How to Recover a Thinning Lawn?

My lawn in my front yard is looking really not that great -- many areas are kind of thin, not dense. I am wondering what I can do to make it become thick and healthy.
Contrary to the lawn in my front yard, the lawn in my backyard is looking great. This is surprising considering the fact that the front yard is facing south and is sunny-to-part-shade, and the backyard is facing north and is part-shade, and the grass is Kentucky Bluegrass that is supposed to prefer more sun.
I can see the only possible reason why the backyard lawn is doing great has to do with the fact that it has 3" to 4" top soil while the front yard only has 1" top soil (the sub soil in both cases are sandy).
I tried to improve the front yard in the fall of last year by adding 1/2" top soil onto the front yard after I reseeded the lawn. Everything looked promising in spring; grasses were emerging from where that was thin before. But by early summer, the situation became worsen. The lawn in my front yard started thinning again. What should I do now?
My questions are:
- I believe this has something to do with too little top soil and the sandy soil cannot hold water that well, and I probably need to water more often than what I am doing now. I have already made sure the lawn got at least one inch of water a week. Does the sandy soil require more frequent watering, such as twice a week?
- I have been using a soil-sampler to check the moisture of the soil periodically to see when I should start watering, and I think that the soil is still slightly moist at 6" deep most of the time. May be I just don't "feel" the soil correctly. May be the soil was very dry, but I thought they were still moist. What's the correct "feel" that I should go for?
- I have a feeling that I should add more top soil or compost in this fall. While I am waiting for the fall, I am wondering what else I should do right now. Does putting in organic fertilizer into the lawn has the effect of adding more top soil (let say every month)? Should I add more water? Should I add more water _and_ add more organic fertilizer?
Please help. Thanks.
Jay Chan
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My lawn in my front yard is looking really not that great -- many areas are kind of thin, not dense. I am wondering what I can do to make it become thick and healthy.
Contrary to the lawn in my front yard, the lawn in my backyard is looking great. This is surprising considering the fact that the front yard is facing south and is sunny-to-part-shade, and the backyard is facing north and is part-shade, and the grass is Kentucky Bluegrass that is supposed to prefer more sun.
I can see the only possible reason why the backyard lawn is doing great has to do with the fact that it has 3" to 4" top soil while the front yard only has 1" top soil (the sub soil in both cases are sandy).
I tried to improve the front yard in the fall of last year by adding 1/2" top soil onto the front yard after I reseeded the lawn. Everything looked promising in spring; grasses were emerging from where that was thin before. But by early summer, the situation became worsen. The lawn in my front yard started thinning again. What should I do now?
My questions are:
- I believe this has something to do with too little top soil and the sandy soil cannot hold water that well, and I probably need to water more often than what I am doing now. I have already made sure the lawn got at least one inch of water a week. Does the sandy soil require more frequent watering, such as twice a week?
- I have been using a soil-sampler to check the moisture of the soil periodically to see when I should start watering, and I think that the soil is still slightly moist at 6" deep most of the time. May be I just don't "feel" the soil correctly. May be the soil was very dry, but I thought they were still moist. What's the correct "feel" that I should go for?
- I have a feeling that I should add more top soil or compost in this fall. While I am waiting for the fall, I am wondering what else I should do right now. Does putting in organic fertilizer into the lawn has the effect of adding more top soil (let say every month)? Should I add more water? Should I add more water _and_ add more organic fertilizer?
Please help. Thanks.
Jay Chan
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no need to double post Jay
Jay Chan wrote:

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Die Spammer wrote:

