I am looking to kill off my lawn and start fresh. I was reading the label on some Round Up and it says safe to plant after 4 months. Is it too late for me to kill of my lawn with some round up and plant this fall?
Not at all - I think that you're looking at the label of some version of RoundUp that is a "season-long" product.
The standard versions of RoundUp (or any other cheaper product containing the active ingredient Glyphosate) state that you can reseed 1-7 days after applying it (it varies from specific product to product).
The truth is that Glyphosate is basically inactivated upon contact with the soil, and has zero effect on seeds - it works by foliar contact on actively growing plants only. I have done renovations by reseeding two hours after applying RoundUp.
There are a couple of things to keep in mind:
(1) Like I said above, it only works on actively growing plants/grass. If you let your grass go dormant in the Summer, IT WON'T WORK. It may be counterintuitive, but keep the grass green and actively growing in order to kill it.
(2) The best way to kill the lawn and minimize weed growth when you reseed is to apply the RoundUp, and then KEEP WATERING FREQUENTLY for 10-14 days to get weed seeds to germinate. Then RoundUp the lawn again, which will kill the newly-germinated weeds. We're talking about watering a dead lawn 2X-3X a day. Your neighbors will think you are crazy for watering a dead lawn. You can reseed the lawn as soon as a couple of hours after the second application.
Before you jump into that, why do you want to kill the lawn? Are you having problems? What kind of grass are you growing? How often do you water and for how long? How high/low are you mowing? When were the last two times you fertilize and what did you use?
Well, I guess I'm interested in killing it off because my lawn is probably 70% weeds. I bought this house last fall and I don't think the previous owner ever treated this lawn with anything. I haven't been watering much because it's all weeds. I bought some weed b gone with chickweed and clover killer stuff, but a co-worker said because I have so many weeds, I'm probably better off killing it all and starting over. Is this not true?
I think I have a mix of fescue and I mow at the highest setting. I have yet to fertilize this year, but I thought it was too late in the year to fertilize? This is my first house and this is the first time I've ever had to do anything to a yard and I am clueless on what I'm doing.
Okay. Thanks for the candid reply. We can work with clueless. The first step is identifying yourself to us. I'm going to shoot you some questions that will help get you a better answer.
Can you post a picture of your lawn and weeds? That might help to see how best to get you through until the end of August. August would be seeding time for you in MI.
Also what are your daytime highs and night time lows this time of year?
How are you watering now? How long and how often?
How high/low are you mowing now?
Have you applied anything to help with the weeds or anything else? If so, what and when?
You can fertilize this time of year if you use organic fertilizers. My current favorite is alfalfa pellets (rabbit food) because it is so inexpensive and works so well.
I'm going to suggest you start taking proper care of the yard as if you had no weeds. It is good practice to get you into the groove. Also taking proper care should get rid of some of the weeds. But there are certain weeds that can get a foothold and be really hard to get rid of. If you have creeping charlie or violets, for example, you might need to start with the RoundUp now just to have it all dead by late August.
Pictures will help. If you have pictures of the flowers or seed heads on the weeds, that will help, too. If possible, take pictures of the yard on a cloudy day or under an umbrella. Harsh contrast makes it harder to identify what's going on.
Haha, oh man that is going to be embarrassing posting pictures of my entire lawn. It's pretty bad. To answer your above, I'm mowing at the highest setting which i believe is 4 inches (or close to it), my watering is pretty sporadic, I was watering with a hose earlier this spring roughly twice a week, but haven't in awhile. Daytime highs and lows are 80's and 60's right now. I haven't applied yet, but I just bought Weed B Gone Chickweed, Clover and Oxalis killer. I am ready to apply this with a hose end sprayer. I think I'll get some alfalfa pellets, where's the best place to get some?? Online or should I find a place locally?
You don't want to pay shipping on grains if you can avoid it. Go to Google Maps and search for "feed store, yourtown, yourstate" without the quotes. Call some of them first to be sure they have what you're looking for.
Here's that basics of lawn care as collected from Internet lawn forums over the years. These are pretty much agreed upon with only subtle differences among most of the lawn nuts I know.
