Starting lawn over... HELP!

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Old 10-02-10, 12:00 PM
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Starting lawn over... HELP!

I'd like to start my front lawn over. My front lawn is about 60ft by 30 ft. Half of it is brown and dead. The other half is mostly weeds... I have access to a rototiller.

The brown and dead area I tried all this past spring and summer to bring back.

First, I tried raw grass seed. Roughed up the area with a rake and spread the seed. Nothing...

Then I tried mixing the grass with starter fertilizer. I tried this twice, once with the recommended dosage on the bag, once with twice the recommended dose. Nothing...

Then I tried with some Scott's PatchMaster... It's blue stuff that's composed mostly of shredded newspaper and some grass seed. That worked in some areas. Died off a few months later.

I'm thinking I should just take the rototiller to the entire freaking lawn or pave it and lay down astroturf because I clearly have no clue what I'm doing.

Right in the middle of the lawn, there's a huge maple tree with a 10 ft circle of rocks around it, the entire area inside the rocks is a bed full of Ivy. The ivy is doing great. It's always healthy green. I trained my dog to crap in there and I guess that fertilizes the Ivy. Maybe I should spread it on the rest of the lawn.
 
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Old 10-02-10, 05:49 PM
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tree

My experience in dealing with large trees and grass is.... the grass looses the battle for moisture in the ground and dies. If its bermuda grass, it also doesnt like the shade from the tree either.
 
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Old 10-03-10, 04:49 AM
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Gqlefty hit it good. Another thing, and I think we beat it to death but, take soil samples to your local county extension service to determine exactly what your soil needs to grow grass. They will give you an analysis with suggestions based on the size lot. Go ahead and figure in a watering program, since you didn't mention it in your OP.
 
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Old 10-03-10, 05:28 AM
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It's also best to plant in the fall so the summer heat doesn't kill your newly planted grass.

You may also need to aerate your soil. If the ground is too compacted, it will make it difficult for the grass to take root. I've been trying to do that myself, but can't seem to get my hands on one.
 
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Old 10-03-10, 09:54 AM
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I dunno how well the tines on a plug areator will fare in my lawn. There's a TON of roots near the surface, especially close to the tree. That makes me think that my rototiller idea is gonna fail too...

I looked into a "power rake" dethatcher at the local home depot. The blades on that are hinged so that they'll retract when they contact a solid object. 80 bucks a day sounds like a good time. I'll just drop it as low as it'll go so that I can destroy any weeds and get good fresh dirt.

Why is my tree so much different than everyone else's that it kills the lawn? Everyone up and down my street in lower suburbia has the same late 60's era brick rambler with a huge maple in the front yard. Except mine is split five ways right where the trunk comes up from the ground... Nobody else has a lawn that looks like a dust bowl is about to take place.

It's cookie cutter, except mine is the messed up one that fell apart when you scraped it off the pan.

I think I have some old pipe in the junk drawer. I'll hammer it into the ground somewhere and take a little core sample.

I don't think it's too shady of an area. The front side of the house faces east and I'm on top of a hill, so it gets LOTS of morning sun. I've been planting "Tall Fescue Sun and Shade mix"
 
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Old 10-03-10, 04:20 PM
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Be careful near those roots. You don't want to do too much damage. That won't be good for the tree. It might be a good idea to bring in some top soil to cover up some of the roots. Spreading compost on the lawn to about a 1/2" deep will help. I did that last year to an area of my yard and it helped. It still needs more work, but it's way better than last. I will be aerating as soon as I can get my hands on one.
 
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Old 10-04-10, 08:35 AM
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Your comment about the number of roots only reinforces the idea that you can either have a lawn or this tree, but maybe not both
 
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Old 10-25-10, 01:19 PM
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^

Everyone else has the same sort of tree in their yard. Why is my tree different?
Also, the lawn was decently green when I first got the house a couple years back.

Slowly, it became more weeds and less grass, especially in areas where I had disturbed the dirt. (Digging for gutter drainage, cable installation, etc.)

Then it went to hell in some small patches where I forgot to pick up the pile of raked leaves one winter. And went to hell almost all over when I got the dogs.
 
 

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