What to do with 1.5 acres of terrible grass/weeds.

MDobSeptember 6, 2011

I recently purchased a somewhat rural home on about 4 acres of land in Minnesota. Roughly 1.5 acres lawn "lawn", and the other 2.5 acres is a field of goldenrod.

I put lawn in quotes, because other than being sort of green, and mowed short, there is not much grass to speak of. In fact, I'd say that 50% of it is broadleaf weeds (mostly dandelion). 60-70% of the yard is sunny, and the other 30-40% ranges from some sun/some shade to very shaded. There are 3 primary issues with the yard as is:

1) All of the weeds- in the spring the entire yard is yellow. Now, it is various shades of green- lots of broadleaves with some grass. As I mentioned, I'd say roughly half of what is growing out there are weeds.

2) The grass is pretty sparse, especially in shaded areas. I'd like for the lawn to be quite a bit more dense. Right around the west side of the house, it is pretty shaded, and much of it is bald (dirt). The neighbors told us the previous owners had tried to put grass down in this area multiple times, but it always died out.

3) Voles. There seems to be a few of these little buggers that make their tracks through our yard. On the east side of the house (quite sunny) the ground almost feels hollow when you walk on it.

I've never had to take care of a lawn before this, and to be honest, it all seems a bit overwhelming. I'm not entirely sure where to even start, but something needs to be done. I cut it once a week (takes about 2 1/2 hours). What I would like to end up with is a descent lawn that is comfortable to walk barefoot in. It definitely doesn't need to be the perfectly manicured, amazing lawns I have seen on this forum. In fact, it is a big enough space, that I don't think I'd even have time for that kind of commitment. Right now I'd settle for something that is "OK" and not off-putting as it is now. Any thoughts on where to start?

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Good news is you asked at the right time of year. Since you are quite a ways north, now is the best time to seed. You will have to take and apply as many suggestions as you want to or have time to as it will be your decision on how much resources you want to put into the yard.

What you want should be fairly simple - except for the part in the shade (and no idea on the voles - my guess is you will have to trap them). I doubt you will get anything to grow in the deep shade, but it is worth a try. For the shade, fescue will work best. If it was me, just for the sake of simplicity, I would seed the whole yard with fescue (I think it's cheaper then KBG as well). Otherwise you seed with KBG in the sun and fescue in the shade. Advantage of KBG is it spreads - tall fescue doesn't.

If you wanted to spray the weeds there are a couple of options for things to spray right before or at the time of seeding. Do you have a way to spray or do you not want to do that?

Others should fill in holes that I've left. ;)

    Bookmark   September 6, 2011 at 5:29PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Well one piece of advice I can offer, is you need to think about down sizing your project. 1.5 acres regardless is going to be a lot of work and expense, and if you are not willing to put the time it takes you now to maintain weeds, you are going to be absolutely miserable trying to maintain any kind of grass like you described.

Just one application of fertilizer is going to cost you around $200 to $250. As for seed cost well it takes about 5 to 10 pounds per 1000/ft2 for a new seed bed, you have roughly 63K/ft2 so you will need anywhere from 300 to 1000 pounds of seed to cover 1.5 acres. Go price seed out and see how you feel about that. Cheap seed starts around $2/lb.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2011 at 7:04PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thanks bassplayer7 and texas-weed. Definitely some good things to think about here.

Bassplayer7- as to spraying, if there is any (practical) way to get rid of the weeds without the use of chemicals, I'd prefer to go that route, as I have a young son, and a dog who spend quite a bit of time out there, and I'd like to keep things kid/pet friendly. That being said, if there is a treatment to "nuke from orbit" the existing weeds that would require staying out of the yard for a few days, I wouldn't be completely opposed to it.

texas-weed: I definitely do need to consider the scope of my project- perhaps I should start with immediately around the house (say, a half acre). That being said, I think you might have mis-interpreted my message- I am definitely willing to put in the time to maintain the weeds- the weeds were here when we bought the place. It is more an issue of not knowing what the best course of action to get rid of them would be.

As for the price to re-seed, I am willing to put some money into this project (the $600-$2000 range you quote would be possible if it would give good results) and I am willing to put the maintenance time in- I just am not willing to be caring for a golf-green quality lawn ;).

    Bookmark   September 6, 2011 at 8:38PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

There is no better way to kill all the existing grass and weeds other than using RoundUp Quick Pro. It is extremely safe and if used as directed poses no threat to kids or pets. Once dried it is harmless.

The only other way which is more effective is to solarize the yard, but it is way too late to use it.

