zero_gravity
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candidate for worst lawn ever. need help

hello everyone, thanks in advance for any helpful ideas you might have.

so the short version of my sad story. bought a house in 2009...in january...in canada. i was shown pictures of what the garden/lawn 'looks like' in the summer. turns out those were from YEARS ago. the old lady that owned the place previously was a gardening nut and did a great job from what neighbors tells me. well she died, house went into estate and nobody touched it.

needless to say i've got a colossal mess. i am not someone that has any skill or like for gardening. working on cars or building things is more up my alley. but i do want to sell my house in the next few years and i recognize one thing: lawns sell, a pile of garbage doesn't.

i have weeds, vines, random plants and flowers, raspberries, you name it i probably have it. i just don't have much grass at this point.

here's where it gets real fun: if possible i would like to avoid using chemicals. i will consider it as a last resort only. living in ontario, I'm also very restricted on what herbicides i can get legally anyways. the ones i can get without going over the border don't work.

things i have tried: putting down tarps to kill and then reseed. that was partially successful. it doesn't kill everything - many weeds just push through the tarp! yes i put junk on the tarps, cinter blocks and scarp wood actually. i've tried digging patches out and seeding as well. the weeds grow in faster than the grass grows and last attempt ended up being worse than when i started.

its gotten to the point where i can't keep up with it. i work 12 hour rotating shifts so i can't just pick away at it after work each day. I'm kinda limited in what i can do here. certainly not afraid of some hard work though, i just need a way to do this in patches and push the weeds out.

any ideas I'm wide open here. i don't need a perfect lawn nor do i want one. i just need this to look reasonable enough to sell the property in a couple years from now.

thanks.

zero_gravity
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Re: candidate for worst lawn ever. need help

oh and one other thing to add: discovered this spring that i have these big white grubs in my lawn. no idea how to handle that. i just picked them out while i was digging up a patch.

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rainbowgardener
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Re: candidate for worst lawn ever. need help

We had a nearly identical post earlier today from another person in Canada with very similar neglected lawn issues: https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/vi ... 32&t=58920

Check out my response there about the need to just till everything up and start over. At this point that will be much less work than just trying to deal with it piecemeal.

The white grubs in the lawn are the larvae of Japanese Beetles or one of their close relatives. They can be dealt with by milky spore disease. It is sold as powder in garden stores. It is a disease that attacks only these grubs and doesn't bother anything else. Now is the wrong time to apply it, because the grubs are not in the soil right now, they are flying around the world as Japanese Beetle adults. In fall or in spring you can apply the powder following the directions and it will take care of your grubs.

But you will just have to suffer through for a couple months, neither the milky spore powder nor the tilling and re-seeding can be done now in the heat of summer.
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zero_gravity
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Re: candidate for worst lawn ever. need help

thanks for your help, i might just give that a shot. i need a way to completely restart this crap.

what month would be best to do this? guessing september?

i should take some pics of this lawn for a few laughs.

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rainbowgardener
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Re: candidate for worst lawn ever. need help

Since you are going to have to till-wait-till (and maybe wait and till again), I would probably start in August. You want to leave yourself time that when you actually plant the grass seed the grass will have time to get established and growing before cold shuts it down. Probably plant the grass seed in early Sept (depending on your climate), but start the process before that.

Tilling at least twice is really important, because when you till, you will chop up and turn under all the weeds that are there now, but you will bring up a bunch of new weed seeds. If you till once and plant, your new planting will be promptly inundated with weeds.
Twitter account I manage for local Sierra Club: https://twitter.com/CherokeeGroupSC Facebook page I manage for them: https://www.facebook.com/groups/65310596576/ Come and find me and lots of great information, inspiration

zero_gravity
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Re: candidate for worst lawn ever. need help

thanks. have a couple of questions:

first, when tilling should i be removing any of the old plant matter or just till it in and let it decompose?

second, what is the best way to plant my grass seed?

third, although more expensive is using sod a better way to go?

how much time should i put aside for this project? roughly...

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rainbowgardener
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Re: candidate for worst lawn ever. need help

If it is regular lawn grass and weeds, just till it in. If it is like 3 foot tall stuff, I would probably cut it down and compost it (elsewhere).

Sod is way more expensive. It is good for instant mature looking lawn vs waiting for results. But I think it is more fallible. If the sod fails to root in right, it can just curl up and die. We have lots of people writing in here with problems with sod that was laid down.

How big an area are you talking about?
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zero_gravity
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Re: candidate for worst lawn ever. need help

well....potentially its the entire lawn. i think its 80'x190'? somewhere close to that.

unfortunately i don't think I'm going to be able to start on this till next year...just too busy right now and i don't see how i can tackle this in august.

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rainbowgardener
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Re: candidate for worst lawn ever. need help

If you don't do it in fall, you can do it in spring. Start as soon as the ground can be worked (unfrozen and dried out enough to be tillable), so you have plenty of time to do the till-wait-till (wait-till) routine and still have time to plant grass seed while it is still spring. Spring is a good time to get all those weed seeds to sprout so you can till them under.

I only asked how big an area, thinking about how expensive sod would be. I just have a little patch of lawn, so sod would be manageable if I wanted to do that. Sounds like for you it would be a fortune in sod. I would only consider that if money is no object to you.
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