And thanx for making it a triple. [:^)
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My lawn in my front yard is looking really not that great -- many areas are kind of thin, not dense. I am wondering what I can do to make it become thick and healthy.
Contrary to the lawn in my front yard, the lawn in my backyard is looking great. This is surprising considering the fact that the front yard is facing south and is sunny-to-part-shade, and the backyard is facing north and is part-shade, and the grass is Kentucky Bluegrass that is supposed to prefer more sun.
I can see the only possible reason why the backyard lawn is doing great has to do with the fact that it has 3" to 4" top soil while the front yard only has 1" top soil (the sub soil in both cases are sandy).
I tried to improve the front yard in the fall of last year by adding 1/2" top soil onto the front yard after I reseeded the lawn. Everything looked promising in spring; grasses were emerging from where that was thin before. But by early summer, the situation became worsen. The lawn in my front yard started thinning again. What should I do now?
My questions are:
- I believe this has something to do with too little top soil and the sandy soil cannot hold water that well, and I probably need to water more often than what I am doing now. I have already made sure the lawn got at least one inch of water a week. Does the sandy soil require more frequent watering, such as twice a week?
- I have been using a soil-sampler to check the moisture of the soil periodically to see when I should start watering, and I think that the soil is still slightly moist at 6" deep most of the time. May be I just don't "feel" the soil correctly. May be the soil was very dry, but I thought they were still moist. What's the correct "feel" that I should go for?
- I have a feeling that I should add more top soil or compost in this fall. While I am waiting for the fall, I am wondering what else I should do right now. Does putting in organic fertilizer into the lawn has the effect of adding more top soil (let say every month)? Should I add more water? Should I add more water _and_ add more organic fertilizer?
Please help. Thanks.
Jay Chan
You're correct that depending on soil type, more frequent watering may be needed. One inch about once a week works with good, deep soil and reasonable temps. With poor soil and/or high temp, more frequent watering will be necessary. In any case, it's best to water deeply only as often as it's needed. You can tell if it needs water by looking at it. The grass tends to get a bluish color and will not spring back when stepped on if it needs water. And all this is for mature grass. If you seeded this spring, that grass needs to be watered more frequently until it becomes established. I see people seeding and then, after about 6 weeks, just letting it go, treating it like the rest of the lawn, which results in most of it dieing.
If you really have only 1 inch of topsoil, then starting over and having topsoil brought in is the only real solution. But, are you sure of what you have? Is it just the first inch is different, the rest being sandy loam type material or is it really pure sand? Also, have you had the soil tested, particularly for PH? Have you fertilized, particularly in early fall and then about 6 weeks later? If it doesn't green up quickly after applying nitrogen, that's a sign of improper PH.
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Thanks for the confirmation. Seem like I will have to water twice as often as what I am doing now -- at least for the front lawn. I will leave the lawn in my backyard in the original schedule.

Thanks for the tip. But I must admit that I am not quite able to tell just by looking at the grass color or by stepping on them. That was the reason why I bought the soil sampler to check the moisture of the soil. But seem like I cannot tell the difference between dry soil and slightly dry soil either even with a soil sampler ... Oh well... Well, I will keep trying to see if I can get the right "feel".

What the "top soil" that I am referring to is the top layer of soil that is either black or very dark brown. The sub-soil in my lawn is more like light brown to dark yellow; when it is dry, it tends to break apart. They are not like sands in the beach. Seem to me that the sub-soil is a mix of fill dirt and sand. Basically, the top-layer of the lawn and the sub-layer are two clearly distinct layers.
I have thought of replacing the lawn and add more top soil and replant. But this is a lot more work than I am ready to do. Moreover, I may remodel the house in two to three years. The lawn will be shot anyway. I will probably do a major overhaul of the lawn after the remodeling. Therefore, I am just looking for something that can give me a good result for the next couple years.

The soil was fine according to soil test that I did two years ago with the County Extension Office. I also used cheap store bought kit to test the soil last year. The results of both tests were not surprising to me: Everything was fine except for the fact that I needed to add more nitrogen. This was not surprising to me because of the fact that I did the soil test in fall and I hadn't applied any fertilizer for 5 months before the test (I don't tend to apply fertilizer in summer), and I believe much nitrogen had leached out from the soil. I will do a soil test again this fall one month before I apply winterizing fertilizer.
Seem like the conclusion is to add more water for now, and do a soil test in fall to see what I should do next.
Jay Chan
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I used Google as a way to post message. Somehow, Google didn't "seem" to be able to post the message (and gave me error) when I posted it the first time. Therefore, I posted it again.
Do you have any suggestion on the questions in my original post(s)?
Jay Chan
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snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com (Jay Chan) wrote:

Ignore spamboy, he's clueless. I'd add organics and topsoil to the front, while I was replacing it. Kill it, bring in your earth, grade it out nice, and replant it in about month from now here in Ohio.
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Seem like improving soil structure is the key to success. I probably cannot do this until a couple years from now. Thanks for the idea anyway.
Jay Chan
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