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Your Lawn’s Had a Summer Beating

August 13, 2012

All summer long your lawn takes a beating, especially this year with the record drought in many areas.  Your lawn’s had more heat, more sun, more dryness – and it probably looks it.  But the real damage is down where you can’t see; in the roots, where growth has been stunted or stopped altogether.

Fortunately, we are nearing the best time of year to do something about it.  You should plan to rejuvenate your grass over the next few months with at least two feedings of one of the Turf Builder Lawn Foods.  (I plan on feeding my lawn three times between now and Thanksgiving because I have seen first-hand the difference this extra nutrition will make in grass root growth.)

Not only will Turf Builder give your lawn a fast green up, you’ll get more root growth because fall is the best grass growing weather of the year.  Cool nights, sunny days and wetter weather are ideal for developing the kind of deep, healthy root system your lawn needs to thrive long term.  However, to get this payoff you need to feed your grass!

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54 Comments
  1. bob apprich permalink

    I getting a lot of crab grass on my lawn now. What can I do to eradicate it?
    Thank you.

    • Hi Bob
      You can kill crabgrass with Ortho Weed B Gon MAX plus Crabgrass Killer without killing your good grass. Please understand that younger crabgrass is easier to kill than older, mature crabgrass. Crabgrass will be killed later this year when you get a heavy frost.

      • scotts does not make a product to kill crabgrass unless they make roundup and I dont think they do.

      • Hi rmccurry
        Ortho has a crabgrass killer to use after crabgrass is growing without killing your good grass, however it is best used when crabgrass is young, ie, less mature: Ortho Weed B Gon MAX plus Crabgrass Killer. Scotts Miracle Gro also sells Roundup in the home lawn market.

    • My lawn is full of it. every year i till the sunny areas and reseed. i have used scotts tall fescue, rebel and one year even scotts bermuda. last year I use HTB since i live in Charlotte nc. It is always beautiful until it gets hot and it all dies completely and the weeds and crab take over except in the areas that have been here with no overseeding since 1984. I dont get it. Scotts does not make a fescue that will survive summer heat in the south. time to do something again and I dont have a clue.

      • Hi rmccurry
        Living in the south, I have found that it is far better to seed cool-season grasses, like Heat-Tolerant Blue, in fall rather than in spring. The key thing in fall is to feed this new grass a couple of times to help drive root growth to help next summer. (three tims is better.) A soil test can also show how much lime is needed to get the soil pH into a good range. An application of Lawn Fungus Control may be needed during the height of the Brown Patch season next summer.

      • That is what I do usually in or around mid September. The last 3 years I killed it all with roundup, waited about 10 days, tilled, seeded, fertilized and watered daily until it germinated. It always comes in beautifully and stays like that until August the next year. The old grass never dies out but it is shaded and the rest is full Sun. This last seeding was heat tolerant blue.

      • Hi rmccurry: I can certainly picture what you are going thru as I have been on many lawns in Charlotte. With the kind of summers we have had lately, a little bit of shade can really make a difference with fescue. One additional approach that may help is pushing more feeding into fall. Suggest: Starter Fertilizer when you seed, follow up with Turf Builder a month after seeding, and follow up with Turf Builder WinterGuard in mid November. If you suspect a low soil pH, put down lime (50 pounds per 1,000 sq ft) sometime this fall. You would only then do a single feeding next spring. You might consider an insect control in summer if you see moths flying up from your lawn. Be ready with Lawn Fungus Control if you start to see early stages of Brown Patch lawn fungus next summer. If you give up on fescue, there are some good zoysia alternatives now, however you would have to accept the brown winter color. Late spring is the time to seed or sod zoysia.

      • rmccurry permalink

        I am afraid I got the wrong Roundup Extended Control. After I sprayed it I noticed the label says not to reseed for 4 months. If that is true I am really screwed with fescue. It would be another year looking at a bear yard before I can seed and I will be 71 years of age then. I am really just sick of this and most of all dealing with Scotts.

