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M.Clark
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Joined: Thu Jan 06, 2011 9:30 pm
Location: Grand Rapids, MI

Basic Lawn Restoration The Organic Way?

I think that several of us have at one time or another moved into a house where the lawn had been neglected for years, if not decades. Mine is closer to the second. My wife would love a nice smooth lawn with a blend of bright green grasses, and a place for our son and dog to run and play, something comparable to a golf course fairway. Right now, its turbulent topography, random bare spots, unbelievably compacted clay, inconsistent light patterns, and overabundance of weed material makes it not such a fun place to be.

Because we do have a two-year old and a dog, I refuse to use any of the typical lawn fertilizers, weed and feed, or similar processed chemicals.

What should I do? I have been thinking of tilling the whole thing up and starting over. Half the land has been a lawn for 120 years while the other half is sitting on top of fill material from where a carriage house burnt down a bit more than a decade ago.

This spring, I am thinking of renting a core aerator and going crazy with that. My first thought was to rake the pugs up and put them in the low areas in an attempt to smooth out the lawn a little bit.

Last summer, I put my mower deck as high as it would go, then last fall, I dropped the deck as low as it would go to mulch the leaves. This was done per the recommendation of landscaper friend of mine, but resulted in scalping a few areas where there was a substantial topography change. He seems to think that tilling would be a bad idea as I don’t know what is under my lawn since it is such an old neighborhood.

So can anyone provide a basic step by step list of what I should do to restore the mess into a great looking lawn?

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

I'm not any kind of lawn expert; basically I don't believe in lawns and am gradually converting more and more of my grass to flowers, herbs, veggies, etc. But especially given the "turbulent topography," I do think tilling it all up would be the easiest way to get a smoother nicer looking lawn. If it were me, I'd till it all, wait a couple weeks until weeds start sprouting, lay down a punch of organic amendments (compost, well composted manure, etc) and till it again. Then plant your grass seed and start fresh and never till again. Now would be the time to do that.
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jamiebell
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Joined: Wed Aug 24, 2011 10:59 am
Location: Detroit, MI

There are a lot of things that you can do and should be done, I am in your shoes these days (bought a new house).

The first this I did was to rake the lawn so its clean and I can see and do whats what.

Then I looked out for troubled spots (moss etc)... mark them if something needs taken out take it out with a root extractor,

Then using a lawn mover level out the grass,

Then using an aerator, aerate the lawn (leave the plugs ON the lawn, they will decay and produce nitrogen, that's good for the grass!)

Then over seed, (you can find machines that aerate and overseed)

If you do not have a mover or an aerator/over seeder you can rent one from Home Depot [url=https://www.compactpowercenter.com/]tool rental[/url].

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