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Bumpy and Weedy Lawn

Discussion in 'Homeowner Assistance Forum' started by Roman27, Dec 20, 2004.

  1. Roman27

    Roman27 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 29

    HELP! I need some advice.

    I recently purchased a home that is on 1 acre of land. I have attached a picture of the backyard to this post for you to see the contour of the land. It's basically flat.

    The yard is terrible. The lawn is very bumpy. I haven't needed to mow the lawn yet, but I anticipate a very bumpy ride when I do. Also, there are tons of weeds and other non-grass plants growing. I even have mushrooms and moss growing in my lawn. Anyway, I have two ideas of handling the situation. I wanted to ask which one you might do.

    1. Work with what ya got
    I was thinking of calling True Green or Scott's to come out and spray for weeds. I have received a quote from Scott's at a little over $100 per visit. They would like to come 6 times per year and anticipate they will have my weed problem under control after 2 years. That's about $1200 to get rid of the weeds. For some reason True Green won't come out to give me a quote. I've called them twice now. Maybe they have come out and they are too scared. ;)

    As for the bumpiness, I could rent a roller from Home Depot to roll over my yard. I would also do a core aeration twice a year. Hopefully the plugs will disintegrate and fill in the divits: smoothing out the lawn over a period of time.

    2. Starting over
    I haven't looked into this solution yet, but here goes. I would have a landscape company come out a turn/till the yard. My wife and I could spend the next week raking the dirt free of rocks, stones, and whatever. Then we could purchase some of that grass netting stuff that I see being used every once in a while by our DOT to grow new grass. I have no idea how much any of the things that I mentioned would cost.

    I wish I could give you an idea of how bumpy and weedy the yard really is. The attached picture doesn't give you more than just a small glimpse of the lawn problems. By the way, the bare spots seen in the picture were from an old sand volleyball court that the previous owner didn't want anymore. He must've taken a portion of the sand away and let the rest fill up with weeds. :(

    I don't really want to break the bank on this. What do you think you would do in a situation like I have?

  2. out4now

    out4now LawnSite Bronze Member
    from AZ
    Messages: 1,796

    First of all why is it bumpy? Got gophers or dogs been diggin back there? What type of soil is it? Rolling will smooth out the bumps a bit but contributes to compaction. If you doubt your skills in anyway, HIRE A PRO. Depending on just how bumpy it is you may be able to rent a small tractor with a box blade and cut those off then screen drag the lawn flat, or bring in fresh screened dirt and screen drag that with a tactor. Forget trugreen and scotts you can take care of that stuff at another time. Best to get yard leveled out first. Is it full of sprinklers? Mark where everything is before doing anywork and get it bluestaked. I don't know how handy you are so this may be too big a job for you. Don't know exactly what your budget is and it never hurts to get some estimates for the work and they will usually detail what they will do. Aeration is important and you want that and a good fertilizer program latter on. If you do not have a spinkler system installed and want one then get that done before leveling the yard out because they will have to tear it up again.
  3. TClawn

    TClawn LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,036

    what kind of weeds do you have? are they all in one area or are spread through out the whole lawn?

    for the bumps I would aerate then topdress and then roll it. if it's really bumpy it may take more than one time.

    if you have weeds that die off in the winter (I.E. annuals) I would wait for them to die and put down a fertilizer with pre emergent in the spring.
  4. Roman27

    Roman27 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 29

    I'm really not certain what kind of weeds are out there. There is a lot of broadleaf stuff mixed in. Yes, it is throughout the entire lawn.

    An additional question that I did not ask above is whether I should purchase a garden tractor (such as a John Deere GT or GX model) or a lawn mower (like the 0-turn simplicity or Exmark)?

    I don't currently have any outdoor power equipment. With a garden tractor, I suppose I could always put a blade on the front for pushing snow or perhaps dirt. I could also pull a aerator, spreader, or cart without difficulty. With a 0-turn mower, I would probably be able to mow faster and have better quality, but I would need to purchase seperate pieces of equipment since residential 0-turn mowers aren't made to handle the extra burden of towing or pushing.
  5. rbeitz

    rbeitz LawnSite Member
    Messages: 138

    A ZTR is the best way to go for mowing. I would stay away from the homeowner models and look for a good used commercial model. There are a ton of them for sale on eBay this time of year. A lot of dealers are also selling their demo models from last season. They may have a few hours on them but they come with full warranties.

    As for the equipment to fully renovate the lawn, you might think about renting a compact tractor to do that. You need something a little bigger than a garden tractor if you decide to roto till and to pull around those heavy aerators. You can also rent walk behind equipment but that will make the job a lot longer.

    I recently went through a similar decision with renovating my lawn. I have weeds all through out the yard but my wife is very much against chemicals, she wants to stay all organic. In mid September, I rented an aerator and pulled it around with my Yanmar. I then rented a Lesco Renovator slit seeder machine and overseeded with Lesco teammates turf type tall fescue at 8lbs/1000 sq ft. The Lesco Renovator is a walk behind machine with a 20" cut so it took me a good 8 hours to complete the job. The beauty of the slit seeder was that it busted up all the plugs from the aerator and left the yard somewhat smoother. I also purchased a scotts spreader and put out organic starter fertilizer right after seeding. Since the new grass has come in the yard looks great! Do I still have some weeds? Absolutely, but they have mostly died off now for the winter. In the spring I'm going to put down some Dimension 0-0-7 from Lesco (I hear it's a mostly organic pre-m) to combat the weeds. I am also researching a good organic fertilizing regimen so that I can help the grass choke out the weeds.

