Burnt my lawn with fertilizer

Hi, I know this question has been asked 100 times, because I did a google search, but I wanted to ask my question anyway in case some of the circumstances were different. Here are the details.. its approx a year old sod.. I laid the second application of fertilizer for the year on Sunday night. It was pretty hot out, still in the 70's when I did it. The first application early in the spring, I used some really nice stuff from a local garden shop. This time, I used the hardware store special 5000 sq ft for $5 a bag stuff. It was something around 30-0-10. I used my broadcast spreader and applied a little less then recommended. I have in-ground sprinklers, and they go off every morning at 5am to give a light water, then a good soaking once a week on Wed evenings. Anyway, the sprinklers didn't go off the next morning for whatever reason, and I noticed the lawn was turning a little brown in some areas. OK -- I manually turned on the sprinklers and let it get a good soaking.. Woke up this morning (two days later) and there are nice and brown patches everywhere.. UGHH. The blades themselves are green on the bottom near the roots.. but 75% of the blade is brown from that point up. Any chance this is going to be recoverable? I am giving the lawn a good soaking twice a day today.. unless I hear differently, I will continue to do this for a week or so unless I don't see any improvement, in which case I'll stop.
My questions are:
1. What did I do wrong? I think the mixture of using a cheap-o fert was mistake number 1. Mistake number two was probably applying it in the middle of the summer during the day heat. I've used dry fertilizers in the past with this lawn and others, and never had a bad experience (except when I dropped a pile of it on a spot once).
2. Will the lawn come back based on what I described? I know its impossible to tell from description alone, but I really hope someone can lend some expertise in this!
Things I learned (so far):
1. Quit obsessing over the lawn so much... it really didnt appear to NEED any fert.
2. If I do fertilize again, use either organic or liquid.
thanks for any insight, I'm really upset with myself right now!!
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On 13 Jul 2004 16:36:25 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@comcast.net (boz232) wrote:

Howdy,
I am no lawn expert, but I do wonder...
Why are you radically changing the watering pattern that has served you well? I am not suggesting that the modification is a bad idea, but simply don't understand your reasoning.
Thanks,
--
Kenneth

If you email... Please remove the "SPAMLESS."
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Why are you ferlitizing in July? If you have cool season grass (fescue, bluegrass or ryegrass) you need to put 3/4 of the fertilizer in November and 1/4 in March or April.
boz232 wrote:

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Some things that I've learned... - never fertilize a dry lawn - water a day or 2 before a planned application - water again 1 day after application - use a drop spreader for accuracy - use 2/3 amount recommended by manufacturer
I have great success using Bandini brand lawn fertilizers. I apply every six weeks to dwarf fescue (in northern Califonia) using Turf Green in the spring/summer, and Turf All Seasons in the fall/winter. I have done this for the past six years and while I will probably get hammered by some in this group, my lawns are thick, lush, deep dark green and the envy of the neighborhood. Watering deeper and less often will also help, but it's been my experience that this pattern needs to be established in spring.

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Bingo.. I was/am obsessing over the lawn. I was mowing about twice a week, usually at 3" mower height. It was looking very much like a putting green like someone hinted at. The yard looked fantastic, and I don't mind spending an hour or two a day working on it.. but you are right, I broke all three of the rules 1) mow too short 2) over fertilize 3) over water/shallow roots.
I am going to keep watering this week, it actually is starting to look a little "less" brown.. but that could be my imagination. I'm hoping as the weeks go by, the lawn will grow, and the brown spots will grow as well, so eventually I will be able to mow the brown spots off until I get to green.
I'm not sure what kind of sod I have, but its fairly broad-leaved, and a pretty dark green color. What would you recommend for a cutting height?
I'm hoping it recovers still.. but I haven't written off having to possibly resod the entire front and sides this fall when it cools down.

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On 14 Jul 2004 11:59:05 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@comcast.net (boz232) wrote:

It may be possible the browning is grubs rather than the fertilizer.

You should find out what kind of grass you have. I mow 3.5" for tall fescue. The taller the grass is mowed the deeper the root system, more draught tolerant, and fewer weeds.

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Phish wrote:

So true, the little buggers....boz232, any moles in there?

