Author Topic: Growing a kick ass lawn  (Read 2030 times)

BOP Mustache

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Growing a kick ass lawn
« on: August 31, 2018, 09:56:32 PM »
My wife and I just moved into our first home that we purchased last month.

It is a brand new home and the builder/developer we bought it off has sown some lawn seed which has come up quite well. Iíve gone through and manually weeded anything that isnít grass and gone down the Google rabbit hole.

I need to top layer with compost once a year, liquid feed it with organic fertiliser, re-sow grass seed on top of the lawn and aerate and de-thatch it once a year too plus a PH test.

Being a frugal man and realising most of what western civilisation is wasteful what do I do here? I get a lot of pride out of keeping the home nice and tidy and having the nephews (and hopefully soon our own kids) over to play on the back lawn will be one of lifeís great joys.

How do I make a top class lawn without overdoing it with expensive wasteful crap? Iíve just watered it all with seaweed organic fertiliser and believe itís done nothing at all.

I was thinking just top dress with a little compost once a year like I do my veggie gardens and be done with it and fill in the gaps with any lawn seed in patches where it isnít growing.

I donít want to use herbicides, synthetic fertilisers, etc.

Thanks a lot!

Syonyk

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Re: Growing a kick ass lawn
« Reply #1 on: August 31, 2018, 10:01:36 PM »
This is only slightly less contentious on the forum than paying off your mortgage early.  Quite a few people will argue a lawn, period, is wasteful.

As for growing one without fertilizers/etc?  Compost, lots of it, worms... good luck.  Mine is not exactly "alive" this summer.

NoVa

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Re: Growing a kick ass lawn
« Reply #2 on: September 01, 2018, 01:15:15 PM »
Beautiful lawn, not my thing. I will point out a mulching lawnmower requires far less fertilizer than if you bag your clippings. It turns out the grass clippings you haul away are pretty close to the nutrients the lawn needs. There are times you need to bag, when the thatch builds up too much.

HipGnosis

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Re: Growing a kick ass lawn
« Reply #3 on: September 01, 2018, 01:36:38 PM »
My lawn was apparently neglected for years.
After much trial, error and $$, I found:  http://www.richsoil.com/lawn-care.jsp 
Organic Lawn Care For the Cheap and Lazy      LOTS of GREAT info!!

Start with a soil analysis so you don't waste $ on nutrients etc, that your lawn doesn't need.

letired

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Re: Growing a kick ass lawn
« Reply #4 on: September 01, 2018, 01:41:55 PM »
+1 richsoil.com, if you absolutely MUST have a lawn. If you can bring yourself, consider adding some flowering plants for pollinators and wildlife, either in the lawn itself or along the edges. I fine uniform lawns sort of creepy, and think that clover, dandelions, etc add a lovely dimension of color and life to lawns. If you really want to go nuts, consider a native grass lawn. There are seed mixes available of native short grasses for most regions out there.

Papa bear

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Re: Growing a kick ass lawn
« Reply #5 on: September 01, 2018, 02:36:04 PM »
Mow at the highest or 2nd highest setting. Mulch the grass into the lawn, do not bag. Hand pull weeds as you see them when you mow. Overseed holes or bare patches when noticed.  If you fertilize, do one heavy application in late fall. Mulch the leaves into the lawn instead of raking. 

That should get you 95% of the way there.  Address issues as they come up. No need to aerate, extra fertilization, weed killer, bug killer, dethatch, etc unless you have a problem.


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Papa bear

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Re: Growing a kick ass lawn
« Reply #6 on: September 01, 2018, 02:36:46 PM »
Oh, this is midwest, above average rainfall advice.  If you're in the south or west, good luck.


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Fishindude

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Re: Growing a kick ass lawn
« Reply #7 on: September 01, 2018, 07:14:54 PM »
The best thing to make grass grow is nitrogen.
Spread some Urea on your lawn very lightly a couple times per year and that will make it go.

Syonyk

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Re: Growing a kick ass lawn
« Reply #8 on: September 01, 2018, 08:43:51 PM »
The best thing to make grass grow is nitrogen.
Spread some Urea on your lawn very lightly a couple times per year and that will make it go.

