Author Topic: What to do with my shitty lawn, part 1  (Read 3112 times)

Case

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What to do with my shitty lawn, part 1
« on: April 07, 2019, 06:03:13 PM »
I bought a new house recently, and the lawn is in rough shape.  I donít really care about nice grass, but my wife wants it to not be the worst yard on the block.  I am willing do put in some sweat equity to turn this thing around, as long as pesticides are not used (well water).

See picture below.  I only want to fix teh lawn in the front half.  It receives full sun, and is also a leech field for our septic system, so i cannot put anything other than grass there.  The grass is somewhat sparse.  The soil is a little rocky.  Lots of dead grass is visible; weíll see how much recovers as it warms up.

I have not done a soil chemistry test yet.  I was planning to either aerate or dethatch, or both.  The thatch layer does not seem thick, but there is quite a bit of dead grass.  After dethatching/aerating (either/or necessary?) i would overseed (seed type?).  Water regularly.  What is critical?

Any thoughts?  Not going for a home run here, maybe a double.
« Last Edit: April 07, 2019, 06:04:48 PM by Case »

pbkmaine

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Re: What to do with my shitty lawn, part 1
« Reply #1 on: April 07, 2019, 08:07:53 PM »
First, find out about the soil. Then treat accordingly.

I had a sloped yard several houses ago and the grass did not like the slope. I put in flower beds there. Creating beds can be a great way to reduce the grass and mowing without upsetting the neighbors.

acepedro45

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Re: What to do with my shitty lawn, part 1
« Reply #2 on: April 07, 2019, 08:27:20 PM »
PTF.

We bought our first house last year with an immaculate lawn. I haven't done a thing other than mow and rake and it still looks excellent, maybe a tick or two worse than last year.

I read about aeration and overseeding and I wonder what the heck I should be doing, if anything, to maintain. I'm also anti-chemical. 

HipGnosis

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Re: What to do with my shitty lawn, part 1
« Reply #3 on: April 07, 2019, 09:59:50 PM »
http://www.richsoil.com/lawn-care.jsp 
Organic Lawn Care For the Cheap and Lazy      LOTS of GREAT info!!

Start with a soil analysis ...

Case

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Re: What to do with my shitty lawn, part 1
« Reply #4 on: April 08, 2019, 04:57:46 AM »
First, find out about the soil. Then treat accordingly.

I had a sloped yard several houses ago and the grass did not like the slope. I put in flower beds there. Creating beds can be a great way to reduce the grass and mowing without upsetting the neighbors.

Its a great idea, but the issue there is putting beds on top of the leech field.  I dont know the exact location of the lines, but i thnk they are most of the front yard.

Case

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Re: What to do with my shitty lawn, part 1
« Reply #5 on: April 08, 2019, 05:28:30 AM »
http://www.richsoil.com/lawn-care.jsp 
Organic Lawn Care For the Cheap and Lazy      LOTS of GREAT info!!

Start with a soil analysis ...

Thanks for the link, lots of useful info!

My fear is that i need more topsoil, which would be a LOT of work, or cost if i hire it out.

soccerluvof4

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Re: What to do with my shitty lawn, part 1
« Reply #6 on: April 08, 2019, 06:43:25 AM »
Its hard to see how big the slope is but I would rake the snot out of it with a metal rake, aerate it, add some top soil where needed and top seed it. If need be put biodegradable mesh over the sloped area to avoid wash away.

Papa bear

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Re: What to do with my shitty lawn, part 1
« Reply #7 on: April 08, 2019, 07:37:07 AM »
General grass lawn advice:

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.

It’s hard to tell at all from pictures what might be wrong.  But you may have to deal with one of those 5% of things to do first before you get to the 95% of the time.


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Lulee

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Re: What to do with my shitty lawn, part 1
« Reply #8 on: April 08, 2019, 10:22:06 AM »
This Old House often uses sod and on their last project in Jamestown, RI they went to the farm to that produces it (https://www.thisoldhouse.com/watch/rogers-nod-to-sod-jamestown-net-zero-house if you want to watch the episode).  There's a new version of their favorite low water, low fertilizer grass they'd been using, called Microclover Black Beauty (http://www.sodco.net/products-and-services/microclover-black-beauty) which needs no fertilizing and takes little watering which, per their site, is available in seed form.  As I recall from watching the show months ago, the tiny clover plants fix nitrogen for the grass to use and fills in and keep things green if the grass is under stress from say drought.

While that product may not meet your needs or work well in your area, there's likely a drought resistant grass with microclover in it you can get that will do well in your yard.  I'm guessing that the slope is allowing your yard to dry out and causing some of the brown, dead looking grass you're seeing now (we're just getting out from under snow here in NH and so even sleeping, half-dead lawns are a beautiful sight to us).

