My lawn is trashed...what now?

Discussion in 'After Hours Lounge (Off Topic)' started by Michael_K_Sr, Apr 9, 2006.

  1. Michael_K_Sr

    Michael_K_Sr Screenwriter

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    Last year we had a terrible drought in the Midwest and by the end of the summer, my back yard was in pretty bad shape. As I feared, it appears that about two-thirds of the yard is not going to recover. [​IMG] A third of the area looks like it will be okay. The rest is pretty much dirt and dead grass. A lot of this has to do with not only a lack of rain, but also the fact that that portion of the yard is completely exposed to the full strength of the sun on the east and south sides. There are no trees and no houses to provide shade. The question now becomes what can I do next? I've never had experience in seeding a yard, but I can't afford to hire a professional landscaper either, especially with the size of the yard involved (about 1/4 acre.) What is involved in trying this myself? I assume I have to rake out the dead grass. Do I need to do anything else to prepare the soil? Fertilizer...frequent watering? What is involved in laying the seed? Do I need to throw topsoil on top of it? I have two dogs, but I've thought about using snow fencing to keep them and anyone else off the affected area. As you can see, I'm a novice at this and would appreciate any advice anyone can offer. Thanks much.
     
  2. Adam Lenhardt

    Adam Lenhardt Executive Producer

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    Rake out the dead grass first, just to give you a clean area to work with. The grass seed you pick will depend on where you are geographically. From the sound of things, you are looking for a low-maintenance full sun seed. Do you have any lawn and garden centers in your area? If so, they'd probably be able to recommend something that would do the job. If sun is your biggest problem, I'd also check into planting a tree or two.
    Once you've seeded the lawn, the most important thing is to remember to water it through the dry spots. I live in an apartment now, but I can't count the number of times I watched the sun go down to the sound of the garden hose. It was an evening summer tradition growing up.
     
  3. Kirk Gunn

    Kirk Gunn Screenwriter

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    Try "Water Saver" grass seed. It's a little more expensive but works well. Here's my strategy this year:

    1)Till up the bare spots - most of that soil is probably pretty dry and nasty. Till to a depth of 1-2".

    2) Mix the tilled areas with the WaterSaver seed and some quality topsoil.

    3) Buy a few big bags of Scott's Patchmaster for Sunny areas. Patchmaster is a combination of fertilizer and seeds embedded in groundup newspaper and filler which keeps the seed moist in between watering. Mix this over/into the tilled area.

    4) Water lightly 2x per day for 2-3 weeks. You will see the new lawn coming in nicely.

    5) Continue to water 1x per day for the next week or so, then reduce to every other day until you've mowed it a few times.

    6) Keep an eye out for weeds and manually remove them. That was my issue this year.. I ended up growing just as many weeds as grass because I did not keep up with removing them. Spent a good time of yesterday picking them out...

    Do NOT put weed killer or preventer down as it may effect the germinating grass.

    Good luck - the filler in Patchmaster is green so it quickly improves the look of your yard !
     
  4. Chu Gai

    Chu Gai Lead Actor

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    Leave it trashed and turn the devastated area into something that require little to no maintenance like a sculptured rock area with paths, areas for dining or gathering, and so forth.
     
  5. Mort Corey

    Mort Corey Supporting Actor

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    Synthetic turf.....it's only expensive once. Sod, if you want the real stuff. If my HOA would allow it I'd go with Chu's choice.

    Mort
     
  6. Jeff Ulmer

    Jeff Ulmer Producer

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    If I wanted more grass, I would leave the dead grass (natural fertilizer) and overseed. Getting rid of the grass as Chu suggests would be another option. Just make sure it won't become a weed haven.
     
  7. Bob Graz

    Bob Graz Supporting Actor

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    Rent an aerator and plug the entire area several times. If the ground is really dry, soak it first so you can get some depth with the aerator. Then over seed and use starter fertilizer.
     
  8. Jerome Grate

    Jerome Grate Cinematographer

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    Depending on the area determines what grass seed you use.
    1. as posted earlier you would need to rake up all the dead grass.
    2. soil, soil, soil. Enough to create a top layer not too thick as long as the dead grass has been removed. (Dead grass chokes anything you plant)
    3. lay the seeds, in my area northeast, contractor's mix is very durable and requires little sunlight. Once the seeds are planted then rake it into the new soil.
    4. if you have a lot of birds, cover what's new.
     
  9. Mike OConnell

    Mike OConnell Second Unit

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    Lot's of water, ropes, then mud wrestling or mud volleyball. [​IMG]
     
  10. Michael_K_Sr

    Michael_K_Sr Screenwriter

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    So after looking around the yard, I've pretty much decided to blow up what's left of it and start anew. The remaining grass has some bald spots and has a lot of crabgrass growing in it. So I have a few new questions. What kind of herbicide should I use to kill off the remaining grass and will residue harm any seeds I lay down? I'm thinking of renting a slit seeder from Home Depot to lay down the seed. It apparently cuts grooves in the soil and drops the seed down into them. If I'm going to use that, do I still need to rototill the yard beforehand? Should I aerate instead?
     
  11. DaveF

    DaveF Moderator
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    Michael, I suggest buying the Scott's Lawn Care book from Lowes (or your favorite store). It explains how to do just what you're asking about. Look under lawn renovation and restoration, I believe.
     
  12. Dan Sauter

    Dan Sauter Auditioning

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    First stop and do nothing. Where in the Midwest are you talking about? You will be very surprised at how well a yard can bounce back after a winter. The grass may be gone on the surface but the roots are still there. Welcome some spring rain and take a wait and see attitude. If your yard is slow to rebound you can rake your yard, then use a stiff metal rake to loosen up the top inch of top soil, YOU DO NOT need to till your yard. Reseed your yard using a good mixture of both annual and perennial grass seed. The purpose of the annual which germanates in 7-10 days is to provide a cover crop for the perennial which takes 14 to 21 days to germinate. Rake the seed in to the loose topsoil and most important roll the area, Seed will not grow if it is not pressed into the soil. A very loose layer of straw spread over the top will aid in moisture retention. Try and keep area moist but not soaking wet till grass starts to germinate. Only water in the morning never in the evening. Fertilizer is not needed as the seed itself provides it's own food for initial growth. The loose straw can be raked away after the grass has reached 4" or so or better yet leave it and mulch it when you start mowing. Mow only 1/3 of the height of the blade of grass and if rain does not come water ( soak )once a week of at least an inch when the lawn is established. Yes keep the dogs off for now as just walking will tear the new grass up. That's my advise in a nut shell, I do it for a living here in Northern Minnesota. Come fall over seed again with a good perennial and use a winter fertilizer mix for your location. Good luck
     
  13. Colton

    Colton Supporting Actor

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    We live in Oklahoma and just signed up with ChemLawn for a 7 treatment process with our lawn. $45 for each treatment.

    1 in the Spring
    4 in the Summer
    3 in the Fall

    Our lawn is weed-central. Hope we are getting a good deal.

    - Colton
     

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