An Introduction, A Super-post, A Spanish Conquistador Looking Dog? HELP!!!

Discussion in 'Homeowner Assistance Forum' started by Lawnsome!, Jun 20, 2008.

  1. Lawnsome!

    Lawnsome! LawnSite Member
    Posts: 3

    Hello everyone!

    My name is Lawnsome! Despite my name, my lawn is not lawnsome at all.

    Currently I have been deviously lurking in the darker nooks and crannies of the site for a while. Being that I am not a professional landscaper, and my knowledge landscaping is limited to the work my parents have ruthlessly commanded of me as their own personal indentured servant, I don't have much knowledge to contribute to such a sharp community.

    In the beginning I thought helping out with the yard work was terrible. But I had resolve, and a father who wasn't afraid to try and kick 65 yard field-goals with my backside if I tried to pull less than my own weight around the house.

    Now that I am older, I take pride in the house, the yard, and the way I was brought up. My parents are working full-time jobs plus overtime, and don't have much time or energy to devote to the yard anymore.

    So for the last two summers I have been in charge of the yard. Fumbling my way through with some ok results, but the yard can be better.

    I was hoping that maybe I could get some help from this site, so that I can help my parents out and pay them back a fraction of what they have done for me.

    The whole family is very "outdoorsy" so we live outside when we aren't busy. If I can give them a nice lawn, I think it would be a lawnsome thing of me to do. I know they would be appreciative, surprised and proud. And in short they totally deserve it.

    Now for the technical stuff...

    I have absolutely no idea what kinds of grass are growing, what kinds of weeds have been bullying their way into my lovely green life, or where to start improving our lawn.

    Here is the basic climate information for where I live...

    http://www.weather.com/outlook/travel/businesstraveler/wxclimatology/monthly/graph/06510?locid=06510

    And today I took pictures to show you what condition the lawn is in. I hope you don't mind my sharing.

    This first picture below, is an overview of the majority of the front yard, and of my dog who managed to work her way into almost every single picture I tried to take for you. As you can see the grass is a bit thin, and that's about the only problem I'm having in this area.

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    Here is the other part of the yard. This is the worst section of yard we have. A lot of broad leaf weeds and even some pretty interesting mushrooms. The soil in the neighborhoods yards seems to be pretty sandy, and I think there is excessive acid in the ground. That is what my neighbor said who takes good care of his lawn and has probably the best looking self maintained lawn in the neighborhood. He said he puts 100 pounds of lime down with a broadcast spreader to neutralize some of the acidity, twice a year. Once in the spring and once in the fall.

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    Here is a close-up of the weeds decimating that area.

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    This picture was taken on the side of the house. Several types of grass? The soil is very compact here.

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    Some smaller weeds near the garden...

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    The majority of the back yard...

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    Near the recently reinstalled fence. Again this soil is very compact.

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    The corner of the shed and fence is also getting destroyed.

    [​IMG]

    The other side of the yard.

    [​IMG]

    Newly planted grass that for the first time lived long enough to grow. In this area there used to be a huge pine tree, and we think all of the needles that fell onto this area for years has raised the acidity of the soil up so much that grass never grew there.

    [​IMG]

    One last overhead shot of the most problematic patch of ugly hassle!

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    And lastly a picture of my Spanish conquistador dog for your consideration.

    Such a noble creature.

    [​IMG]

    I don't know if much can be done to help her though. ;)

    I am open to all comments and I hope at the very least this has been somewhat of an enjoyable post for all of you who have made it this far.

    I look forward to reading your comments, and thank you for both your time and consideration!
     
  2. Lawnsome!

    Lawnsome! LawnSite Member
    Posts: 3

    I apologize, I forgot to include a few things in my original post.

    I am thinking that I should weed and feed to get rid of as my of the broad leaf weeds as I can, to put down the lime, and to over seed.

    That is the best full scale assault I know how to launch. I don't know if it's what I should be doing, or how effective it will be, but as of right now that's the strategy in the war room over here.

    Also, does anyone have any recommendations for good grass in Connecticut weather? I am snooping around looking but I haven't found anything I would be confident putting down yet.

    Please let me know if you have any tips, suggestions or criticisms.
     
  3. jdmcat

    jdmcat LawnSite Senior Member
    from Idaho
    Posts: 439

    Wow, if 83 degrees is the hottest it gets there, I'm moving to Connecticut. Anyway, I will try to help the best I can. Prepare yourself for a bunch of information that you may or may not already know.

    Most of your weeds are fairly easy to control with 2,4-D which you could probably find at any hardware or farm store. Just mix it according to the label. I would stay away from the "Weed and Feed" fertilizer you get at the box stores because the fact is, granular weed control just doesn't work. There is no reason, however, that you can't use plain old fertilizer like Scotts turf builder, etc. Again just apply it at the label recommended rate. And please, don't use RoundUp to kill weeds in your grass, that never ends well.

    As far as soil compaction, rent a core aerator and run it over your lawn a couple times (watch out for sprinkler heads!). I would do this at least every 2 years if not every year, normally in the spring or fall, as the summer heat can damage your roots. This not only loosens the soil up, but it make it easier for water, air, and fertilizer to get to your roots, where it really needs to be. You can either rake the plugs up and remove them or leave the lay, they will break down after a few weeks.

