Green's Lawn Journal

Cool season member lawn journals
Topic Author
Green
Posts: 5598
Joined: Sun Dec 24, 2017 12:27 am
Location: CT (Zone 6B)
Grass Type: KBG, TTTF, TTPR, FF-diff mixes
Lawn Size: 15K
Mower: Toro 22", MTD 21", Fiskars 18"

Re: Green's Lawn Journal

Post by Green »

Got over 1.1 inch of rain this morning. It's extremely windy, which should help to dry up some of the standing water...before the next rain event in a few days.
Front: Northern mix - mostly TTTF, KBG, TTPR. Back: Firecracker and Bullseye TTTF with America, Rugby 2, Bewitched KBG. Upper Side: Mostly TTPR, KBG. Lower Side: similar to front. Low-input: TF/FF, KBG, PR. Always seeding somewhere or fighting Triv.

Topic Author
Green
Posts: 5598
Joined: Sun Dec 24, 2017 12:27 am
Location: CT (Zone 6B)
Grass Type: KBG, TTTF, TTPR, FF-diff mixes
Lawn Size: 15K
Mower: Toro 22", MTD 21", Fiskars 18"

Re: Green's Lawn Journal

Post by Green »

Raked parts of the front, especially where I had rust, to prepare it for better mowing results tomorrow. Received my Pre-emergent and organics for next Spring, including a bag of Dimension for a friend is a new homeowner. Neighbor l apparently removed his barrier fence this past week. He and my neighbor next door helped to get the adjacent yard (the one that never gets cleaned and leaves blow out all Winter) cleaned of leaves...I thought that was great.
Last edited by Green on Wed Nov 25, 2020 8:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Front: Northern mix - mostly TTTF, KBG, TTPR. Back: Firecracker and Bullseye TTTF with America, Rugby 2, Bewitched KBG. Upper Side: Mostly TTPR, KBG. Lower Side: similar to front. Low-input: TF/FF, KBG, PR. Always seeding somewhere or fighting Triv.

Topic Author
Green
Posts: 5598
Joined: Sun Dec 24, 2017 12:27 am
Location: CT (Zone 6B)
Grass Type: KBG, TTTF, TTPR, FF-diff mixes
Lawn Size: 15K
Mower: Toro 22", MTD 21", Fiskars 18"

Re: Green's Lawn Journal

Post by Green »

Mowed the front...first bagging with the old mower to pick up leaves. 3.75 inch, and got minimal clippings since the time I last mowed (4 days ago). Then mulch mowed at 2.75 in with the Toro to reduce the height (most of the main front), same height with the old mower on the overseeded spots and the brown area, and 3.25 inch with the Toro on the side front. The front will grow slightly more still this year. I didn't get to do the back/low input areas because it started to drizzle. I did spray my final low rate N/1st FAS app on the front though, going heavier on browner areas with the hope there is still enough time for partial recovery. 0.5oz FAS rate, but also with urea, totaling 0.05 lb N (and double to triple that on the rust-damaged area). Used NIS. I'm done spraying N now, except for one more FAS app using the bare minimum N the next time. There was also Potassium in the mixture, which I hope helps the cold tolerance since my soil is low in it. Note: I'm not going for the Guinness book snow mold record; just a little Potassium, nothing excessive.

Regarding the double mow, bagging first: I think the microbes are still active enough to handle a bit of grass clippings in the front, but I didn't feel like the amount of oak leaves present were a realistic thing to ask of them at this point. And I'm someone who has done the "mulch mow all season" thing before, and ended up with buried grass and had to rake it in the Winter. Didn't want a replay of that this year, so I've been careful to not get too heavy-handed with the mulch mowing as it cools down.
Front: Northern mix - mostly TTTF, KBG, TTPR. Back: Firecracker and Bullseye TTTF with America, Rugby 2, Bewitched KBG. Upper Side: Mostly TTPR, KBG. Lower Side: similar to front. Low-input: TF/FF, KBG, PR. Always seeding somewhere or fighting Triv.

