Power seeding vs. full renovation (tear out and seed)

drnukeAugust 24, 2010

I have a serious crabgrass overgrowth issue on my lawn. I spoke with a few of the local companies to see how to handle the treatment. Here are the two plans of attack that I was proposed, and I want to know what you suggest I do:

1. The first guy wants to roundup my crabgrass and weeds, tear out the debris after it's all dead, and apply seed, fert, and compost with netting on top. Then he wants to aerate and seed the areas that have not been affected by the crabgrass. This guy also won't do my backyard because he said that I could probably do it on my own since it isn't in as bad of shape.

Sq Ft - ~2500 Full renovation, tear out, seeding, and netting and ~1500 aeration and overseeding

Price - $1000

2. The second guy wants to roundup my entire lawn, then come in after it is completely dead, apply lime, fert, and power seed without tearing up the crabgrass, fescue, weeds, etc. He claims that by keeping that layer of dead grass/weed, it will be fine because it will just decompose into organic matter in the soil. He thinks his method is better than guy #1 because power seeding gives full soil contact with the seeds.

Sq Ft - ~6000 roundup, liming, powerseeding.

Price - $650

The only remaining option is for me to roundup the areas with weeds or crabgrass and reseed myself. It's probably about 4000 square feet of lawn space (total of 6000 sq ft, so 2000 is healthy fescue) that is affected and needs to be replaced. So I was considering rounding up the bad spots, tearing out the dead matter and fertilizing, liming, sowing, and adding compost myself. Labor intensive, but I am willing to do so myself ... yet I am very inexperienced with this type of work, so I would need to research how to do it and get some guidance.

So what do you suggest? 1, 2, me doing it, or another option?


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Billl(z7 nc)

Either will work. I would prefer #1 because it would give you a chance to really level the ground nicely and get rid of any ruts or bumps. Also, applying compost is a really big job, so if you can get someone to do it at seeding time, I'd jump on it.

Of course, you can do it yourself if you want. Raking and shoveling isn't exactly rocket science, just hard work. Seed and fertilizer for the whole area will be under $100. If you are going to rent an aerator, that will be $75 or so. (If you can team up with a neighbor to aerate both your yards at once, you can save that way.) If your town has a composting site, you can probably get that pretty inexpensively too.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2010 at 1:56PM
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Thanks for the response billl! I actually think I am going to do it myself because that's just my nature. Considering this, do you think I should still aerate?

My plan:

1. Roundup all the unwanted stuff: crabgrass and weeds.
2. Pull up all the dead unwanted stuff using a dethatching rake and haul it off.
3. Rake the areas where I lifted the dead weeds and crabgrass.
4. Spread some rich soil or compost with are rake and level the ground as much as possible.
5. Spread some lime, fertilizer, and seed.
6. Use a rake to work the seed into the soil, lime, and fertilizer.
7. Spread some peat moss (I don't want to use hay/straw).
8. Keep watered, but not so much to where it puddles.

Does this sound like a good plan of attack or do you think I should also aerate? What about the small amount of healthy grass? Should I just overseed that to help blending with the new seed?

Thanks again!

    Bookmark   August 24, 2010 at 2:31PM
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Billl(z7 nc)

With you on #1.

For #2, I prefer to mow at the lowest setting and then use a string trimmer to whack the weeds back to the soil level. Then you can just rake the area and not worry about pulling up too many clumps. To each his own. Once you start ripping up soil though, it takes more time to level.

Good for #3 and #4.

For #5, you only need lime if the soil ph is low. If your soil isn't acidic, lime makes matters worse. In TN, you probably do need lime, but a soil test is cheap and easy, so you don't need to guess.

#6/7 - you can try the rake, but it is harder than it sounds. One trick is to use the back of the rake instead. If you do work the seed into the soil, you really don't need to topdress with peatmoss or straw. If you try the rake and discover it harder than you think to work the seeds in, then a sprinkling of compost on top would work just as well.

If your soil is compacted, you can aerate before you start spreading compost. Personally, I would. Spreading compost is such a PITA that you want to get maximum benefit when you do it.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2010 at 3:45PM
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I'm working on a lawn renovation myself right now. Actually I've been working on it all summer. I'm at the point now where I am going to aerate and plant seed in the next week or two. I actually just ordered my seed earlier today, so that was an exciting step.

I'm definitely a novice, but the only things I would change about your plan are 1) keep all the dead unwanted stuff. Its good organic material. If you want to do the extra work of removing it that's fine, but its wasted effort. 2) Whatever you put into your soil (compost or topsoil) make sure that it is weed-free! From what I've gathered from people on here, adding top soil and/or compost can be dangerous if you get from your local county site. I'd spend a bit more and get it from a respected nursery. If they can't guarantee that it's 99% weed free then don't buy it. 3) be careful with the Peat Moss. It will lower your soil PH and can counter the effect of the lime you are putting down.

As to aerating, if you have compacted soil, then by all means aerate. Since you are going with a power/slice seeder, then you might not have to since the slice seeder provides a hole for the seeds. Be aware that not all Home Depots have slice seeders. Mine does not, so I am aerating and then will spread the seed the same day. Also the slice seeder is a big heavy machine, you probably need a full-size pickup to get it home.