      • To rmccurry: I am very sorry to hear that you used the Extended Control Roundup that is designed for driveways and patios. This means grass seed will be prevented from germinating in this area for 4 months. Any of the regular Roundup products would have allowed grass seed to germinate in 7 days. I do not have a good suggestion for you to enable seeding this fall. I wish I had better news for you.

        Ashton Ritchie

  2. mike permalink

    Hi, my grass took a beating this summer, I live in Illinois . What kind of feeding should I use at this time of the year. Thanks

  3. Bill permalink

    I am planning on at least two courses of turf builder now through the fall. However, I also am planning on treating weeds/crabgrass with Weed B Gon Max now. How long should I wait after the weed treatment to feed the lawn? Thanks.

    • Hi Bill
      Suggest you feed first, give your lawn a bit of water, and the next day spray the weeds when rain is not expected. By feeding first, you will stimulate the weeds to absorb the weed control.

  4. Patrick permalink

    Ashton,

    I have large patches of mature crabgrass ( approx two @ 25 square feet each) growing in the middle of thick healthy grass – do you recommend killing the crabgrass now and replanting in the fall or waiting until spring to replant in those areas after the frost kills it? Thanks in advance.

    • Hi Patrick
      Fall would be a better time to plant grass seed in your case, since those areas will be loaded with crabgrass seed next spring that will want to compete with your good grass seed germination. Suggest you spray the patches with Roundup now, being careful not to spray your good grass. Then in 7 days you will be able to seed those areas. Your grass will become established during a good grass growing weather this fall. Put down Starter Fertilizer with the seed and then follow up with a feeding of Turf Builder a month later.

      • rmccurry permalink

        Always did that in the past but I used Extended control and the label says not to seed for 4 months. Please tell me that is wrong.

  5. Joseph E. Gemmete permalink

    Hi Ashton, my grass was great and now all of a sudden I am getting brown
    patches were the grass has died. I have since put on turfbuilder. Do I wait
    till the fall and try to reseed the areas?

    • Hi Joseph
      Labor Day weekend is a good time to seed for most northern locations. Sorry about your brown patches.

      • Hi,I’m jack waldorf from clinton,Iowa, looks like I have lots of dead grass in my front yard,face,s the sun about 10hrs a day,what seed should I use and whae to plant,thanks

      • Hi Jack
        Sorry you have dead areas to repair this fall. It has been a tough year. I am a big fan of Scotts Turf Builder Heat Tolerant Blue Grass Seed and it will work well in your area with the amount of sun you are receiving.

  6. Ana permalink

    Hi Ashton,

    I fertilized with SummerGuard 8/10. How soon can I lay Southern TurfBuilder in my St,. Augustine?

    • Hi Ana
      Since SummerGuard is a “light” feeding, you can come back with Southern Turf Builder the second weekend in September (about a month after SummerGuard).

  7. Ronnie permalink

    Hi Ashton,
    I live in the Dallas Ft Worth area. When is a good time to overseed? Should I aerate the lawn first? And what height is best when overseeding your lawn?

    • Hi Ronnie
      I assume you have a Bermudagrass or Zoysia lawn that you want to overseed with Annual Ryegrass to give you a green lawn all winter. Most folks do not do this kind of overseeding on St Augustinegrass. You usually wait until you get a frost to overseed (sometime in mid to late October). It is a good idea to aerate a month before. Just before overseeding, mow your Bermudagrass as short as possible. Put down Starter Fertilizer when you seed and keep up the watering several times a day for the first couple of weeks.

  8. I live in Lancaster, Pa and this is the 3rd consecutive year I’ve developed major brown patches throughout my lawn. I aereated 2 years ago and seeded and dethatched and heavy seeded last fall. Put a mixture of Green Max and Turf Builder 4 wks ago and see no results. Have had 1.5″ of rain in last week with no effect. I’m running out of answers and tired of starting over each fall. Help!

    • Hi Mike
      In your area there can be summer lawn problems from insects (like sodwebworm, cutworm, and chinchbug), there can be grubs, and there can be lawn fungus problems (like brown patch and summer patch). Some of these lawn fungus problems tend to come back in the same spots each year. Since I am not standing on your lawn it is hard to say what is your ongoing problem. Having said that, I still think I can help you by suggesting a schedule for your lawn that pushes more fall feedings and early spring feedings and less summer feedings. (Many years in Central Penn summer feedings are fine, however with the hotter, drier weather of recent years, it may be best to put more of your feedings in the cooler times of the year.)

