What is the best way to plant an entire lawn from scratch

courtdawgFebruary 4, 2008

My dogs comepletely tore up all my grass due to heavy play and urine. The entire yard is all dirt. We want to plant grass seed, but need to know the best way to get the quickest and best results;

When, use fertilizer, lime, aerate, which grass seed, etc.....Please let us know from start to finish the best process. How long will it take once planted to have a grown in nice yard? Thank you so much to all!

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lou_midlothian_tx(z8 DFW, Tx)

Build a dog run for dogs only.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2008 at 1:56PM
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Assuming that you're serious, Courtdawg, yes, Lou is right. Keep the dawgs, or other traffic, off of it, until the lawn gets up and running. Those grass plants need to get situated, with healthy crowns, so they can send little runners outbound, and of course each runner makes a new grass plant, doesn't it? In NJ, and I've never lived there, I'd recommend a KBG mix.

Assuming that you get the lawn to that point, the key to a 'high traffic' lawn is FERTILIZER. Maximize your fertilizer: that doesn't mean put too much down at once, but it does mean that if a normal homeowner would fertilize four times a year, you have to do five or six. You want that fertilizer maximized. Not overdone, but certainly not UNDER done. Underdone, you lose. 'Medium' or 'just right', hey, you lose. It's over.

The key to KBG, and healthy high-traffic lawns, like athletic fields, and golf tee areas, is NOT the 'better' grass. It's the same old grass. The key to success is the RATE of GROWTH. If it's growing like a mutha-scratcha, it will repair itself, because the injury only lasts a day, with max fertilizer, and max growth. After that day, it's already a quarter-inch higher. Two days later, it's a half inch higher. Three days, three-quarters higher, and well on it's way to full health. (Yes, I made up these numbers, just to illustrate the point).

Contrast that situation with 'medium' fertilizer: the injury sits there, ready to be injured AGAIN, for a day or two. And on a high traffic area, it will be injured again. That will be fatal.

Contrast that with some guy who doesn't fertilze much at all: the injury will sit there, ready to be injured again, for four days, five days, maybe a week. That grass will SURELY be injured again, and it will SURELY be fatal.

Nope. You want to maximize the fertilizer. You want to maximize growth. Maximized growth=maximized self-healing.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2008 at 3:04PM
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If you don't get rid of the dogs first the rest of the instructions are mute.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2008 at 7:45PM
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turf_toes(SE Pennsylvania KBG)

If you don't get rid of the dogs first the rest of the instructions are mute.

Well, given that the instructions were written, they're always mute. But on the other hand... if he doesn't get rid of the dogs, the rest of the instructions may be moot...


    Bookmark   February 4, 2008 at 8:24PM
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Since this question deals with heavy traffic, dogs, etc, the famous Totally starting over thread might not apply, but I haven't seen it linked here in a while, so thought it would be worth bringing it up again.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2008 at 9:25PM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

The best material I've seen for a dog yard has been about a foot of shredded mulch. I suppose chipped tree branches would be good, too.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2008 at 10:59PM
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While I can't always agree with them (though I seldom disagree), I do always love Philes' posts. I know he knows better than what he recommended. It's just hard sometimes to remember who it is we're talking to. Were it a seasoned or familiar member of the forum, the advice would be okay because the member would know better than to do that with with synthetic fertilizer. So, if you're gonna do it, then make it Milorganite or some other organic fertilizer, but never with Scotts or other brands (unless they are organic). Over fertilzing with synthetics is a terrible idea.

Can't really be sure what you want to accomplish, CourtDawg. First, you make me think you want some grass but like the other respondents, I can't tell if you plan to keep the dogs off or not. If not, I'm sure you know the result will be the same. Please inform. Secondly, "quick" and "best" do not go together where establishing a lawn is concerned. So, please tell us if you just want some grass (quick) or if you want a nice lawn (best results).

    Bookmark   February 5, 2008 at 3:04PM
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billhill(z5 MI - KBG)

Courtdawg, Although Autumn is prime planting season for turf grasses, You cannot go all Summer with a bare dirt back yard. Build a dog pen for your dogs. Letting them out should be a treat, not the ordinary thing. Then, on or about March 15th , plant a lawn consisting of Scotts Premium Sun and Shade (or comparable mixture) grass seed. Use a starter fertilizer and then in August spot treat for weeds using weed be gone liquid "BROADLEAF WEED KILLER" In the Fall, you should plan to over-seed your back yard. In the meantime, strengthen your lawn as much as possible. Cut the grass long, water deeply and fertilize with Milorganite or better for your family and the dog, fertilize with soy bean meal. Start working on a plan or schedule for your lawn. Read and contribute to this forum. ItÂs a great source of information. Bill Hill

    Bookmark   February 5, 2008 at 4:37PM
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...ahh, turf toes, my bad for bad grammar. I have low crawled through the winter compost pile.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2008 at 10:21PM
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Quite right, Bestlawn, as to my post: I did not make it clear, and I should have made it clear, that I recommend use of 'organic' fertilizers during warm weather. My 'four to five' applications' was indeed a reference to Milorganite. I love the stuff. But if my post was capable of being construed as recommending four to five applications of a synthetic (Say, Lesco's 24-X-X, which is a fine product) fertilizer, I fear, as Bestlawn did, that a disaster would occur, because synthetics can't be used that way.

