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New Home, Where do I start?

Posted by aosmer Michigan (My Page) on
Mon, Aug 4, 14 at 16:24

I moved into our new house about a month ago. I am new to home owning, so having a yard to maintain is new to me. The front yard is a mess weed wise, and I'm not sure where to begin. As far as fertilizer, I'm not sure what to buy and when to apply it. How do I achieve the dream lawn, without paying a company to do it. Thanks for the help!


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RE: New Home, Where do I start?

For starters, decide what type of grass you want. Maybe ask some of your neighbors what kind of grass they are growing.
Next, get some 2,4-d concentrate. Learn how to measure the square footage that you are going to treat so you can determine how much product you need. Then learn how to spray it evenly. This will get rid of almost all of your broad-leaf weeds.
Next, learn how to id the pesky weeds that remain and find a suitable control for them.
Next, learn what pre-emergents do and decide if you want to use these.
Back to the grass your going with; if your going to seed, do not buy cheap or bargain or miracle seeds.

I started out like this years back, it becomes a hobby once you get into it.


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RE: New Home, Where do I start?

I have to say that it really looks quite nice. You keep it mowed, the weeds are there but not completely out of control. This lawn is workable as it stands.

But if you want to change it, change it.

For your locale, feeding the lawn should be on Labor Day (if you aren't pulling it and reseeding it, which is getting late to decide for this year). Any off the shelf synthetic will be fine for the remainder of this year--but get one that isn't Weed and Feed as they don't work well and throw around a ton of chemicals, and has nothing else but fertilizer in it.

Personally, I'd kick it into high gear by feeding again on October first.

Then, whenever growth stops but the grass is still green (for you, probably late October to very early November), feed a third time. If that growth stoppage is before October 20th, hold off until Halloween. If it's still green, feed it. If not, don't worry about it.


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RE: New Home, Where do I start?

Thanks for all the help. This will definitely get me started. For the fun of it, I got a quote from Scott's Lawn Care, and they said $65 per treatment (including back yard). I figured I can probably do it myself for cheaper. It's just figuring out what I need that's the problem. What exactly is it that these companies spray? Is there anything they do, that I couldn't simply do just myself? Finally, where is the best place to get this stuff at? I find the price varies greatly from store to store, and all the different brands, etc just make it more confusing. I agree that the yard probably isn't as bad as I think it is, but everyone else in the neighborhood has the stereotypical "perfect" lawn.


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RE: New Home, Where do I start?

One warning, assuming you will use a drop spreader for fertilizer and weed control, is to learn not to overlap the rows as you move across the yard. A long ago neighbor did her lawn herself. She ended up with dead stripes in the yard as she applied too much of something in the areas where she overlapped the rows.

You should also consider renting a lawn aerator for a day before applying any new seed. It will pull up plugs in the yard and allow the seed to settle in. Even if you don't put down additional seed, aeration is good for your lawn.


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RE: New Home, Where do I start?

On that topic.. (As each post brings up more questions in my mind) Which is better using spray or granular fertilizer and weed control. If I do put down additional seed, how do I best match the stuff that is already there (assuming it does actually make a difference), and when is the best time to put down new seed? before/after fertilization? before/after weed control? Basically I'm trying to setup a timeline.


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RE: New Home, Where do I start?

For the $65 bucks, you can buy 2 1/2 gallons of concentrate 2,4-d that should last years. Get the ester variety, it absorbs into the plant leafs in 10-15 min. When you spray anything, rubber boots, long pants, long sleeve shirt, hat, goggles, and rubber gloves. I do that and then throw all my washables into the washer immediately.
To your question, spraying seems to work better for the chemicals that absorb from the leaf. If the chemical is taken up by the root, granular is better. I have found spraying is much cheaper since the shipping costs are much cheaper for concentrate liquid.


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RE: New Home, Where do I start?

>>What exactly is it that these companies spray? Is there anything they do, that I couldn't simply do just myself?

Nobody really knows. :-) But seriously, it's just garden variety fertilizer, and not very much (and not really enough or timed right).

You can not only do this yourself, you can exceed their treatments at a far lower cost and end up with a far nicer lawn.

OK, I'm fully organic in feeding (I do allow some limited creative chemistry when dealing with weeds). Each feeding costs me $45 and I feed four times per year lately (May, August, September, October). Plus I add a synthetic boost when the lawn stops growing (for me, December first, but I'm in Zone 7).

So I'm feeding the lawn, improving the soil, and have the best lawn within 1.1 miles (my mother, also organic, lives 1.1 miles away). For $180 per year.

>>Finally, where is the best place to get this stuff at? I find the price varies greatly from store to store, and all the different brands, etc just make it more confusing.

I tend to be a Home Depot shopper because that's the big box store within reasonable range to me. All prices at all stores are just about the same, give or take too little for me to bother traveling much further.

