Orngarth
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Joined: Wed Oct 14, 2009 10:37 pm
Location: San Francisco

Need lawn advice: Lay turf or plant grass seed?

I just moved into a house in San Francisco that has a small backyard that hasn't been maintained for a number of years. I'd like to restore it to its former glory (lush lawn in the middle, fruit trees at the back, flower and vegetable gardens along the sides), and then some, but I'm a total newby when it comes to gardening so I have a lot of questions.

The first thing I'd like to tackle is the lawn. Currently, it's mostly dried out weeds (it doesn't rain here from late spring until mid-fall, so we're just entering the rainy season now). I don't know whether I should buy seeds and try to grow a new lawn myself, or if I should buy turf and lay it down on top of the existing lawn (after tilling it up?).

I'd prefer the first option, because it seems like it'd be a lot cheaper. But I don't know what steps to take to achieve optimal results, and whether the end product will look as good as laid turf. Should I kill the existing weeds with round-up first? Then till the soil, mix in fertilizer, then plant grass seeds? Any advice would be really appreciated!

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rainbowgardener
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Joined: Sun Feb 15, 2009 11:04 pm
Location: TN/GA 7b

Re: Need lawn advice: Lay turf or plant grass seed?

Orngarth wrote: I don't know whether I should buy seeds and try to grow a new lawn myself, or if I should buy turf and lay it down on top of the existing lawn (after tilling it up?).

I'd prefer the first option, because it seems like it'd be a lot cheaper. YES INDEED! But I don't know what steps to take to achieve optimal results, and whether the end product will look as good as laid turf. Seed probably won't look as lush as laid sod the first season, might after that if you take good care of it. Should I kill the existing weeds with round-up first? Or if you aren't into spreading poison in your yard, type sheet mulching into the Search the Forum function to read about an alternative. Or just skip that step and : Then till the soil, mix in fertilizer,(or compost and other organic materials) then plant grass seeds? Any advice would be really appreciated!


If you do that without roundup or smothering the weeds, a lot of weeds will still come back. You can wait until they sprout and till again and then plant your grass seed. Or you can till the weeds under and then lay down corn gluten meal which works as a pre-emergence herbicide. But then you have to wait 6 weeks before planting your grass seed. I'm not sure how that fits with your season.

cynthia_h
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Joined: Tue May 06, 2008 11:02 pm
Location: El Cerrito, CA

I recommend calling Sloat Gardening Center. I know there's at least one in San Francisco. They aren't in the East Bay, but they're in S.F. and Marin. Don't know if they "do" lawns, but if they don't, they'll know who does.

Yeah, I'd say the rainy season started yesterday. (For non-Bay-Area folks: more rain on one day in October than has been seen since 1962: over 10 inches in some places. :shock: )

If Sloat doesn't appeal to you, find another INDEPENDENT gardening-supply shop or nursery to give you personal advice on your growing situation. Such a place can also advise you on trees (sources, varieties, etc.) for your specific location. For instance, the Mission and the Richmond do not get equal amounts of sun, even though both are in Sunset's climate zone 17.

And do take a good look at the Sunset Western Garden Book! Gotta be in Fremont by 7:00 this evening, but look it up via Search and you'll see my paeans to the Green Bible everywhere (or almost...) here at THG.

Welcome to The Helpful Gardener, too!

Cynthia H.
Sunset Zone 17, USDA Zone 9

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