Thank you for correcting my post, before fertilizer application time actually arrived. I feel I dodged a bullet here. The Original Poster should feel even better than I do .

Courtdawg, you're going to want to maximize the fertilizer, should you care to follow my advice. But maximizing the fertilizer does not mean putting down five applications of a high-first-number synthetic fertilizer, it means putting down perhaps a synthetic in the fall, perhaps a synthetic in the spring (if the grass is already in place: otherwise, not), and dosing that new lawn with an organic, rather than synthetic, fertilizer. If you're comfortable with this advice, go ahead and do it. If you're not comfortable with this advice, the fault is mine: I'll be glad, as will several other 'old hands' here, to make it more clear, as you might require.

The cogent part of my advice was 'you need to maximize the fertilizer, to maximize the rate of growth, because that helps a lot with self-repairing'. But it is not true that you can just throw down a synthetic fertilizer, four or more times a year, and expect good results.

And thank you Bestlawn: once more, you've kept us, one or more of us, from getting into trouble that we might well have avoided. (Yay!)

    Bookmark   February 6, 2008 at 9:15PM
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I live in Northern VA and just planted close to 2 acres of lesco team mates plus (70% TTTF and 20%PR). I also threw down some annual rye in areas where we have had some erosion issues. I have to plant this spring - I have a new house and I cannot get my bond money back until the grass meets the county erosion and sediment control standards. My yard has some grass from the fall planting but a lot of bare spots (maybe a 50 50 mix)

I put the seed down this past weekend because the weather seemed right - light rains, some sun, and warmer temps coming this week.

I just bought lesco starter fertilizer - when should I put this down? Right now - before seedlings pop or wait until late April?

Should I use a walk behind spreader or the tractor with tow behind spreader to put down the fertilizer (note - walking my lot which is on a moderate slope in the Blueridge Mtns is not fun). I read a whole bunch of posts about not walking on the seeded areas until they are tall enough to take the pounding and am confused.


    Bookmark   April 1, 2008 at 8:48AM
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I just bought lesco starter fertilizer - when should I put this down? Right now - before seedlings pop or wait until late April?

You may want to start a new thread with this question as it's a good one and people may miss it down here.

Use the fertilizer immediately to give the seed the strongest start it can get (since it's starter fertilizer and not the Turf Builder sort).

I read a whole bunch of posts about not walking on the seeded areas until they are tall enough to take the pounding and am confused.

Once it sprouts, try to stay off it until it needs mowing. For rye and fescue that can go as fast as five days (sprout, not first mow), but depends strongly on the weather. Northern VA isn't too far south of me, so it probably won't go quite that fast, but the weather does look to finally warm up here this weekend.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2008 at 7:19PM
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Hi sniffdog,
Yes, get the fertilizer down now. Three days should be ok to still use the tractor. You'll have sprouts by Sunday. I'm rooting for your grass. If you have a chance I'd like to know the cultivars on the TMP.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2008 at 8:23PM
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Thanks very much for the quick response. This forum has been incredibly helpful.

You might not believe this - but the dear wife actually volunteered to spread out the starter fertilizer tomorrow while I am away on a business trip! Is this great deal or what?

I checked this morning (2 days after seeding) just to see if there were sprouts! Nothing yet - can you tell I am anxious? I have never had this much land to deal with and working the mtn slopes was a lot harder than it looked. Using the tractor was great and fun BUT it can't go everywhere on the lot so there was a bit of walking.

I have the details on the TMP back at my office. Once I return I will post them. I will take some pictures too so you can see the results of all your advise.

SD - I hope you are right about the sprouts by Sunday. I was quite concerned about the seed washing away if it rained very hard - which was what happended last fall just after the seeding. Hopefully we will score a homerun this time. I really want to rid myself of the county dirt police.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2008 at 9:44PM
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Take a look at www.landscapeaddiction.com under foliage it explains it pretty good.

Here is a link that might be useful: howtowebsite

    Bookmark   April 1, 2008 at 10:01PM
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