Now with that said for the quantity of RU you need is going to get deep in your pockets and budget.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2011 at 12:13AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Ditto weed. RU is by far going to be the easiest if you want to start over. There are a couple of selective herbicides (ones that don't kill the grass) that are quite safe, but they require re-applications and only kill certain weeds. Round up effectively gets it all, especially when you use a surfactant or "spreader-sticker".

Honestly, I can't think of a way to easily "meet-in-the-middle" with some weeds and some grass.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2011 at 7:10AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

How much RU QuickPro is needed per acre? I tried to look around and couldnt find the rate per sq footage.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2011 at 9:09AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Glanced at the label...you will probably need about 9lbs per acre.

What are you going to spray with?

    Bookmark   September 7, 2011 at 10:12AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I have a pull behind sprayer attachment for the mower.

Is that 9lbs of the concentrate? I am assuming this is some sort of granular that is mixed with water?

    Bookmark   September 7, 2011 at 10:28AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Yep, 9lbs concentrate. Here's the label... QUICKPRO label

    Bookmark   September 7, 2011 at 10:47AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

And, btw, no adjuvant is necessary for that quickpro. It comes with it already.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2011 at 12:55PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

RU Quick Pro is granular. Go to box store and buy a long drill bit agitator used for mixing paint to mix with water. It is also a good idea to use a dye so you can see where it has been applied.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2011 at 2:18PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
toronado3800 Zone 6 StLouis(6)

I can kill large amounts of lawn or weeds with Round up. I use a liquid concentrate mix and a hand held pressure sprayer. If really doing large amounts of the yard a Round up approved dye could be a good idea.

Some tougher weeds, bermuda where it does not belong or ground vines seem to need two applications maybe four or five days apart. Mulberry or honeysuckle bushes take awhile.

For the sunnier parts of my yard this weedy viney bermuda grass is spreading well and eliminating most weeds besides nutsedge which seems to get the edge in damper areas. Perhaps a "weed" grass like this bermuda first applied near your house can do the trick?

    Bookmark   September 7, 2011 at 10:27PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I can kill large amounts of lawn or weeds with Round up. I use a liquid concentrate mix and a hand held pressure sprayer.

For large projects granular RU is more economical, and safer since spills are just swept up with a broom and put back in the mix.

Some tougher weeds, bermuda where it does not belong or ground vines seem to need two applications maybe four or five days apart. Mulberry or honeysuckle bushes take awhile.

That is why RoundUP Quick Pro is being suggested. It has Diquat added to it to kill heavy woody plants. But it may take two applications.

Do not think Bermuda grass is a problem in Viking country; as it would never survive a winter there. :>)

    Bookmark   September 7, 2011 at 11:48PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

You can purchase 5 gallons for just over $100 bucks
of Round Up except this stuff is by their name, it is 95% active much stronger then Round Up you buy at any retailer. Google Arbico Organics, buy all your chemicals here. Tell them what your doing and they will help you. Tell them I sent you John Vargason, I'm a repeat customer for the last 8 years and they've saved me plenty!

    Bookmark   August 8, 2013 at 2:42PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

MDob - I'm in a similar situation as yours in the 1.5 acres of lawn...but I only have 1 acre of "extra".

My 1.5 acres of lawn is pretty much all grass (thanks to WeedBGone Max), but an unknown mixture of various grasses depending on where you are in the yard. The original owner who built our now 5 yr old house obviously went the cheapest route he could go to have 1.5 acres of "green". I also have my yearly battle with European Chafer beetles which is a costly battle.

One question not asked here is what is your soil composition? Sandy? Clay? I ask because ours is so sandy that I can't keep the 1.5 acres properly watered...don't have a sprinkler system. There is NO WAY I could start my whole lawn from scratch and keep a newly seeded lawn from dying. Just too big.

I guess what I'm saying is that "might" it be better if you WeedBeGone Max the lawn now, then slit seed it after the appropriate wait time? It's a chemical yes but you can't have your cake and eat it to can you? What do the experts here say?

Between Mo Nature and me I think I could keep enough moisture on the seed to get it established before winter. Or maybe just do 3/4 acre now then 3/4 next fall.

I'm confused and I hope I haven't confused you more!!!

    Bookmark   August 9, 2013 at 3:17PM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
poor top soil
I had what I thought was top soil brought in to fix...
Termite in my yard
I have termites eating my grass roots and killing the...
Lawn drainage on the cheap?
My husband and I bought a house in November, and have...
Artificial Turf and Gophers
Hello everyone - newbie in gardening here. If I am...
Synthetic rattan or Natural rattan furniture?
Guys, I would like to know your opinion. Which do you...
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™