1. Missed the live Ask the Expert event?
    Catch up on the conversation with Ken Hutcheson, President of U.S. Lawns in the Franchising forum plus sign up to receive a FREE eBook on how to grow your landscape business.

    Dismiss Notice

Where do I start with this lawn?

Discussion in 'Turf Renovation' started by speedster, Mar 31, 2010.

  1. speedster

    speedster LawnSite Member
    Messages: 220

    I bought a house in December from an elderly gentleman and from the looks of it the lawn was neglected over the last few years. I'm located in WV and now that the snow is gone and the temps are warming up I'd like to attempt to get the lawn in respectable shape. I know I probably won't be able to make a huge impact on it this year but I'd like to try my best. I took this picture in December before the snow came and it was apparent that the owner never raked the fallen leaves from this past fall (1/2 acre lot bordered on 2 sides by woods). After the February snow storms it looked like the leaves were plastered down against the lawn and after the snow melted and the lawn dried out some I raked the entire lawn in order to get the matted leaves off the turf. in doing this I discovered several issues I'll need to address. The owner had some pine trees (as shown in the pic) that left a very thick mat of needles where absolutely no grass was growing. I plan on cutting the trees down this summer if I can. I also discovered there are a couple of different types of grass used on the lawn. some is the greener stuff in the foreground and the other is a thinner blade that's dormant looking (grass closer to the trees). I've also noted a few patches of early crabb grass. Mostly growing in the thiner brown grass near the trees.

    So long story short, where do I start? Should I reseed everything? Fertilize? Use a grubb killer. I know there are some mole mounds and maybe vole tracks that were present under the month long blanket of deep snow.

    Raking the entire yard with a rake acted as a very light thaching (I was pretty rough on it and agressive). I live in a country setting so I burned the leaves and yard thatch/debris for two consecutive nights. There was a lot. I'm wondering if I should use the Scott's Turf Builder with Halts which is supposed to be applied in early spring. (although quite expensive) Or maybe something else.

    Just looking for some guidance. I don't expect this summers lawn to look great, but I'd like to maybe put myself into a position to have a nice lawn in 2011.

    Any tips pointers?

    Last edited: Mar 31, 2010
  2. Stevegotcrabgrass

    Stevegotcrabgrass LawnSite Member
    Messages: 248

    This is what I would do......I would first cut down those trees....Rake the whole area out nice...which I believe you already did. Hard to tell from the picture but the turf doesn't look too horrible. I would then cut the lawn low, mow it twice if you have to...then reinspect. I then would probably powerseed the entire lawn with a seed designed for your area and to match your existing turf. I would power seed ASAP before the crabgrass really starts....after powerseeding, I would topdress with either compost or peat moss for it's retention properties. I would probably also apply a crabgrass/weed preventer/pre emergent that will ALLOW the seed to germinate while at the same time preventing weeds. The brand I use also has a fertilizer, and NO it's not scotts...I don't think they offer a chemical that allows seed to germinate and protects against crabgrass/weeds. After the seed germinates I would do another round of pre emergent but a different type, since you do not have to worry about the grass seed now. In the fall i would aerate and ammend the soil as determined by a soil test. Check your local co op extension for soil testing. a couple weekds after aeration or even same day I would power seed AGAIN this time I would probably add an organic based fertilizer.....
    Come spring time 1 year from now I would repeat the first step of this process....
    all this depends on HOW BAD/THIN the turf is......I really don't like to use too many chemicals but sometimes they are necessary such as a situation like this.

    As far as the area under the pine tree, I would def. get the soil tested as you might have an acid issue....keyword MIGHT....i would make sure it's cleaned up real well and try and turn the soil and maybe work some compost in there...then powerseed as the first part of this novel I wrote states....

    It will take some work but it's not impossible.
  3. betmr

    betmr LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,663

    First, clean up all those leaves on the ground!!! They are smothering your grass. I would suggest making mulch beds around all your trees and shrubs. Fertilize & spot treat for weeds for now and over-seed in the Early Fall.
  4. Stevegotcrabgrass

    Stevegotcrabgrass LawnSite Member
    Messages: 248

    good advice as well. depending on how bare/thin it is i would seed NOW and in the fall....
  5. speedster

    speedster LawnSite Member
    Messages: 220

    Thanks guys. The leaves have already been cleaned up. That pic was taken in December when I bought the house. Current grass is not quite as green as that in the pic. You mentioned that you did not use scots. What brands would you suggest? I have a farm and fleet and a coop here in town along with some big box stores.
  6. Stevegotcrabgrass

    Stevegotcrabgrass LawnSite Member
    Messages: 248

    My brand, IF I USE CHEMICALS, is a brand provided only by my nursery. It is THEIR brand of material. Very top notch stuff. I have had success with Lesco/JD products and Lebanon products....
  7. Green' Go

    Green' Go LawnSite Member
    Messages: 50

    stevegotcrabgrass is right. LOSE THOSE TREES. I believe their needles are acidic when breaking down. Or so I have been told. And I took a pasture management course where they told us anything that stays green during winter such as cedar etc. drink an insane amount of water and nutrients to provide all those green needles with their color during the winter. In my humble opinion pretty much anything you do before osing the trees would be putting the cart before the horse.
  8. betmr

    betmr LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,663

    This is just my opinion. I think those trees look good and appear healthy. Making a mulch bed around all your trees and shrubs, will help minimize competition between grass and trees for water and nutriants, as well as keep your mowing equipment away from them. Personally I think they look good. My issue would be with the ones that are casting the shadows on the ground, from behind the camera. you may need to consider how many hours of direct sun that area is getting per day, in order to choose your seed type. Some (Like fine Fescue's)are more tolerant of less sunlight. The spotty appearance of your grass, may be due to, to much shade for the type grass.
  9. RigglePLC

    RigglePLC LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 13,076

    I don't see any pine trees--some nice spruce are visible. Betmer is right. Keep them, and keep a bed of mulch contained by edging around them. You may want some shade plants under them. Hosta, myrtle, ferns, heuchera. Grass should come back just fine if you fertilize, water and mow on a regular basis. Do you have irrigation? It would help. Overseed in the fall if the lawn is still thin. Sept 1 is about right because the soil temp would still be warm--for faster germination.
  10. SeedPro

    SeedPro LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,030

    No offense but only a moron would cut down those beautiful trees.

Share This Page