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Old 26-04-2010, 04:27 PM posted to triangle.gardens
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Default Taking Back a Yard from Weeds

On Mon, 26 Apr 2010 10:17:24 -0400 in Derek Mark Edding wrote:
Hi Folks,

We bought a new (to us) house the beginning of the year. When we were
being shown the house, I saw that the yard was cut very short. Now that
we're moved in and the yard is growing in earnest, we've discovered that
the yard is close to 50% weeded over.

I applied an early season fertilizer with crabgrass halts in March. But
there are large patches of clover, and dandelions scattered everywhere.
We've got a spreading creeper with small white flowers that runs along
the edges of anything that has an edge. We have lots of wild
strawberries, and a thin, pipestem like weed that's thoroughly
intermingled with the fescue over large parts of the yard. There's even
horsenettle and poison ivy in the landscaped areas.

We get a lot of sun so the stuff grows fast. Mowing once a week is
barely enough. I'm trying to let the grass grow to a reasonable height,
about 3.5 inches to encourage filling in. But of course the weeds grow

Has anyone had to recover a yard this heavily weeded? Did you use a
professional service? Tear it out and put in new sod? I've been
pulling what I can and spraying roundup, but we have a lot of
maintenance to catch up on besides the yard. I'm hoping to determine
what kind of long range plan I'll need to get the yard decent looking.

Murphy's law applies to lawns too :-).
If you put down sod, we will have a drought and you will not get approval
to irrigate to re-establish sod.

Personally I'd leave the clover alone.

First and foremost, determine what sort of grass the grass in
the weeds is (fescue, bahia, centipede, zoysia, bermuda) and whether
or not you intend to keep it. If you have bermuda, you'll be keeping
it whether you want to or not. If you're planning to change the type
of grass, pick one.

Second, get soil testing done.
Assume that any area in the lawn where the vegetation is vastly different
is a different soil type. If the soil is really incompatible with the
type of grass you want, consider another type of grass :-).
(I wanted to redo my lawn in centipede. And the soiltest results
indicated my soil was actually perfect for the fescue on it and wasn't
acidic enough or poor enough for centipede).
While you're at it, note if the soil is actual soil, or if it's
carolina red brick...

And after that I'd have to ask what your time line is, and whether
or not you're one of those nuts that wants the extravagance of
a lawn that looks like it belongs on a golf course.

In the mean time, I suggest 2,4-D for spot treating the broadleaf weeds
as you mow. (Clover only counts as a broadleaf weed if you're trying to grow
centipede). If the pipe stem stuff is a sedge, stop digging it out and
spray it with roundup mixed with a squirt of hand dish washing detergent.
I've also become a fan of going after poison ivy and creepers with a first
pass of 2,4-D and then when new foliage starts coming out a second pass
with roundup (Again with a squirt of dish washing detergent).

If you're thinking fescue and the soil test results indicate fescue,
start comparing the price of a lawn service doing weed remediation prior
to slit seeding vs the cost of enough seed to cover the lawn and the rental
price of a slit seeder. And if the professional says "We can do it now,"
instead of "We won't do this until this fall," find another professional.

Chris Dukes