All Things Gardening forum: Help with a major grass situation!

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Name: Random Bunny
Indiana
random_bunny75
Sep 2, 2017 6:29 PM CST
Hi all-

I really need some serious advice. I am getting depressed looking at the state of our lawn, part of is my fault. We are first-time home owners, so going through a learning experience. Below are some notes and then questions at the end.

- The house has an irrigation system BUT water is TOO EXPENSIVE. So I have not watered almost all summer and have relied on rains. June/ July there was enough rain (I think) but mid-July through end of August has been very dry. Some of my neighbors don’t water their lawns either- but somehow I don’t see theirs looking as bad as mine.
- Lawn in the backyard has survived quite OK, it’s the front yard and one of the side-yards are MAJOR problem areas. Especially the front yard looks awful- the worst on the lot.
- Front yard, is on the slope and gets full sun. .
- There is crabgrass many places… in small and large spots.
- Having said the above, I feel with cooling weather and some recent rains, in some areas I see blades starting to turn green.

Now, here are my questions.
1) Big disclaimer: I am not looking to get a lush green turf because that will need a lot of water and I don’t want to spend on water.
2) The big question I have is if grass is dead in some areas or dormant. Is there any way you can tell from pictures?
3) Do I need soil analysis or it isn’t necessary?
4) Do I need to dethatch, aerate, over seed, till & plant new seeds? Obviously I want to maintain low cost.
5) How do I get rid of crabgrass that’s showing among the grass that has gone all brown? If I use broad lead killer- then will it damage/kill the brown grass around it?
6) Can you guys suggest a budget plan- if I need to rent anything, and how to keep costs low and still get a decent looking grass?
7) And lastly, do you think using a hose and one of those rotating sprinklers will save water compared to using my irrigation system?

Really appreciate the advice.
Name: Random Bunny
Indiana
random_bunny75
Sep 2, 2017 6:39 PM CST
Here are some pictures
Thumb of 2017-09-03/random_bunny75/32f5c2


Thumb of 2017-09-03/random_bunny75/a42e69


Thumb of 2017-09-03/random_bunny75/46ce60


Thumb of 2017-09-03/random_bunny75/0bdefc


Thumb of 2017-09-03/random_bunny75/9c87d4

Name: Random Bunny
Indiana
random_bunny75
Sep 4, 2017 7:08 AM CST
Bump!
Name: greene
Savannah, GA (Sunset 28) (Zone 8b)
My dogs love me; some people don't.
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greene
Sep 4, 2017 8:15 AM CST
No need to bump your own post after only 2 days during a holiday weekend. Gardening is all about patience.

My suggestion would be for you to rip out the lawn and plant ground cover. Use plants that work in a xeriscape garden.

While you wait for better answers here are a few links for you to research.
http://www.kibi.org/plant-this...
http://www.midwestliving.com/g...

You could plant a meadow of native plants.
http://www.inpaws.org/landscap...
Sunset Zone 28, AHS Heat Zone 9, USDA zone 8b~"Leaf of Faith"
Name: Cindy
Hobart, IN zone 5
aka CindyMzone5
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier
Shadegardener
Sep 4, 2017 8:54 AM CST
random - I do think it would be a good idea to aerate on your sloping front hillside. Could make it easier for rain to penetrate the area before running off the slope. To start a new lawn or over-seed the existing lawn would be difficult to do if you don't want to water. At some point, you'll have to determine what you really want - green lawn or lower water bills. Crabgrass is an annual plant but it self-sows with germination occurring in the spring. It does take advantage of weak or bare lawn patches, filling in where the preferred grass isn't growing well. You can let it die out over winter instead of using weed killers but the seeds are already in place to sprout in the spring. A pre-emergent used in the spring would help prevent some of the crabgrass germination.
Only when the last tree has died and the last river has been poisoned and the last fish has been caught will we realize that we can't eat money. Cree proverb
Name: Deb
Pacific NW (Zone 8b)
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Bonehead
Sep 4, 2017 9:20 AM CST
Random, I would simply let the grass do its thing. It may look terrible now, but will recover. Certainly aerating and fertilizing would be helpful. My brother-in-law has owned a yard service for many years, and every fall he tells me our brown lawn will never recover. Au contraire - it always does.

I don't have an irrigation system, seems like a waste in the rainy Pacific NW, but do use various sprinklers. It used to be that we only needed to sprinkle during August, that window has now expanded to late July through early September. We also used to only get patches of brown lawn, now the entire lawn is tannish to brown with patches of green. Kind of crunchy underfoot, but oh well.

Good luck.
I want to live in a world where the chicken can cross the road without its motives being questioned.
Name: stone
near Macon Georgia (USA) (Zone 8a)
Plant Identifier Garden Sages Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
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stone
Sep 4, 2017 11:01 AM CST
In Indiana, there should be no need for a sprinkler system.
If the grass dies.... You are either growing the wrong type, or cutting it too short, or both.
At my house, I consider turf grass to be a weed, and don't want it.
And yet... I have a patch of bahaia growing down the center of the drive.... I run a string trimmer on the drive way to keep it passable.... Everywhere else is natural prairie. Would prefer the drive to be prairie also.... Once the turf shows up.... Not much can be done...

Suggest researching what grasses grew in your area originally... Then grow those.

Edit:
Nothing gets watered... Except the vegetables.... And they don't get much.
I live in the Sandhills, plenty dry here... If the grass will grow here (without irrigation).... I promise.... It will grow at your house without watering.
[Last edited by stone - Sep 4, 2017 11:06 AM (+)]
Give a thumbs up | Quote | Post #1541582 (7)
Minnesota (Zone 3b)
RpR
Sep 4, 2017 12:17 PM CST
Kill the crabgrass first or that is all you will have.
Name: Cindy
Hobart, IN zone 5
aka CindyMzone5
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier
Shadegardener
Sep 4, 2017 1:20 PM CST
stone - au contraire to not needing water in IN. Aug and Sep tend to be dry where I am, 10 miles from Lake Michigan. Hot sun, no rain, clay soil, cool season grasses - you either let it go dormant/die or you water. If seeding, it needs watering every day until it germinates so that it can grow enough before the cold weather comes. Almost impossible to sow cool season grasses in spring because it gets too warm too fast for immature root systems to withstand the summer.
Only when the last tree has died and the last river has been poisoned and the last fish has been caught will we realize that we can't eat money. Cree proverb
Name: Rj
Just S of the twin cities of M (Zone 4b)
Garden Ideas: Level 1 Plant Identifier Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
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crawgarden
Sep 4, 2017 1:38 PM CST
https://turf.purdue.edu
Lots of good info.
Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.
[Last edited by crawgarden - Sep 4, 2017 1:39 PM (+)]
Give a thumbs up | Quote | Post #1541698 (10)
Minnesota (Zone 3b)
RpR
Sep 5, 2017 3:43 PM CST
crawgarden said:https://turf.purdue.edu
Lots of good info.

I wonder, pur-due, isn't that kitty pee? Confused

Name: Rj
Just S of the twin cities of M (Zone 4b)
Garden Ideas: Level 1 Plant Identifier Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
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crawgarden
Sep 5, 2017 7:41 PM CST
Smiling
Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.

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