Help! Plan of attack?

avcm714June 14, 2014

Years ago I enjoyed spending my free time out in the back yard, doing basic work back there. Then I got pregnant, had a couple kids, and my priorities and amount of free time totally changed. My husband has no clue. My back yard is a mess and I need a plan to get it to the place where my family can enjoy the space. We have a townhouse, so a small yard. In a perfect world I envision a raised bed or two in a corner or edge, flowers around the tree, and nice lush grass for the kids to play in everywhere else.

Right now the lawn is either a mud puddle or overgrown with weeds. Who can give me a basic idea of steps to take, either a specific plan or links to something already out there. Do I pull up all the weeds? Mow it and apply.... something? When is a good time to seed? We live in zone 7A. Teach me, wise ones!

What are the different plants that I'm dealing with? I have tall grass that has seeds on the ends, big weeds here and there, and then this bright green ivy type plant that covers large patches of earth.

I'd prefer to do this as organically as possible, so my kids can enjoy the space and I won't have to worry about toxins. I know there is no overnight fix. Willing to put in some work and make this a family project.

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Other side of the lawn

    Bookmark   June 14, 2014 at 1:37PM
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Creeping weed

    Bookmark   June 14, 2014 at 1:38PM
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The best of the worst

    Bookmark   June 14, 2014 at 1:39PM
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It is so small you might consider hardscape (no grass) with some planting beds along the fence with shrubs or perennials or ornamental grasses in the raised beds. It would be like a great big patio with plantings along the edges. Maybe look on Pinterest to get some ideas. If you want grass, though, use glyphosate (Roundup is a brand name) on the whole yard, water to encourage weeds to germinate, use glyphosate again in a couple of weeks when more weeds are growing, rake up the dead weeds, then put down sod. You can sod anytime but I think I'd wait until September after the August heat breaks. If you'd rather seed, do the glyphosate in August, seed in September for fescue or Kentucky bluegrass. Whether you seed or use sod, you may need lime (soil test will tell you if you do and how much) and you should fertilize at appropriate times for the kind of grass. Glyphosate is safe: it's absorbed by leaves and inhibits an enzyme necessary for plant growth. It does not persist in the soil. If you do a hardscape, you would use glyphosate and then prep the area, which would probably involve digging out some dirt, putting crushed stone and sand down, and leveling before the hard surface goes on. Get some quotes from landscape companies. You don't want to endanger your tree with too much digging (tree roots are close to the surface). Get some advice from the landscape companies on how your tree could be protected. Decking would not require digging dirt out.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2014 at 3:45PM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

Or you could do a soft scape much like the above except you would add chipped tree trimmings like they use in play grounds. Several inches of that could be had for the low low prices of free from your local tree trimmers. Look for the once pulling a chipper behind a boxy looking truck. Weeds are relatively easy to pull out of loose mulch.

You might just start with mowing it all down and see what dies out. For that small area you only need a string trimmer. I "mow" my lawn with a string trimmer. I cover about 3,000 square feet in less than an hour (battery dies in 30 to 45 minutes).

You are in a transition zone meaning you can have any grass you want. Some are more appropriate for kids. If you want the grass to return from damage, then you want Kentucky bluegrass, bermuda, or St Augustine. Rather than go into the pros and cons of those, I'll let you do some research and come back with specific questions.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2014 at 10:15PM
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I would:

a) create a raised water fountain

b) a goldfish pond deep enough that they don't overheat

c) Plant several camellias fall & spring blooming

d) use fieldstone, slate, pavers and create a patio with a bench with some type of heavy shade.

i) On second thought since you have kids I would see about hard rubbery type sun resistant 'rubber' pavers to overlay at least part of your paved patio with and if there be careful when you choose things to discourage running too fast and to protect from falls. So for example the solar light should be lantern style that hang above eye level in walking, running, playing traffic areas. Even without kids it is good to keep these safety rules in mind.

e) sufficient LED Solar lighting to create a nice place to sit outside at night in the heat of the summer

f) Create an herb garden in planters that can be brought in in the fall and winter to your kitchen window (if you go for fresh herbs).

That's sufficiently vague to customize and create something you and your family will really like while specific enough for you to really do a great job with such limited space and ideal for zones 6 and higher. For zone 5 and higher with such a small space replace camellias with rhododendrons or something else for your zone.

I'm kind of excited thinking of what that space would look like were that done to it.

This post was edited by AgroCoders on Tue, Jun 17, 14 at 22:47

    Bookmark   June 17, 2014 at 10:30PM
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If the kids are young, I would not put in a goldfish pond. Children can drown in small pools or ponds. A smooth surface would work better for little cars and trucks and setting up doll stuff. Chopped up tree mulch from tree chippers is hard to walk on barefoot. You might consider a sandbox somewhere in the shade.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2014 at 10:40AM
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Too smooth a surface is bad for slips and falls at any age.

You might add a bird house, bird bath, and bird feeders to that list although the feeders will have you cleaning in an area that small.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2014 at 12:10PM
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