Lawn taken over

Our fescue lawn was always bad. We have invested in Chemlawn several times but the weeds have always come back. Last summer, after an extended vacation, we came home to find practically no grass left, all weeds. I have resorted to just cutting the crabgrass short because there's virtually no lawn left. The soil is dry, claylike and rocky and I can tell it's never been landscaped. It's springtime and I'm frustrated... is there anything left to do except till the whole thing over in the fall and plant new seed? I've already tried that before, and it failed. The new fescue never took, and bare patches that were left were soon replaced with more crabgrass, clover and other weeds. I was careful to water the seed and I'm not sure why it didn't grow. My biggest suspicion is that it all started with me cutting the lawn too short, which I'm told weakens the grass and makes it vulnerable to weeds. I've noticed that the only lawns in our neighborhood that look nice are the sodded ones. The fescue lawns look similar to ours -- nearly all weeds. We live in Georgia, btw. I'm sure you can tell that I am a novice and know nothing about gardening, so please be kind.
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In article
snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com says...

First, there are a number of different climates in Georgia, so knowing more specifically where you are would help. Whether the lawn is in full sun, partial shade, or fully shaded is also critical.
With that said, in most of Georgia, it's simply too hot for Fescue to do well without LOTS of attention. Frequent water, fertilizer, etc. Even at that, Fescue lawns will require annual over-seeding, as bare spots Will occur.
Second, regardless of the type of grass, lack of proper soil preparation is the single greatest reason for failure. To do it right (and this includes for laying sod), the soil should be tilled once to at least 6 inches, then soil amendments added to enrich/break up the clay, and the whole thing tilled again.
Third, if seeding, it's critical that it be done at the right time of year, depending on the type of seed (early spring or early fall for Fescue), that the seed be tamped into and lightly covered with soil, lightly covered with Wheat or Oat straw, and finally watered lightly at Least once a day until at least 50% germinated (2-3 weeks).
Fourth, as you surmised, Fescue must be left rather long, especially in the summer, to help protect it from the heat and sun.
So, with that info, you may change your mind about how you want to proceed.
--
Mark

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Sounds like you might be out of the range of good fescue lawns. Also sounds like you could do with some serious soil improvement with organic matter.
Starter spots: http://www.griffin.peachnet.edu/caes/turf / http://www.griffin.peachnet.edu/caes/turf/_Current/UGATurfPublications.htm
And my favorite book to start new gardeners on: (Amazon.com product link shortened)
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snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com (Josiane) said:

Chemlawn is a process, you need to keep it up to get the benefits from it. We used to use Truegreen (Chemlawn) and our grass was beautiful and weed free.

Sounds like fill dirt instead of topsoil (new neighborhood?).

The dirt is lifeless. What you do depends on your budget and level of sweat equity you want to invest. You could bring in topsoil. You could just put down sod which should cure the topsoil problem. You could till up the soil and add amendments such as sand and compost. I would just lay sod and then continue the Chemlawn treatments.

I don't know if that started your problem, but it definitely won't help. We mow our grass high and have green grass year round. All our neighbors mow their grass as short as possible and have green grass during the spring and fall, the rest of the year they have brown dead grass. In the past we used Truegreen (Chemlawn), but now do our own lawn care (although I don't think it's any cheaper).

Probably because there is no topsoil. Many new neighborhoods here are backfilled with fill dirt which cannot support most plants.
--
McQualude

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You've gotten some pretty good responses - fescue is a cool season grass, most suited to less temperate, cooler summer areas than Georgia experiences. Also preparation of a good fertile soil base for any type of lawn is essential for its long term health.
Once you have corrected these issue, I'd urge you to reconsider utilizing a service such as Chemlawn (or TruGreen or any of the other chemically based lawn services). Ecologically conscious and knowledgeable gardeners understand that a lawn that is maintained by these methods becomes dependent on them and is less able to withstand weed invasion, summer drought and fungal diseases once the service is stopped. In addition to applying unnecessarily high quantitiies of both chemical fertilizers and herbicides which contribute heavily to groundwater pollution, these are not pet and child freindly substances. It is far better to encourage the development of a naturally healthy lawn through proper soil preparation and grass selection, correct mowing and watering techniques and moderate use of fertilizers than to rely on chemical intervention. Your local extension office should be able to help you with these pretty simple methods.
pam - gardengal
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I would think that in Georgia, some sort of improved bermuda grass, zoysia, centipede, or even St. Augustine if you're in central or south Georgia, would be preferable to fescue. Northern lawn grasses are finer in texture, and more fun to run around barefoot on, but they simply don't do well in the heat and humidity of the south - besides, there are no fire ants in the north.

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snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com (Josiane) wrote in message

Start by locating your counties Cooperative Extension office. Hint the government pages of the phone book perhaps under USDA Or your county name and cooperative extension as google search terms. Ask them about a soil test and for turf grass information specific to your area. Adjusting the soil Ph to optimum for the grasses that will grow in your region and increasing the soil's content of organic material will go a long way towards improving your results. Proper mowing is another consideration as it is very hard to grow decent turf if it is mown too low or too late.
Weeds will always come back. The trick is to give the turf grasses the advantage.
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