Thinking of Re-doing lawn, Western WA

sphinxfaceJune 14, 2014

So I have 1/2 acre plot, about 3/4ths of it is an amalgam of grass, dandelions, plantains, buttercup, clover, and various other weeds. My idea was to dig everything up(probably sections at a time) and cover it with black tarp while I grow my own sod. We tried planting seeds directly but the clover, butter cup, and dandelions have already moved in, it also didn't grow very thick.. My fiance doesn't think this is a very good way to go but when he weeds he doesn't re-seed, so we have tons of holes around the yard I am pretty sure are just being replaced with more weeds... We've toyed with the idea of using weed killer(ie weed and feed).

Any thoughts?

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I have similar problem. The thought of tilling the entire lawn and reseeding well honestly I couldn't do it I don't think in the August - September timeframe allotted when it's needed to do that. And since I'm on a hill and the lawn is basically compacted clay that is also worrisome.

Weed killer is simply too expensive for me as well as it's the 'lazy' way I don't think I'd do a very good job using it.

I was thinking of simply scalping the lawn and planting on that. I'd need to be careful because my lawn is full of limestone boulders.

I also have a large tarp but it would take the entire 2 months just to kill the lawn underneath it so scalping the lawn seems quicker and almost as effective.

So scalping the lawn and reseeding in early August seems the best compromise between the 'proper way' recommended by experts with oodles of cash and hired labor and my budget and reality.

I'm open for suggestions though.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2014 at 2:18PM
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What type of grass do you want to grow?
Are you adverse to chemicals or are you organic?
Have you had your soil tested?

    Bookmark   June 17, 2014 at 2:44PM
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I imagine when you talk about a tarp you might be referring to the method someone else told me about where you put a layer of organics down, cover with a tarp and wait? I was considering that option myself, but how long will all the different weeds take to die? It seems like hot(literally) mess to me? Will the benefits of the dead grass going to make a big difference? I also kindof like the idea of getting a good work out, and all I'd have to time it for is how long the sod will take to grow. Good luck AgroCoders, hope you find a solution!

    Bookmark   June 17, 2014 at 2:44PM
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Actually the tarp ideal is what my mom does to create an area for a flower garden or vegetable garden and she does it over winter so it's not really practical.

I've been thinking and unless someone offers a better idea I will scalp my lawn in early August and seed with this seed mix:

Now I live in Zone 6B and have soil not suited to grasses but in Washington that seed mix might be ideal for you. Even though I'm in 6B I am still going to try it. I've seen this grass in person, unmowed and it's still nice. A bit shaggy but nice.

It's not a traditional lawn though of how must people think so read the site and look at the pictures. Send the site questions.

Here is a link that might be useful: No Mow Short Fescue Mix

    Bookmark   June 17, 2014 at 3:28PM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

sphinxface (what??? no nose?? oriental??)
It sounds like you seeded in the spring when all the summer weeds were waiting for you to water your grass seed. Never listen to the Scott's commercials on TV. Next time put the seed down in the fall. Fall begins when the summer heat begins to drop in the evenings. That is when you start the project. First kill the grass either with RoundUp or with a tarp. Then scalp the dead stuff down as low as you can and blow it into your new compost pile. Scatter the seed and roll it down with a water fillable roller. If the area is small you can just walk on it. Then start watering 3x per day (breakfast, lunch, and dinner) for just a brief time (5 minutes?). All you need to do is keep the seed moist until it sprouts. Fescue seed sprouts in 2 weeks. Kentucky bluegrass sprouts in 3 weeks. If you mix the two seeds, be sure you water at least 4 weeks to get both seeds up. Then start backing off on the watering frequency and go up on the duration. Go to watering once a day for about 15 to 20 minutes. While you're at it, put some tuna or cat food cans out and time how long it takes your sprinkler to fill them. That is going to be your target time for watering. Mine is 8 full hours. My neighbor is 20 minutes, so you really need to know what yours is. After a week of once a day, back off to once every other day. Start to move toward your 1-inch watering time. By the time you back off on frequency to once per week, you should be watering at your target time. When the temps drop into the 80s, you still use the same target time but you can fall back to watering once every other week. What this does is develop deep, drought and heat resistant roots. Also in the spring, the surface of your soil will be dry most of the time. Most summer weeds require daily water to sprout, so you are preventing weeds in your lawn simply by withholding water.

When your grass is up to 4-5 inches tall, you can mow it down to your mower's highest setting. Usually that is 3.5 inches but 4 would be fine, too.

Weed n feed does not always work for many people. That's because they don't read the directions. With temps above 85 it is not usually recommended. There are other reasons why it doesn't work, but that's good enough for this time of year.

If you are going to go to the trouble of renovating your lawn, you might want to think more about fescue, Kentucky bluegrass, or a mix of the two. There are many varieties of either grass. When you find some varieties you like, you might come back here and ask for opinions. Some are real dogs.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2014 at 7:04PM
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If you use fine fescues I've read time & again do not fertilize or treat for weeds. The say kill the lawn/weeds with Round-Up July - August and then scalp lawn and then no-till seed with fescues September - October. And water morning and possibly more into fall until grass is growing and the cool rainy weather of fall can take over watering. They recommend to try and avoid spring seeding.