If you're sufficiently creative, you can even get small amounts for free, and reduce your water bill in the process! ;)

MasterStache

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Re: Growing a kick ass lawn
« Reply #9 on: September 02, 2018, 07:16:07 AM »
The best thing to make grass grow is nitrogen.
Spread some Urea on your lawn very lightly a couple times per year and that will make it go.

Yes and no. Spreading pure Urea in the summer is a big no no for cool season grasses. I would even advise against it in the spring. It forces top growth. I only use Urea in the fall to encourage new grass growth and/or as a winterizer. And only in small doses. I bought a 50lb bag a few years ago and still have over half left.

OP, check out this thread:
https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/do-it-yourself-forum!/overseeding-our-lawn-how-to/

letired

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Re: Growing a kick ass lawn
« Reply #10 on: September 02, 2018, 09:56:35 AM »
Oh, this is midwest, above average rainfall advice.  If you're in the south or west, good luck.


Advice is same for south/Texas, just with different grass species.

Sibley

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Re: Growing a kick ass lawn
« Reply #11 on: September 05, 2018, 07:21:02 PM »
The best thing to make grass grow is nitrogen.
Spread some Urea on your lawn very lightly a couple times per year and that will make it go.

If you're sufficiently creative, you can even get small amounts for free, and reduce your water bill in the process! ;)

Why don't you just go the old timer route and add clover? Clover puts nitrogen into the soil. It also needs less water, helps crowd out weeds, and is pretty hardy.

boarder42

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Re: Growing a kick ass lawn
« Reply #12 on: September 05, 2018, 07:25:53 PM »
The best thing to make grass grow is nitrogen.
Spread some Urea on your lawn very lightly a couple times per year and that will make it go.

Yes and no. Spreading pure Urea in the summer is a big no no for cool season grasses. I would even advise against it in the spring. It forces top growth. I only use Urea in the fall to encourage new grass growth and/or as a winterizer. And only in small doses. I bought a 50lb bag a few years ago and still have over half left.

OP, check out this thread:
https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/do-it-yourself-forum!/overseeding-our-lawn-how-to/

Yep been following this thread lawn is great. I also picked up a robot lawn mower for 600 bucks last off season I don't even mow my lawn anymore and it mulches better bc of how fine the grass is cut.

smoghat

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Re: Growing a kick ass lawn
« Reply #13 on: September 15, 2018, 08:23:43 AM »
If your lawn is flat, find a manual rotary lawn mower. Good exercise and better for your lawn. You can even ďauto-sharpenĒ it.

Cache_Stash

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Re: Growing a kick ass lawn
« Reply #14 on: September 15, 2018, 08:33:58 AM »
My wife and I just moved into our first home that we purchased last month.

It is a brand new home and the builder/developer we bought it off has sown some lawn seed which has come up quite well. Iíve gone through and manually weeded anything that isnít grass and gone down the Google rabbit hole.

I need to top layer with compost once a year, liquid feed it with organic fertiliser, re-sow grass seed on top of the lawn and aerate and de-thatch it once a year too plus a PH test.

Being a frugal man and realising most of what western civilisation is wasteful what do I do here? I get a lot of pride out of keeping the home nice and tidy and having the nephews (and hopefully soon our own kids) over to play on the back lawn will be one of lifeís great joys.

How do I make a top class lawn without overdoing it with expensive wasteful crap? Iíve just watered it all with seaweed organic fertiliser and believe itís done nothing at all.

I was thinking just top dress with a little compost once a year like I do my veggie gardens and be done with it and fill in the gaps with any lawn seed in patches where it isnít growing.

I donít want to use herbicides, synthetic fertilisers, etc.

Thanks a lot!