And lets not forget our mid summer friend Mr Fungus and his orchestra that is about to play for us from now till about Sept....Its been quite a Spring and Summer here in central Va. .. With the early 95 deg heat in mid April to the stifling humidity to the every evening toad-choking thunderstorms, which the water sits there and cooks up a nice stew of fungal fever....August ain't here yet, and the almanac says below avg. rainfall and record breaking heat........ Boz232 may have just stressed out the lawn a little, but it will recover, it just won't look as good as the nice Spring growth it had for a short time.....Do nothing until you are sure of what you got........ You CAN water everyday if you can afford a good soaking and not just a short shot of water...Cutting taller is not the only reason for deep roots with TF, the roots will also follow the water down to the soak depth...Little water, short , horizontal, weak roots.....Never water in the evening, It needs Mr Sunshine to help in the chemistry of things....Golf courses water EVERY day and will also turn on a firehose to certain parts to cool down the grass...... When did you lime last? More than 4 months ago? I don't recall you saying where you are, but if you have acidic soil, or even alkaline, the closer to neutral the Ph is, the more nutrients are released to the lawn...They're in there, just locked up.....That's why a lot of folks think lime greens up a lawn...Its not the lime, its the goodies in the soil....Takes about 2 months for the pellitized lime to kick in, so if you are overseeding in the fall, do it soon..... Me....I'd water 20 min. every other day at about 5 a.m......Take a spade out to one of the patches and chunk it in the ground and pry back to check if it is grubs or not.... Then take corrective action....Which would be nothing if its fungus.....Nothing being no NPK, watering, or fungal controls...Just let it dry out a week or so... Good luck
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
KCnRichmond wrote:

short
One problem with a complete soaking every day is that the surface never dries, which creates one great host environment for fungus, grubs, and insect eggs and larva. If you're keeping things completely wet (or even damp), and things start to look even more dead (more brown, or the brown turns to grey), then stop watering, and let it dry.

It needs Mr. Sunshine to help dry the surface so you don't create that great host environment for all those pests. You don't want to water when the sun is high and bright because of evaporation. The best compormise between this all is to water at dawn to minimize evaporation, and minimize the time that the surface stays wet.
While for most people the cost of excessive watering can be enough to convince them to do the one inch all at once, once a week thing, there is another reason not to over-water: Conservation. In many parts of the country, even if the capacity of the pumping stations, filtration plants and other infrastructure was increased, there's no more source water. Any place that uses an underground auquafier, or places that use surface water, but are going through a drought will have this problem
One only needs to look towards Wisconsin to see the seriousness of this situation. The Transcontinental Divide, the divide between the Atlantic Ocean and Missisippi River watersheds, runs just west of Milwaukee. Until the last 20 years, the area west of the divide was mostly rural, but it's turned suburban. The water level in the auquafier is dropping rather rapidly now, and many of the water districts need to drill deeper, and deeper wells, and still have problems. Meanwhile, the folks in the city are limitted only by the capacity of the plants that process Lake Michigan water.
Now, what should the limitted water west of the divide be used for? Agraculture, industry, drinking, and cleaning? Or can a few people who can afford the price be allowed to over-water their lawns? What happens when the farmer in rural Waukesha County can't afford to drill a deeper well, while some well-to-do guy in a Milwaukee suburb west of the divide can afford to have a huge, green-lawned estate?
A lot of people don't see the attraction of huge expanses of lawn, but there are a still people who do. And as long as kids need places to play, lawns will be a desirable part of the landscape. But if the people who love lawns don't start a reasonable watering regimen, lawns will no longer be affordable to the middle or working classes.
To bring this all back around to the point: Don't water every day for any extended period of time. It may be necessary for a week of seed germination, or right after new sod is laid, but timing those events for wetter seasons will allow Mother Nature to take care of those things naturally.
An inch a week, once a week is good for the health of a lawn, it's usually affordable, and it conserves water. It's a trifecta win.
--
Warren H.

==========
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
30-0-10 is very high nitrogen (30) nitrogen will burn plants if used excessevly. you may want to check with your local sod growers for more info i would water it excessivly to wash some of the nitrogen down deeper. it may be all u can do. the grass will come back if not burnt too bad. if the roots survive you will have grass again.