    Good luck with our project.
  6. TClawn

    TClawn LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,036

    ok, here's the general rule of thumb for deciding to start over or to work with what you have. if the lawn is over 55 percent weeds it would be best to start over. under 55 percent you can probably kill off the weeds but it may take as long as 2 years to get control.

    put down a pre M in the spring and spot treat with speed zone for clover and some of the other weeds listed on the lable. spot treat for kyllinga, yellow and purple nutsedge with manage.

    if you go to a place that sells herbicides and you bring a sample of the weeds that you have in to them they will be able to advise you on how you should proceed. it's really hard to figure out what you've got without me seeing it.
  7. Roman27

    Roman27 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 29

    rbeitz, thanks for the advice. I stopped at my local dealer on New Years Eve and picked up a new 0-turn mower. I had a budget of $5000 to spend and was looking at the Simplicity or Exmark mowers. The dealer had a used 2004 demo Exmark with about 8 hours on it that he was willing to part with for $5299. He had a 2005 Simplicity 50" deck (click here) for $4599. I was a bit worried about the quality of cut from the non-commercial mower deck. I also was worried about the wheel pumps burning up since I intend to pull an aerator. The dealer then remembered that Simplicity came out with a new higher end home-owner line that was really a redone version of the low-end Ferris (who is owned by Simplicity) 0-turn. He said he had one on order and would give me one for $4999 if I took that one. So, that's what I am getting. It's a ZT2148 (click here). Anyway, I'm pretty excited about it.

    As for the weeds, I have decided not to renovate my lawn. I'll try to tackle it. I think I may do the same plan this spring that you did in the fall. I will tow and aerator, slit seed, then fertilize and see what happens.

    TClown, I'll try to post some pics of the weeds when I get a chance.

    Thanks for the help.
  8. Pittsburgh Panther

    Pittsburgh Panther LawnSite Member
    from N.W. Pa
    Messages: 94

    I also a couple years ago redid my lawn. I ended up killing it and starting all over. I put a 50/50 blue / perenial rye mix on it. If I had it redo again I would of put a 100 % blue(maybe a mix of different blues or just midnight or Moonlight both of these blues are rated as one of the best) or maybe a 15/85 perenial rye/ blue grass mix. About pulling a aereator, I probably ruin the trannies in a cub cadet res ZTR. The tractor place I bought it from said I could do it but it was too much. I would be leary even with heavy duty tranny. I would suggest just going out and renting a aerator(walk behind) instead risking ruining your good tractor. Great idea on using the slicer seeder.

    I also saw on another thread your looking into paying and lawn architect(sp?) to design your lawn. I bet you could do a pretty good job yourself and drop the money your were going to spend the architect on more bushes, ornamental grasses and plants(flowers my favorites are dafodils, iris, peonies, daylilies, black eye susans and hardy mums this will basicly cover all your flower needs) and trees(Hardwoods especially maples my favorite). I basicly did what your talking about on our property which is about 2 acres. I ended up spending 7000 over two years(400 feet of french drains about 2500). I contracted out the heavy work to friend with his bobcat and back hoe. He charge me approximatly 75 to 100 and hr for his services which was well worth it. He moved approximatly 6 triaxle loads of top soil and probably 20 yards of mulch. I layed everything out for him ahead of time so all he had to do was drop it where I wanted it. He also removed a bunch of over grown bushes for me. I noticed that you had some over grown bushes yourself that I would guess you would want to get rid of.

    Anyway two years later I went from a eye soar in the neighborhood to having raised the bar for the rest of my neighbors. Two of my neighbors went to a full system of lawn care by the lawn professional to keep up which made me chuckle a little.

    Oh I almost forgot, I bought the eXmark tractor. I had a little more money also I was trading in the cub.

    Good luck if you need any advise let me know.


    Pitt Panther
  9. Pittsburgh Panther

    Pittsburgh Panther LawnSite Member
    from N.W. Pa
    Messages: 94

    Roman the other type of Kentucky blue is Blue Moon not Moon Light.

    Pitt Panther
  10. Roman27

    Roman27 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 29

    Thanks for you response PP! I hope you don't mind that I shorten your nick a little bit. My fingers get all tied up trying to type it. ;-)

    Thanks for the warning about pulling an aerator, even though that wasn't what I wanted to hear. :cry: I dread thinking of following a rental aerator around the yard for 4 hours or more. The guy who sold me the mower said he wouldn't pull an aerator that is any wider than 36". Maybe that would be easy enough on the equipment? Do you think the mower will be able to pull a spreader and a slit seeder?

    I'm curious how you renovated your lawn. You killed everything first, you said, with an herbicide. Then what? Did you rent a sod cutter and get rid of it the dead grass in some way? Did you cultivate the ground any? Did you mix in any new dirt/fertilizer? How did you put down new grass?

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