Where do you live?  That matter a lot!

jpdx

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Re: Growing a kick ass lawn
« Reply #15 on: September 16, 2018, 10:33:40 AM »
I woud try to minimize the amount of kick-ass lawn by adding areas of mulch, plants, raised garden beds, boulders, trees, etc. This usually looks better than a lawn, is potentially less wasteful, and can provide food too. Don't feel pressure to have a lawn just because your neighbors do (easy for me to say because where I live many people are into gardening and don't mind letting their lawns turn brown in the dry season).

wheezle

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Re: Growing a kick ass lawn
« Reply #16 on: September 25, 2018, 12:47:46 PM »
Why don't you just go the old timer route and add clover? Clover puts nitrogen into the soil. It also needs less water, helps crowd out weeds, and is pretty hardy.
This is my plan, currently. I like the way clover looks, and it seems practical for a lawn. I may try this next season.

asiljoy

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Re: Growing a kick ass lawn
« Reply #17 on: September 26, 2018, 06:14:27 AM »
Why don't you just go the old timer route and add clover? Clover puts nitrogen into the soil. It also needs less water, helps crowd out weeds, and is pretty hardy.
This is my plan, currently. I like the way clover looks, and it seems practical for a lawn. I may try this next season.
Seconding on the clover. In my yard, it did a half decent job of even crowding out creeping charlie.

BudgetSlasher

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Re: Growing a kick ass lawn
« Reply #18 on: September 26, 2018, 05:57:43 PM »
Why don't you just go the old timer route and add clover? Clover puts nitrogen into the soil. It also needs less water, helps crowd out weeds, and is pretty hardy.
This is my plan, currently. I like the way clover looks, and it seems practical for a lawn. I may try this next season.
Seconding on the clover. In my yard, it did a half decent job of even crowding out creeping charlie.

I third this, at the moment my go to grass mix is dutch white clover, creeping red fescue, and Kentucky midnight bluegrass.

rulesforrebels

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Re: Growing a kick ass lawn
« Reply #19 on: September 27, 2018, 10:39:13 AM »
I've owned two landscaping businesses over the years. I get the argument a lawn is wasteful, however in the midwest throwing stones down like they do in the Southwest is not an option, most cities and/or associations wouldn't allow it.

Lawns are expensive to maintain, however if you don't maintain them it's incredibly hard, if not impossible to bring back a lawn full of dead spots, clovers and weeds, and getting new sod laid can cost thousands. It's also going to be important for resale value.

You can get by with a spring fertilizer and a fall fertilizer with dandelion control. If you can spring for aeraton or can get a good deal with a neighbors guy  that's good. Don't bag when grass has seed and will naturally fill in the lawn. As far as watering here in Chicago I can get by for the most part without watering unless we have a super hot heat wave that lasts for a couple weeks and then I'll try to water early morning or late at night. To save on water costs get a rain barrel, many cities give them out for free or will reimburse you if you buy one.

Sibley

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Re: Growing a kick ass lawn
« Reply #20 on: September 27, 2018, 12:39:35 PM »
Why don't you just go the old timer route and add clover? Clover puts nitrogen into the soil. It also needs less water, helps crowd out weeds, and is pretty hardy.
This is my plan, currently. I like the way clover looks, and it seems practical for a lawn. I may try this next season.
Seconding on the clover. In my yard, it did a half decent job of even crowding out creeping charlie.

I third this, at the moment my go to grass mix is dutch white clover, creeping red fescue, and Kentucky midnight bluegrass.

Clover report: it's early, but it's growing quite well thus far. The backyard got taken over by crabgrass this year, which is now dying back. I plan to lower the lawnmower and scalp the backyard (just remind me to raise it again!), hopefully that'll clear out enough of the crabgrass and other weeds so that I can spread clover seed and it'll hit the ground decently. If I can get enough to take sprout this fall, then I can put crabgrass preventer down next spring and hopefully the lawn will be a grass/clover mix next year, rather than the creeping charlie, crabgrass, and whatever the 3rd weed is.

robartsd

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Re: Growing a kick ass lawn
« Reply #21 on: September 27, 2018, 01:21:52 PM »
Why don't you just go the old timer route and add clover? Clover puts nitrogen into the soil. It also needs less water, helps crowd out weeds, and is pretty hardy.
This is my plan, currently. I like the way clover looks, and it seems practical for a lawn. I may try this next season.
Seconding on the clover. In my yard, it did a half decent job of even crowding out creeping charlie.

I third this, at the moment my go to grass mix is dutch white clover, creeping red fescue, and Kentucky midnight bluegrass.