Chris LI
TLF Supporter
Posts: 1870
Joined: Fri Oct 26, 2018 10:04 am
Location: Long Island, NY
Grass Type: KBG,TTTF, FF-different mixes
Lawn Size: 5K
Mower: Snapper Hi Vac 21"

Re: Green's Lawn Journal

Post by Chris LI »

Green wrote:
Wed Nov 25, 2020 8:48 pm
Regarding the double mow, bagging first: I think the microbes are still active enough to handle a bit of grass clippings in the front, but I didn't feel like the amount of oak leaves present were a realistic thing to ask of them at this point. And I'm someone who has done the "mulch mow all season" thing before, and ended up with buried grass and had to rake it in the Winter. Didn't want a replay of that this year, so I've been careful to not get too heavy-handed with the mulch mowing as it cools down.
^+1
I've also learned from experience. Don't let the quest for OM and soil improvement get in the way of sound science. During the leaf season, I have the opportunity to mulch 2+ times per week to feed the microbes on a regular basis, before the soil temps drop. I can turn the leaves to dust with my setup, and they would be digested within a week or so (especially if we had a little rain to enhance decomposition). However, there have been years where the temps would suddenly drop leaving finely chopped leaves (mostly Red oak) that would not break down until the following season. Not only would it be unsightly, but more importantly, it would reduce turf density, and essentially smother some of the blades reducing what little photosynthesis was left for the season. The overly thick layer probably helped inhibit weed seed germination (I have read studies), but I think was detrimental overall.

This year, I decided on a slightly different approach. I always bag some leaves for the vegetable garden, but changed the timing. Usually, I mulch most of the earlier part of the leaf season and occasionally bag for the clean look, or if the leaf cover was light. This season I mulched entirely up to yesterday, to get as much leaf mulch into the lawn before the soil temps drop. Then I pulled the trigger on ONLY bagging for the remainder of the season, so I have enough leaves for the vegetable garden. Some years, I have mulched too much into the lawn and didn't have enough for the garden. The cool backyard can't take mulching as long, so the area near the garden has gotten side discharged leaves directed into the garden. The NE corner of the house that is almost always shaded still had embedded leaf litter from last week, so I fluffed it up with the blower and sucked it up with the bag yesterday.

Sorry for the long post, but I thought you might be interested in the methodology.

Topic Author
Green
Posts: 5598
Joined: Sun Dec 24, 2017 12:27 am
Location: CT (Zone 6B)
Grass Type: KBG, TTTF, TTPR, FF-diff mixes
Lawn Size: 15K
Mower: Toro 22", MTD 21", Fiskars 18"

Re: Green's Lawn Journal

Post by Green »

Got 0.7 inch of rain this morning. Lots of flooding now. At least my spray app got watered in.
Front: Northern mix - mostly TTTF, KBG, TTPR. Back: Firecracker and Bullseye TTTF with America, Rugby 2, Bewitched KBG. Upper Side: Mostly TTPR, KBG. Lower Side: similar to front. Low-input: TF/FF, KBG, PR. Always seeding somewhere or fighting Triv.

Topic Author
Green
Posts: 5598
Joined: Sun Dec 24, 2017 12:27 am
Location: CT (Zone 6B)
Grass Type: KBG, TTTF, TTPR, FF-diff mixes
Lawn Size: 15K
Mower: Toro 22", MTD 21", Fiskars 18"

Re: Green's Lawn Journal

Post by Green »

@Chris LI, well put. Now if you can help me understand how you make leaves disappear using side discharge, I'd appreciate it. Or maybe the secret is the Snapper mower?
Front: Northern mix - mostly TTTF, KBG, TTPR. Back: Firecracker and Bullseye TTTF with America, Rugby 2, Bewitched KBG. Upper Side: Mostly TTPR, KBG. Lower Side: similar to front. Low-input: TF/FF, KBG, PR. Always seeding somewhere or fighting Triv.

