The Back Yard: It's dead, Jim.


Old 04-16-11, 12:42 PM
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Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: USA
Posts: 117
The Back Yard: It's dead, Jim.

We have an "inner" back yard which is a fenced-in area that's about 100 feet wide by about 40 feet deep. The grass has always been very thin and full of various kinds of unwanted flora including wild strawberry, scallions, crab grass, bedstraw, TONS of moss, etc. What isn't covered by these things are simply bare dirt. There is very little in the way of real actual grass back there. It's so bad that if I had the money I would have the back yard stripped bare and new sod laid down. The shade is pretty heavy in most of the area; I've already cut down three trees in an effort to bring more sunlight in, and I may cut down one or two more. My daughter's playset is also back there.

I had the soil tested and as a result I spread pulverized lime this morning, finishing about an hour before the rain started so that worked out well.

Now I'm at a bit of a loss over what my next steps should be. How long do I need to wait (since I just spread the lime) before spreading new seed? Should I cover the seed with straw, or should I invest in some of those fancier "grass grow mats" or something? When do I fertilize? Should I avoid mowing the lawn back there while all this is going on? Is there anything else I should do to make things more grassy and less weedy/muddy?
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Old 04-16-11, 02:33 PM
Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: USA
Posts: 3,188
You've done the first step to get the lawn into a condition favorable for grass. Most of NJ has great soil. If I were trying to reestablish a lawn I would probably till and rake the soil and then plant the grass seed. You can apply a starter fertilizer at the same time. A light raking after sowing is all that's needed. Best get at it though.

NJ grows the best tomatoes in the country, maybe the world. One of the reasons is that the soil is slightly acidic. You may have to apply lime every year to sweeten the soil a bit.
Old 04-18-11, 06:26 PM
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Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: USA
Posts: 117
Thanks. I, uh, know I've done the first step. What I need advice on is the following steps.
Old 04-18-11, 07:31 PM
Tolyn Ironhand's Avatar
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Location: Twin Cities, MN
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Not sure if your in farm country or close to it, but go to a seed supplier or pro nursery. They will have the right seed for your location/soil/sun/etc. The big boxes all carry "generic" see that will grow everywhere, but just not very well. They will also have the info of when to plant, water and feed your new grass in your location. Buy A LOT of seed! This will get you a good looking lawn faster so you don't have to wait for it to fill in.

I would avoid pitting straw down due to weed seeds.
Old 04-19-11, 05:55 AM
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I think Wayne pretty much laid out the next steps for you. Till the area, apply seed and starter fertilizer. The only things I might add is depending on how pristine a lawn you want I would spray the entire area with a broad (kills everything) spectrum herbicide to get rid of all the undesirables. Wait a week to allow the herbicide to get down and kill the weeds roots before tilling. I'm 50/50 split on putting down straw after planting grass. A good layer of straw will help the grass seed get started but it often introduces a lot of weed and undesirable grass seeds.

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