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Complete newbie questions

Discussion in 'Homeowner Assistance Forum' started by mgurmgur, Oct 17, 2011.

  1. mgurmgur

    mgurmgur LawnSite Member
    Messages: 2

    I recently bought my first house in Livingston, NJ - always lived in large cities. Never ever cared for a lawn in my life. My goal is to have plush, green lawn on which my young kids and the rest of my family can enjoy next summer.

    The total size of my land property is 0.4 acres, split 1/3 - front lawn, and 2/3rds backyard.

    The front lawn gets a lot of sun and is in decent shape however far from perfect. The grass is nice and green, and there are almost no weeds however overall it is not as dense as I would like it to be. Not plush, either.

    The backyard is a mess. There are tall trees everywhere surrounding my lot, and there is almost no grass around them - just moss. The areas that do get some sun, have somewhat decent grass, the rest of the areas are a patchy, unhealthy looking mess. There is weed, too.


    1. First I dethatched the backyard with a regular large garden rake like this one http://amzn.to/r26aBs - should I rent a professional tool, or as long as I don't mind spending three hours dethatching, I am ok? Should I get something like this instead? http://amzn.to/oDnIoc I pulled out a LOT of dead brown grass that day

    2. I just purchased my first lawn mower - Toro (Honda engine) 20192 Super Bagger based on good reviews on this site - should I bag or mulch in my case?

    3. Based on the advice from the local lawn store (I brought them pictures of my lawn to show) they recommended to spread a starter fertilizer kit and apply lime, as well - did both using recommended spreader settings on the bags. Do I need to winterize the lawn with Scotts Winterizer, or do I need to wait until spring, get the soil tested, and go from there?

    4. Do I mulch fall leaves, or should I blow them away?

    5. Could you recommend special seed for shady areas, or should I simply buy Scott's seed instead?

    6. What is your opinion of the (incredibly) expensive EZ seed by Scott's?

    7. Any other tips, recommendations? I realize I am asking you for advice while you haven't seen my lawn / results of the soil test - however any advice would be truly appreciated.

    Thank you all in advance.
  2. knox gsl

    knox gsl LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,164

    Stay away from scotts, overpriced crap. Find a professional turf supply center. I like JohnDeereLandscapes, they are a hit or miss depending on your area but way better than scotts. Take them a soil sample and they can set you up on a good program.
    Posted via Mobile Device
  3. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,082

    The simplest way to care for a lawn is to add some N-P-K that is N and K w/out the P, for this time of year... Don't wreck what you've got in the front with too much fert in the wrong time of year and a constant barrage of herbicides....

    Mulch mow the grass [/b]always[/b], mulch mow the leaves according to what kind they are... go easy on the fert and irrigation under the trees... getting grass there is going to be difficult and follwing "Conventional Wisdom" in lawn care will ensure disappointment...
  4. JDiepstra

    JDiepstra LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,510

    Mow the lawn high. 3" minimum. It will be more healthy and choke out weeds. The rule of thumb is never mower off more than 1/3 of the blade at a time but that is not always realistic. Don't use too much water in the shady areas. It really weakens the turf.

    Pictures of the back yard would be nice and allow us to help you more.
  5. agrostis

    agrostis LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,539

    If you want a dense, plush lawn then you need to start with a irrigation system on the front anyway. All the above suggestions are good but a nice stand of grass start's with water. The back with the moss sound's like it has too much shade. Maybe you could do some tree work and improve that situation. This could be a big investment for you. Are you sure that's what you want to do?
  6. JDiepstra

    JDiepstra LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,510

    I disagree. Cool season lawns can thrive without irrigation. One of the biggest mistakes homeowners make is overwatering.
  7. Darryl G

    Darryl G Inactive
    Messages: 9,500

    Hire a professional and watch what he/she does :p
  8. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,082

    Irrigation can be useful for a number of things in cool season grass land, but you are correct... the abuse outweighs the benefit...
  9. WestminsterFJR

    WestminsterFJR LawnSite Member
    Messages: 24

    A soil test is the first place to start. That way, you'll know what's missing and how much of what to add. After that, a seed mixture with a high % of creeping red fescue is best for the shady area.

    Rent a slice seeder to address the backyard. It doubles as a detatcher so it's 2 tools in one. Run it once without seeds to detatch the yard. After cleaning up the thatch, run it again (this time with seeds).
  10. JDiepstra

    JDiepstra LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,510

    I would say with a yard that small all he needs is a hose and a sprinkler.

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