1st time Iowan homeowner seeking lawn care program...


LawnSite Member
This is my first post, so bear with me...

I bought my first home in February and it came with a John Deere 160 rider (1988 vintage). I also aquired two freebie mowers: a cheapie 3.5hp Briggs/Stratton, and a 4.5hp 2 cycle Lawnboy self propelled silver series (1994 vintage)

All three mowers run great, I imagine I don't need the briggs mower for anything.

Anyway, the previous owners didn't care about their yard. So far I've removed 60 39 gallon trash bags full of leaves, and two truckloads of brush (less than 1/2 acre yard in the city)

I wanted to get some general info on what steps I should take to create a healthy, full lawn within say 2 years time.

There are bare spots (dirt) underneath shaded areas from the neighbor's pine trees. I am looking for advice on how to grow that out again.

Also, I have the really fine type grass (don't know what kind it is) and I'd like to get normal kentucky bluegrass to take over.

Here's a pic of the yard after I mowed with the rider Saturday:


I'd never used a rider, and I have no instruction manual, so I had to wing it. I set the cut height to 3" and mowed in gear 2 at full throttle (it has 5 forward gears and reverse)

Anyway, you can see to the right are the pine trees and the shade. I plan on removing the swingset and playhouse.

My yard is REALLY bumpy.

So clue me in on some stuff I need to do to get the yard level, more plush, and fully green :)


LawnSite Member
First get a soil test. Got to your local extension office. The test should give you your pH, and K, P, Ca, and Mg levels. It should also tell you what you need to apply.

To fix the dead spots, just scratch and seed. Throw a little starter fertilizer on and keep the area moist.

As far as under the trees, it may be a lost cause. The fine grass you have (most likely fine fescue) is the most shade tolerant grass commonly used on home lawns. If that is not growing, you may just not have enough sun. May I suggest mulching around the trees.

To fix the bumpiness, aerify. Do it twice a year if you can. This will slowly level your yard, especially if you can drag the cores in.

As far as getting K blue, it will take a few steps. Adjusting your soil levels to what your test tells you is a start. Next, slit seed bluegrass into your existing lawn. Keep the nitrogen levels high and pH around 7.0. This will give a competitive edge to bluegrass over the fesuce which prefers a more acidic soil and low nitrogen levels.

For maintenance puroposes use a fertilizer with a 2-1-2 ratio and apply about 4-5 lbs N per year to your lawn. Check your extension office or the internet for some publications on lawn maintenance.


LawnSite Bronze Member
Destin Florida
What lars said. Also take the pictures of your lawn to the extension offfice and find out what type of grass you have and the proper mowing height. Make sure that all blades on you lawn mowers are sharp.

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