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Help me with my yard, please.

Post in 'DIY and General non-hearth advice' started by Danno77, May 8, 2013.

  1. Danno77

    Danno77 Minister of Fire

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    I grew up in the country. Yard meant everything that was green that you mowed. There was some grass in it.

    My yard NOW (in town) looks like complete garbage. it's like 75% weeds or non-grass, and there are about 3 different kinds of grass making up the other 25%.

    This one portion of the yard near the front of my house has potential, so i'd like to start there and make it all nice, then if things work out, I'll spread my knowledge to the rest of the yard.

    First, I bought this Ortho Weed B Gone stuff and followed the application directions in my spray tank. Did absolutely nothing, not even to the dandelions. Did a reapply two weeks later.

    So far I've mowed once and need to mow again. It's been two days since the last Ortho application, so apparently I can go ahead and mow. Here's the biggest problem I'm having though, I have HUGE spots where it's nothing but this blanket/carpet type weed. I've included pictures.

    I figure if I know what it is, then I can move forward with treatment. Once I have the weeds dead the plan was to maintain for about a month, then aerate, then seed as appropriate, fertilize and water, then maintain.

    Sound like a plan? someone please let me know. This part of the yard can be salvaged, the rest of the yard might just get totally plowed up and I'll start from scratch. it's really bad. at least it's green this time of year, though!

    Attached Files:

    smokinj likes this.

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  2. Badfish740

    Badfish740 Minister of Fire

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    Not sure how big of a patch that weed takes up, but is it small enough that you could tear it all up, work the soil a bit, and then reseed? I use Scotts Patchmaster for this-it works really well. Fertilizer, seed, and ground up newspaper (keeps the seed moist) all mixed together. You just put it down and water. I used it to fill in some dead spots and where I ground down some stumps below grade and filled in with topsoil. You get pretty decent grass in about two weeks. One bag is about $30 on Amazon and covers 300 SF.
  3. Danno77

    Danno77 Minister of Fire

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    There are a couple of big spots where I could do that, but then there are these weeds intermingled, too, so I need to do something to kill them all.
  4. Delta-T

    Delta-T Minister of Fire

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    just by luck alone I have found that a black tarp left covering "undesirable" vegitation over the course of a few sunny days pretty much does them in. then you have a fairly manageable sized area to work with at a time. sure, your neighbors think you're wacky...but I dont think thats anything new for you sir.
    ScotO, woodgeek and Danno77 like this.
  5. Joful

    Joful Minister of Fire

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    I have some experience to share here. Will post instructions tonight. Headed out to pick up my new splitter now!
    ScotO and Danno77 like this.
  6. Danno77

    Danno77 Minister of Fire

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    HA! i've done the tarp thing before, and like I mentioned, that's a totally viable option on those larger spots. I like that idea better than digging it all out, actually.

    Joful. Totally jealous. I keep thinking I'll make the jump to a splitter, but it just never happens... Maybe this is the year. I can't seem to keep up anymore.
  7. gzecc

    gzecc Minister of Fire

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    I would first use a broad leaf week killer (without fertilizer). If its powder make sure to put it down when the grass is wet (so it sticks) and its not going to rain for 48 hours.
    After the broad leaves are killed, identify what else you have and either remove manually or with herbicide.
    I would then mow high regularly and fertilize before it gets too hot. Plug aerate and over seed in the fall. Next year you'll have a much better lawn. You'll still have work to do but it will be moving in the right direction.
    If you have very poor soil you may need a top dressing of top soil. Probably best to have your soil tested. You may need lime also.
    Joful and Danno77 like this.
  8. Danno77

    Danno77 Minister of Fire

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    thanks gzecc. That stuff I used IS a broadleaf killer (no fertilizer included), it just didn't do a thing to the weeds. I don't understand. Then, like you said, I need to identify the other stuff, see pictures below, I can't find that stuff in my google searches.
  9. lukem

    lukem Minister of Fire

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    Chickweed. Midwest drought last year has that stuff popping up everywhere. Hit it with some 24D and reseed.
  10. nate379

    nate379 Guest

    Round Up the whole yard, till and reseed.
    MasterMech, blujacket and Danno77 like this.
  11. jdp1152