Basics of Lawn Care
After reading numerous books and magazines on lawn care, caring for lawns at seven houses in my life, and reading numerous forums where real people write in to discuss their successes and failures, I have decided to side with the real people and dispense with the book and magazine authors. I don't know what star their planet rotates around but it's not mine. With that in mind, here is the collected wisdom of the Internet savvy homeowners and lawn care professionals summarized in a few words. If you follow the advice here you will have conquered at least 50% of all lawn problems. Once you have these three elements mastered, then you can worry about weeds (if you have any), dog spots, and striping your lawn. But if you are not doing these three things, they will be the first three things suggested for you to correct.
Water deeply and infrequently. Deeply means at least an hour in every zone, all at once. Infrequently means monthly during the cool months and no more than weekly during the hottest part of summer. Do not spread this out and water for 10 minutes every day. If your grass looks dry before the month/week is up, water longer next time. If that does not work, then you might have to water more than once per week during the summer's hottest period. Deep watering grows deep, drought resistant roots. Infrequent watering allows the top layer of soil to dry completely which kills off many shallow rooted weeds.
You will have to learn to judge when to water your own lawn. If you live in Las Vegas your watering will be different than if you live in Vermont. Adjust your watering to your type of grass, humidity, wind, and soil type. It is worth noting that this technique is used successfully by professionals in Phoenix, so...just sayin.' The other factors make a difference. If you normally water 1 inch per week and you get 1/2 inch of rain, then adjust and water only 1/2 inch that week.
Every week mulch mow at the highest setting on your mower. Most grasses are the most dense when mowed tall. However, bermuda, centipede, and bent grasses will become the most dense when they are mowed at the lowest setting on your mower. In fact there are special mowers that can mow these grasses down to 1/16 inch. Dense grass shades out weeds, keeps the soil cooler, and uses less water than thin grass. Tall grass can feed the deep roots you developed in #1 above. Tall grass does not grow faster than short grass nor does it look shaggy sooner. Once all your grass is at the same height, tall grass just looks plush.
Fertilize regularly. I fertilize 5 times per year using organic fertilizer. Which fertilizer you use is much less important than numbers 1 and 2 above. Follow the directions on the bag and do not overdo it. Too little is better than too much. At this point you do not have to worry about weed and feed products - remember at this point you are just trying to grow grass, not perfect it. Besides once you are doing these three things correctly, your weed problems should go away without herbicide.
If you use chemical fertilizers, stick to 3 times per year - once in the late spring and twice in the fall. Bermuda is a special deal. For details on bermuda, find the Bermuda Bible online and memorize it.
Hey thanks for the lawn basics guide. One question, what does it mean when you say water an hour in "every zone" what exactly is a "zone?" Is defined as the area my sprinkler hits?
Some yards are so big you don't have enough water pressure to water the entire thing at one time. The installer will break the yard up into zones so you only have 5 or so sprinklers working at once. Those are the zones I'm talking about.
Ok, so since I don't have an under ground sprinkler system, I'm assuming my "zones" can be where my sprinkler hits, right? I think I read on here that watering deeply would be to fill up a shot glass worth of water. Any truth to that? I'm just trying to figure out how much I should water.
Leave it to a Sparty to bring up shot glasses when watering a lawn. :P Hello fellow Michigander!
Yes, watering deeply and infrequently is referring to putting down 1" inch worth of water every week. You can measure this with shot glasses, or cat food and tuna cans. Use several to make sure your sprinkler is watering effectively at both the near and far ends of its reach.
Back to your questions. I understand you want a beautiful lawn, but so far your questions are referring to several different projects on all ends of the yard care spectrum. Now, I am no where near an expert, but I will try to help in whatever way I can.
Your first question was "Too late to kill lawn?" where you mention applying Round Up to kill the entire turf. (Weeds, Grass, ALL greenery) This is the most in depth project as you would be starting a complete yard renovation. Next you mentioned that you had bought some Ortho weed killer and were ready to use a hose end sprayer to combat the weeds. Then you mentioned applying Alfalfa pellets to fertilize the grass and add organics.
