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Old 09-02-2021, 11:59 AM   #1
bigdog
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Default Dead Grass ?

I have a dead grass area next to my septic tank.
Patch measure about 3'x6'. The grass length is still about 2" long and is blonde/brown in color. I re-seeded this area back in June, and it was starting to come up fine.

What could have happened, and will the grass come back to life in the Spring ?
If not, I will reseed again now.

Your thoughts will be much appreciated !
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Old 09-02-2021, 12:26 PM   #2
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You said 'Next to Septic tank' - Any chance it's over your leach field? Back home, a good portion of my front yard is over our leach field and growing grass has ALWAYS been a challenge to say the least. Leach Field is only 7 years old (was redone as a contingency when we bought the house). Usually, over leach fields, they don't put a lot of top soil, so tends to dry out quickly and kill off the grass and its roots. I considered adding more until I spoke to a few landscaping companies and septic company and they all told me not to as if you have too much soil, the leach field won't vent properly. The landscape companies said because of liability, they would never even sign up to add dirt (Even by wheelbarrow) to any existing leach field due to the risk of killing it or giving it a much shorter lifespan as it makes it harder to 'breath'.

I would consider it questionable and just one opinion, but when I checked with 2 other landscaping companies and a septic company - all said the same thing.

Not sure if this helps or not... but something to consider and look into. Could also tube down and see how much 'topsoil' you have before sand/rocks.

If not over a leach field and have solid topsoil - wait until after Sept 15th (rule of thumb) - mix in some quality top soil with current soil, seed, water and smile come spring
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Old 09-02-2021, 12:53 PM   #3
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This could also indicate a grub infestation. Are there any signs of skunks digging up the ground? Another way to tell is to grab a handful of the dead grass and give it a quick tug, if it comes up easily and there are little or no roots its probably grubs.
Have you checked the ph of the soil in that area? It wants to be somewhere around 6.5-7 and if it is wildly out of whack you are never going to be able to grow grass very well. NH soil is usually fairly acidic and correcting your ph is extremely important. Moss is an indicator of acid soil.
Lastly if you overseed be sure to buy good seed. Scotts has a really good special blend for our area called Northeast seed and if you mix that with their EZ Seed starter you will almost always get a good result. A lot of cheaper seeds have their balance of seed tuned more toward annual seeds rather than perennial seeds and this can also lead to what you have described. Annual seed comes up quickly and this can be useful to get grass to establish quickly but it doesn't renew very well. The EZ Seed starter mix has a lot of annual grass seed as well as the proper fertilizers and hormones to get grass established. The Northeast mix is mostly perennial seed, and when you mix the two you will get a result that comes up quickly and sticks around for the long run.
Cut your grass as tall as you can stand it and use a sharp blade. Taller grass means deeper roots and a lawn that can withstand a lot more stress. When you look at turf and think it needs cutting you aren't noticing the length of the grass, you are just seeing the uneven growth.
Finally when you water do so infrequently but thoroughly as this too will result in deeper roots and a much healthier lawn. If you have an irrigation system set it so it only comes on once every week, but do put down a couple inches of water.
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Old 09-02-2021, 01:01 PM   #4
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Good info there from Peter. Also if you walk around in the grass look for small off white fluttering up off the grass then going back down quickly. Could be sod webworms. Battled those last year and my neighbor has them now.
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Old 09-02-2021, 02:14 PM   #5
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Default Too much fertilizer?

I'm curious about what "near the septic" means. Tank? Leach field? Other disturbance such as gravel back fill and not much topsoil in that specific area?
If the area in question is really 3' x 6' and it is over the settling tank, the concrete absorbs more water, and may have less soil over it leading to a brown area. Unlikely this year because of lots of rain, but possible. Does the snow melt faster in the same 3 x 6 area? That's the tank.
Grubs and other causes don't limit themselves to a 3 x 6 area, so I am not enthusiastic about those causes.

