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New homeowner, disaster lawn, organic advice

Posted by moreweedsthangrass Long Island (7a) (My Page) on
Wed, Jul 21, 10 at 14:13

I recently purchased a house on Long Island (Zone 7A I believe my extension office says), and the backyard (2,500 sq. ft.) needed to be re-graded. Prior to the regrading, the grass was actually decent. After the regrading was done, seed and fertilizer were applied (not sure what kind).

At first, I was getting some nice patches of grass growing in, and was optimistic. I had applied some Ringer's Lawn Restore about 5 weeks after it was done too. However, now a couple of months later, the lawn is covered almost completely in crabgrass and some other interspersed weeds.

I'll be honest... from a distance, the thick lush green yard looks kinda nice, but up close it's a weedy mess. I'd like to get some "real" grass back there for the kids and family to enjoy for years to come. The yard will receive moderate traffic, from two young children and two small (10lb) dogs.

I mow high, and every now and then I toss some additional seed down in the hopes that it will overcome the weeds. Wishful thinking I'm sure. I've also contacted my extension office to have some soil samples done, and will post those results too.

So, my plan will be to basically do nothing right now, other than to keep mowing high. At the end of the summer I should reseed/overseed the entire lawn and fertilize. In early spring, I can apply corn gluten meal to prevent the weed seeds from germinating. I can then basically just keep deep watering and mowing high. In the fall, if the weeds have significantly dimished I can apply corn gluten again, if they haven't dimished I should repeat the same process.

Does that sound right? And, I have some questions if so:

* I've been mulch-mowing, but I've also read that bagging may help reduce the weed seeds. Which is preferred?

* When should I reseed and fertilize? I think I've read that the first frost will kill the weeds, so should I wait until then? I'm on Long Island, in zone 7A. My thinking is late August, but will the crabgrass have died by then?

* My backyard is pretty much full sun and my front yard is half full sun and half dense shade. I've been using Scotts Sun & Shade mix of seed (which contains a lot of Kentucky Bluegrass) and it hasn't done particularly well underneath a big tree. From my reading, should I switch to something more durable and shade tolerant? Perhaps tall fescue? Any recommended brands/blends? I've read good things about Lebanon ProScape Winning Colors Plus (28-54619) and one of the Lesco blends (059434), but am open to suggestions and where to purchase from.

* Should I continue to use Ringer's Lawn Restore, or is there something better?

* When in the Spring should I apply the corn gluten meal?

* One other side question. I don't compost (yet), but I do save my used coffee grinds, as I've heard they are good natural fertilizer. Can those be used in addition to the Ringers, or should I use them elsewhere?

Thank you again in advance.

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: New homeowner, disaster lawn, organic advice

Well is sounds like your lawn was seeded in spring. Not a terrible time to start a lawn, but fall is best. The crabgrass could have been surpressed with an application of Tupersan when the seeding was done, but that is a moot point now. It's good that you are doing a soil test, because if you want to seed this year Sept. 1st is a good time for Long Island (maybe a few weeks earlier if it's cool enough and you use KBG). Tossing seed down occassionally, and at all times of the year is akin to throwing money away. Seed needs to be wet continually until it germinates, and then it still needs plenty of water. Seeding in summer is a bad idea. Mowing high is good, too high is not. How high is your mower set? If you are going to seed in late summer, then you might want to kill off all existing grass about a month before you do so. Crabgrass will die in the fall, but it is a gradual process, and it will get in the way of you seeding efforts. Also corn gluten meal has some preemergent activity, but it's no where near as good as Dimension, Halts, Barricade etc. I realize you have children and dogs, but after watering in it shouldn't be an issue. Mulch mowing is good, but if there are a lot of seedheads from poa annua, crabgrass, or other weeds it would be better to bag until seedheads aren't present. Again, seeding should be around Sept 1. Cool season grasses are best to start when daytime temps are in the seventies, nighttime in the 50's. Also if you plant KBG you might want to start a little earlier as KBG takes longer to germinate than TTTF or PR. You can grow mostly everything in full sun. For sun and shade you could try TTTF which does well, or a blend of KBG and FF. Seed selection is a long topic, so I won't get into it here, but most people will tell you to look elsewhere than the big box stores for your seeds. Ringers Lawn Restore is fine to use on an established lawn, but it would be better to use synthetics when establishing a new lawn. Coffee grounds are fine to put down as fertilizer, or you can put them in the compost pile. Preemergent timing is variable, a rule of thumb is apply when the forsythia is in bloom. Many people use a variety of organic fertilizers, Milorganite, Soybean meal, alfalfa pellets, etc. They all work, it's just important to supply you lawn and soil with the appropriate levels of nutrients, so let's see what the soil test says.

RE: New homeowner, disaster lawn, organic advice


Are you in long island? That was a very informative post. Just wondering if you in Long Island since I need a person to grade my backyard and seed a lawn or maybe sodded.

RE: New homeowner, disaster lawn, organic advice

tiemco is not in Long Island. He lives in a different state. If you need someone to landscape your yard, check with local landscapers. If you need it graded, they should tell you they are going to use a box blade on the back of a tractor. If they tell you they can do it with a skid steer or BobCat, run away. I don't care how confident they are, you will get the job done in an hour with a real tractor. Bob Cats can take a week to do the same job. The landscaper can take care of sodding, too. Get several estimates. If you like, get the estimates and come back here for advice on what they tell you. If you do that, please start a new topic rather than continuing on with this one. It would be helpful, too, if you could post pictures.

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