Pennington One Step- Too much hype?

I have not been able to reach customer service- always a call back, which I won't do. In late April I planted Pennington One Step. I followed instructions carefully. I'm in the Northeast and the weather was wet and cool for several weeks. In about 2 weeks the seed emerged. Over the past few weeks the weather has been dry and sunny, but I have watered on average 2 hours/day. (At first watering was pretty much non-stop due to the rain.) The bottom line is that the resulting grass has still not reached a cuttable height of 3" in most areas and is extremely uneven. While there are some fairly lush areas, much of the grass looks short and almost stunted. I used slightly more seed than was recommended for the area, but did not seriously overapply. The seed was applied carefully by hand to achieve reasonable uniformity (all that could be expected from hand seeding.) This is far from the first lawn I have seeded. The soil was good and used for an established lawn over many years which was ruined in the extremely hot summer of 2010. I turned the bad areas over carefully, removed all the weeds, and covered with a thin layer of topsoil before planting. Could someone please advise me? This lawn needs to be in shape by July 1. As it is now, the weeds are beating the grass! Thanks for help. Frank
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I will guess that Pennington 1-step is grass seed. You might have put that in the subject!!!! Spring is not the correct time for planting grass seed, it is early autumn for best results. All you can do is water heavily every other day and pray.
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I agree, fall is best, but I won't be around then. Also plenty of people plant in the spring and get serviceable results.
On Tue, 7 Jun 2011 14:31:18 -0700 (PDT), "hr(bob) snipped-for-privacy@att.net"

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You haven't had any soil test done, so you don't have clue as to the problem, and for sure there is one. Given your time constraints, the best way out now is to simply load up on decent sod and get it down and keep watering and praying. Think about shifting the problem to a commercial lawn service.
Joe
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LOL.
On Tue, 07 Jun 2011 20:38:44 -0700, Smitty Two

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On 6/7/2011 5:40 PM, Joe wrote:

Yeah. He hasn't given it enough time. As for the much-vaunted soil tests, the reality is that grass is a fairly resilient plant when it comes to pH. Further testing will reveal the amount of phosphorus and potassium present in the soil, but the phosphorus largely becomes available after the soil has fully warmed up when the soil bacteria break it down and make it available to the plants. Which is why, for spring seeding especially, supplementing with some phosphorus is a good idea. Especially if the soil is quite alkaline, because high-pH soils tend to lock up even more of the elemental phosphorus.
As for nitrogen content, most commercial soil tests don't actually test for that. Not at a homeowner level, anyway, because it's somewhat more involved and hence more expensive to do. Instead, they give you a recommendation of how much to apply based on soil type and what you expect to grow on it.
Basically, this guy could've improved the outcome by adding some phosphorus just to make sure, but he also simply didn't give himself enough time. If he'd only been able to do this last fall, he would've come out okay. Instead, he's under the gun because he did it just a few weeks before he needs the lawn established. Not likely to succeed.
Given your time constraints, the

If he does decide to sod it over, apply some phosphorus first, so it's at the root level and the plants can grab it immediately.
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The pH should probably have been tested, but the soil seemed perfectly adequate for grass growth in the past. ( I do wonder why this section did particularly poorly this past summer, however.) I would have covered it with straw, but that didn't seem necessary given the weather conditions and cool temps. Also I am not aware that the seed moved much or that there was much puddling. I am planning to spread starter fertilizer, based on recommendations here and from Pennington. I may also throw in a little additional seed and lime. In retrospect, slice seeding would have been a good idea- I have had good results in the past. I suspect this lawn will fail, but I will do the best I can before I leave for the summer on July 1. (Grass will be watered for 2 hours each day then.) If God should have a brain fart and want to help, I will welcome that...:) In the future I will be cautious about "1 Step" lawns, though I did think Pennington was a reliable company. Frank
On Tue, 7 Jun 2011 14:31:18 -0700 (PDT), "hr(bob) snipped-for-privacy@att.net"

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On 6/7/2011 2:23 PM, frank1492 wrote: ...

I'd venture given the described conditions a fair amount of seed may have either washed away, gotten buried too deeply or simply drowned as sprouts given too much water and cool early.

Ain't likely gonna' happen other than slow and gradual improvement
As another said, unless you actually did some soil testing to determine what the condition of the soil actually is wrt nutrients and acidity, anything you try w/o doing so is purely a crapshoot and may well do more harm than good.
I'd still wonder if you're not actually over-watering or at least on too frequent and shallow a schedule instead of less frequently and more deeply. It's been, after all, six weeks or so, so you're not talking still sprouting.
Did you mulch it after seeding? That'll make a big difference in keeping moist surface initially and help some w/ shading weeds.
--
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This Pennington sounds like a real gimmick product. I have seen similar types advertised on TV. It is mostly a mulch (probably ground-up newspapers) with some fertilizer and some grass seed of unknown type, very overpriced. I have had good results with spring seeding, and even early winter seeding with grass starting to grow on the first warm days of spring. I have always used regular lawn seed, usually a Kentucky type blended with other types, and have had no problems BUT to expect a lush fully grown lawn by July 1st, is never going to happen. If the weeds are overtaking the grass, a mowing will kill most weeds except the ones that are capable of living in a mowed lawn. It takes time to get a good lawn and these companies are selling a dream that will not materialize easily.
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The one-step type of products can be good for patching some small areas. But I agree, they are premium priced and you can save $$ by buying seed and fertilizer seperately. If you want the hydraulic mulch as well, that is available too.
Hard to say what went wrong here without knowing more. My first suspicion would be the new topsoil that was used. Often, new topsoil has PH that is way off. I'd at least test that. Even better, if there is an agricultural extension service or similar in the area, for about $15 they will do a complete soil test. Its also possible heavy rain may have washed the seed around, leaving some spots with little or none.
At this point, the fertilizer from April is gone. I'd apply starter fertilizer now. The watering should have been cut back long ago. Light watering to keep it constantly damp should be done for several weeks. Then you want to start backing off to less frequent watering, but watering it longer/deeper. By now it should be watered about once every 3 or 4 days, perhaps more frequent if it's real hot.
You should also be able to apply a broadleaf weed killer at this point. Ideally, you;d want the grass more established, but it's been 2 months and if the weeds are overtaking what grass you have, I don't think you have much to lose.
When I';ve renovated lawns, I did not till up everything, which is a lot of work. To start from scratch, I kill everything with Roundup, wait about a week until it's all dead, then mow it short and rake up the debris. Then I rent an overseeder. HD or local rental shops have them. That cuts grooves that give the seed good soil contact and better chance of success. The remaining amount of debris also serves as a mulch.
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On 6/7/2011 2:23 PM, frank1492 wrote:

