suggestions for problem backyard lawn

Old 04-21-09, 05:32 PM
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suggestions for problem backyard lawn

Hi everyone! I am very glad to have found this site. It proved really helpful for a recent (and beyond normal) sprinkler valve replacement.

So, I thought I would make my first post asking for your suggestions on what to do with a problem back lawn.

Generally, the size of my backyard lawn is roughly 30x10'. I live in Vegas, so the soil is mostly rock and dense compacted dust/dirt. So, drainage is relatively non-existent. And the backyard lawn is south-facing. So it is in direct sunlight 99.9% of the year. To keep it greenish...we initially watered a fair amount. But because of the drainage issues, the lawn became somewhat of a mud puddle in the middle--and the lawn did not thrive very well anyway. So we reduced watering, and the grass still didn't do well...and the lawn would become full of dozens of different kinds of deep rooted and thick weeds. With little grass to defend against the weeds, the weeds thrived. We would go out, mark off territories with twine and weed the entire lawn on our hands and knees. We didn't mind too much since it was generally nice to be outdoors. But, twice a year on hands and knees for a week or two at a time?

Due to our HOA, we do need to keep a maintained backyard. Fortunately, when we bought the place, the whole backyard was already landscaped. so we have just been maintaining what was already in place. But I am ready to pull up the lawn anyways (better uses for water in a desert than baking grass) and move onto something new. We already have a cement patio that is about 30x20'. The patio and lawn is surrounded by rocks and planters (between 5 and 10' wide around the entire perimeter of the backyard). So this project will be just to redo the lawn.

Your thoughts? Fire pit? Putting green with sythetic grass and a couple holes? Personally, I would love to put in some sort of pit for cooking. The only thing I want to avoid is a straight replacement of the grass for rocks. Feel free to give suggestions for better maintaining the grass if you want, but just know that we cannot purchase sod here in the valley anymore (drought rules). All suggestions welcomed!

And thanks again for being a great forum for all things do-it-yourself!
Old 04-21-09, 06:03 PM
Join Date: May 2002
Location: Maryland zone 7
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Hi Ben,

Sounds to me you should replace the lawn with something you will enjoy. If a firepit is what will make you happy, then by all means, remove the lawn and put in a fire pit. If you enrich the soil that is there with organics such as compost, you could plant a drought tolerant stepable groundcover such as creeping thyme or a native grass for your lawn. You may need a to do some heavy duty digging with a pick axe, but if you break up the soil and add 4" of compost and mix it in, you should be able to plant.

Here's a compost calculator and some sites about stepable groundcovers, native lawns and more.

Any stepable groundcovers you find you like can be researched here to see if they are invasive.

Here are some Nevada gardens you can visit to get ideas.


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