Clover report: it's early, but it's growing quite well thus far. The backyard got taken over by crabgrass this year, which is now dying back. I plan to lower the lawnmower and scalp the backyard (just remind me to raise it again!), hopefully that'll clear out enough of the crabgrass and other weeds so that I can spread clover seed and it'll hit the ground decently. If I can get enough to take sprout this fall, then I can put crabgrass preventer down next spring and hopefully the lawn will be a grass/clover mix next year, rather than the creeping charlie, crabgrass, and whatever the 3rd weed is.
Before herbicides targeting broad leaf weeds became part of common lawn maintenance, clover was a sign of a quality lawn. I'd recommend clover to anyone who doesn't plan to use herbicides.

Adam Zapple

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Re: Growing a kick ass lawn
« Reply #22 on: October 07, 2018, 07:37:04 AM »
Interesting idea(s) about the clover.  I never realized it was once preferable to have.  Will clover crowd out grass or can they coexist?  Do you seed with both together? 

Stupid questions but we're talking about the clover that is basically a weed that naturally occurs in most lawns?  Will clover grow in shady areas?

TomTX

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Re: Growing a kick ass lawn
« Reply #23 on: October 07, 2018, 06:44:14 PM »
Mow at the highest or 2nd highest setting. Mulch the grass into the lawn, do not bag. Hand pull weeds as you see them when you mow. Overseed holes or bare patches when noticed.  If you fertilize, do one heavy application in late fall. Mulch the leaves into the lawn instead of raking. 

That should get you 95% of the way there.  Address issues as they come up. No need to aerate, extra fertilization, weed killer, bug killer, dethatch, etc unless you have a problem.

Good list. Around here I do put the bag on the mower for 1-2 mowings during leaf time - leaves are just too numerous and tough (particularly the live oak). After a cycle through the compost heap, it ends up back in the yard anyway.

Sibley

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Re: Growing a kick ass lawn
« Reply #24 on: October 08, 2018, 11:09:39 AM »
Interesting idea(s) about the clover.  I never realized it was once preferable to have.  Will clover crowd out grass or can they coexist?  Do you seed with both together? 

Stupid questions but we're talking about the clover that is basically a weed that naturally occurs in most lawns?  Will clover grow in shady areas?

I'm putting in White Dutch clover. Am seeding both grass and clover together, both seem to be growing fine. In my case, I'm trying to crowd out crabgrass.... anything is better than that!

gavint

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Re: Growing a kick ass lawn
« Reply #25 on: October 18, 2018, 11:13:00 AM »
Hi there, I'm a professional landscaper, Gšrtnermeister operating in Germany. 

Lawns are a bit wasteful, but are the lowest maintenance option for your property outside of letting the wilderness grow back.  They look great when they're doing well, and provide a wonderful backdrop for the house and other plantings.  They need not be expensive.

Herbicides and pesticides are not needed for a healthy lawn.  Keyword healthy.  Provide a good base for your grass to grow on, and it will do its thing.  15 cm of well-worked balanced soil with good organic content will do the trick.  Incorporate humus or well-rotted compost into the ground before planting with a tiller, or after planting with an aerator and topdressing.  Pesticides and chemical fertilisers will damage the soil ecology that will help your grass.

Maintenance is key - lawns like to be cut high and cut often.  Mow every ten days or so, and leave it high, at least 7 cm.  The grass species in your lawn are not the same as they use on golf courses, and can't take being cut short.  This mowing technique keeps the stress on the grass to a minimum, and allows it to defend itself against weeds and pests.  Mulch the grass when you can, this cycles the nutrients back into the soil.

Accept the fact you're going to have weeds.  A perfect monoculture of grass is only achievable with heavy chemical inputs (think golf courses). 

Water correctly - frequent light waterings encourage surface roots, making the grass prone to drought damage.  Water once a week at the most, and thoroughly, about 3 cm (use a rain guage). 

If you want to get really environmental, you don't need a mower at all.  There is a pretty slick rotary push mower from Fiskars that does a good job, trimming you do with special grass shears.  You can even do it with a scythe (pretty meditative work!).