Which kind? They've only got, oh, about a half dozen mixes and/or blends sold under that moniker.
I followed

Yes, so? That's normal for such a young lawn. It's early days yet. It takes weeks for a seeded lawn to reach its full potential.

From zero to lush in only 60-70 days? That wasn't a realistic goal. There are too many variables that can affect performance in such a short period. A golf course or a sod farm has the products and expertise on hand to produce optimum results in a short time, but you're just a home owner. You have to give yourself - and your new lawn - more time to reach that endpoint.
And by the way - what the hell kind of company fails to list the composition of its mixes and blends on its website? I'd love to see take a look at what they're putting into their product, but apparently they've decided not to make it easy to do so online. Not good.
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This was a sun/shade mixture. I was puzzled by the label on the seed as to the composition.
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On 6/8/2011 4:45 PM, frank1492 wrote:

Here's why it's important: grass seed takes time to germinate. Different varieties take different amounts of time. If you know what you're planting, you know how long it's going to take just to sprout, at which point you know whether you've got a fighting chance to get your lawn established in time.
Sun/shade mixtures are usually a mix of bluegrass(es), fescue, and ryegrass. In a quality mix, all the grasses are improved (named) varieties, and the ryegrass is a hybrid perennial ryegrass, which persists and blends better with the bluegrass. Annual rye is cheap filler and grass mixes containing it should be avoided, unless you only are looking for temporary cover.
Germination times: Common (unnamed) kentucky bluegrass: 30 days Improved (named) kentucky bluegrass varieties: 21 days Fescues : 14 days Ryegrasses - 7-10 days
See, if you seeded in late April, it would have only finished germinating by mid to late May. That only leaves a few weeks for the seedlings to become established. And spring weather isn't optimum for that - the weather is actually working against you (cold soil delays sprouting, warm winds dry it out faster, heavier rains wash more of it away, and the weeds are actively growing). It makes it harder to get the lawn established. Late summer/early fall seeding is when perennial grasses naturally seed, and the weather is working with you: warm soil (sprouts faster), cooler winds (doesn't dry out as fast), far fewer torrential downpours. And you could haven taken care of the weed situation in the spring, so there'd be fewer weeds around to compete with the grass seedlings.
You gave it your best shot. If you're lucky, the weather won't be too dry while you're gone and your new grass will eventually establish, more or less, while you're gone.
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This is excellent and will be preserved. The germination times were most interesting- this mixture obviously contained mostly grasses with the longest germination times. As I noted, there is much I could have done to assure better germination conditions, but I fell for the hype. Oh how I wish I could have planted in the fall- and used a slice seeder with a good mixture of conventional seed and starter fertilizer. Today, I overseeded with a thin coating of perennial rye grass and starter fertilizer. I'm sure you will find fault with the use of perennial rye but I felt I had to do something with the weak spots and with so little time left it seemed like the only reasonable alternative. I know PR is frowned upon because of its coarse texture and the fact that it will be coarse and grow much faster than the Pennington will obviously be a problem, making the lawn look somewhat mottled. But I use it quite often (by itself) near the shore on Cape Cod because of the poor soil and salt. Thanks again for your advice . Probably should have checked about the PR before going ahead. Frank
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"This mixture obviously contained mostly grasses with the longest germination times." NOTTTTT. I am stunned! I finally dug the bag out of the trash: Pennington 1-Step Complete: 5.52% 1G Squared Perennial Ryegrass 4.14% Soprano Perennial Ryegrass 1.38% Ridgeline Kentucky Bluegrass 1.38% Seven Seas Chewings Fescue 1.38% Razor Red Fescue Something "crop seed' (cant read percentage) Inert Matter (can't read percentage) Does this sound good???At least it looks as though my Perennial Rye overseeding will be right at home. But with all that rye, why so slow to germinate?
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Maybe the better question is why so little seed? I guess we know the answer to that. They can get a premium price for a convenience product that is only 15% seed. Scotts is playing this game big time in an even sneakier way. A lot of their grass product is coated with something to help hold water. Good idea, except that the 10lb bag is only half seed and many people never realize it. So, while the bag is priced like other grass seed that is 100% seed, you're only getting half the actual seed.
My first suspicion would be that something was not right with the new topsoil that you used. It's not unusual for screened topsoil to be way off in PH for example. Having started in late April, you should have decent grass by now. Also, even if it's not very big yet, it was done germinating weeks ago and you should see evenly distributed plants, even if still small.

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Try rec.gardens
HB
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