      If you need to seed now, I suggest Scotts Turf Buildr Heat Tolerant Blue with Starter Fertilizer. Then feed your lawn a month after seeding with Turf Builder. I would come back with Turf Builder WinterGuard in mid November. Feed in early spring with Turf Builder plus Halts. In May, put down GrubEx. Then in late June put down Ortho Bug B Gon MAX when you see the first lawn moths flying up when you mow (these are adult sodwebworm and cutworms). Hold off feeding next summer until late August. If you see circular spots or patches starting to show up next summer, you can put down Scotts Lawn Fungus Control, however it is best to get this down before the spots actually kill your lawn.
      Hope this info helps!

  9. Eric permalink

    Here in Dayton, Ohio. I too have many large brown patches in my lawn this year. A few are so severe, I’m certain I need to reseed.

    Folks have mentioned over-seeding a few times here already.

    Can you explain exactly how to do this ?

  10. Eric permalink

    Also, how does one tell if the grasses in brown patches are simply gone dormant (relivable) or completely dead (need reseeded) ?

    • Hi Eric
      Take a look at my blog posting and picture in “Will my grass come back from the drought?” to see how your grass will look if it is going to come out of dormancy. If you need to seed, you will need to break up the soil a bit with a rake or with a dethatching machine so that the seed will come in contact with your soil. A slit-seeding machine also works to put grass seed next to the soil. If you were to just put the grass seed down on top of the dead grass, the seed that made it down to the soil would have the best chance of growing. The Scotts Turf Builder Heat Tolerant Blue grass seed would work well in Dayton. Put down Starter Fertilizer the day you seed. Begin watering a couple of times a day. In a month, feed again with Turf Builder.

  11. Hi my question is my back yard is used mainly for the grandkids and is very large and is out of the question for watering . it is very brown and laying pretty flat so i’m wondering if its ok to fertilize or wait to see if it is going to show signs of life first so i don’t do anymore damage…thanks, Don

    • Hi Don
      A week or so after getting a significant rain of at least an inch, check the crowns of the grass plants near the soil surface to look for green grass blades beginning to come out of the dormant grass plants. Once you see this and rains are starting to be forcasted, you can feed with Turf Builder.

  12. Hi Ashton..

    Thanks for your reply. I put down Grub-x the 1st week of June every year. This doesn’t control sodwebworm, cutworm, and chinchbug? My brown spots do seem to occur in the same areas as last year. In many of these areas I have seen some green chutes but within a few days are gone. I fertilized with a Green Max/Turfbuilder mix 5 wks ago to stop the brown rust which also develops every year in July/Aug. I have been told to treat rust with fertilizer. It stopped the rust but I started seeing my grass deteriorate within a couple weeks. I watered in the fertilizer and we’ve had more rain but the heat has continued. I will again plan to seed. Twice a day watering is suggested. Is just dampening sufficient as this can get quite time consuming? I have a quarter acre. Any additional information based on this note would be greatly appreciated.

    • Hi Mike
      GrubEx can provide some control of other insects if the timing works out. It does not provide season long control like it does for grubs. Ortho Bug B Gon MAX or Turf Builder SummerGuard provides better control of these other insects. At this point however, based on more info you provided, I think you had a lawn fungus problem like summer patch or brown patch. When you do seed in the coming weeks, the idea is to keep the soil surface moist so the grass seed will become established. Depending on the weather conditions, you may be able to get by with once a day watering, however try not to allow the new seed to dry out.

  13. Adrian permalink

    Afternoon Ashton,

    I’m in Dallas and I fertilized using SummerGuard on 8/10 because chinch bugs might of gotten a hold of my St. Augustine but didn’t realize how bad the issue was till.too late. In the past 3 days we have had over 10″ of rain. Is it safe to spread Scott’s Max Green this weekend or next?

