Kristin
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Joined: Sat May 30, 2009 9:53 pm
Location: Tilbury, Ontario, Canada

Weeds, weeds, weeds!

I live is Southern Ontario, and purchased my house 2 years ago this month. I work alot so it's been a slow process getting everything set up outside since there was very minimal landscaping done in the first place.

But after this year I've pretty much got all the garden's set up the way I want them and plants some shrubs and trees. My only issues now is my lawn..and weeds.

I realize it's probably too late for this summer, but id like this to be my focus in the spring. I don't actually have much grass it seems. Most of my lawn front and back is either crab grass or clover, sprinkled in with this spreading spongy type of weed and lots of thistle plants. Blah. Whoever lived here before me had a pool and when they removed it and put grass back down I would swear they just put down crab grass, you can actually see where the pool was if you let the grass go for about a week and a half cuz it grows twice as fast in those spots.

So, I have no idea where to start next year. How do I ensure I get a lawn with real grass? What do I need to do? And how on earth do I get rid of these thistle's in the middle of the lawn? I've yanked them out by the roots but by the next week theres 4 others and they aren't all the same type either. They get into my flower beds and even grow on top of the mulch i've laid. I want my lawn and beds to look nice, but when I work 60 hours a week I do not have the time to spend 3 or 4 hours a week yanking out thistles.

Thank you so much in advance for any advice!

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lorax
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That's serious! This might sound like a fairly ugly solution aesthetically, but it works absolute wonders.

Take out your grass. Roll up the sods and take 'em to the dump - they're too infested to save. Now mulch your entire lawn area over with sheets of black plastic (most hardware stores carry this) and leave it for an entire year - through the frost and the summer sun. This will cook your dirt back to neutral and kill off all of the weed seed and bits of root.

Now you're good to either lay new sod, plant grass from seed, or just forget about having a lawn at all, and make it all into flower or food beds.

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rainbowgardener
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Agree with lorax, that it sounds like the only way you are going to get ahead of this problem is to start fresh. Any other solution will be require tons more on-going work. (This way is a lot of work, but one time and then you will be a lot better off.)

Only thing I would suggest is there are alternatives to the black plastic, solarizing. The point of it is that after you take up the sod, you want to kill all the roots and seeds in the ground. Ways to do that (without spraying poisons):

*Till it up, rake all the roots you can find out of it, let it sit 2-3 weeks til all the seeds sprout and then do it again

*Spray everything with horticultural strength vinegar, wait 2-3 weeks, see if anything sprouts and do it again (the vinegar kills the leaves, but doesn't necessarily kill the roots on the first try)

*Water well, cover the whole thing with a couple layers of cardboard or many layers of newspaper, water well again. Add 3-4 inches of mixed topsoil, compost, peat moss and plant into that or put your sod or plugs or whatever you use into that.

What ever you do to kill the seeds and roots in the ground, before you plant you are going to need to add back some good topsoil/compost, because when you pulled up the sod, you took a lot of that with you.

Just be sure the topsoil you add doesn't contain weed seeds or you will be back where you started!
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cynthia_h
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This individual works 60 hours a week. It seems excessive to require removal of the sod/grass.

Why not suggest renting the services of landscape-clearing goats? They'll eat ANYTHING, though, so check with the goat keepers about how to protect desireable plants. The goats usually come with their own portable fence and herding dog, plus keeper/watcher, and are hired by the day. They'll eat most everything down to nubs.

Goats are used for brush/weed clearing on freeway and other rights-of-way in California, esp. where spark-generating equipment might start a wildfire during the dry months (usually April through November or so). A friend of DH's hired goats 15 or so years ago to clear out his very overgrown yard/landscape. He didn't listen carefully to the preparation instructions, though, and found that his roses had been...ah...severely dead-headed! *And* the goats, of course, ate all the weeds, grass, and whatnot that Greg had originally hired the company for.

Maybe such services are available in your area?

Cynthia H.
Sunset Zone 17, USDA Zone 9

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rainbowgardener
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Well hopefully the trade off for working all those hours is that the OP can afford to hire someone to take all the sod off....
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cynthia_h
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I dunno...when I was teaching, I regularly worked 75-hour weeks. But, of course, teachers don't get any overtime.

