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We live in Charlotte, NC and are trying to grow fescue in our front yard. We tilled/scraped the entire front yard a couple of springs ago, and had a company (Top Turf) seed it and start recurring fertilizer treatments ever since, but we can't seem to get the front-right half of the yard to stay green. Its on a hill, downhill from 3 very large pine trees, and we do know there are some superficial tree roots in that area, but it started off green after the first year and so we're hoping that it can get back to green somehow.

Any ideas on how to correct or at least assess this situation? tia

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  • Is it getting enough water? Can you measure soil wetness? Is the fertilizer company maybe skipping that area because it's on a slope? Is road salt ever used where you live, and does plowed snow get pushed up there? – Harper - Reinstate Monica Aug 4 '19 at 19:10
  • Fall is the time to re-seed, as soon after Labor Day. Aerate, fertile , seed. Then water, you have about 9 months to get deep roots on the grass. The problem with spring seeding is the roots aren’t established well enough when the summer heat arrives. – Tyson Aug 4 '19 at 23:19
  • What sort of soil is under the grass? If it's poor soil, then it's difficult to get grass to grow well. You may be better off replacing the top 5-10cm of soil and then turfing. – Kingsley Aug 5 '19 at 5:16
  • Try a "mason jar soil test" ; take one sample of soil from the good side and several samples from the poor side of the grass and compare. While taking samples watch for grubs that may be eating grass roots. – Colin Beckingham Aug 6 '19 at 7:02
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Fescue is a cool season grass, and not a good native choice for southern NC, outside the piedmont region. If you persist with this choice, you must correct the environmental factors you can.

Nick Christian's book, Scott's Lawns: Your guide to a beautiful yard is an aptly titled, readable text on achieving the lawn you want.

To summarize Christian's recommendations:

Cut your grass no shorter than 2 in. Exclude grass under larger trees by a generous radius. Provide sufficient water. Adjust soil chemistry as necessary

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Some of the tips I took from the Lawn growing experience can be useful for you.

Iron supplements make your lawn greener than usual. And nitrogen fertilizers enhances its growth.

That said, I have shared some tips below:

  1. Mowing the lawn precisely: We cannot stress on this point enough since this is key for healthy and green grass. The frequency of how often you must mow your lawn depends on the weather. For instance, in the summer, this has to be repeated every three to four days, whereas, during winter, this can be reduced to once in 2 weeks. Ensure that the blades in the lawn mover are clean and sharp. Dull blades will lead to brown and ragged lawn edges. You need to mow your lawn in a different direction each time. If you follow the same direction or pattern every time, the soil under the lawn will get compact and hard. When cutting your grass, you need to understand how much is enough. Cutting it too short will lead to dry patches on the lawn.
  2. Organic fertilizers: Use natural or organic fertilizers as much as possible to avoid harming your lawn with chemicals. There a lot of liquid as well as dry organic fertilizers available in the market. In addition to using grass clipping compost, you can also compost every-day kitchen waste and use it on your lawn.
  3. Essential Supplements: Look for fertilizers that are rich in Nitrogen as it acts a powerful growing boost. Be careful, however, as not to add too much fertilizer. For deep green shade, add iron supplements, preferably in the spring. Alternatively, this can also be done on days when the temperature is below 21 degrees Celsius for the perfect green boost.
  4. Fertilize Regularly: Keep a fertilizing schedule handy to ensure that your lawn gets the required nutrition. If you notice a brown or a yellow patch in your lawn, do not get to immediate action and add fertilizers to it. This will do more harm to the lawn. Give your lawn a little time to heal itself and try to understand the reason for the brown patch and then treat it accordingly.
  5. Test your soil: You need to test your soil’s pH and nutrients every once in 2 years. This will help you understand what your lawn needs to grow better. Home kits are available for you to test it out yourself. Once you understand what your lawn needs, you can effectively plan your lawn care schedule.
  6. You need to get rid of thatch, fungus, and pests in your lawn. Water regularly.
  7. Aerate whenever necessary: The soil below your lawn can become compact over time, resulting in problems like water drainage, air circulation, etc. To avoid these, you must regularly aerate your lawn. It means to punch holes in the soil up to 2-3 inches deep to loosed it up. A handheld aerating tool can be used for the same.
  8. Seasonal Care: Your lawn is exposed to different temperatures during different seasons. These are some of the most simple and quick tips for l Seasonal Lawn care. These are the necessary things you need to address. You can check out my blog for details.
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Is the rest of the yard growing OK? From the picture, it appears that it is, which would indicate that something is different in that particular are of the lawn.

Since the pine trees are up-hill, I am assuming that when it rains, the area is getting a fair bit of water runoff from the pines. You might be having a localized acidity problem with the soil there, as pines are notoriously acidic. That would make it hard for grass to grow around them without some specific soil prep.

Did the company you hired perform any soil tests before they started planting? If they did, was the test performed using a mixture of several samples taken from different places in the yard (this is pretty common), or was each sample tested independently? If the soil in the problem area was not tested independently, you might want to do a re-test from samples taken from just that area, specifically to check the pH levels.

If the soil there does prove to be acidic, there are various amendments (in this case, probably Lime) that you can apply to help correct it before trying again with some new seed. It will help if you water the area and lightly rake it first, before spreading anything, and then lightly rake it again immediately afterwards.

Also, if the soil in that location is very sandy, you might need to till in some topsoil. That spot does look nice and sunny though, and you should be able to get most turf grasses to grow there once the soil condition is improved. Good luck!

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