    jdp1152 Minister of Fire

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    Read up on lawn/weeds at the Va Tech website...excellent information there. Patches of weeds that large are usually symptoms of poor soil conditions. See if you can't get some soil testing done. Price ranges from free to 10 or so bucks. While you're waiting on that, get your lawn core aerated. Most weeds run shallow root systems in compact soil conditions. Your grass roots run deeper and get screwed with such soil conditions. Get the generic version of round up and kill those heavy patch areas. After dead, dethatch your entire lawn, but just grind up those dead areas. Reseed with whatever grass is good for your area. I won this battle last year with crab grass. Blasted it with quinchlorac and took a thatch rake and cleaned up all the dead grass and planted a mix of rye, fescue, and bluegrass......and then the watering ban happened. Not that it matters since I had three wells dug in December of last year and am now on day four of reseeding the lawn. It's always going to be an uphill battle for me since my neighbors only mow their field of weeds once a month. I'm hoping that my newly stacked wall of wood will slow down some of the infiltration.
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  12. jdp1152

    jdp1152 Minister of Fire

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    Oh yeah, be sure to not use a preemergent weed killer until your reseeding efforts have been mowed a few times, otherwise you'll just prevent the grass from germinating.
  13. Joful

    Joful Minister of Fire

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    I'm actually jealous of anyone who has the time to split by hand! I really enjoy doing it, and buying this splitter feels like I'm admitting defeat. I split 14 cords last year, half by hand and half with a rented splitter... just can't keep up at it, given everything else I have going on, right now.

    On the lawn, I had the fortune to buy a house from a man who owned a very large turf care company. He supplies the fertilizers and equipment to golf course and turf farms all around the northeast. Our front lawn was beautiful, a true showpiece, but he completely ignored the back and side lawns (not visible from street). I got together with one of his lawn technicians (these guys really know their stuff), and started a program. I'm dealing with 4 acres of lawn, so the goal was something that could be handled large-scale, without tedious weeding, etc. After the 1st year, there was a very noticeable improvement. Now half way thru our second year, the lawn is almost perfect. Neighbors and passers by actually stop to ask how the heck I did it, so here's the plan. I'm on the boarder of zones 7-8, so I just aim for the earlier part of each listed date range.

    lawnplan.GIF
    (click to enlarge)

    In addition to the above, based on our local soil conditions, I put down a pelletized calcium (PhysioCal) twice per year. This just helps keep the pH right. A soil check (or talking to your local turf care co.) will tell you if you need that, but most around here do.

    My lawn is Tall Fescue, which does very well in this area, with the one caveat that it does not creep / self-heal. So, I typically replace "Round 4" listed below with a fall over-seeding and starter fertilizer. Overseeding is expensive, but is really the only way to keep a perfect lawn, if dealing with a non-creeping variety. We typically have draught conditions July into early August, and the grass is too stressed to do anything with it. After the rain starts back up in mid-August, I wait until the lawn looks healthy again, hit it with some broadleaf weed killer (Surge) in the tow-behind sprayer, wait three weeks, and then do an aerate (tow behind plug aerator), overseed, and starter fertilizer. Again, lawn looks like a perfect green carpet, even when the neighbors brown out in July.

    I can't speak for any consumer-grade products. Like you, I never had much luck with them. Find your local turf co, and they will have experts who give you a similar plan, with commercial-grade product.
  14. Joful

    Joful Minister of Fire

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    ? Not sure I follow. Re-seeding should be done in the fall for zones 7-8. Pre-emergent is usually put down in March, before anything has a chance to germinate, and is typically only effective for 9 weeks.

    Any seeding done in the spring should be mostly annual ryegrass, or some other cheap seed. It's going to die in the mid-summer drought, anyway. Save the expensive re-seeding for the fall.

    Great advice, for year 2 or 3. The local turf pro's won't need to see a sample to know the conditions of your soil, if it hasn't already been treated. After you get a year of treatment behind you, they'll want to see a soil sample, to fine-tune your plan.
  15. Danno77

    Danno77 Minister of Fire

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    good stuff here.

    Any advice on why my weed killer stuffs (Ortho Weed B Gon Max which has 24D in it, BTW) isn't killing stuff? Am I being impatient? I do read online that it usually takes 2 applications, and I just finished the second application a few days ago. How does it kill weeds, I'm used to your general round-up stuff that just kills completely in a day or two, so maybe I'm being impatient?

    Anyway, I've done two applications and it appears as though that's all that's recommended/allowed, so if this doesn't improve in the next week or so then I'm just going to move on.

    For this portion of the lawn I planned on watering this summer, does that impact the ability/usefulness to seed around mid june or so here? I want a hardy grass that will look good from early spring to early fall. On the rest of my lawn it does tend to burn out in late summer and make a comeback when it cools in early fall, but I don't ever water it.

    Was at the store looking at aerators. The plug type is best, but for the $ is it that much better?

