New at this...HELP??

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Old 10-22-07, 06:51 AM
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Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: Salem, MO
Posts: 1
New at this...HELP??

Hello everyone!

I am a displaced resident of Salem, MO. The "things that grow" here are a mystery to me. I have a "lawn" -- and I use the word very loosely -- that needs serious help. It is very "thin" and apparently composed of all weeds with just a smattering of real grass in a few spots.

My family & I have talked about just taking the tiller to it and planting a whole new lawn. BUT ... we have never done this before and have no clue as to how to go about it.

There are three huge Oak trees and one medium sized Juniper tree that create an almost completely shaded front area. The back area is full sun (and heat) with no shade or shelter at all.

Additionally, there are four young boys, a Great Pyranese, two small dogs, and four cats that run hard and wild upon the areas daily. There are moles during the rainy seasons in spring and fall (possibly due to the numerous worms?)

IS there anyone here that would be willing to tutor an old lady -- me -- on how to go about either replenishing or replacing my yard?
 
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Old 10-22-07, 05:32 PM
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Join Date: May 2002
Location: Maryland zone 7
Posts: 1,716
Hi Grammadad,

I would love to try and help you. You've given a pretty good description of what you have to work with. I find it's best to start with your hardiness zone. That will tell us what and when you can plant. I get your hardiness zone as 6. You can check it here.
http://www.gardenweb.com/zones/zip.cgi

It sounds like you will need to start your lawn from scratch. Since you have active kids and pets it would probably be best to sod your lawn instead of growing it from seed as it will establish more quickly. A lawn from seed will need about 6 weeks or more before it can withstand that much activity. Sod will take about a month to establish it's roots. Of course all that depends on the soil temps when you plant and how much you water, but a seeded lawn will still take longer to establish enough for such activity. I have 4 dogs and found that sod worked better for me. Fall is a great time to plant a new lawn, but since the temps are getting colder you should check your first expected frost date here, which I suspect you have already experienced.
http://www.victoryseeds.com/frost/

So, it looks like you will need to do this in the spring.

I have a "lawn" -- and I use the word very loosely -- that needs serious help. It is very "thin" and apparently composed of all weeds with just a smattering of real grass in a few spots.

My family & I have talked about just taking the tiller to it...
Please don't do that. You will just be chopping up the roots of the weeds and burying the weed seeds so they can all emerge en force in the warm weather! You can go a couple of different ways with this. You need to either kill off all the weeds, rake them up and strip off any remaining grass or strip it all off. I garden organically so I don't use toxic chemicals. You can use horticultural vinegar as a weed killer, but keep in mind it's acidic and could make your soil more acidic. Your new lawn may not appreciate that.

As I mentioned before, you can strip off what is there with a flat shovel if it's a small area or with a sod cutter. You will need to rent the sod cutter and have some muscles to wield it. Get one that is self-propelled. The rental company can deliver and pick up for a small fee along with a lawn roller and a till if you don't have them.
http://www.usa.husqvarna.com/Files/H...ges/line30.jpg

So here's what I'd do if this were my lawn. I'd strip off or kill the weeds and grass with vinegar, add 3" to 4" of compost, till it in, level it grading away from the house, roll it and sod. Here's how to seed or sod. The prep is the same.
http://www.garden.org/articles/artic...w&id=75&page=1
http://www.hortmag.com/gardening_art...eedinglawn.asp

You can make this rake for leveling out large areas.
http://turfgrass.com/planting/rake.html

Here's a compost calculator. You can have the compost delivered in bulk but you'll need a wheelbarrow and some muscles to move it where you need it.
http://www.cedar-grove.com/calculator.asp

You can select the type of grass here.
http://www.turfgrasssod.org/lawninst...hern_lawns.htm

Here's how to maintain your lawn organically.
http://www.organicgardening.com/feat...18-142,00.html
http://www.nwf.org/backyard/chemicalfreelawn.cfm

That was just for the back yard. Now for the front with the trees and shade. Turf grass needs sun to grow well. If you have deep shade you won't be able to grow grass. Without seeing pictures I would guess you will need to plant a groundcover. You might be able to have the trees limbed up to allow for more sun or even have the crowns thinned. I would definitely have a certified arborist do this as pruning is part art and part science. Get references and check them. It's amazing what you can find out when you talk to folks. With all those tree roots you will do best with something that likes dry shade for a groundcover. Native plants are often great for this. If you want some ideas just lmk. Here's some info on tree roots and how they grow. If you use a till and cut tree roots you risk killing your trees.
http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pdffiles/MG/MG08900.pdf
http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/WO017
http://www.ext.colostate.edu/pubs/Garden/02926.html
http://www.treesaregood.com/treecare/trees_turf.aspx
http://www.treesaregood.com/treecare/mulching.aspx

There are moles during the rainy seasons in spring and fall (possibly due to the numerous worms?)
You may have grubs. Treat in the fall or not at all for those. This site is most helpful.
http://www.nysipm.cornell.edu/publications/grubs/

If I've missed anything just lmk. I hope I haven't overloaded you.
Newt
 
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