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I've owned my home for about 3 years now and every winter large patches of my lawn appears to die, but in the summer it comes back to life.... which makes me believe its some sort of seasonal grass. I'm not 100% sure of this though, and if there's an easier solution to killing the grass and replanting seeds that'd be awesome. I live in eastern Pennsylvania.

Here are some pictures:

Notice how the grass is greener near my neighbors mulch... which then makes me believe that its getting nutrients from it and perhaps needs something else?

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When the grass actually grows in its REALLY thick

enter image description here

Based on this, do you think maybe I just need to dethatch, buy something to spray on it, or kill and replant? I put down scotts turf builder plus weed control like 3 days ago... no results so far (it worked in killing weeds in my front yard though)

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most grasses go dormant part of the dry season. The solution would be to water regularly. –  DA. Apr 20 '12 at 4:26
    
Is it possible that your neighbor's grass is spreading into yours? –  Ed Staub Apr 20 '12 at 12:48
    
This is slightly off-topic, but that spot seems like the perfect place to make a vegetable garden. Just a thought. –  Om Patange Apr 20 '12 at 13:40
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3 Answers

That looks like either kentucky Blue grass, maybe you installed Bluegrass sod? Or Zoysia grass? Both green up later when the soil temps rise, this article will explain - http://www.grassstitcher.com/lawn-care-info/common-lawn-problems/want-green-grass/

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If your grass looks like the below picture in summer, then you have bermuda grass. I am in south eastern PA, and this grass is green in Summer, but it takes a long time to green up in spring, and yellows with the frost in the fall. It is drought and heat resistant. One of my neighbors has Zoysia, and it does the same thing. It also is very thick in summer, like your problem grass. The lower picture shows Zoysia in the summer. He mows it to one inch after it dies back, and overseeds with annual bluegrass, to keep it green until next spring, when the Zoysia takes over. If you want to get rid of it, you can either spray it with weed and grass killer, or you can smother it with a covering. After it dies, reseed with your choice of grass seed. enter image description here enter image description here

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Is now a good time of year to kill it and reseed? Also, would you still recommend bluegrass if I'm reseeding (as opposed to overseeding)? –  Chris Klepeis Apr 20 '12 at 17:23
    
Well, we haven't been getting that much rain (until very recently), so if you reseed now, you would have to keep the seed very well watered. The bluegrass has the opposite problem as your problem grass, turning brown in summer, even when watered. I usually use tall fescue for general purpose. It isn't the finest grass, but it's tough, and low-maintenance. –  jmusser Apr 22 '12 at 1:29
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Just looking at the grass, I don't think it's a thatch problem (though de-thatching once in a while couldn't hurt; you don't need a thatch rake, just run a metal-tined leaf rake over it and you'll get any dead stuff). It looks like a greenup problem.

As mentioned in other answers, the species of grass you have planted affects when it turns green. Bermuda and other perennial "southern lawn" grasses are heat and drought-tolerant, but aren't as green or as pleasant to walk on barefoot as annuals, and they can have a delayed greenup in cooler climates.

Weed & feed is generally a good thing to do at least once a season, but understand that even though the herbicides used are designed to be selective (targeting broadleaf plants - weeds - while leaving the grass alone), they are still poisons and do still have an effect on your grass (think of it like chemotherapy; the chemo is designed to target cancerous cells but does a fair amount of collateral damage). While the grass is recovering (this can take up to a month), its growth and greenup will be reduced, and germination of any new seeds (good and bad) will be prevented. So, it's generally best to apply weed & feed either as early as possible after the snows have melted and the ground thawed, or more toward mid-season after the grass has greened up well. If you don't weed and feed early, fertilize early; a fertilizer-only product such as Scott's Turf Builder can be applied four or five times a year, and up to a point, the more you fertilize the quicker your lawn will green up and the thicker it will grow. Of course it's possible to "burn" a lawn by over-fertilizing (either too much or too often) so be reasonable.

What you are most likely seeing with regards to the strip of green next to your neighbor's lawn is a combination of a different species of grass, regular overseeding, and better fertilization. Your neighbor is most likely using a scatter spreader, and so whatever he puts on his lawn (seed, fertilizer) will carry over onto yours. No big deal, except you're not doing the same thing he's doing, with the same products, so the difference is noticeable. I'd talk to your neighbor, find out what products he's using, how much and when; it seems to be working for him, so you could take away some pointers.

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