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White clover, moss, and bare spots - Problem seeding lawn in past

White clover, moss, and bare spots - Problem seeding lawn in past

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Old 03-09-16, 10:12 PM
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White clover, moss, and bare spots - Problem seeding lawn in past

Western Washington: front yard (main concern) is west-southwest of house and gets lots of sun, no shade. Back yard (less of a concern) is on the east side of the house and has some shaded spots from trees.

I'm hoping someone can put me on the right track to help me save my lawn...or at least start improving it this year. After killing off moss a couple seasons ago I was left with bare spots. Following that I had a couple failed attempts at reseeding the lawn last season (i.e. no germination). Now I have some white clover overtaking part of the front yard as well as a little moss and dandelions here and there. Here are a couple pictures of the front yard as it sits right now:


After doing some research I'm guessing my ground is too acidic due to the moss growing in the front yard. Might need to add some lime to raise the pH. I found out my county does free soil testing so I am going to get on that ASAP to figure out how to amend the soil (if needed).

Following any soil amendment my thought was to focus on getting the current grass healthy this spring/summer (eliminating clover, weeds, and moss), then then reseed the lawn in the fall since I have to wait some time anyways after applying any herbicide. So, my program would be something like this:

Now: test soil, amend as necessary
Late Spring: apply weed and feed for clover/weeds, and moss-out for moss
Summer: apply turf builder
Late Summer/Fall: reseed bare spots, bringing in top soil as necessary.

I'd love to hear anyone's thoughts on this! My lawn is looking pretty sad!
 
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Old 03-10-16, 04:02 AM
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Definitely on the right track in getting the soil tested and adding lime. Although aesthetically not prime, clover is a unique plant. It takes nitrogen from the air and fixes it to its root system, which helps in fertilization naturally. I hate to see it go, but if you need a pristine lawn, so be it. I have quite a few acres, and LOVE it when the clover blooms. I know I am getting some good natural fertilization. I just finished a ton of lime, but never fertilize, and the grasses (whatever they are) are vibrantly green all summer.
 
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Old 03-10-16, 05:33 AM
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If you had a moss problem in your yard you have conditions that are not great for grass. I think the soil testing is a good first step. Lime is generally a good addition and it's extremely difficult to overdo and it seldom does harm.

You mention turf builder. I am not a fan of the blended herbicide and fertilizer products. Often the best time to apply herbicide and fertilizer are different and doing it at the same time is a compromise at best.

Late winter/early spring (it's already almost past time here) is when to apply pre-emergent herbicides. They stop the weeds before they ever germinate.

A bit later in spring when the grass starts grown is a good time for fertilizing. Higher nitrogen levels are commonly used to boost growth while the days are cooler and water is more plentiful.

Summer is not a good time to apply fertilizer especially if it's high in nitrogen. You don't want to encourage rapid green growth during the hotter months which can encourage diseases like brown patch.
 
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Old 03-10-16, 10:24 PM
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Thanks for the replies!

Although aesthetically not prime, clover is a unique plant. It takes nitrogen from the air and fixes it to its root system, which helps in fertilization naturally. I hate to see it go, but if you need a pristine lawn, so be it.
I don't really mind the clover, thought the patch overtaking the front yard is pretty large. I have plenty of other weeds so I figured I would just try to attack them all in one fell swoop.

You mention turf builder. I am not a fan of the blended herbicide and fertilizer products. Often the best time to apply herbicide and fertilizer are different and doing it at the same time is a compromise at best.

Late winter/early spring (it's already almost past time here) is when to apply pre-emergent herbicides. They stop the weeds before they ever germinate.
Good to know, I'll look for a dedicated herbicide. Since I already have existing weeds don't I want to put down a post-emergent herbicide? The grass has started to grow very slightly, so it is probably too late for a pre-emergent. Should I apply both?

Any advice on the timing between amending the soil and starting the herbicide? How about the moss-out?

Thanks again for all the help!
 
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Old 03-11-16, 07:47 AM
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Some pre-emergent herbicides are effective on existing weeds. It just depends on the weeds you have and the herbicide you choose.

Since you mention amending the soil the thing to watch with pre-emergents and herbicides that advertise long lasting protection is that they create a barrier in the top layer of soil that prevents germination. It can be bad to use if you are planning on seeding the lawn in the near future as it prevents the new grass from starting. Also if you rake hard, dethatch or till the soil it disturbs that protective layer destroying its effectiveness.