    Of course you will have to reseed the bare spots, after all grass grows from seed, not thin air... but you knew that right? (It's amazing how many people don't understand that concept.)

    You also want to make sure you are watering enough. Most lawns, at least in my area, need .5-1" of water a day depending on the temperature. You can check this using several containers placed around the yard and seeing how long it takes to fill up to an inch. Also the best time to water is during early morning daylight hours. Watering during the heat of the day can burn the grass and watering at night promotes fungus.

    One thing I would definitely recommend is hire a LOCAL lawn care company to do your fert and weed control for you. (extra stress on local because big national companies like TruGreen have a poor reputation, plus the little guy is more likely to work for your business) They know the right way to do things and have access to "the good stuff" that you can't buy without a pesticide license.

    Anyway, I hope this helps. Good Luck!
     
  4. cross1933

    cross1933 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 165

    Do you mean per week, not per day?
     
  5. jkason

    jkason LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 548

    83 degrees is far from the hottest we have seen. (I think our record is 103. And 20 below.)
    When we get a heat wave (3 or more days in a row above 90 degrees), it's hard to breathe, nevermind work.
    We get that that sticky, nasty humidity here that never really goes away.
     
  6. jdmcat

    jdmcat LawnSite Senior Member
    from Idaho
    Posts: 439

    It all depends on the temperature. In April and May, you might be able to get away with watering 1" a week if you are getting enough rain, but in the hot summer months water evaporates so fast your lawn will fry if thats all you water. I'm not an expert on irrigation but I do pesticide and fertilizer for a living and 90% of my trouble calls are due to the lawn not getting enough water. Thats not to say you should flood your lawn, because that's just as bad. However if the soil is dry, it needs water even if you put an inch on two days before.

    BTW it gets over 100 degrees here for about 2 weeks in the summer and my lawn looks great all summer long.
     
  7. jdmcat

    jdmcat LawnSite Senior Member
    from Idaho
    Posts: 439

    I was referring to the weather stats on the link he provided, but thats still not bad, we get about 2 months of 90 degree and up weather here.
     
  8. Newt*

    Newt* LawnSite Member
    Posts: 182

    Lawnsome, I just love the dog! If you use 2,4D I would strongly recommend you don't let your dog on the grass for a while.
    http://www.safe2use.com/poisons-pesticides/pesticides/misc/2d-4.htm

    Another recommendation I would have would be to expose the rootflare on the tree in the first picture. Then remove some grass around the base of all your trees and apply a 2" layer of mulch, being careful not to pile any against the trunk of the trees.
    http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/WO017
    http://www.treesaregood.com/treecare/trees_turf.aspx
    http://www.treesaregood.com/treecare/mulching.aspx

    Picture #2 that has the broadleaf plantain looks like it's a low spot. I'd say to pull what you can after a rain or watering when the ground is soft, mix in 3" or 4" of compost with the soil, level the area and seed or sod.

    I think your major problems are soil compaction and root competition from the trees. I'd say to remove the ring around the tree with the hostas that's near the new fence, remove the grass, move the hostas further out and add a large ring of mulch. I'd also recommend hand pulling the broadleaf plantain near the shed and fence, mix in 3" or 4" of compost to the soil and level it before you seed there.

    I agree that core aeration would be most helpful. If your soil is compacted the grass won't grow but the weeds will. I'd recommend you topdress with 1/8" to 1/4" of compost after aeration in the fall.
    http://www.american-lawns.com/lawns/aeration.html
    http://www.homeandgardenmakeover.com/lawnaeration.html

    Since your wonderful dog has access to the entire yard you might find these sites helpful.
    http://www.organicgardening.com/feature/0,7518,s1-5-18-142,00.html
    http://www.nwf.org/backyard/chemicalfreelawn.cfm

    Newt
     
  9. Lawnsome!

    Lawnsome! LawnSite Member
    Posts: 3

    Thank you for your help!

    When the window of opportunity presents itself, I'll immediately jump through it with all of this advice and see where I land.

    jkason, it sure does get hotter here. The weather link I posted, you can check off what weather info you want it to display, hottest recorded temp. it has for us is 104. 83 was just the averaged value.

    There's a frog in the picture now, living in a small artificial pond in the back yard. So I will have to figure out a safe approach for both the dog and the frog. But I have plenty to work with at the moment now without jumping right into weed control.

    Thank you for the thorough advice and information, and I will try to keep this thread somewhat updated as to how my battle is going. I think just posting my experience using this advice and the results from it might be interesting for everyone involved.
     
  10. Newt*

    Newt* LawnSite Member
    Posts: 182

    Lawnsome, you are very welcome! Of course we'll want to see the 'after' pictures when you're done or even the 'during' pics as you go along.

    As you probably already know, frogs and toads are extremely sensitive to herbicides and pesticides. You'll have to read those labels very carefully. I had six toads in our yard and a carpenter ant infestation on the front porch. A day after the exterminator left we found all six toads dead. It took 4 years for any to return and I garden organically.
    http://www.toadilytoads.com/toadcare.html
    http://www.frogweb.gov/

    Newt
     

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