Cynthia

Kristin
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Location: Tilbury, Ontario, Canada

Thanks everyone for responding :D I'm currently working 60 hours a week because right after we purchased our house my significant other got laid off, so i've had to increase my parttime job's hours to pay the mortgage and to continue to pay for university as well. Full time, part time and school but still no money....someday...hah

Anyways, I was hoping for a bit less severe of an option than ripping up the entire sod although I've certainly thought about it when I step on a hidden thistle. I just thought this might be an expensive route but have not actually looked into it too deeply to know whether that's true or not.

And I live in town so I'm not sure if there are services like weed eating goats around here or not, and if they'd be allowed in town on my front lawn or not? I could certainly hide them in my backyard :D mind you, i do have a friend who has some goats......

I curse the people who lived in this house before me haha I really don't have the time to remove the sod myself but I could call around and see just how much that would cost. Is that something that should be done in spring though? And if I can find some of these goats, do they actually rip the weeds out by the roots? I wouldn't want them eating thistles....


Thanks so much again for getting back to me! I've got a tree question too but i'll post that in the proper forum :)

cynthia_h
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Kristin wrote: And I live in town so I'm not sure if there are services like weed eating goats around here or not, and if they'd be allowed in town on my front lawn or not? I could certainly hide them in my backyard :D mind you, i do have a friend who has some goats......

I curse the people who lived in this house before me haha I really don't have the time to remove the sod myself but I could call around and see just how much that would cost. Is that something that should be done in spring though? And if I can find some of these goats, do they actually rip the weeds out by the roots? I wouldn't want them eating thistles....
1) Goat keepers can tell you the rules. They will know how many / which hours etc. goats may work in your town.

2) Don't worry about the "poor little goats" and their tummies. Really. These guys are amazing! Like cows, they have multiple stomachs, so they can digest *almost* anything. The goats thought Greg's rose bushes were dessert--thorns and all! Thistles will be as nothing to them: probably yummy cinnamon rolls or whatnot. Again, the goat keepers/goat service coordinators can give you all kinds of information.

Here's the website of a goat landscaping company in northern California, Goats R Us:

https://goatsrus.com/

You don't own/keep the goats, so town/city restrictions on owning livestock don't apply. They do not live with you. Like any other yard workers, they will come, do the work, and go home. :D They just happen to have "staff": the human keeper/driver, the dog (depending on how many goats there are), and the portable fence.

Cynthia

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rainbowgardener
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Re: Is that something that should be done in spring though?

If you are going to take up all the sod, then it doesn't matter when you do it.

The only difference it would make would depend on what steps you plan to take after that, to kill the seeds and roots in the soil. If you are going to go the solarizing (plastic ) route, in the heat of the summer is a good time to do that and just leave it on til next spring. (type solarizing into the Search the Forum feature to find detailed instructions on how to do it) If you are going to do something else where the ground would be ready quicker, just bear in mind that you do NOT want to be trying to to establish new grass in the heat of summer (especially if you are having a summer anything like mine, but in Canada maybe not). But fall is a good time to do that.

If you want to hire someone to do the whole process, de-sodding, clearing the soil underneath, putting down new topsoil, re-sodding or planting, that is probably a landscape person and expensive. If you are willing to do some of it yourself, you can just hire a teenager who is out of school for the summer (but then hurry, around here they go back to school in 2 weeks, except the college students) to strip the sod off. It is not a complicated job, just takes muscle.

If you wanted to lay sod back down for instant new lawn, that would be very expensive. If you are willing to just plant grass seed, not expensive at all.

PS if the significant other is laid off, perhaps they can make themselves useful/ keep busy, by doing some of this work!
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The Helpful Gardener
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I currently have a lawn full of weeds. I like most of them...

Canada thistles would be an issue, but I love me Weed Hounds and use them regularly. Easier than ripping out the lot and you do what you can, then go inside. They'll be there...

The best thing to prevent weeds is more grass. Remove weeds, overseed with a slit seeder (rental) in the fall, and STOP CUTTING IT AT TWO INCHES! Everyone tells me how long they cut it but when I look it's always at two inches. Grass wants to be three feet. Cut it some slack and cut it longer. It's a beauty way to go...

NEVER mess with turf in spring; it just helps the weeds. Do anything you plan to this fall (other than the weeding, which should start immediately, and with one out of work, the hours are there). Tell him good luck on the job hunt, but in the meantime... :wink: Weed Hound!

HG
Scott Reil

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