If you have a local Lesco, a look-in might be a good idea.

Brand-wise, I tend toward Vigoro products as they're much cheaper per unit of nitrogen than Scott's and other big name brands (although Vigoro is a pretty big name).

For the best bang for your buck, take a calculator. Figure out how much it takes to target 1 pound of nitrogen per thousand square feet per feeding, divide bag size by that, and then figure out price per thousand square feet. Buy the lowest (regardless of what bag recommendations for feeding actually say).

There are other considerations I weigh (like how much slow-release nitrogen it has--I do like to have some) and whether it contains phosphorus (the second number; in my case, my soil is P heavy so I put it back if it has anything other than a whisper).

>>Which is better using spray or granular fertilizer and weed control. If I do put down additional seed, how do I best match the stuff that is already there (assuming it does actually make a difference), and when is the best time to put down new seed? before/after fertilization? before/after weed control? Basically I'm trying to setup a timeline.

On average, spray is both more economical and more environmentally sound. Particularly if you purchase the concentrate and a one gallon (or larger if you wish) sprayer.

Once, if you're overwhelmed with the idea of spot spraying every friggin' weed, blanket spray with an Ortho (by preference another brand as Ortho sprayers stink) hose-end sprayer. Most of us have been there. :-)

Weed control first, like now. Seed goes in mid-August to September 1, and don't push past that date unless you're forced to (most areas of Zone 5 don't have the extended fall I enjoy).

Fertilization time does not matter, but don't fertilize when the new grasses are sprouting. Not because it'll harm them (it won't), but because you'll want to keep traffic to a minimum until the lawn grows in. New seedlings are delicate.

Matching the grass...now that's a challenge. It looks like standard tri-mix, so any off the shelf seed will do OK. While there are valid reasons for never using off the shelf, barring a complete renovation you won't be happy with the results of an elite seed. The color and growth rate will differ too much.


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RE: New Home, Where do I start?

I picked up some 2,4-d at my local Tractor Supply Co, so I have that process on the move, and should be spraying the yard tomorrow.

This should be plenty of information to get the ball rolling. I'm sure I'll think of more questions as I go, but this is a great start. Again thanks for your help, otherwise I would probably be paying twice the cost for a lawn company to do a crappy job for me. ;)


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RE: New Home, Where do I start?

After trying a few of the liquid lawn chemical sprayers, I would suggest Gilmore pro sprayer. I picked mine up at Ace for 18 bucks. (see the link below)
The reason why this one is better, all of the valve parts are metal. One key thing if you want to use your sprayer more than once, run lots of clean water through it after using it. I then leave mine in the sun to dry it out.
If you picked up the ~65% concentrate, if memory recalls correctly, its somewhere in the neighborhood of 0.5Tbl - 1 Tbl per gallon. I would start on the low end of that.
You do not need to drench the lawn, just wet it.
2,4-d, in a few days will cause what is effected by it to do the '2,4-d dance'. Youll see what that means.
Good luck!

Here is a link that might be useful: Gilmore Pro

This post was edited by botanicalbill on Wed, Aug 6, 14 at 20:31


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RE: New Home, Where do I start?

>>2,4-d, in a few days will cause what is effected by it to do the '2,4-d dance'. Youll see what that means.

This. I love that dance.

Nowadays I mostly use Tenacity on the few things I get (all of which are susceptible). The dance is still there, but it's much slower--more like a ballroom gala--and the plants change clothes during it from green to white to brown.

:-)


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RE: New Home, Where do I start?

>>I would suggest Gilmore pro sprayer.
I actually ordered that exact one off of Amazon, and it should be arriving today. After work is when the weed killing begins!


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RE: New Home, Where do I start?

Just for fun and to entertain us, take a photo every 2-5 days of the same area for a few weeks, then post them here.

morpheuspa, last year I put down a spot spray of 24, a bad rain hit a few hours later (common in the florida summer). When I say bad, 4 inches in a few hours. The weeds just grew taller and didnt bow, it was the worst dance I have seen.


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RE: New Home, Where do I start?

>>Just for fun and to entertain us, take a photo every 2-5 days of the same area for a few weeks, then post them here.

Naw, take a photo once an hour and make a nifty stop-motion movie for us. We'll wait.

>>When I say bad, 4 inches in a few hours. The weeds just grew taller and didnt bow, it was the worst dance I have seen.

Been there, done that. I've seen Round Up fail due to Unexpected Rain. :-)


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RE: New Home, Where do I start?

I got the front yard sprayed yesterday, and will be doing the back yard this afternoon. So I figured I might as well attach a "before" picture for the back yard as well.

Any idea what the lighter green, thick patches of grass are? Is it just a different grass?


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RE: New Home, Where do I start?

Could we get a closeup of those patches? Also, pull a full plant from there and photograph it close up, with special attention to where the leaf grows off the stem (called the ligule).