So lets back up a bit farther. As mentioned earlier, for a total lawn renovation the best time for us in Michigan is late summer/early fall. (I have mine planned for Labor day weekend) So we have some time to decide your best course of action. Now a few questions of my own:
- How big is your yard? Are we talking .15 acres in a city setting like Grand Rapids? or more like 3 acres out in the countryside? This helps determine the scale of the project.
- What are your goals for the yard? "Better Homes and Gardens" cover house? Just make it green? High traffic/kid and pet friendly?
- How much time/devotion are you willing to dedicate to having a great lawn? Weekend mow n let grow? OCD about different heights of grass blades?
- What kind of a budget are you willing to have for the project? A full renovation with soil amendments, grading work, elite seed cultivars, watering bills (if applicable), etc could run you into the thousands. Attacking weeds and over seeding several times a year with "Big box seed" might cost you $50 or $100 a year. Don't need dollar amounts, just a ballpark.
Hey Purvis, thanks for the follow up. I agree this thread is getting a little off track. I first posted this thinking it was a no brainer to just kill of my lawn and start over from scratch. I bought some Ortho a couple weeks ago when I was thinking I would just try to kill off all my broadleaf weeds, but then a co-worker convinced me to just start over. I didn't realize I could fertilize this late in the year until dchall mentioned alfalfa pellets...so now I'm open to that if it'll make a difference, but my yard is bad. I mean BAD.
My yard is roughly 8,000 sq. ft. I don't need a home and garden yard, but I definitely want a nice looking yard. I have no kiddo's yet (may by next summer though) just a Boxer that likes to run all over. I don't mind putting time into my yard and I enjoy mowing, but I'm definitely not an OCD person that is concerned about each blade length being perfect.
I am not looking to do a full soil renovation or actually not even looking to put thousands of dollars into my yard at this point in my life. I have no problem spending money every year on fertilizer and seed to overseed every year. If that's what it takes, then so be it.
I've taken some pictures this evening, so have fun and please be easy on me... :-)
Side yard - there is basically zero grass along the side of my garage here. I will have to plant all new here. This also faces north and seems to get sun pretty much all day.
On to the back yard.
I also have a little slope heading down to a lower level of my yard and it doesn't look like I'll be able to grow any grass here.
Thanks for all the help everyone and sorry for posting half a billion pictures.
Jeez, so I post all these pictures of my yard like people ask and then nobody responds? What gives? Should I take more pics? Should I kill my lawn or should I try to kill all the weeds and try to revive the grass?
Kids are out of school and many of us have other stuff going on.
I'm inclined to go with your original thought of spraying the weed-b-gone and see what's left. If all you have is fescue, though, you're going to have bare spots. And it looks like you have too much shade for any other grasses to thrive.
If your slope faces the south, you might be able to grow grass on it. Otherwise, probably not. There might be some other ground covers that would work.
I am at work so I cant view the pictures and I am going off of memory.
From what I remember, your yard seemed to be heavily shaded. Many people will suggest either pruning some of the foliage back to get a bit more light, or planting your grass accordingly. Typically, if the yard gets 4 hours or more per day of DIRECT sunlight, you can go with a "Sunny" mix of grass. KBG would prefer more sun than that.
Your yard does look pretty rough (as far as weeds go), but since it is only about 8k sq ft I will back up what dchall has already advised. Spray that weed b gone on a sunny dry day and let it kill what it will kill. You may have more grass than you realize. Also this will leave behind the grass that has managed to survive up till this point. Note: the weed b gone will take a week to fully kill the weeds, two weeks till they really break down and disappear. Once you know what grass you are working with you could either go for the full kill and replant the entire yard, or over seed this fall with a similar grass and let it fill in and thicken up. By next spring your yard will be much more dense. Then in the spring you can spot patch the areas that didn't fill in to your liking.
Then again, if you are going to be spraying down the whole yard and going through the trouble of replanting, then you might as well get the Round Up and start from scratch.
I say kill the lawn, all of it, and seed it all with wildflowers and perennials!