Chris LI
TLF Supporter
Posts: 1870
Joined: Fri Oct 26, 2018 10:04 am
Location: Long Island, NY
Grass Type: KBG,TTTF, FF-different mixes
Lawn Size: 5K
Mower: Snapper Hi Vac 21"

Re: Green's Lawn Journal

Post by Chris LI »

It's a combination of equipment and technique. After a few perimeter passes, I use the Zamboni pattern of overlapping rectangles (with curved corners) to shift the piles away from the street. When it gets as closer to the garden, I look at where its building up, so I can redistribute the leaf mulch. Depending on what I see, I might reverse the pattern and work back towards the street, or I might go straight down the middle of the furrow and work my way out of the center blowing the leaf mulch outwards. I may do a few back and forth passes in the thicker areas after that, to continue redistributing the material. I usually finish making perpendicular back and forth passes (towards/away from street) working my way from the edge of the property towards the driveway. If I need more passes after that, I continue in that orientation until I work my way back towards the property line. The combination of the Zamboni pattern and finishing with cross hatching back and forth passes works well to evenly distribute the material. I think that is the key. Once you get a buildup in one area, you need to keep working it to spread it out, otherwise you can wind up with overly dense areas which don't break down as well. Also, you want the nutritional value spread as evenly as possible.
In irregular areas, I work with the shape/terrain to do a similar thing.

IMHO, the Snapper is superior due to its deck design, but any mower with side discharge capability and a Gator blade can get the job done. The Gator will keep the material under the deck longer, so it's more finely chopped before it exits the deck. I visualize where I want the leaves to go and adjust to mowing/mulching conditions (moisture, wind, etc.). This technique works well, but it's not done with only a couple of passes, when the leaves are heavy. I gauge how many passes will be needed based upon density of the leaves. With several passes in multiple directions, they are pulverized to pea size and smaller. For the most part, I run the mower at the slowest travel speed, and highest engine speed. Time and patience go a long way. I
try to get the most out of each pass, and don't mind if a couple of leaves are missed.
I know they will get picked up in future passes.
Essentially, I strategize it to get the maximum production with minimal time, like a landscaping business would do. However, I do spend a little more time to get the best finished product in reasonable time. If I were running it as a business (whether collecting or not collecting any material), I would run a faster travel speed to get it done faster with a little less quality.

One other thing to note, the leaves travel further away from the mower on the first/second chopping, when the size is larger. After that, the smaller particles travel shorter distances when they are chopped multiple times. Keep this in mind when trying to redistribute the leaf mulch evenly, and when you near the perimeter of the area you are working, especially near hard surfaces and in windy conditions.

I get instant gratification when I turn them into dust. A long time ago, I used to dread leaf season, when I would get every leaf out of the yard (including the beds), every week, bagging everything (all for the vegetable garden and compost pile; nothing to the curb). Now I embrace leaf season. I saw the light and mulch most of them (saving some for the vegetable garden).

Topic Author
Green
Posts: 5598
Joined: Sun Dec 24, 2017 12:27 am
Location: CT (Zone 6B)
Grass Type: KBG, TTTF, TTPR, FF-diff mixes
Lawn Size: 15K
Mower: Toro 22", MTD 21", Fiskars 18"

Re: Green's Lawn Journal

Post by Green »

@Chris LI, thank you very much for the detail. I couldn't ask for it to be anymore thorough. I'm going to need to look up the Zamboni pattern. Despite having been to a good amount of hockey games in the past 10 years, a combination of not being able to follow the pattern of the Zamboni well, and not always paying attention to how it drove, means I need to review it.

What I've been doing is to try to distribute the leaves with a handheld blower first and then mulch mow. But if you think your method could do that without the blower being used a lot in many cases, it could save time (and battery power if using the battery one).

Another thing is, it seems the current Snapper mowers still have a throttle control, whereas no one else does. Is that correct? Also, you keep raving about being able to suck up nut shells. That's useful. But at the same time, Allyn Hane did a video in the past testing the idea of whether mowing after fertilizing sucks up fertilizer. His Toro sucked up a bit of it. I hesitate to think that long-duration polymer coated fertilizer and the Snapper high vac mode aren't compatible...

Some neighbors here use a blower/vac built on a lawnmower body. I'm not sure if Snapper made it, or MTD for Craftsman, or someone else. It looks like a mower but sounds a bit like a blower and is not used for mowing, just picking up leaves.
Front: Northern mix - mostly TTTF, KBG, TTPR. Back: Firecracker and Bullseye TTTF with America, Rugby 2, Bewitched KBG. Upper Side: Mostly TTPR, KBG. Lower Side: similar to front. Low-input: TF/FF, KBG, PR. Always seeding somewhere or fighting Triv.

