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New here! Need help with my crazy yard!

Cool season grasses like Kentucky Bluegrass, Fescue & Rye
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Nykiegin
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New here! Need help with my crazy yard!

Post by Nykiegin » Fri Jan 25, 2019 11:24 am

Hello everyone! I bought my house 3 years ago and have been working on the crazy lawn. It was a huge project because the previous owner's had a big vegetable garden in the front and has buried tarps into the ground and laid crushed stone all over it.

It looks so much better! BUT my big issue now is that I had to level the garden part to the grass part and it's 95% crab grass now. The crabgrass is dead at the moment (it's winter) but I am trying to figure out a game plan to finish the yard.

As of now my plan is to pull out all the crab grass (which is a ton of labor and will take forever) and lay grass seed on top... but, even if I do get all the crabgrass out, I am afraid I will have a two tone yard.

The part with grass is very healthy, bright and lush. Then the other half is dead ugly crab... I want the new grass to match.

There's a lot more I need help with, but this is the biggest part right now.

Thank you!

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dfw_pilot
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Re: New here! Need help with my crazy yard!

Post by dfw_pilot » Fri Jan 25, 2019 11:34 am

@Nykiegin, welcome to TLF! I moved your thread to the cool-season forum to get better advice.
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Budstl
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Re: New here! Need help with my crazy yard!

Post by Budstl » Fri Jan 25, 2019 11:45 am

If you want your grass to match, your best bet would be a full renovation in the fall. What kind of grass type you looking for? Kbg, fescue, or a mix of both? Pre emergent in the spring time will help prevent future crabgrass. It needs to be timed right according to soil temp. Also give this a read.
viewtopic.php?f=9&t=1595

Nykiegin
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Re: New here! Need help with my crazy yard!

Post by Nykiegin » Fri Jan 25, 2019 1:28 pm

Here are some photos. I will get a current one later today.

When I first bought the house:

Image

This is after I took out the garden and tried to level the yard. It was done perfectly because they had buried tarps into the soil. I could not get it all out. There was also crushed rocks all over. I got as much as I could. I created a bird feeding/ flower area and planted a ton of flowers along the front.

You can see the two sides. In thsee pictures the crabgrass was green and happy, the regular grass was dry (I know, I need to learn to take proper care of it).



Image

Image

Image

Again, it is winter now. The crab is dead and the grass looks better. I will post current pictures later today
Last edited by Nykiegin on Fri Jan 25, 2019 1:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Nykiegin
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Re: New here! Need help with my crazy yard!

Post by Nykiegin » Fri Jan 25, 2019 1:34 pm

Thanks Budstl! I have no idea about types of grass. The kind that is intact in the front part of the yard is beautiful and lush(when I water it). I like what is currently growing. It appears to be a blend. The front yard gets full sun, if that helps.

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jdc_lawnguy
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Re: New here! Need help with my crazy yard!

Post by jdc_lawnguy » Fri Jan 25, 2019 2:50 pm

@Nykiegin looks like you have put a good bit of work in already, great job!!

Given your location, I suspect you have a “Northern Mix”. KBG, TTTF, and PRG.

In the area where you have mostly crab grass, is there also some grass there or is it only weeds that have filled in?

As you will learn you have cool season grass. Cool season seeding is best done in the fall.

That doesn’t mean you can’t do it other times of year. It means if you decide to seed at other times of year you have to understand what you are up against and you have to have a plan to deal with some of those things.

This place is an excellent resource to educate you for what you are up against and how to deal with it.

As I see it, you have a few options.
- Put down pre-emergent in the spring and go with what you have. Based off the pics it looks pretty good from the street. See if it spreads, fills in and thickens over the summer. Then overseed or renovate in the August timeframe.

- Renovate in the spring. This is a less favorable approach, but sometimes it has to be done. I did it last year out of necessity. This could be done either by seeding/overseeding or full renovation. The key to this is finding the right window and knowing what you are up against. In this approach you need make decisions about whether you want to apply an herbicide like tenacity at seed down to try and combat weeds, or if you don’t.

You also need to think things like fungicides if you are going to be watering as the conditions become favorable for fungus. Another risk here is heat setting and killing off your new grass.

Either way you are going to need to water the seed and lawn. Irrigation is not common in the northeast. Do you have irrigation or a plan for watering?

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Re: New here! Need help with my crazy yard!

Post by Chris LI » Fri Jan 25, 2019 3:59 pm

+1 on the reno. That's the way I would go. As I was typing this, I noticed jdc_lawnguy had some good ideas, too.

If you're trying to have something a little better to look at for the summer before the reno, you could try a spring overseed.

Spring seeding is not generally recommended because weed pressure and immature turf has difficulty surviving the summer heat/drought. However, a tri-rye blend (3-way blend of perennial ryegrass), might give you a little something to look at until you do the reno. P rye germinates quickly, so you would have some grass to mow in 2-3 weeks. Since you would be nuking the lawn mid-summer anyway, you wouldn't have to worry about heat/drought, and you would get some practice leveling, seeding, watering, etc. in order to have a better chance of success with the reno.