Also a note on Round-Up. If you have established weeds it will take more than a few days for them to completely die. More like two weeks. Although it might not have been necessary I sprayed my weeds on consecutive weekends. After 2 weeks they were all dead. Also I started doing this back in April. I killed everything that grew up in the spring and then let the next round come up, mowing so that they wouldn't flower/go to seed. Killed again in June and then again in late July. Now I'm just on watch, and I immediately pray anything that comes up. Hopefully, I've gotten rid of some of the weeds that would have come up in the fall, since I won't be able to use anything on the new grass for a while. If your problem is really just crabgrass however, I think that you will be ok. My understanding is that it only germinates in the spring. You will however have to apply some serious pre-emergent in next spring as all your current crabgrass has no doubt already dropped tons of seeds.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2010 at 4:17PM
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dmoore66(6 NorthWest NJ)

I like #2.
The less you disturb the ground, the less weed seeds you bring to the surface.
Power seeding is the way to go.
I am 70 and have used a power seeder. Not that hard to handle.
I rented the truck from home depot for 35.00 for four hours to bring it back and forth

    Bookmark   August 25, 2010 at 3:19PM
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OK, so, change of plans.

I think I am going to just stop after the roundup and powerseed. I have two questions though:

1. Should I trim the dead grass? If so, how low (it's at about 3 inches right now).

2. What should I add prior to seeding? Starting fertilizer and lime? Then just run the powerseed full of seeds.


    Bookmark   August 30, 2010 at 6:51PM
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dmoore66(6 NorthWest NJ)

Probably should cut the grass as short as possible before using roundup.
Read the roundup bottle. It should tell you how long to wait before seeding.
I woud use a starter fertilizer around the same time as seeding.
Seeds need to be keep moist

    Bookmark   August 31, 2010 at 10:08AM
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"Probably should cut the grass as short as possible before using roundup. "

NO! Don't do that. That's backwards. Roundup works by being absorbed into the leaves. If you cut the grass as short as possible, there won't be enough leaf surface for the Roundup to work. Apply it to grass that is green and growing as vigorously as possible for it to be most effective.

    Bookmark   August 31, 2010 at 11:00AM
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I'm a novice yardener also struggling with a lawn overtaken by weeds. If the temps are high enough, supposedly it's possible to smother/suffocate weeds by laying pond liner (i.e. a sheet of heavy rubber ; "EPDM 45mil") on the affected area. It's obviously also non-selective, but less toxic than Round-up, at least for the soil. I just ordered the pond liners online and will see how it goes.

    Bookmark   August 31, 2010 at 11:41PM
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dmoore66(6 NorthWest NJ)

Roundup will kill a 1" lawn or a 3" lawn, but bpgreen is probably right.
I was just trying to cut down on all the dead foliage after the roundup.

    Bookmark   September 1, 2010 at 7:43AM
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jdp_vienna(z7 VA)

I am in the middle stages of completely renovating my 1/4 acre (~5000 sf. of lawn). We just bought the place 8 months ago and the previous owners were terrible people who didn't care for the lawn at all. (sort of a joke) Here is what I have done and will be doing:

1. Round up everything (did this about four weeks ago). Let the whole lawn die. It did. Turned brown and crispy after about two weeks.
2. Mow it to the lowest possible setting and get rid of all of the dead weeds.(no need for me to save them, but you can if you want)
3. Rent an 8 hp rear-tine tiller. The soil was so compacted that it took 3 passes over the entire 5000 sf area to till it down to a depth of 4-6". I could have gone over it again, but I ran out of time. (if you rent on a Friday, you get it all weekend and only pay for one day).
4. Threw away about 10 old sprinkler heads and many feet of old hose that I didn't know was in my yard before I started tilling. Apparently, someone at some time in my home's life actually liked the yard and cared for it. Oh well. The system was very old and the control box and valves had long been removed after the interior was completely remolded. I'll have a new system installed next year when I have more time to run that project.
5. Dug three 16" trenches to bury my downspouts. This involved about 100' of trenching with a shovel. Tip: If you are going to do this, rent a trenching machine!!! Buried the pipe and dug small dry-wells for the emitters. Daylight the one pipe next to the driveway.
The following tasks will be completed over this weekend and the next:
6. Having 25 cubic yards of 50/50 topsoil/compost delivered on Friday.
7. Rented a t-70 bobcat to move and spread the new topsoil around my yard to a depth of ~2".
8. Roll the new topsoil and make sure everything is graded properly and is flat. Not changing the grade (drainage is fine), just applying a uniform new layer of topsoil on top of the already tilled topsoil and rolling.
9. Spread about 100 lbs of Rebel tttf over the rolled soil.

  1. Rake the whole mess lightly to ensure good seed/soil contact.
  2. Roll (with empty roller) to ensure even BETTER seed/soil contact.
  3. Spread Lesco starter fert over the seed/soil
  4. Light application of straw (never hay) to retain moisture. Just applying enough so I can still see dirt through the straw.
  5. Setup the two Claber 8410 Aquadue Duplo Dual Hose Water Timers at the front and back hose bibs. Set them to water each of the four zones three times per day for 15 minutes. These will be putting water through one and three Gilmore Pattern Master sprinklers.
  6. Drink a six pack of Miller Lite and pray pray pray.
    Bookmark   September 2, 2010 at 10:09AM
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dmoore66(6 NorthWest NJ)

Sounds great!
Good Luck!!!!!

    Bookmark   September 2, 2010 at 5:35PM
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dmoore66(6 NorthWest NJ)

jdp-you forgot tilling!

    Bookmark   September 3, 2010 at 3:11PM
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I'll be sure to update everyone as my project progresses. I plan to post pictures as a reference for people in the same situation as me.

It's still unseasonable warm around here, so I'm going to wait a bit before I power seed.

    Bookmark   September 3, 2010 at 3:51PM
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