maple tree in the front lawn. In that case I think it is a two-fold problem because the tree shades the grass and sucks up a lot of the water and other nutrients. I think it is pretty much a lost cause because I have tried all sorts of "deep shade" seeds under there with no avail.

Looking at my lawn now makes me depressed because after years of getting it in shape from the previous owners neglect it finally looked like the top picture even at the end of last summer. Now it looks more like the bottom picture again. Ugh!
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Old 09-02-2010, 11:08 AM
 
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I've never aerated. How difficult is it to get a machine rental in the fall? Do you have to reserve one a few weeks in advance?

P.S. I would disagree w/ NRG about spreading straw. It contains too many weed seeds. Otherwise a great recommendation!
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Old 09-02-2010, 11:13 AM
 
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Tree roots, deep shade and fungus (brown patch) are all fairly big obstacles to overcome. I think more shady turf is lost to disease than most folks realize. An afternoon thunderstorm, humid evening and shade during the day is not a good climate for grass.
If you have moss, that's a great indication that grass won't do well.

I had reasonable success this year with a fine/tall fescue shade mix. An occasional fungicide seems to help too. Also make sure your pH isn't too low and that you don't have grubs.

I've also found that Lirope and dwarf mondo grass do very well in shade with little to no care after the first year.

Frank
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Old 09-02-2010, 11:17 AM
 
2,459 posts, read 8,078,162 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CHTransplant View Post
I've never aerated. How difficult is it to get a machine rental in the fall? Do you have to reserve one a few weeks in advance?

P.S. I would disagree w/ NRG about spreading straw. It contains too many weed seeds. Otherwise a great recommendation!
My experience is that core aerators book in advance for weekends, but you can usually find one during the week on short notice. They work much better if the ground has some moisture in it when you aerate.
Some folks rake off the plugs, but they seem to decompose quickly enough.

Frank
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