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Roger Boughner wrote:

it may

you will

The OP says he waters every day, and he apparently loves chemical fertilizers, so his lawn probably has a very shallow, immature root system. With a lawn that's so stressed already, the kind of watering needed to wash out the nitrogen is going to make it ripe for an infestation that'll eat what's left. And he'll spend a fortune on the water bill doing it.
My advice would be to write-off this summer. The only way to save this summer would be to put down some good soil, and then re-sod on top of it. Of course a newly sodded lawn in summer is going to take a lot of water, too, so that's not a good option.
What I would say is plan on some work in September. Spread some compost over what's left of the lawn, cover that with a nice soil, and reseed. If you do this just before the cooler weather and the fall rains start, you'll need to use far less water. And for goodness sake, don't use any fertilizer! Overseed in spring to fill in the thin spots.
Then next summer, stop the madness of watering every day. Water an inch deep once a week. Period. (If the current soil is so hard that it won't soak-up that kind of water in one delivery, aerate it before putting down the compost and new soil. Rake-up the plugs of the old soil, and throw them into your compost pile for the next year.) This time you want the roots to grow deep, and the lawn to get strong. That doesn't happen if you water daily.
Also, remember to leave the lawn high. There's nothing in the OP's post to indicate how high he mows, but so often the people who are so obsessed with their lawn that they even consider using a chemical fertilizer in summer also think their goal is something that looks like a putting green. That's just not a realistic style for a lawn, unless you plan to hire a full-time greens keeping crew, and budget for replacing the sod each year.
A good, healthy lawn, growing in good soil, watered properly requires far less fertilizer than the OP uses. I fertilize once in fall with a "winterizer" fertilizer that's balanced for root development (rather than the blade growth a high nitrogen fertilizer aims for), and I use 1/2 the manufacturer's recommendation applied with a drop spreader for control.
Fertilizing more than once a year, watering more than once a week, cutting too short. Those strategies may help you get a putting-green lawn in the short term, but they do not result in a sustainable lawn, and they require lots of maintenance and money during the time that they do look like a putting green. I think most people have better ways to spend their time and money.
--
Warren H.

==========
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

He's right. Daily watering, that amazes me.
A brown lawn in hot, dry conditions is a dormant, not dead, lawn. Keeping it lush and green in these conditions is doing you no favours.
Consider some xeriscaping if the long term trend is like this?
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Start with a soil test. Based upon the results adjust the pH first and then provide nutrients as required. Most extension centers can provide a soil test or direct you to a soil test for a nominal fee. Mow often enough to return the grass clippings to the lawn where they can provide food and organic material to improve the soil. Half of the lawn's nitrogen input can be provided by just returning the clippings to the soil either directly or composted and applied as top dressing.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On 13 Jul 2004 16:36:25 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@comcast.net (boz232) wrote:

The best time to apply fertilizer is a day after a soaking rain. Use a slow-release fertilizer (or organic fertilizer). Cost has little to do with burning. It climbs to 100 degrees here, so 70's sounds rather cool. Your spreader may not be working properly. Load the spreader bin on the pavement rather than the lawn to avoid spillage.

Time will tell. You may need to remove the dead grass (thatch) before considering overseeding in the fall.

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Where are you located? If you have a cool season grass, you don't want to give it ANY nitrogen during the hot summer months. You only want to give nitrogen to a cool season grass in the spring and fall. If you want your lawn greener during the hot summer months, then use a fertilizer with little or no nitrogen that has Fe (iron) in it. Lesco sells a nice one, or you could just use plain ironite. giving nitrogen to a cool season grass in the summer heat when the grass in going dormant will only stress the grass more. Also, you ALWAYS want to use a slow-release fertilizer, they are much less likely to burn your lawn. good luck, Matt in MI

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
snipped-for-privacy@comcast.net (boz232) wrote in message

A lesson learned. But there is another side to this story. High nitrogen fertilizer can be used as weed control. In a yard that has occasional broad leaf weeds like dandelion, a tablespoon of 35-0-0 placed in the center of the weed will kill the weed without damaging surrounding turf or subjecting kids or animals to herbicides. Been doing it for years and it works well.
Bob S.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Related Threads

HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.