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Lawn in bad shape

Discussion in 'Homeowner Assistance Forum' started by Cashman, Jun 15, 2005.

  1. Cashman

    Cashman LawnSite Member
    Messages: 4

    Hello all!
    This being my first post, I thought I'd tell a little bit about myself before launching into the thousands of questions that I have. You will understand why in a moment, if you don't get bored with my rambling on, that is...

    I am that person probably all of you have dealt with at one time or another. The dreaded neighbor who doesn't take care of his lawn. I have been this person for quite some time, but since I ended up living next door to my in-laws and have a natural buffer surrounding all of my yard except for the road frontage, I think everyone has pretty much left me alone. (Although my father-in-law will make the occasional comment about the grass being a little high and stuff like that.)

    Anyway, I grew up in trailer parks in the sandhills of NC where the only thing we ever really had for grass was something we call sandspurs. And I hated mowing those dreaded sandspurs, because inevitably, you would wind up with them on your clothes, and thus in the house whenever you were running around with your bare little feet.

    But I digress, basically, I've never really done anything to "care" for my lawn outside of the occasional mowing. I am a computer programmer, and although I bad-mouthed my father most of my life for being a workaholic, I have recently realized that I'm a chip off the old block as I have been putting in 14-16 hour days for the past 6 months. But that too is another story.

    Basically, last year I started noticing I have a nice little stand of dandelions in my yard. And I decided I'd better do something about them. So I took a little roundup and spritzed about a half dozen of them to see how that would work. It got rid of the 'lions, but of course left six nice little holes in my yard cause it also killed all the centipede around the 'lions.

    That's about all I did last year other than take a rake and completely deeply rake all the thatch out of my yard so that "my grass could grow better, and I need to aerate it anyway". Of course, I had no idea what I was doing, and it appears that all I really accomplished was to create a perfect growing area for dandelions.

    I just finished mowing my "lawn" and I must say, it was very pretty during the day with all the thousands and thousands of dandelions in the yard. Of course, my 7 year old daughter loves them, but I've recently begun to ask myself what the neighbors must think of someone who rarely is seen outside of the house and only sporadically mows their lawn, thus creating a large dandelion field to spread their insidious offspring into every lawn in the neighborhood.

    As I said, I've recently come to my senses and decided to do something about my lawn, hence, I have found this site and hope to get some help here from those of you inclined to help. Anyone still reading this now?

    The yard I have was once a wooded lot, as I think most were at one time or another, and when we cleared it and moved in, we never really seeded the yard with anything, just kind of let whatever was green and wanted to grow in the yard do so.

    I have centipede in large areas of the yard, and something that looks like bermudagrass, along with crabgrass and what I think is fescue, but I'm not expert. A friend of mine who works on golf courses told me that's what it was.

    Anyway, I can live with all that for now, but the dandelions are more than I can take. We have a rabbit, and he loves to munch on the leaves, so I've been pulling the plants up and giving them to him, but at the rate I'm going, it will be 3005 before I have them all up.

    I did cut my grass today, although I saw some "wish blossoms" as I was doing so, but I think I stopped the little buggers from releasing millions of seeds...for now. I have no doubt that very soon there will be more yellow flowers all over my yard. Let's put it this way, if I didn't have dandelions in my yard, it would be more dirt than grass.

    I have recently browsed several lawn care websites and determined that part of the problem is the fact that I was intent on scalping my lawn every time I mowed. This didn't provide much shading to stop the dandelion seeds from germinating, so my ignorance has in more ways than one contributed to my problem.

    Here is the first of my questions:With the description I have given of my lawn, do any of you think this is a salvageable situation? I realize that dandelions are probably always going to be a problem to some extent, however, none of my other neighbors seem to have them and no one has them to the tune of my yard. I am the dandelion king in this neck of the woods.

    Second question:
    If this is a salvageable situation, what should I do in your opinion? I have read about solarizing the lawn, which I think I might could do in sections, however if I don't keep the dandelions from spreading into sections I have reseeded, I will probably have the same problem down the yard, so solarizing followed by a thick layer of mulch/topsoil followed by reseeding is what I'm thinking at the moment. I've got a little money to spend on this project, but I'm not a millionaire, so that comes in to play also.

    Okay, if you've read this long and you didn't move on to a shorter thread muttering about the audacity of n00bs, then I appreaciate your tolerance. If you can provide any suggestions/advice in this area, I would greatly appreciate it.
  2. PLM-1

    PLM-1 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,640

    Well...what a long winded post! LOL Anyway, I would suggest going to a lawn chemical store like Lesco. They can point you in the direction of herbicides which will alleviate your dandy problems. In the fall i would suggest aerating and then heavily overseed.