    • Hi Adrian
      Since SummerGuard is a “light” feeding, you can put down GreenMax next weekend.

      • Adrian permalink

        Thank you. Let’s say that I fertilize this weekend and water regularly and my grass starts turning yellow instead of green. I have articles of this happening so I want to be prepared with a solution I’d it does happen to my st. Augustine (N. Texas)

        Thanks again

    • Hi Adrian
      As long as your mid day temps are lower than around 90 degrees and you can water after feeding, your St. Augustinegrass will appreciate this feeding. I am also assuming that the SummerGuard you put down earlier this month has knocked out your chinchbugs. Good luck with your lawn.

  14. Jim permalink

    I live in Columbus OH and I plan on over seeding my yard in the next week. What fertilizer should I use.

    • Hi Jim
      I suggest Scotts Starter Fertilizer as this can make a big difference in grass seed germination.

  15. Ken Scheil permalink

    I live in Indianapolis’ IN and the areas exposed to the sun are not turning green after the drought. Shaded areas are much better. the watwering ban has not been lifted. Not sure what I can do and when. Thanks for any help you can give me. Ken S

    • Hi Ken
      Sorry your lawn is taking a beating. Check out my blog posting: “Will your lawn come back from the drought” I posted a few weeks back. There is a photo and description for you to tell if your lawn is going to come back or if you will need to seed. If you find you need to seed, the optimum time for you is early to mid September. We can generally count on mother nature to be more cooperative during that time frame. You may be able to water again at that time.

      • Ken Scheil permalink

        What kind qf grass seed should I use when I recede?tHANKS kEN

      • Eric permalink

        Ashton, Could you please post the link to that article ?

      • Hi Ken
        Scotts Turf Builder Heat Tolerant Blue Grass Seed would be a good choice for Indy.

  16. Hello my name is E. I live in Wichita Kansas. My yard has all kinds of weeds in it . What are the steps to killing it? then what is the best seed to use her in Wichita?

  17. Bob cornmesser permalink

    I live in Northern Indiania and I have some of the best clay soil in the state. My lawn suffered extensively from the summer drougt, and I need to reseed some large spots. What kind of seed should I use and when should I apply fertlizer?

    • Hi Bob Cornmesser
      You live in a great area for Scotts Turf Builder Heat-Tolerant Blue grass seed. Starter Fertilizer should be applied the same day you seed. (I like your description of “the best clay soil in the state”.)

      • I live in Lancaster, Pa and was told it has some of the most fertile land in the country. Lived here 9 years and had no issue with my lawn during the summer and even with some brown out areas would always recover with my fall feedings. Lost my lawn the last 3 years which hasn’t happened in my lifetime anywhere i’ve ever lived. I have used Scott’s products since 1972. I have dethatched, areated, re-seeded the last 2 falls and am facing it again this fall. I’ve gotten advice from Aston from previous posts. I will be using Heat Tolerant Blue grass this fall for the 1st time. Aston suggest bug and fungus control next year when I 1st see brown patches or moths but with using Scott’s and following their advice since ’72 why am I suddenly having issues the last 2 years? This starting over for the 3rd consecutive year has me extremely frustrated. Has something changed in Scott’s fertilizer products?

  18. Hi Mike
    To answer your question, yes there have been changes in Scotts products since 1972, however you can still count on the slow release feeding technology that provides a consistent feeding over a 6 to 8 week period of time. Based on the info you provided in your previous posts and my answers, I think your plan of approach this fall where you would be pushing more feedings into the fall and protecting against grubs, insects and fungus next summer will work. You may also want to get a soil test thru Penn State Extension Service to see if you need to raise your soil pH with lime. Good luck with your lawn and I hope I have been able to help you.

  19. Charlie permalink

    I have just applied Scotts Turf Builder Winter Guard in Columbus,Ohio. It appears from your comments I would have best applied Turf Builder fertilizer now and waited until Nov to apply the Winter Guard. Would it be OK to apply Turf Builder in November of another application of the Winter Guard ?

    • Hi Charlie
      Suggest you feed again in late October with Turf Builder Winter Guard. Good luck with your lawn.

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