View Full Version : Newbie in need of advice

06-13-2002, 01:21 PM
Hi all,

This is my first post on the board, and I'm really a lawn care newbie.

We just moved into a new home, and I've never had a yard to take care of before. I'm really clueless on where to start. The owners before us did not take any pride in their yard from what I can tell, and it's really a mess as far as the lawns are concerned.

I'll try to describe the yard a little bit. Basically, I can see little to no remnant of a lawn whatsoever. Both the front and back consist of mainly weeds and just about every manner of undesirable growth I can think of. For that reason, I'm considering having an inch or so cut off the top throughout the areas where I would like grass, then follow that up with top soil and some sod. There are lots of landscapers and turf farms out here, but I don't really know who handles what for this job.

I work full time and go to school part time, so I don't have the time or energy to renovate my yard from scratch, which is basically what it needs. I can handle the watering, mowing, and regular maintenance, but I don't have the time or experience to get up and running on my own.

I'm basically trying to figure out the best way to go about removing all the nasty growth throughout the property, then proceed to lay turf upon a nice new layer of top soil. Does this sound like a viable option? I know it's probably not the most cost effective approach, but as I mentioned, I don't have the experience to handle the job by myself.

Would this be the best way to get up and running? I'm really ashamed at how the yard looks right now, and I just want to have a decent lawn. What are the steps I should take here? things to consider? I'm totally open to suggestions. I'm guessing I can hire a landscaper to cut the top and lay the soil, then have a turf farm lay the new stuff down. Is that right?

I would like to say money is no object, but I'm afraid that's not the case. I would say the yard altogether is about average size, not too big, not too small. I know I'll be in for several hundred, probably closer to a thousand. Does that sound right? Sorry for the lengthy post, I appreciate any feedback. :)

06-14-2002, 03:02 PM
square footage is always an issue, if it is big enough it just may be worth handing the project over to someone else and have them do it from start to finish. On a small lot it is fairly easy to accomplish yourself within a few weekends.
How big is the area you're talking about?

06-14-2002, 09:59 PM

I'm looking at the survey and trying to estimate the distances that aren't explicitly stated.

The front lot is pretty modest, looks to be about 36'L x 30'W.

The back yard is larger, about 80'L x 44'W.

The good thing is, I really only intend to utilize half the length of the back yard, so roughly 40'L x 44'W.

There's also a strip that runs along the side of the house, not too big at all. For reference, the house is a 3 BR townhome, end unit. Just in case that helps to envision the entire layout.


06-17-2002, 01:54 AM
My suggestion if you want to do it your self and stay in budget is to do it in phases. Set a phase ONE goal. Phase TWO goal, and so on. Do the most visible first.
As far as cutting away the dirt that is already there and putting down top soil, I would say unless the dirt is built up higher than what you want. Or will be with the addition of topsoil, just leave it and till in topsoil with what is there. Of course after you cut down and remove the weeds. Then if you chose to plant grass sead, in stead of sod. Which is by the way tons cheaper, you will need to keep the grass sead moist for several weeks. You cannot let it dry out in the first weeks. I would water several times a day, once germination is started it must stay moist to allow the roots to establish. Grass is pretty tender in the first couple of weeks.

Good luck.

06-17-2002, 04:34 PM
Thank you, I'll try and set goals like you said and take it in stages. Besides keeping the soil wet during the first stages, do you have any advice for protecting the seed from birds?

06-18-2002, 12:34 AM
Grass sead is real cheap. I would spread it heavy (like twice as thick as the bag recomends), and then rake lightly, this will cover up the sead with a light layer of dirt. And what the birds eat shouldn't be of too much concern. Be certain to not cover the sead too deep. As you will see when you buy it it is pretty small seed.

06-18-2002, 08:59 AM
had some problems connecting with the site.
Well, seeing how your lot is manageable 'sizewise', I agree with Brickman - do it yourself and save a buck.
Pending on the current growth you may want to go over it with vegetation killer, then loosen the soil once everything (weeds) died. It's cheaper and easier to seed the lawn, get a bale or two of straw. After seeding and raking it in you will want to cover it with a thin layer of straw. The straw will retain moisture and act like a mini-green house for the seeds. If you don't put it on too thick it will be decomposed enough by the time the grass gets tall to where a mowing will remove most signs of it ever having been there.

06-18-2002, 10:36 AM
Cool, thanks again for the help. I guess the first thing I need to do now is kill off all the current growth before seeding.

Is there anything you might recommend for a vegetation killer? How is that sort of thing applied to the whole property?

Also, when you seed, do you use a spreader, or can it just be done by hand?

Sorry for all the rookie questions, this is all entirely new to me. Thanks again for any feedback. :)

06-18-2002, 08:25 PM
Vegatative killer? glyphosate - Round Up or equivalent.

How do you spread it? Use a sprayer. Your yard is small enough that you could get by with a hand sprayer. Buy a cheap one at Home Depot, Lowes, etc. Or rent a backpack sprayer at local rental yard. Walk in a deliberate pattern across yard so that you get good coverage. Don't be affraid to ovrerlap spray. Wait at least a week after spraying glyphosate before you seed. If you miss an area, after one week you should see this. Respray and wait another week before you seed.

How do you seed? A spreader is much better than by hand. You can spread by hand but the seed density will be uneven.


06-18-2002, 09:57 PM

This is all cool stuff, thanks everyone for the feedback so far.

I will start off by clearing out the growth around the yard, then wait like you said to see what I've missed. I'm glad you said how long to wait before seeding, I was thinking about that after my last post.

I think the last thing I need to consider is a tiller. Guess I can just rent one locally. After that, I should be ready to seed.

06-20-2002, 11:45 PM
I'm not familiar with the climate and conditions up in Yankee country, but seems to me its probably to hot to seed fescue or any other cool season grass right now.

Like I said, I don't really know about your areas.

06-21-2002, 10:23 AM
That's true, I may very well need to wait until the Fall now for seeding. I talked to someone about this earlier in the week.

Temperatures are already reaching highs into the 90's here during the day.

06-21-2002, 10:57 AM

I'm not sure about conditions on the east coast, but I don't expect them to differ too much from Michigan. Other than being able to sweat in the shade without having to do anything at all.
I've had the best luck seeding lawns in the summer, when I graded my land I had large areas to re-seed; the hot, humid weather made the straw-covered areas germinate like crazy. I had good looking lush lawn within a few weeks.

06-21-2002, 06:02 PM
Interesting. Yeah, summers here are the same as you described. Hot, and VERY humid. Maybe I can test out some things in the back yard before getting bold with the front. To see what works.

One unfortunate thing is the back doesn't get much sun. There's a privacy fence bordering my back yard on the right side, and the sun is back there for only a short time before it heads up.

The front yard gets LOTS of sun though, pretty much all day. If I find seeding works well in the back during the summer, the front should do even better. I think I need at least a few weeks just to kill the bs that's there now before I start seeding though. :(