There are several things that could be. Few of them are good.


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RE: New Home, Where do I start?

Sure, I'll grab some close-ups when I get home from work.


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RE: New Home, Where do I start?

Those round circles look from a distance just like creeping bentgrass...

you might have a Tenacity purchase in your future.


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RE: New Home, Where do I start?

>>Those round circles look from a distance just like creeping bentgrass...

My thought exactly, although I'm leaving the options open for P. annua (the color is not correct) and P. trivialis (the color is really, really not correct).

Maybe it's the lighting...


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RE: New Home, Where do I start?

Here is a closer angle of one of them.


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RE: New Home, Where do I start?

Here's one of the actual leaf. stem, or whatever you call it. Let me know if there's anything else you need.


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RE: New Home, Where do I start?

they said $65 per treatment (including back yard). I figured I can probably do it myself for cheaper.

==>> i did not read all the posts...

but let me suggest ... you DO pay for one year of treatments.. and let them get you going ... while you learn ...

the suggestions that you can learn and do it all properly in the next few weeks is overwhelming .... to my thinking ...

a good fall fert .. to strengthen the lawn.. and two spring weed treatments ... and you would be 90% of the way toward success ...

then next fall.. you take over with a fall feeding ... and weeds the next spring ...

i see a lot of lawn in that first pic.... i am going to guess.. maybe you already stated such.. but if you have an acre of lawn ... you probably arent going to be buying fert for such.;. for 65$ ....

when i moved from livonia suburbia... where i was a lawn warrior.. to 5 acres down by adrian... i realized that i would not be watering 5 acres... and soon learned that meadow weeds were the only things that stay green in july/august on sand soil ...

now i am curious.. i have had two four week droughts down here.. where are you in MI.. that your lawn stayed so green ...

just offering you an opportunity to think outside your box of ... I CAN DO IT CHEAPER MYSELF.....

good luck

ken


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RE: New Home, Where do I start?

Hi Ken, Thanks for all your input. I realize this is a lot of information to process all at once, but I think it is starting to make sense (If I kill the entire yard my mistake, maybe not then).

>>i see a lot of lawn in that first pic.... i am going to guess.. maybe you already stated such.. but if you have an acre of lawn ... you probably arent going to be buying fert for such.;. for 65$ ....

I actually have approximately a little less than 3/4 an acre. At least I believe, I haven't actually measured that. ;)

>>now i am curious.. i have had two four week droughts down here.. where are you in MI.. that your lawn stayed so green ...

I'm in Lansing, Mi, and we have been getting a lot of rain all summer long. I haven't had to do any watering of my own *yet* at least.

In all seriousness, It's not an emergency for my lawn to look nice, and who knows it may become sort of a hobby for me. I appreciate all the help you all have provided, I have learned more than I ever expected in the last 5 days.

A final though for this post...
How long does it usually take for this "dance" to begin? I'm not really inpatient, as much as I'm just curious if I applied it correctly.


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RE: New Home, Where do I start?

>>How long does it usually take for this "dance" to begin? I'm not really inpatient, as much as I'm just curious if I applied it correctly.

It depends on a LOT of factors. Well-fed weeds, in warm weather, with plenty of moisture will start dancing in two or three days, tops.

Cooler weather, unfed, or very dry conditions will slow that down a lot. Five to seven days isn't unusual in late fall or very early spring. I've seen it go to 10.


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RE: New Home, Where do I start?

For those interested here is a picture from today (2 days after 2,4-D). Not much has changed yet.


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RE: New Home, Where do I start?

I'm starting to see some curling of some of the plants, so the process seems to be on the way. Has anyone confirmed if the pictures above were of creeping bentgrass?


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RE: New Home, Where do I start?

I'm no expert but i would bet very good money on it.

Either way there isn't much that will kill grasses you don't want and leave behind KBG, Fescue.

Tenacity is one of them - @(65$) - its a bitter pill to swollow... but will likely do the trick and/or be a good arrow in your future weed killing quiver.


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RE: New Home, Where do I start?

Tenacity is worth a shot, and kills nutsedge, globe thistle, most other thistles, and creeping charlie reliably. Few other herbicides will handle those, and Tenacity has the added advantage of being nearly non-toxic to grasses, humans, pets, fish, and insects.

Tenacity is not fast--the dance in question is very subtle and takes an average of 14 days to show. The first indication is usually a color change from green toward white. Thistles change in a week. P. annua can take 21 days and 2 treatments.

If the Tenacity fails, kill out those areas with Round Up, and go wider than you think you should (at least six inches around the bentgrass, a foot is better).

Even if it's late, you can reseed those spots if you like. It won't be perfect, so save some seed for a dormant seeding just before your first snowfall (or when soil temperatures drop under 45 and stay there for the winter, whichever you like).


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