Lawn Yellowing/Browning in Late Spring

4getgto

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 4, 2017
Threads
1
Messages
165
Lmao....they definitely think I'm insane the way I've babied my lawn for the past few years now, but it's truly embarassing when you baby it like I have and it STILL turns yellow/brown/dies, then your 80 yr old neighbor does nothing, puts nothing down, and hers looks perfect. It's maddening, really.

Thermometer is good idea...have to find one. TY

I was also wondering if something like a southern hot-weather grass would do well in those areas, bermuda or bent or something.. I dont have much experience w/those, so no idea how they'd tolerate Boston climate and this warmth on their roots all summer.
I'm not thinking a warm weather grass would be your answer in Boston..😉
I'm curious what's down under 2-3" . Kinda sounds like someone may have put some &hitty fill in and sprinkled grass seed on top.
 

motaro38

Member
Joined
May 16, 2014
Threads
5
Messages
35
I'm curious what's down under 2-3" . Kinda sounds like someone may have put some &hitty fill in and sprinkled grass seed on top.
Below lies your answer, 4get.

So, I finally got out to take some photos. I dug up the worst area, in the corner of the lawn where the grass is yellow/brown possibly dead. What I found was basically a healthy 2-3" layer of organic matter that was obviously holding moisture/nutrients, with the roots not pushing much past that, then beneath that, what looked like just contractor fill - light colored dry soil that had many small rocks in it and was on the sandy side, so obviosly not soil that holds moisture/nutrients. I think I would have to amend it by taking out a foot or so of this soil and bringing in some high quality top soil. My theory on a masonry element beath the soil is so far unproven, though I only dug in one area. You'll notice from photos that nearby areas are still green(ish); this is where I brought in top soil/compost to remedy the area due to having to scrape down the high areas from years of buildup from previous owner(s), scraping it lower than level thus having to ultimately level it to the curb/sidewalk by bringing in the topsoil to fill these areas... seemed to make a lasting difference. I'm wondering if I can simply mulch with lawn mower and add milorganite 3-4 times a year to rectify this situation, or if it will take excavation/removal of the poor soil beneath and replacement of it with quality top soil. Anyway, here are the photos; as always, any input appreciated, thanks.


 

Attachments

bertsmobile1

Lawn Royalty
Joined
Nov 29, 2014
Threads
32
Messages
14,666
I see roots down into the rubble and doubt that it is the actual problem.
W grow healthy grass in less than 1" of soil over rocks
What I see is compaction and shallow watering.
he other problem is the pH of the rubble comparered top the pH of the soil & the mulch on top of the soil .
IS this compatiable with your grass ?
or is the rubble left overs from construction & contains toxic chemicals like concrete binders ?
I would suggest hiring a deep aerotaters , preffably one that pulls little plugs out of the ground followed by a deep watering to get some water down into that sub soil
IF this makes the dead areas substantially worse by the end of the seasont then you know that sub soil is toxic to your grass & that area probably will need a deep exacvation to remove that rubble.
 

motaro38

Member
Joined
May 16, 2014
Threads
5
Messages
35
What I see is compaction and shallow watering.
╪╪ We've tried watering frequently(every day, sometimes more than once) and for 5-10 min, as well as infrequently (every 3-5 days) but deeply, 30-40 min, and neither seemed to make a difference versus the other, but I'm sure helped more than not watering at all.. I also spritz it for 2-3 min around mid-day during the real hot 85º+ days in summer, just to wick the heat away via evaporation, like golf courses do, regardless of the watering method I'm using. I've read that this helps to take the stress away from the grass in hot weather.

The other problem is the pH of the rubble compared top the pH of the soil & the mulch on top of the soil. IS this compatible with your grass? Or is the rubble left overs from construction & contains toxic chemicals like concrete binders?
╪╪ I don't think they contain toxic anything, but I'd have to get it thoroughly tested for that. It's been exposed to the elements for 5+ years, so I'd think the rain/snow/sleet/hail would wash any of that down and out of the area by now right?
╪╪ I don't see much evidence of concrete work on the area. It's really just asphalt and then stone dust/hardpack beneath it. Even the curbstone is asphalt. It does heat up, but nothing I can do about that.
╪╪ Not sure what the PH of the 'quality' soil on top -or- the PH of the 'construction' soil beneath; I simply put pelletized lime or hardwood ash down every spring to bring down the acidity that was thrown onto it by the salt trucks in the winter, + Massachusetts soil tends to be acidic anyway. I've used many different types of seed over past 5 years; different brands of KBG, TTTF, and Perennial Rye. All seem to be effected equally. Never used something elite like Midnight due to these other "big box" purchased grasses getting damaged, didn't want to burn money on expensive elite dwarf KBG cultivars when it might just get eviscerated and be a waste of money.
╪╪ And yes, I saw those little roots going down into the rubble, so I don't think the rubble is toxic to it in any way, but the grass certainly seems to prefer to hang around the upper 2" or so of rich in organic material soil instead of pushing roots down deep into the 'rubble'. If I had known the quality of this construction soil beneath this area, I would have dug it out 10" down and replaced with top soil.
╪╪Even still, and correct me if I'm wrong, it doesn't seem like an impossibility to, over time, remediate this soil by continuing to add organic matter to it, and letting the bugs/microbes do the work on the soil beneath, essentially creating 6" or so of my own top soil?

