Order of lawn maintenance operations?

Hello all,
Hoping to pick your brains if you would be so kind.
I have a lawn that needs some (ok, a lot) of help, although it's not beyond repair. It has significant moss growth and thatch and dries out too readily. My thoughts so far involve scarifying, hollow tine aeration and top dressing/lawn sand brushed in, with new seeding.
What I would like to know is, does it matter in which order this care is done? Can it be done all together to keep the time taken down to a minimum?
Many thanks.
--
lasors


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Are you sure you know what thatch really looks like and that it's really excessive? Many people think thatch is just the normal dead, decaying grass clippings. It's not. Thatch is a lot of dead plant material that becomes so thick it's like a thatch roof.
and dries out

The scarifying is only necessary if you really have a thatch problem. And I would not do that and aeration at the same time. Either of those will damage and kill some of the existing grass. I would seperate them by months. You only need to top dress if the soil needs something added to it. For seeding the best tool is an over-seeder, which cuts groves in the soil and drops seed. Fall is by far the best time to do seeding. You have less competition from weeds, lower temps, less watering and more time for the turf to establish before you get to hotter summer conditions.

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I realise the above does nothing to address the problem of why the moss is forming, which I believe to be poor drainage, which could be linked to a mass of thatch holding moisture?
Would aeration/drainage be better coming later on, once I've tried to get the grass growing again?
--
lasors


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On 4/21/2013 10:04 AM, lasors wrote:

Might also check pH. Moss can indicate high acidity and liming might help.
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Get a flat spade and take out a sq ft of turf in a few spots. Look at it from the side. A half inch or so of dead material is normal. If you have an inch or two of thatch, then you have a problem. You can google to find some pics.

If the drainage is related to compaction, then aeration will help. But it could also be due to other factors, like that area of the soil having a higher water table. Or it could be that there is a clay layer a few inches down. If the cause is those, then aeration isn't going to solve it. Aeration is generally a good thing though, so no real harm in doing it and it should help the grass grow.
The only negative is that while you can do it anytime, I'd prefer to do it in Fall. That's the best time to seed and if you do the aeration now, disturbing the soil, you're giving weeds an opportunity to grow. In the Fall, that's less of a problem. But you can always go after the weeds with a herbicide.
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lasors wrote:

there are many potential factors in this so it is really best for you to find a local lawn person who can come and look at your site and determine what is going on.
the rest of this is a general guide, but some of it may not apply to your situation.
new construction often doesn't include very much topsoil. even if they put down sod you may find only a few inches of topsoil underneath. which means it really cannot support long term grass growth if the grass is cut and removed. over time the grass thins as the soil gets compacted and then the weeds take over because there are spots for the weed seeds to easily germinate. this can be counteracted by aerating and adding compost as described below and using a mulching lawn mower. you do not need to weed kill or reseed if the species of grasses are suitable for your area and sunlight. just mow regularly and keep adding compost in thin layers and the grasses will recover and smother out most weeds. if there are specific areas after a bit that are full of nothing but weeds then you can spot treat those areas, but reseeding is usually not very good because the reseeding might have different grass species in the mix and then the lawn looks even worse. just tug weeds out as you can and the surrounding grasses will recolonise the area.
it is very unlikely you have a thatch problem if i dries out very quickly. more likely you have a poor compacted soil problem, not enough light, wrong grass species, or cutting it too short and removing the clippings instead of using a mulching mower.
all of these can be dealt with in various ways.
poor soil can be aerated and then amended with a thin layer of compost (1/4") at a time until the compost gets broken down, then repeat as needed during the growing season, but ease off when cooler and wetter weather returns.
the lack of light may need some tree thinning or different species of grasses.
some areas may be better off turned into shade gardens.
if you are cutting the grass and bagging the clippings instead of letting them break down on the lawn, then you're stripping nutrients from the soil over time. use a mulching mower set on a fairly high setting often enough that there aren't lumps collecting on the surface to smother the grass.
compacted soil and pH adjustments may help the moss problem, but aerating, getting enough light and adding compost and mowing higher will give the grass a better chance to smother the moss.
moss spores are constantly floating in the air. you cannot get rid of it, you can only make the conditions more favorable to grass so that any mosses won't be able to do much.
songbird
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Thank you all very much for your advice. I now have a good plan of attack for now until Autumn.
--
lasors


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Got advice you're getting. I would add to test the lawn with a home test kit. Instead of taking samples at various places and mixing together, I do each spot separately. And yes, they all came out the same. LOL!! My yard showed no nitrogen and OK for P & K, so that was easy to fix.
I have seen so many of my neighbors kill a decent lawn, dig it up and lay down sod. Always seems like a waste to me. Our lawn looked worse than any other, and all did was sow bare spots, cover with soil or compost and water. It always comes back and in a couple of weeks look nearly as good as the new sod. Also doing this is a lot faster than spraying/killing the lawn and waiting weeks to lay down the sod.
I have mulched this lawn for 20 years and never thatched. Aerated once years ago and could not tell any difference.
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Got advice you're getting. I would add to test the lawn with a home test kit. Instead of taking samples at various places and mixing together, I do each spot separately. And yes, they all came out the same. LOL!! My yard showed no nitrogen and OK for P & K, so that was easy to fix.
I have seen so many of my neighbors kill a decent lawn, dig it up and lay down sod. Always seems like a waste to me. Our lawn looked worse than any other, and all did was sow bare spots, cover with soil or compost and water. It always comes back and in a couple of weeks look nearly as good as the new sod. Also doing this is a lot faster than spraying/killing the lawn and waiting weeks to lay down the sod.
I have mulched this lawn for 20 years and never thatched. Aerated once years ago and could not tell any difference.
===
I meant "Good" advice you're getting.....
Another tip.... if the lovely wife is complaining about the lawn, here's what you do -- go for a walk. On the way back, cross to the other side of the street. About 2 houses before you get home, stop and point out the flaws in the yard you're standing in front of. Then look over to your yard and comment on how green it looks. Unless yours is in really bad shape, it will always look better from there.
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