One other thought for a small, specific area. Wrong fertilizer.
If you used something like Scott's Step One, it contains a pre-emergent weed killer that will also be counterproductive to new seed. If you seeded in the spring, especially with a high nitrogen starter fertilizer, and then went back over the whole lawn a few weeks later, you could have put on so much nitrogen that the grass "burned out" (like dog spots. Hmmm. Do your dogs favor this area as their bathroom ?)
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Old 09-02-2021, 04:06 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LakeTimes View Post
You said 'Next to Septic tank' - Any chance it's over your leach field? Back home, a good portion of my front yard is over our leach field and growing grass has ALWAYS been a challenge to say the least. Leach Field is only 7 years old (was redone as a contingency when we bought the house). Usually, over leach fields, they don't put a lot of top soil, so tends to dry out quickly and kill off the grass and its roots. I considered adding more until I spoke to a few landscaping companies and septic company and they all told me not to as if you have too much soil, the leach field won't vent properly. The landscape companies said because of liability, they would never even sign up to add dirt (Even by wheelbarrow) to any existing leach field due to the risk of killing it or giving it a much shorter lifespan as it makes it harder to 'breath'.

I would consider it questionable and just one opinion, but when I checked with 2 other landscaping companies and a septic company - all said the same thing.

Not sure if this helps or not... but something to consider and look into. Could also tube down and see how much 'topsoil' you have before sand/rocks.

If not over a leach field and have solid topsoil - wait until after Sept 15th (rule of thumb) - mix in some quality top soil with current soil, seed, water and smile come spring
As a matter of fact, the area is at the beginning of my leach field at the edge of the tank. Last Spring I did what you described "mix in some quality top soil with current soil, seed, water".... Will try scruffing up the grass and spreading quality grass seed. I've used Scott's and Pennington seed in past, and Scotts' seem to be best. I like Lesco seed the best, but cannot find locally. I can find online, but only in 20 lb bags, MUCH more than I need. Will make the effort and hope for the best.
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Old 09-02-2021, 07:25 PM   #7
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Lesco should be at Tilton HD.
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Old 09-04-2021, 09:06 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LakeTimes View Post
You said 'Next to Septic tank' - Any chance it's over your leach field? Back home, a good portion of my front yard is over our leach field and growing grass has ALWAYS been a challenge to say the least. Leach Field is only 7 years old (was redone as a contingency when we bought the house). Usually, over leach fields, they don't put a lot of top soil, so tends to dry out quickly and kill off the grass and its roots. I considered adding more until I spoke to a few landscaping companies and septic company and they all told me not to as if you have too much soil, the leach field won't vent properly. The landscape companies said because of liability, they would never even sign up to add dirt (Even by wheelbarrow) to any existing leach field due to the risk of killing it or giving it a much shorter lifespan as it makes it harder to 'breath'.

I would consider it questionable and just one opinion, but when I checked with 2 other landscaping companies and a septic company - all said the same thing.

Not sure if this helps or not... but something to consider and look into. Could also tube down and see how much 'topsoil' you have before sand/rocks.

If not over a leach field and have solid topsoil - wait until after Sept 15th (rule of thumb) - mix in some quality top soil with current soil, seed, water and smile come spring
Landscapers are not septic designers....

A typical septic drain field trench is 18 to 30 inches in depth, with a maximum soil cover over the disposal field of 36"; or per the USDA, 2 feet to 5 feet in depth.

The variation in depths are due to differences in geographic climates and design requirements that vary from state to state. As a general rule more\deeper coverage is for areas where the field has to be BELOW the winter frost\freeze line. Minimum coverage is supposed to be sufficient to keep the grass cover from rooting into the leeching area. If the field design is such where venting is required, not all do, a vent is installed (candy cane).
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Old 09-04-2021, 10:33 PM   #9
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All septic systems must be vented. There's no "if". The gasses must be evacuated from the tank in some way.

Venting is handled with a candy cane in the yard or with a roof vent pipe or both.

As far as adding soil, unless you're talking about adding multiple feet over existing coverage, adding a few inches of soil in order to grow grass isn't going to affect the leach field or tank provided those have been installed properly.
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Old 09-05-2021, 04:41 PM   #10
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Default Question to SAB1

Quote:
Originally Posted by SAB1 View Post
Good info there from Peter. Also if you walk around in the grass look for small off white fluttering up off the grass then going back down quickly. Could be sod webworms. Battled those last year and my neighbor has them now.
SAB1,
After researching, I believe I have webworms in parts of the grass.
You said you had these in your lawn, what product did you use, to kill these buggers ?

I have review 'Ortho Bug Clear', and it seems like this may work ?
Would be interested in other Forum members opinions.

Thanks !
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