weeds and thatch

I live in a suburb of Cleveland Ohio. My lawn, in the last 2 months is getting a lot of weeds and it looks like I have a layer of thatch between the blades of grass. I have a sprinkler system which waters 3 times a week, however we have had a wet summer so far. I have fertilized using Scotts brand fertilizer during the cycles described on the bag but the lawn doesn't look much better. I think I should thatch the yard but am unsure if I should wait until fall and then reseed and fertilize again. Is there anything I can do now, escpecially before the weeds get much worse?
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
snipped-for-privacy@adelphia.net wrote:

If you followed the directions Scotts puts on the bag (remember... they want to sell more fertilizer), and watered three times a week, and you've had a wet summer, too, it would be amazing if you had a healthy lawn.
There's not much you can effectively do now to make the lawn look better for the rest of summer that will have any long-term benefits. There are some things you should start doing now, but they won't have immediate aesthetic effects. 1. Pull weeds, or spray them with Round-up. Remember that Round-up works by being absorbed through the foliage, so if you pull, don't spray. Round-up may also kill what's left of the grass it gets on, so it'll look real bad after a couple of weeks. When September comes, stop spraying. 2. Stop watering. The only good watering would do at this point is make it easier to pull weeds. 3. In mid-September, detatch. Bring in a dethatching machine. Rake away all the thatch. 4. Check how hard the ground is. If it's hard and crusty, and water puddles on top of it, aerate it, too. You can leave the cores that the aeration pulls out while making it's holes. 5. Now's the time to fix any unevenness. Spread some good soil or (fully) composted organic material. You don't need to go too deep. The deeper you go, the more settling there will be, and the more uneven it'll be later. 6. Spread some grass seed. Check with your local extension office to see what kind of mix they suggest for your area. Don't just buy the stuff Home Depot has the most of. Depending upon conditions, you may want to use a slightly different mix for full sun vs. full shade areas, but be aware of transition areas if you're going to have grass that looks very different in different areas. 7. Use some starter fertilizer, but only apply at 1/3 to 1/2 what the package recommends. 8. Wait a couple of weeks. If germination isn't even, scratch the soil in the barer areas, and reseed.
Hopefully the fall rains will be enough, but don't let the lawn dry-out for the first week after seeding. After germination has taken place, leave it to Mother Nature for the rest of fall. You probably won't have to mow before winter, but if you do, mow high. Be careful about the falling leaves. You don't want to tear-up the new sod while raking. A blower or vacuum is a good idea this year.
Next spring, fill in any spots that aren't coming in well. Fertilize just once, and again, only at 1/3 to 1/2 the package recommendations.
Mow high, and don't cut off more than 1/3 the blades at a time. Leave the clippings. (If it gets away from you, and your mower's highest setting takes more than 1/3, then bag the clippings, and compost them.) Mowing high is especially important as spring is ending, and you're going into summer.
Your lawn needs only 1 inch of water a week, preferably at one time. Mother Nature may not cooperate on the once a week idea, but you're the one in control of any extra watering. Put some cans out on the lawn to see how long you need to run your sprinklers to get 1". If you get puddling or massive run-off before you hit 1", it's okay to break it into two sessions, but the time between the sessions should be measured in hours or minutes, not days.
Infrequent, but deep watering will encourage deeper roots. Deeper roots, in turn, create a situation that's better able to survive unusually conditions. Mowing high results in more blades, and more shade on the soil, keeping the soil cooler, and keeping it from drying out too fast. It also lessens the light available for light-activated annual weed seeds. And mowing frequently enough that you're never taking more than 1/3 the blade lessens the shock of the mowing, and leaves you with small enough clippings that you can leave them on the lawn. The decomposing little clippings help with the shading of the soil, and ultimately add fresh organic material to the soil meaning you don't need to fertilize as much.
At the end of the first year, evaluate whether aeration needs to be done. (It's highly unlikely that detatching needs to be done if you followed the regimen.) After aeration, over-seed, and put on some "winterizer" fertilizer, again at 1/3 to 1/2 the package recommendations.
The second year you shouldn't need to do any fertilizing. The lawn should be self-sustaining. Perhaps a light spread of winterizer fertilizer in the fall, but nothing else. (The winterizer fertilizer is formulated to help with root growth. Don't even think of using high-nitrogen fertilizer for top growth. That's a short-term solution, that'll bite you in the end.)
--
Warren H.

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

Warren, Thanks for the detailed suggestions. It sounds simple enough. Are you in fact saying that whenever I fertilize (new seed or old lawn)it should be at a rate that is 1/2 to 1/3 of what is stated on the package? And fertilizing as called for by Scotts, four times a year, is not necessary?
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
snipped-for-privacy@adelphia.net wrote:

If properly watered, and mowed, the clippings loft on the lawn to decompose should provide nearly all the fertilization the lawn should need.
Following the Scotts "program" can give you a nice looking lawn in the short term under the right conditions because it emphasizes top growth. What you get is a thirsty, chemical dependant lawn -- the sod equivalent of a junkie. The more you use, the more you depend on it until you go past the point of no return, and crash.
Scotts sells fertilizer and seed. Their best interest is in creating a "program" that sells these things -- especially if it creates short-term, nearly instant results. They aren't interested in telling you how to get a great looking lawn that takes a year or more to happen, especially if it doesn't sell more product. They'll tell you how to get a great looking lawn in a few months, assuming you're committed to using their products for the few years until it crashes. With any luck, you'll convince yourself that it crashed because you took a shortcut from their program, so you'll go out, buy Scotts seeds, and then start over again, following the program for a short-term lawn, only to repeat it over and over again. (And maybe you'll move to a new house before the big crash, and you'll never know.)
Follow the method I outlined, and your lawn will look crappy the rest of the summer. Next year will be a rebuilding year - it may look good, but you might not win any awards. But two or three years down the road, and the time and (especially) money you'll spend on your yard will be a fraction of what your Scotts-happy neighbors will be spending, and your neighbors will need to do major renovations multiple times before you will again.
You'll also have fewer weeds. Weeds are plants of opportunity, and they'll like those shallow-rooted, nitrogen filled, short-trimmed lawns with lots of exposed soil surface better than they'll like a dense, longer lawn, with composting clippings protecting the exposed soil, which is often dry on the surface, but rich, loamy, and moist a couple inches down where the grass roots are.
Oh... and I almost forgot something. I have a neighbor who waters every day. He's got some interesting patches where the insects are hatching their eggs, and eating the lawn. The constant dampness provides a nice environment for them. They don't get that on my lawn.
Now I'm not totally anti-fertilizer. It has it's use. My lawn gets a light winterizer fertilizer each year. I just don't believe that following the Scott's "program" is the best way to care for your lawn. I have nothing against their company, either. They have a couple of nice seed blends for my area, and they put their name on some nice spreaders. I hear they have some nice power equipment with their name on it, too. They just have too much incentive to get you to buy fertilizer, and lots of it.
--
Warren H.

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

WOW. Thanks for the help, it's really appreciated.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Grass needs between 1 and 1 1/2 inches of water a week to grow well. It is also better to water deeply les frequently than to water lightly more frequently. Therefore, I would re-think the sprinkler setting. You can usually attach a water senor to prevent the system from operating when it isn't needed. I wouldn't water more than twice a week.
For information on lawn and garden issues, you should check out the Ohio Cooperative Extension Agency website: http://ohioline.osu.edu /
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Vox Humana wrote:

It is better for the environment and your water bill to not water lawns at all, just let the grass go dormant in the summer.
--
Travis in Shoreline Washington

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

When did you perform a soil test and ammend the pH?
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

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.