    Also, what's the consensus on rolling out my lawn. I did have a problem with burrowing little monsters, but treating for grubs seems to make them attack other neighbors yards instead. Alas, though, my yard has suffered from this. Do you roll it, or let it settle on its own? If you roll it, I assume you do that and THEN aerate, right?
  16. jdp1152

    jdp1152 Minister of Fire

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    Add a surfactant to your weed killer. You can get the cheapest one and it's just as effective as the pricey ones. Online stores are your friend. Most weed killers don't have soil activity, so you'd be fine seeding as soon as you get the dead thatch taken care of. Double check with your weed killer to be sure however.

    If you're able to water, spring/summer seeding is fine...we don't all have 4 acres to deal with like joful where watering probably isn't an option. You just need to make sure the ground stays wet, but not saturated. Easy enough for me since I work from home. You may also want to top dress with soil/compost/loam to help keep it moist. I don't bother since drought up here is the exception not the norm. I just seed before a time when I know we're going to get a few days of rain.

    Plug aeration is the best. Spikes are only temporary solutions for alleviating compaction. Aerating will help get rid of your burrows. Longer term grub control, look into milky spore. To each their own, but I tend to go with organic approaches when feasible.
  17. SIERRADMAX

    SIERRADMAX Feeling the Heat

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    Had the same problem last year. I had some grass and mostly weeds. Here's what I did and my lawn. I applied a herbicide mid august to everything and waited 2 weeks to watch everything brown. I used my push mower and cut the grass on the lowest available setting, almost scalping the ground. Blades were toast after. I then rented a slice seeder and slit seeded my yard early September. The clippings from the previous cut acted as fertilizer and kept moisture for the new seed. Water...Water...Water twice a day and in 4 weeks, my lawn looked nice.

    [​IMG]
  18. Bret Hart

    Bret Hart Member

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    No pics to post of the destruction but I just put out an app. of a generic Tri-Mec on Saturday morning just after the dew dried. Mixed it at 3oz/gallon in a hand pump sprayer and walked the yard looking for weeds. By 5:00 all of the broad leaf weeds I hit were wilting hard.

    What rate did you mix at?
  19. Danno77

    Danno77 Minister of Fire

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    I'd have to look at the bottle, but I measured it out very carefully. I think it was 2.5oz per gallon for 400 square feet. The problem is that the area I sprayed is larger than 400 square feet, but I didn't spray every inch. I targeted spots. Maybe I applied to little of the mix...
  20. MasterMech

    MasterMech Guest

    Yes! Spikes don't count! ;) Youtube for videos of golf greens/fairways undergoing aeration. That's some serious aeration!

    Listen to Joful, and serious lawn renovations should be undertaken in the fall, just before the rain starts again. Otherwise you will be a slave to the grass all spring and summer. Or worse, lose the entire investment. Do your homework on what grasses do best in your area.

    Weed B Gone is a stealthy killer. I did half of my back yard with it from a hose mount sprayer, thought it didn't work. 30 days later there wasn't a weed on that side of the yard. Works best when the plants are growing the fastest. ;)
  21. Danno77

    Danno77 Minister of Fire

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    I kinda want to be consumed by the task. It's like a giant zen garden, but just with grass.
  22. Bret Hart

    Bret Hart Member

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    Maybe a little light but you should have seen at least a little change in the weeds by now. I sprayed my entire yard last year with this product with a Toro Multi-Pro 1250 that I had in my shop for repairs. I mixed it slightly weaker than the owners recommendation, he's a turf pro but this stuff smells bad and I didn't want the neighbors to complain, and it took several days before I saw any wilting. It's a 2,4,D product too.

    Did it rain within a few hours of application?
  23. Danno77

    Danno77 Minister of Fire

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    no rain until two days later (both applications, actually)
  24. Joful

    Joful Minister of Fire

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    Danno, did you state how big your yard is? How big the problem area is? Some of my recommendations depend on this.

    Grub control goes down around Memorial Day / early June, so this is the time to discuss this.

    Spike aerators are not very good at, well... aerating. Plug type is the only way to go, walk-behind self-propelled, or tow-behind. A 12hp Cub Cadet can pull a typical 42" plug type... just barely.
  25. Danno77

    Danno77 Minister of Fire

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    I'd need to measure it. this area is fairly small. I don't have any new pictures of it, but I'll include old pictures. The area I'm focusing on starts the drive (there is now a sidewalk and that drive has been expanded almost to that tree nearest the mailbox). Then it goes to from the house to the street, and down the hill to where you can see a cement slab. That cement slab is where my "Barn" is now.
    (eta: for perspective, that narrow side of the main brick house is about 17ft)

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