Crabgrass is an annual weed, so you don't have to worry about ripping out the existing root system. It decomposes and essentially becomes fertilizer. However, you should try to scalp and bag the clippings to remove as many weed seeds as possible to reduce the weed seed bank. I would also caution you about disturbing the soil by rototilling or ripping the crabgrass roots out, as you will cause many buried weed seeds to surface and compete with the turf. Unfortunately, I found out the hard way with an aggressive spring dethatching and overseed.

You can research renos others have done and check out the lawn journals of members.

For the reno, you would probably need to start nuking with glyphosate towards the end of July, so you could water a few days later to try to confirm if all vegetation is dead and to germinate any weed seeds (called fallowing). It's best to repeat the process at least 2-3 times to make sure you get a good kill and wipe out as much of the weed seed bank as possible before seeding the reno. That's why it's best to start mid summer with the glyphosate. I've nuked it one day, and scalped, bagged and seeded the next day, but it's really not preferred. My time is tight during the summer, and I had to wait until after Labor Day weekend.

One other tip, make sure you use Tenacity (mesotrione) at seeding to hold back weed pressure. If you don't have a pump sprayer, Scotts has starter fertilizer with mesotrione.

Nykiegin
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Re: New here! Need help with my crazy yard!

Post by Nykiegin » Wed Feb 13, 2019 3:53 pm

Hey guys!! Thank so much for the responses! I actually did seed it last year after I tilled and leveled it, but that area is 100% crab grass. I was amazed that no grass appeared.

You all gave good advice, but I am so green at this (Ha ha haaa), that your verbage is beyond me. I literally need a step by step process with instructions on exactly what to buy and when to apply.

No, I do not have an irrigation plan. Please help me with that. I know nothing of how much to water, how and when. It's amazing my flowers do so well because I'm so inconsistent.

Also, in despiration, I spread crab grass killer over that area in the fall. Idk if it did anything, but since it's winter, it is dead and ugly.

Here's a more current photo
Image

Chris LI
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Re: New here! Need help with my crazy yard!

Post by Chris LI » Wed Feb 13, 2019 8:17 pm

@Nykiegin

You will have to do some homework. Start looking at some if the lawn journals for the folks who have completed renovations and overseeds. Also, try using the search function in in the Cool Season forum. A lot of folks with minimal experience have asked similar questions and some of your questions may have already been answered. Here is a link to the Cool Season Guide which starts with the basics and has a lot of helpful links, including info about terminology.

viewtopic.php?f=9&t=1595

Miggity
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Re: New here! Need help with my crazy yard!

Post by Miggity » Wed Feb 13, 2019 8:47 pm

Here's another thought for you since you are fairly new to this... Lay sod this spring in that small former garden area for a quick and fairly easy green space. Take this year to get up to speed on pre-emergents, fertilization, weed, pest, and disease control. Assess your lawn this fall and again the following spring and summer. If you are decide it needs a renovation that fall, you'll be in a much better position to do it then with the knowledge you have gained in the meantime.

While you can learn A LOT here and in the Cool Season Guide linked just above, I found this short series of videos very helpful as a beginner. https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=P ... nUM-Xp6KH2

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MassHole
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Re: New here! Need help with my crazy yard!

Post by MassHole » Thu Feb 14, 2019 7:35 am

I'm in Western Mass, and done a number of renos, and doing my first spring reno this year.

Given how small the area is, I would spring seed it - be aware this is hard and requires a lot of attention on your side.

Day 1 - first week of April (based on soil temps):
1a. mow the lawn as low as you can, and bag it.
1b. get a slit seeder and use it to dethatch the entire front. rake up anything that comes up. Don't go to aggressive.
1c. get a good seed mix (Jonathan Green Black Beauty Ultra does well in our area), and slit seed
1d. spread Scotts Starter with mesotrione (this will act as a weed preventer and help the new seed)
1e. spread peat moss and Milorganite over the area

2. keep the area moist and damp for 30 days. Don't let it dry up, but don't let it get soaked - think of coverage sprinklers running ~3 times a day for 7-10 minutes - just enough to keep the peat moss damp.

3. put down Lesco 19-0-7 pre-emergent (with Dimension) and fungicide (DiseaseEx last 30 days) around May 15 (6 weeks after seed)

4. Milorganite again and another fungicide (something with Propiconazole) June 15.

If this doesn't work, reno in the fall.

Welcome to the page. Nice job so far. You got this!

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jdc_lawnguy
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Re: New here! Need help with my crazy yard!

Post by jdc_lawnguy » Thu Feb 14, 2019 10:29 am

@MassHole gave some great recommendations.

With regard to irrigation. If you don’t have inground and do not plan to add it you may want to plan something.