Chris LI
TLF Supporter
Posts: 1870
Joined: Fri Oct 26, 2018 10:04 am
Location: Long Island, NY
Grass Type: KBG,TTTF, FF-different mixes
Lawn Size: 5K
Mower: Snapper Hi Vac 21"

Re: Green's Lawn Journal

Post by Chris LI »

You're welcome...great discussion here. I'll jump in on your questions/comments:

The Zamboni pattern I am referring to uses a single machine. If you see them at an NHL intermission or a higher end rink, they will use two machines to get it done in half the time, so the ice can set quickly. I made a crude color coded drawing using Crayolas. I used ROY G. BIV (Yup, found 'em all in the box, Lol), to make it easier to distinguish where the two perimeter passes (red) transition to the overlapping rounded rectangles. It's OK if you laugh at my artwork, I'm utilitarian, and have a good sense of humor. I'll attach it at the end.

I blow the collection of leaves off the curb line and about 3'-4' into the lawn past the sidewalk, to reduce chances of blowback. This tends to leave a pretty good furrow, which gets worked across the lawn using the pattern. When I blow the beds out, it balances the load even more. I don't tend to spend time evenly distributing them with the blower, but that's just my preference. If I see a nice even coating of leaves delivered by Mother Nature, I will use that opportunity to mulch instead of side discharging them, to keep them in the same location.

Most non-commercial 21" mowers don't tend to have a throttle control, as you mentioned. That's one more feature I love about the Hi-Vac. I hate starting engines at full throttle, especially with cold oil. Funny you mention fertilizer pickup with mowing. The throttle control fits right into that discussion. There have been times (rarely) where I didn't need a lot of suction, so I would run the throttle on the lowest setting and bump up the travel speed to compensate for the snail like pace. This was when I only had some stray leaves that I wanted to bag (for a clean look) without picking up previously mulched leaves. This technique also reduces fertilizer pickup.

On the subject of fertilizer pickup, I used to make heavy apps of fertilizer with some slow release N (usually PSCU or SCU) in early fall a few weeks before I would switch over to bag mowing leaves. Then I would do a final fertilizer app after my final bag mowing of leaves at the end of the season. I would avoid applying fertilizer during fall bagging season. Now I love using 100% WSN (urea and AS) for that exact reason; no worries of fertilizer pick up. This is another reason why I started incorporating liquids in my program. In the spring, I avoid bagging a couple of weeks after a fertilizer app for the the same reason. Another option I have used is to use a blade with no lift (Ninja) to avoid pickup, in case I needed to bag. If I ran that blade on lowest throttle, I think fertilizer pickup would be negligible.

Those leaf mulching machines you mention are pretty cool. I used to window shop them at Sears before I bought the Snapper (and the Sears near me closed). They were essentially a lawn vacuum/leaf shredder. They had a good size hose (~4" or so) that could detach to vacuum out the beds and hard to reach places. They're not cheap; probably $700-$900, and only good for a short portion of the season, so my backpack blower/Snapper combo works well for me.
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Topic Author
Green
Posts: 5598
Joined: Sun Dec 24, 2017 12:27 am
Location: CT (Zone 6B)
Grass Type: KBG, TTTF, TTPR, FF-diff mixes
Lawn Size: 15K
Mower: Toro 22", MTD 21", Fiskars 18"

Re: Green's Lawn Journal

Post by Green »

Soil temps rebounded to around 50F today as an average during the peak of the afternoon before sunset, and about 45 in tye upper back, where I fixed a lot of squirrel damage in the overseed. End of next week, I'm going to put down a hommade repellent so they stay out of it, and to prevent voles this Winter.
Front: Northern mix - mostly TTTF, KBG, TTPR. Back: Firecracker and Bullseye TTTF with America, Rugby 2, Bewitched KBG. Upper Side: Mostly TTPR, KBG. Lower Side: similar to front. Low-input: TF/FF, KBG, PR. Always seeding somewhere or fighting Triv.

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