Lawn care questions

Lawn care questions

I have several general questions about lawn care. But first, a short history of my lawn care mistakes. July 31, 2004, we moved into our new house, which is in a new subdivision. All the houses were built last spring, and everyone who purchased sod and landscaping packages with their new homes (as opposed to people who decided to grow their own lawns) had it installed close to the end of June. We closed on the house and our keys were given to us on the 29th of June. In that week or two after the sod and landscaping had been put in, we hadn't lived there yet, so the home builders had put our sprinkler system on for twice a day, seven days a week. I'm assuming that's right for new sod and landscaping. We weren't responsible for the water bill during that period. Anyway, the lease on our apartment wasn't up until the end of July, so we decided to stay there until then. Meanwhile, I was making frequent trips to the new house to do some painting before we moved in. Since I wasn't there but once or twice a week doing the painting, I forgot to reprogram the sprinkler system. When we finally moved in, our lawn was mushy and you couldn't walk on it without feeling you were on a slip-and-slide. So there you go, my first lawn care mistake. After we reprogrammed the sprinklers, all was fine and the grass was nice and green. We didn't get a lawn mower for a couple weeks though, but that was alright. The first mowing went fine. I liked having longer grass, so I set the mower for the highest setting and didn't mow that often. I think I mowed every 2 to 3 weeks as the grass didn't seem to get too long in between those times. The last mowing was towards the end of October, and while I could've mowed it at least twice more, I didn't. I had too many excuses. It was cold, I didn't feel good, I was sick (and I really was), the weather wasn't good. The end of November came and the grass clippings pickup stopped about then and wouldn't resume until April. I don't know if I made a mistake going that long without mowing. Anyway, moving a long, spring arrived and our grass was slow to getting green again. Slower than everyone else's lawn. The first spring mowing (mid-April) produced 4 bags of clippings. The second (May 9th) only produced one-half of a bag. One-half! And most of the clippings were dead, and produced a lot of dust. Questions I know nothing to little about lawn care, so here we go: 1. There still seems to be quite a bit of dead grass on our lawn just laying in between the green grass that is growing. The growing grass blades also seem a little thin. Is it too late for fertilizing? And how do we go about getting rid of the dead grass? (We live in South-East Michigan, so the climate right now is averaging about 60s to 70s) 2. The grass doesn't seem to be growing all that fast (considering it only produced one-half bag of clippings last mowing). If we are comfortable with longer lawn carpet, in your opinion, what is the absolute longest we should go without mowing again? And should watering habits be changed? 3. There seems to be several patches of grass (ranging in diameter of 1 to 2 feet wide) out front (by the street) that are much much taller and much greener than even the best looking lawn on the street. We do have a fire hydrant, but I thought dog urine would burn the grass and destroy it. Our neighbor has a dog, but on his half of the property line, there are no patches. The patches occur even on the side of the driveway that the fire hydrant isn't on, but on the side that it is on, the patches occur up to 10 feet away from it as well. Should I not worry about its height and mowing it since the rest of the lawn doesn't grow fast? And if the lawn were to be fertilized, is it possible that it could grow as fast as the patches? 4. Somehow in the past month, a bald spot has appeared out of nowhere in our back yard. The spot is about 2 feet in diameter and it kind of sinks down a little bit. It is about 3 feet away from the property divide where the neighbor with the dog resides. His lawn is flawless. The edges of the bald spot are not greener and taller, so I don't know if it was caused by the dog or not. I'm sure he has the decency to keep his dog in his own yard though. 5. And now a question about watering. For awhile when it had been raining, I didn't bother watering the lawn for several days. Then I read that you shouldn't depend on the rain. Some of the flowers on our bushes have turned brown, so I started to water it every 2 to 3 days. Then I read that instead, you should just give your lawn a good soaking once a week. This past Sunday, I ran each watering station for 15 minutes. Is this enough? I mean I haven't found any information on how long would be considered a good soaking. Would this soaking help the landscaping as well (flowers and bushes)? We also have one planted tree out front. Should the watering for that not be dependent on the sprinklers? Should that be watered seperately (I see the neighbors running a hose to theirs every so often). Alright, I think that's about it. If anyone can answer any of those, I'd be very thankful.
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