Last year I did something like what is shown in the video below



I didn’t rewatch the video but it give a overview of the concept

Since you will need to keep the seed moist and will want to water a few times a day until you have seedlings I suggest you use something like this.

https://www.homedepot.com/p/Orbit-4-Out ... /205584851

Not the number of sprinklers you can run on a zone is a function of how much water you are sending through the spigot and how much water each sprinkler uses. For example if you have 8 gals/minute and each sprinkler uses 2.5 gals/min then you can only put 3 sprinklers in each zone.

For this purpose, I chose to use water efficient sprinklers. Specifically, I used Hunter Rotators on pressure regulated bodies. Since the water efficient sprinklers use less water per minute, you can use more sprinklers per zone.

You can find those here
https://www.sprinklerwarehouse.com/Hunt ... /11768.htm

Note: since water efficient sprinklers put out less water it is important to calibrate the run time to ensure you are putting out the desired amount of water per zone. Putting down an empty tuna can and seeing how long it takes to fill is a great way to measure output. 😀

I chose the pressure regulated bodies because of the fact I was running garden hoses between each sprinkler.

I used larger diameter hose (3/4” internal diameter) between the timer and the first sprinkler. I then used smaller diameter hose to link subsequent sprinklers. I would often use a 5/8” between sprinkler 1 and 2 and then a 1/2” or smaller past that point.

I found it was cheapest to buy a few 100’ hoses, and a hand full of high quality brass hose repair kits. I would then cut the hose to length for my needs.

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MassHole
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Re: New here! Need help with my crazy yard!

Post by MassHole » Thu Feb 14, 2019 11:54 am

@jdc_lawnguy is right about monitoring your water. It's a lot of work and math, but it's worth it. Soaked seed will drown and die and cost you money. Using peat moss helps a lot to absorb water and keep the seed moist, and a visual indicator.

I used around 3 cubic ft of peat moss per 500 sq ft.

Inevitably you want a dark green, uniform looking, lawn. Using the same seed, and treating the lawn as a single body, and keeping the whole area damp and covered will get you there.

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HoosierLawnGnome
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Re: New here! Need help with my crazy yard!

Post by HoosierLawnGnome » Thu Feb 14, 2019 1:22 pm

Depends what your goal is.

The simple approach is to get what you have to thicken up.

Light, regular doses of urea once the lawn wakes up on it's own will encourage it to fill in. Like a pound per M every other week until memorial day. Mow often, taking off no more than 1 / 3 at a time which is probably a few times a week during the growth flush. Supplement water as needed to get an inch a week.

Apply pre emergent at the right time.

Then you can always renovate this fall, go to the next level with soil tests and what not etc.
I like green turf, and I cannot lie!
You other lawn nuts can't deny!
That when a lawn shows up
With an itty height of cut
and a reel mower in your face
You get SPRUNG! Want to pull up tough!
Cuz you KNOW that lawn is boss!
Baby got TURF!!!

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MassHole
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Re: New here! Need help with my crazy yard!

Post by MassHole » Thu Feb 14, 2019 1:53 pm

HoosierLawnGnome wrote:
Thu Feb 14, 2019 1:22 pm
The simple approach is to get what you have to thicken up.
I think it's wasteful to try and thicken up an area with 90%+ crabgrass. Seed is needed.

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HoosierLawnGnome
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Re: New here! Need help with my crazy yard!

Post by HoosierLawnGnome » Fri Feb 15, 2019 10:18 pm

MassHole wrote:
Thu Feb 14, 2019 1:53 pm
HoosierLawnGnome wrote:
Thu Feb 14, 2019 1:22 pm
The simple approach is to get what you have to thicken up.
I think it's wasteful to try and thicken up an area with 90%+ crabgrass. Seed is needed.
He doesnt need a ton of grass, as long as some is there, and often a lot is interspersed even in an area completely covered with weeds. All it takes is encouraging what you want and discouraging what you dont.

Maybe OP can take a closer look and make a call? That's the hard part, making the call, especially if the desirable plants are brown now.

The most difficult strategy is a spring reseed, so before you commit to the most time consuming and expensive scenario with least probability of success compared to sod or thickening it up
make sure it's the right call.
I like green turf, and I cannot lie!
You other lawn nuts can't deny!
That when a lawn shows up
With an itty height of cut
and a reel mower in your face
You get SPRUNG! Want to pull up tough!
Cuz you KNOW that lawn is boss!
Baby got TURF!!!

Green
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Re: New here! Need help with my crazy yard!

Post by Green » Fri Feb 15, 2019 11:44 pm

HoosierLawnGnome wrote:
Thu Feb 14, 2019 1:22 pm
Light, regular doses of urea once the lawn wakes up on it's own will encourage it to fill in. Like a pound per M every other week until memorial day. Mow often, taking off no more than 1 / 3 at a time which is probably a few times a week during the growth flush. Supplement water as needed to get an inch a week.
I'm a big proponent of this method...work with what you have. I used this method last year on an area where an overseed the previous Fall failed for whatever reason. I had it all filled in, but the Summer heat thinned it out again (though not as bad as where it started out).
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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