You can consider products containing 2-4-D. It's a a inexpensive herbicide available under very many different brand names and generics. It kills many/most broad leaf weeds while not hurting most grasses. If you follow the instructions it plays much nicer with seeding and new lawns.
 
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Old 03-11-16, 10:22 AM
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I read that as well: you should wait some time after using a herbicide before trying to seed a lawn. Scotts says at least a month for regular herbicide or 4 months if the herbicide is made for crab crass. I think if I lay the herbicide down this spring and seed the lawn in the fall I'll have plenty of time in between for the herbicide to not affect the seeds. Does that sound reasonable? I haven't seen any crabgrass.

I did a quick survey of all the weeds in my front yard. Quite the selection. I haven't gone through and tried to identify them all yet, but here they are (click for higher resolution picture):


Cool, I'll look into anything containing 2-4-D.
 
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Old 03-11-16, 12:38 PM
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How long you need to wait before seeding new grass depends on the herbicide you use. The application rate can also affect how long you need to wait but for most products waiting to fall is a safe bet.

If you have a large yard is can be worthwhile to look for a local chemical/feed/seed company. They type that serves farmers. They probably won't have the brand names you see in big box stores but will have generics or the same products under commercial names and for a much better price.
 
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Old 03-11-16, 04:20 PM
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Good call...my yard isn't huge, maybe 3000 sq ft between the front and back. But there are plenty of feed stores around my neck of the woods with all the farming around. I'll check them out. First things first, I gotta get my samples sent in for testing!

Thanks again for all the help!
 
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Old 03-12-16, 05:31 AM
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Spring is a busy time at my ag extension office so samples can take up to a month to get results. In summer after everyone's crops are in the results come back in about a week. You might not want to wait. The good think is lime usually doesn't hurt and it's really hard to over do. You may find that you need to add lime every year.
 
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Old 03-13-16, 07:22 PM
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Spring is a busy time at my ag extension office so samples can take up to a month to get results. In summer after everyone's crops are in the results come back in about a week. You might not want to wait. The good think is lime usually doesn't hurt and it's really hard to over do. You may find that you need to add lime every year.
Good idea. My county's website says 2-3 weeks so I am assuming that is average...It'll probably be backed up like you say. I'm going to get my samples sent in this week, but I'll take your advice and put some lime down now. Would you recommend I at least buy an at home soil test kit? I've read mixed things about them but at least it might give me a basic idea?

I've also read not to exceed 50#/1000 sq ft with a lime application. I can just do that now and then do another application later (if necessary) after the test results come back. Or would you recommend more or less than 50#/1000 sq ft?

Also, can I apply my herbicide at the same time as the lime or should I wait some time in between? The grass is starting to grow now so I'd like to get a herbicide down soon.

Thanks!
 
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Old 03-14-16, 04:11 AM
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The lime will sweeten and change the pH enough to help take care of initial weed growth. I am putting about twice that out at one time, but don't recommend it until you get your tests back. The initial 50#/1000sf would be sufficient. Be aware, too of plants that don't like neutral pH. For instance blueberries, azaleas, holly. All like acid soil, so you will harm them if you get the lime in their root system.
 
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Old 03-17-16, 01:00 PM
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I sent in a couple samples today, so we'll see in a few weeks what the results are. While I was collecting samples I tested them with one of those at-home pH test kits just because I was curious. Not sure how accurate they are but both my samples (front and back yard) appeared to be in the 5.5-6 pH range. Going by that I am about a point low. I'm going to do an initial pass with lime and then wait for the test report to know for sure how low my pH is.

How long should I wait after applying to lime to apply any herbicide and moss-out? Can I do it within a few days?
 
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Old 03-28-16, 06:29 PM
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Well that was a pretty quick turnaround; I just got my soil results back. Here is the report:



The top report is my front yard and bottom is my back yard.

Looks like my pH is in the range I suspected from my home test. But my magnesium is low so I should be using dolomite lime. I already did one application of calcitic lime (Pennington's Fast Acting Lime), so I'll have to figure out how much more dolomite lime to apply.

Any suggestions based on the report? I have yet to lay down a herbicide but I was planning to do that soon.

Thanks for the help!
 
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Old 03-29-16, 05:47 AM
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Since you don't have herbicide down yet make sure you choose one that works with a application this time of year. Even when following the label instructions our early, hot spring has pushed our weeds a good month ahead of schedule so this season preemergents needed to put down earlier than usual.
 
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