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Growing A Lawn For Scratch


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Hopefully, this is the right section for this...

My fiance and I recently built a new house and now I am tasked with growing a new yard. Our yard is about double the average size not huge but probaby 3/4 of an acre. Right now it is all dirt. The front, half of the back yard, and the sides of the house and have been graded. I have spent the last month killing and removing 4 foot hight weeds from the back half our property to the treeline. I have this completed, but there are a lot of dead weed stalks still left. These have been trimmed to amost ground level and sprayed a second time. They are as dead as dead can be Now I am a bit conlicted as to what do next.

Do I need to til the yard or can I just use a rake to lossen up the dirt and remove some of the rock?

Any type of grass seed that you would recommend?

Should I put down fertilizer with the grass seed?

I am planning on laying the seed and straw the last week in August and I really want to make sure that I have the yard prepped correctly. I would rather not do this all over again next year. I really want to make sure I have the weeds under control as well. IUt took me forever to remove them. Budget is a concern as we just bought the house and we have are paying for a wedding in a few months. i am gonna need to do the work myself...mostly by hand, but I don't mind the work and I want a great looking yard.

Any thoughts or advice from the experts?


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you know there is a yard tax user fee don't you? Just kidding. Seriously, I would never think of starting a yard this summer. Historically Sept and October can be very dry months. If it were me, I would just let the weeds grow until next Feb/Mar and then do the real work. As far as type of grass, everyone has an opinion. Look around at the neighbors yards, they are all probably brown, but if some have good coverage ask them what type of grass they used.

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You will always have weed seeds in the ground. Keep them under control by growing lots of good quality grass which keeps the weed seeds shaded so they won't germinate.

If you want to do a real good job then take soil samples and have a test done. That way you will know whether or not to use fertilizer and if so how much.

As for seed you will have to choose whether you want a warm season grass or a cool season one. Personally I use a cool season grass which comes on early in the spring, goes dormant in the hot summer and rejuvenates in the fall (tall fescue).

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I work part time in the Lawn and Garden center at a local box hardware store. The most common economical thing we sell is Kentucky 31 tall fescue. You may be able to get a better deal on it (3/4 acre is gonna use a few hundred pounds of seeds) at a farm supply. You will surely want to use straw if you do it and you will need a bunch of that also. With straw, you will have to rake it up once the grass takes. You can buy seed matts, and they work great, and decompose on their own but they are not cheap.

A tip from an old man years ago, wait until the first snow, to sow your seeds.

I cleared an area behind my house and had to seed it. I waited until the forecast showed a couple of days of rain, and spread the seeds just in the beginning of the rain, and let nature do the rest. I did it about 5 years ago, it looks great even now.

As far as fertilizer goes, I would try an area without it, and see how well your soil takes your seed. Fertilizer works great, but alot of soils do not need it, but people buy it anyhow. I don't like using chemicals in my lawn. There are also alternatives to fertilizer, and they work as good, I am just not a fan.

Money is just ink and paper, worthless until it switches hands, and worthless again until the next transaction. (me)

I am the master of my unspoken words, and the slave to those that should have remained unsaid. (unknown)

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Depending on the quality of the soil they used when you backfilled the yard, you may need more topsoil, fertilize, and lime.

Till or rake it up till loose. Tilling may lead to more erosion if it ever rains, so raking the top till it is loose may be best. Add a fertilize that has a week killer, kill 2 birds with one stone. Some lime may help.

As far as grass seed, creeping red fescue is better than KY31 fescue typically used in fields. KY31 is tough to mow, but is hard to kill. Bermuda is good if you can find it. Finding someone that sells turf is even better, just roll it out and water.

If you sow seeds, plan to cover with straw or other material to hold seed in place and control moisture. Plan to sprinkle.

"Life has become immeasurably better since I have been forced to stop taking it seriously."

Hunter S. Thompson

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I think we ruined our yard by planting tall fescue. Use a designer fescue like jaguar. Cool season grass is the only way to go.

His father touches the Claw in spite of Kevin's warnings and breaks two legs just as a thunderstorm tears the house apart. Kevin runs away with the Claw. He becomes captain of the Greasy Bastard, a small ship carrying rubber goods between England and Burma. Michael Palin, Terry Jones, 1974

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Our neighbor has made a mess of his..Scraped his old house and built a Mansionette his 2/3rds of an acre. And he's been a nickle cheap and a dime shot with his lanscaping. He's been trying to grow grass from seed on red clay and rocks for the last 3 years....taint working. Get the soil tests first....fix that.....sod...probably not this year..tough year for grass....sod is your best option......but sod or seed wont grow if the soil is all jacked up.

Congrats on the new place and your future bride!

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Get an landscaper ( real one not jackleg ) to come PH test the land and let them treat it between now and next spring. Then have them SOD it next spring. That is the best and easiest way to do it and most cost effective in the long run.

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Thanks for all the thoughts and advice. I have tested the soil and it has turned out fine. The difficult part is removing the rock which I started over the weekend and made some pretty good progess. Raking out rock is not fun, but necessary. The front and sides are rock clear and ready for seeding later in the fall. The back half of the backyard is going to be a chore though, but I think I can get it done by the end of August. I need to decide on what type of seed to lay down.

I am seeding this fall though. From what I have read that is the way to go. If the seed doesn't take then I will look at the sod option next year. With the new house and wedding coming sod isn't in the cards this year.

Gavin, thanks for the Congrats.

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