Well actually if you go to the link I posted above of the fine fescue mix they give several methods in 4 or 5 PDF files. I just repeated the cheapest and least labour intensive method for those on a budget.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2014 at 7:18PM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

Timing as to when to start depends on location. When I first replied I read Western WA and thought Western WI. If you don't ever get summer heat, then you can seed any time of the growing season. Still, certain weeds need longer days to sprout. If you can wait until fall you don't get those.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2014 at 7:56PM
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Seeding time in western WA is April-May or September-October. It may not be hot here in summer but it is dry and virtually impossible to keep grass seed sufficiently moist during this time frame to get good germination. But you can hydroseed or lay sod whenever.

And nix the Kentucky bluegrass - it is not recommended for this area. Go to a better nursery in your locale and get a seed blend formulated for your growing conditions - shadier, heavy traffic, premium blend, etc. They will all be a mixture of perennial ryegrass and chewing or creeping red fescues with just variations on the cultivars and percentages to suit the situation.

And no weed and feed - that's pretty much a big no-no anywhere in the PNW as it is a major source of pollution and there are just too many streams and waterways to contaminate. In fact, avoid anything with a Scott's label - stick to organics and you'll be in good shape.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2014 at 8:10PM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

Yes, listen to gardengal. She and I don't always see eye to eye but we're always on the same side of the organic fence. I was thinking Wisconsin when I first read it. That's where the KBG and fescue came from.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2014 at 8:25PM
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Sphinxface = watching the Never Ending Story.

Actually I can't remember when we seeded, but it was over gravel with bagged dirt and compost laid down. It came up patchy and when the weeds did blow in they had plenty of room to maneuver.

I want what grow well, keeps weeds out, with minimal maintenance. The majority of the yard doesn't get much foot traffic, another part gets quite a bit but it's mainly frequently traveled paths. Our soil hasn't been tested, it's festering with worms and other sorts of bugs, I suppose that's one reason not to just tear it all out? Will the tarping method deter bad bugs (weevils) and encourage good ones? (Worms)?

I have to research some of this stuff, scalping, water fillable roller, fescue... This was a lot if good information that came all of a sudden lol thanks! I'll let you know how it goes after I share this with my fiancé :)

And maybe I'll take a pic of the lawn tomorrow just for the heck of it, the dandelions are about to bloom again.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2014 at 12:30AM
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Here are some pics of my lawn. Oh hey look, moss. No surprises there ;)
(Actually I kinda like moss).

    Bookmark   June 18, 2014 at 12:46PM
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And a pano of one side and the front of my house. The other side is under pine trees and has a ton more weeds I couldn't name them all. Thank you birds, the holly you've deposited everywhere was a nice touch.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   June 18, 2014 at 12:57PM
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Looks as if your yard's grass is already mostly fescue.

And it looks rather sunny to have moss. Mom's moss is in shady areas. The grass (well native weeds mostly) shade it in the sunnier hotter summer and it grows in the winter but it stays green year round.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2014 at 1:09PM
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The moss is over by the fence, maybe under the trees? Can you use moss for part of a lawn? Can you plant it and encourage it to grow?

The yard does stay pretty green already but there are SOOO many weeds I don't think we could pull/kill them all properly. It's mainly the dandelions though that are a bother since they grow up tall and look bad, the clover and buttercup aren't actually such terrible things, and bees like them :9

    Bookmark   June 18, 2014 at 2:25PM
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You can encourage moss to grow if you an near a woods boundary and that provides a lot of summer shade by cutting your grass at the highest setting on your mower.

Walking in my mom's backyard is like walking on a soft sponge because of the way the moss is mounded up. It grows a little higher every year. Didn't plan that of course, it was natural and I adjusted because it looks good and creates less mowing (I need only mow the moss area once every two months and some nice wildflowers come up in May & June).

As far is my yard it looks similar to your ground greenery wise - I've discovered the fescue is actually the only grass that can tolerate my yard! I can keep and even like the white clover and violets but that ribwort plantain that is throwing up 2' spikes to flower every week has got to go.

This post was edited by AgroCoders on Wed, Jun 18, 14 at 15:14

    Bookmark   June 18, 2014 at 2:38PM
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My parents have no woods and live on a mound like plot, and their yard is about 50% moss, 48% grass and 2% other. Algae even grows on the hill sometimes....

    Bookmark   June 18, 2014 at 4:25PM
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Well if algae is growing it's very wet but unbeknownst to many algae likes bright sun. It's usual cause by over fertilizing and over watering wet and sunny areas in residential areas.

Oh, and too much phosphorus if one is old enough to remember the ecology films in science class of the ponds and lakes overrun by washing power suds and algae.

This post was edited by AgroCoders on Wed, Jun 18, 14 at 17:46

    Bookmark   June 18, 2014 at 4:49PM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

I am totally distracted by that last picture. That clover is bizarre! Here is what Dutch white clover looks like...

Note how the whitish marks on the leaves form a sort of circle. Now look at yours. Diamonds??? What the heck???

    Bookmark   June 20, 2014 at 2:36AM
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We have both that white clover and scattered here and there is the larger purple flowered variety. Their leaves are longer, I'm pretty sure that's what you're seeing here, I'm not sure what it's called, despite having it tattooed on me :P

    Bookmark   June 20, 2014 at 12:51PM
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