I would suggest hiring a deep aerotaters , preffably one that pulls little plugs out of the ground followed by a deep watering to get some water down into that sub soil
IF this makes the dead areas substantially worse by the end of the season then you know that sub soil is toxic to your grass & that area probably will need a deep exacvation to remove that rubble.
╪╪ Yes, this is a good idea. I used to borrow a friends rental aerator, but he did not rent one this year, and in the past I never aerated this particular part of the property. Unlike my last location, which was heavy clay, this area is the opposite - sandy underneath the 2" of good soil - so I didn't feel I needed to aerate, thinking the oxygen/water would simply flow right down easily. But, what you say makes sense in terms of using the plug aerator and water to detect toxicity. Also, aerating certainly can't hurt, especially if I brought in compost post-aeration and spring raked it into all the plug holes, helping to improve the soil quality at the same time. Might be a good idea to do that during a second aeration, though, if I'm going to use the first aeration to test for toxicity from the construction "rubble" sub-soil. Thank you for the response. Hopefully I interpreted everything you said correctly.
 

4getgto

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 4, 2017
Threads
1
Messages
165
You don't suppose this was the "roll out" grass mat they use as a quick green lawn.? Would kinda explain that it's just in the front that people see when buying a house. Sorta looks like a layer put over the cheap fill.
 

bertsmobile1

Lawn Royalty
Joined
Nov 29, 2014
Threads
32
Messages
14,666
Down here the slime bag developer trick is to scalp all of the top soil off a building site & sell it
When they have finished they just grade the remaining ground then spray on a mix of grass seeds & fertilizer
This makes for a lush deep green lawn till the house id sold then the first really hot day everything dies.
 

motaro38

Member
Joined
May 16, 2014
Threads
5
Messages
35
You don't suppose this was the "roll out" grass mat they use as a quick green lawn.? Would kinda explain that it's just in the front that people see when buying a house. Sorta looks like a layer put over the cheap fill.
Could have been, 4get, yes, the initial "lawn" post-flip of house. That or just cheap contractor's seed. But, I've spent 5 years adding topsoil/compost mix, Lasco chem fert one year, Milorganite all other years (4x apps of Milorganite), + top dressing from my father's own leaf/grass compost soil, and mulching at a slow push pace with 21" Honda twin-blade mower. So, I suspect that layer of 2-3" rich blackish soil is from my efforts not theirs.

Down here the slime bag developer trick is to scalp all of the top soil off a building site & sell it. When they have finished they just grade the remaining ground then spray on a mix of grass seeds & fertilizer. This makes for a lush deep green lawn till the house id sold then the first really hot day everything dies.
Certainly sounds like exactly what's happening to me, and would be congruent with the rest of the "work" (hackfest) they did on interior/exterior of house. Mom bought it and knew no better, just got duped by the shiny exterior...until the bathroom/kitchen tiles/grout began to crack due to inadequate support from joists that needed to be sistered and subfloor that needed to be replaced/beefed up/leveled.

Well, good news appears to be that my initial fear/theory of some kind of masonry beneath the soil heating up and killing roots is not the culprit, at least appearedly, if you'd all agree on that. Culprit seems to be inadequate depth of quality loom/organic matter beneath the grass. I can't afford a bobcat to scrap up a foot of soil and bring in new topsoil, so I think I'll have to do with, at some point, maybe late summer/early fall, renting aerator and bring in "black gold" from my dad's compost pile, removing the old plugs and then spring raking in the rich compost into the holes, while continuing to add much Milorganite, watering on a frequent basis, and mulching with lawn mower every mow until the leaves become too thick in the fall, then just repeating this process yearly.

Do you all agree?

Also, do you think switching to chemical fertilizer would remediate this problem? I hate to do it, but chem fert would be quickly absorbed by lawn, and wouldn't require deep, healthy soil.
 

sanchezz02

Forum Newbie
Joined
Dec 19, 2019
Threads
0
Messages
4
We've tried watering frequently(every day, sometimes more than once) and for 5-10 min, as well as infrequently (every 3-5 days) but deeply, 30-40 min, and neither seemed to make a difference versus the other, but I'm sure helped more than not watering at all.. I also spritz it for 2-3 min around mid-day during the real hot 85º+ days in summer, just to wick the heat away via evaporation, like golf courses do, regardless of the watering method I'm using. I've read that this helps to take the stress away from the grass in hot weather.
If I would in your feet, I wouldn't water lawn so often. But actually it depends on situation with weather and precipitations in your area. Usually, when I need to get some useful information about lawn and howto mow it - I visit this resource here ( Lawnista.com ), and I can say for sure that it's one of the most informative websites I could find on the web.
 
Last edited:

motaro38

Member
Joined
May 16, 2014
Threads
5
Messages
35
If I would in your feet, I wouldn't water lawn so often. But actually it depends on situation with weather and precipitations in your area.
Really? Why not so often? With so little 'top soil', that construction soil underneath dries out real quick. I have tried both watering for long periods but infrequently, and the opposite, which of course is watering frequently but not deeply - didn't notice much difference either way. After this "investigation" and all the good advice from you guys in this thread, I was leaning towards watering more frequently but less deeply since there's not as much "good" soil there to hold the water.
 
Top