    I'm sure somebody else will respond with more solutions!
  3. marko

    marko LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 963

    If you have a lawn full of dandelions, your best control bet is as stated above. Work on killing them or a small area of them throughout the year, this fall aerate heavily and overseed with grass seed in early sept. Keep it moist or it wont grow. Your best dandelion control is with a fall (Oct/Nov) application of herbicide. This will prevent them from returning next spring.
  4. kthhayes

    kthhayes LawnSite Member
    Messages: 40

    I agree, go to Lesco, bring in 1 cup of soil from your lawn, take it from six or more places in the lawn, and no more than 4" deep. Lesco will do a soil test to determine what is needed in the soil to strengthen your grass. From there they will help you with seed choices, fertalizer choices, and teach you all you ever want to know.

    Good luck
  5. NickN

    NickN LawnSite Bronze Member
    from Alabama
    Messages: 1,009

    If you want centipede,don't seed in the fall.Centipede is a warm season grass and needs to be established before fall.It won't germinate at all if you wait that long.It needs to be done now.
    1.Kill off the weeds.I've had success with 2-4D on dandelions.
    2.Water all the bare areas after the weeds are dead.
    3.spread your centipede at 4 lbs per thousand square feet.
    4.roll the seed into the moist soil.
    5.Keep it wet until you see sprouts.Then water every other day until established.

    Fall seeding is for fescue.
  6. Cashman

    Cashman LawnSite Member
    Messages: 4

    Thanks to everyone who has posted. I am considering all the advice being given and appreciate it all so much. I will look up this Lesco place, I have no idea what or where it is. And as far as seeding centipede or fescue, I really don't have a preference, I just konw that centipede is a good grass as is fescue, and I think I have more centipede than anything else.
  7. PLM-1

    PLM-1 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,640

    Check out the top banner. Lesco is up there. There is a store locater there as well. Good luck!
  8. sheshovel

    sheshovel LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,112

    dig up the yard ,rake it out,mesning rake it out 4 or five times with a hard toothed rake to remove all debri and weeds.Throw on a bunch of compost,rototill it in rerake then order a pallet of sod and resod it.you can do this now if you have the ability to keep the sod watered properly .If the lions come thru,and they wont if your seams are tight together,then hand dig them out before they reseed.Spray surrounding arewas with the herbicide,but I woukld not use a herbicide any where near where my 7 year old daughter played.
    There is one more solution,just have and enjoy your dandilion lawn,keep it mowed and watered and to heck with the neighbors,just tell them you are into lawn alternitive ground covers.
  9. CincyWolf

    CincyWolf LawnSite Member
    Messages: 78

    I used to live in eastern NC so I will say that centipede is the only grass you should mess with. Once that stuff is established you won't have a weed problem because it aggressively chokes out everything in its path. The other nice thing about it is you don't have to mow as often but you do need to invest in a good trimmer if you have sidewalks, driveways etc. since it is a creeping grass. It will grow in most anything except clay and if you live north of Pinehurst you have sandy soil which is perfect for centipede. You also save money on fertilizer because once/year is enough.

    Assuming you have the capability to keep your yard watered I'd kill the dandelions with Roundup or Spectracide right away and would not worry too much about killing the non-centipede grass. You really don't want bermuda and centipede in the same yard. After 7-10 days you should take a power rake or a good hard rake and lots of muscle and tear the remainders out of there.

    There are two approaches and you can do both or a combination:
    1) During this 10 days you should see if you can get centipede sod. You can break the sod up and plant small 4"x4" chunks.
    2) You can also sew centipede seed if you can find it. I got mine from a sod farm in Georgia for about $25/lb 15 years ago. I just looked this place up for you. They have it for $27.95/lb

    The seeds are tiny so you will need to mix the seed with clean sand to broadcast. best to refrigerate the seeds for a week before sewing them. This will speed up germination. Be sure to rake the seeds into the soil to about 1/8 - 1/4"
    3) You can sprig sod and seed for the best and quickest coverage.
    4) Seeding is easier but you'll have a sandy yard this summer. Since you are almost all weeds now that might not be a problem. You'll be glad you did this next year and certainly 2 years from now.

    Keep it damp but be careful not to overwater or your golden seeds will float away. Centipede sleeps the first year, creeps the 2nd year and leaps the 3rd year and beyond.

    Fescue in your area will always be a PITA so unless you have different soil than 95% of all eastern NC land go with centipede and you will not regret it.

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