First Spring in New Home

Asked May 11, 2020, 5:11 PM EDT

I purchased and moved into a house in November of last year. With this being the first spring I want to get a good start on the lawn and getting a nice uniform green color. I have mowed twice, noticing the light green spot in the back yard continues to grow, and the front yard is thin with pockets of moss mixed into the turf all the way to the pine tree. My question is how can I fix the lime green spot and what is the cause? I plan to aerate in the fall followed by some over seeding with Kentucky bluegrass, will this cure my moss & thin problem in the front lawn? What plant is in the picture (I have a small collection of them that recently popped up? Thank you!

Genesee County Michigan

1 Response

The first step to a great lawn is doing a soil test to know the soil environment you are trying to grow turf in. More reasons why (and how to order from MSU): https://www.canr.msu.edu/uploads/files/Soil_Test9-12RS.pdf

Your photo of the light green turf doesn't give enough details know for sure if it's a disease problem or Poa Annua (annual bluegrass), one of the most common grassy weeds in the United States. It looks very similar to Kentucky bluegrass, except it is a lighter shade of green, has a shallower root system, and develops a short seed head early in the season(or Poa trivialis). More info here: https://www.agry.purdue.edu/turfnew/pubs/agry9802.htm
You can also email photos to https://www.canr.msu.edu/pestid/ for identification. I'd send the existing one and a) another with more detail of the light colored turf, and b) a 3rd with more detail showing the boundary between light and dark turf to help determine if it's weed or disease.
Now for the front lawn: Moss flourishes when conditions don't support healthy turf. (Soil test!) The most common are: (a) low fertility, (b) acidic soils, (c) poor drainage, (d) soil compaction, (e) heavy shade, (f) restricted air movement. Knowing (and improving) your soil conditions and reducing/eliminating site conditions that favor moss will keep it at bay. Over-seeding may be necessary to thicken the lawn as well. If needed use a grass seed tolerant of shade and/or moisture. Here are some articles to read:
https://archive.lib.msu.edu/DMC/Ag.%20Ext.%202007-Chelsie/PDF/e1516-1986-print2.pdf
https://extension.psu.edu/moss-in-the-lawn
https://lancaster.unl.edu/hort/articles/2006/moss.shtml
https://ag.purdue.edu/btny/ppdl/Pages/POTW2018/POTW04302018.aspx
https://web.extension.illinois.edu/lawntalk/weeds/solving_moss_problems_in_lawns.cfm
And the weed: I believe it's a dandelion look-a-like called cats ear (Hypochaeris radicata) because the leaves appear to be hairy and don't have sharp points like dandelion. A broadleaf week killer will eliminate them or if there are just a few remove them by hand, taking care to get the tap root (or they'll return).
Info on lawn aeration: https://hortnews.extension.iastate.edu/2018/08/core-aeration-lawns I'd recommend talking to a local nursery about a recommended lawn seed mix to use for over seeding in your soil type.
A final recommendation to help you with your lawn: https://www.canr.msu.edu/news/mow_high_for_weed_and_grub_control