Dollars to doughnuts the advice of @soccerluvof4  and @PapaBear will get you where you want to go.

BDWW

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Re: What to do with my shitty lawn, part 1
« Reply #9 on: April 08, 2019, 12:50:14 PM »
Aerate, add clover, and add compost over time as you make it.
Cut high, often, and mulch the grass, don't bag it.

Case

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Re: What to do with my shitty lawn, part 1
« Reply #10 on: April 08, 2019, 02:41:54 PM »
Its hard to see how big the slope is but I would rake the snot out of it with a metal rake, aerate it, add some top soil where needed and top seed it. If need be put biodegradable mesh over the sloped area to avoid wash away.


When you say add top soil, how do I do that?  Do I just toss it on, make a college effort to spread it around sort of evenly across the lawn, and call it good?  Or do I need to do something fancy like compact it so it stays in place?  Take care not to cover up the grass so much that it is smothered?

I'm going to go for a soil analysis as recommended here, but from my initial look I may need more top soil (there are a lot of rocks in the dirt, and that combined with the crappier grass quality might mean the soil quality is poor).  I might need to get a ton of top soil...


jps

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Re: What to do with my shitty lawn, part 1
« Reply #11 on: April 08, 2019, 02:46:49 PM »
PTF. Also in my first year having a lawn, and have been reading lots of conflicting information about how to care for a lawn well.

BDWW

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Re: What to do with my shitty lawn, part 1
« Reply #12 on: April 08, 2019, 02:57:53 PM »
Just spreading it around should be fine unless maybe you live in a dry windy place.
Likely the lawn started decent, but - as is common - the previous owner(s) harvested and removed all the nutrients. Plants pull nutrients from the soil to grow. If you cut and bag/throw away your grass, you're just continually depleting these nutrients. It's basically the worst thing you can do to a lawn. This leaves behind dead nutrient depleted soil that gets compacted into dust like a desert.

The second worst thing people do is strive for mono-culture lawns. Nothing in nature is a mono-culture. This is largely a product of marketing especially from the chemical companies. Broadleaf herbicides indiscriminately kill all broad leaf plants.

Lawn seed mixes used to actually include clover for a healthier lawn, 40+ years ago. Clover is nitrogen fixing - meaning it pulls nitrogen from the atmosphere and deposits it in the soil. It also provides better cover, filing in gaps, and maintains it's color with less water for drought prone areas. Clover actually makes your lawn healthier.




soccerluvof4

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Re: What to do with my shitty lawn, part 1
« Reply #13 on: April 08, 2019, 03:08:31 PM »
Its hard to see how big the slope is but I would rake the snot out of it with a metal rake, aerate it, add some top soil where needed and top seed it. If need be put biodegradable mesh over the sloped area to avoid wash away.


When you say add top soil, how do I do that?  Do I just toss it on, make a college effort to spread it around sort of evenly across the lawn, and call it good?  Or do I need to do something fancy like compact it so it stays in place?  Take care not to cover up the grass so much that it is smothered?

I'm going to go for a soil analysis as recommended here, but from my initial look I may need more top soil (there are a lot of rocks in the dirt, and that combined with the crappier grass quality might mean the soil quality is poor).  I might need to get a ton of top soil...



Yea for sure go to a a good lawn care supplier and take close up photos as well as bring samples in and tell them how you feel about chemicals etc.. There are always alternatives but like alot of things some work better than others and some can get pricey. As far as the topsoil goes usually first you need to determine how much you need and then if you need enough its cheaper if you just need a yard or two then its cheaper to pick it up. If you have a Riding lawnmower and a trailer that would be easiest to shovel out of other wise wheel barrow and make piles as far or as close as you need to. They make a topsoil spreading rake that would be worth renting for a day and its just a much bigger metal rake but basically just rake and spread evenly over the whole area. Any lumps bust up but you want screened topsoil. If you spread and rake it will lay out just the way it should be. Top seed it and and depending on grade use the biodegradable screening I was talking about or lay down straw otherwise it will wash away and birds will eat a ton of it. But aerate first and seed before you add more topsoil and seed over the top of that as well. You will get a good deep root system and based on your picture it wont take you a half a day to do it. Couple hours tops.

Case

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Re: What to do with my shitty lawn, part 1
« Reply #14 on: April 08, 2019, 03:12:44 PM »
Just spreading it around should be fine unless maybe you live in a dry windy place.
Likely the lawn started decent, but - as is common - the previous owner(s) harvested and removed all the nutrients. Plants pull nutrients from the soil to grow. If you cut and bag/throw away your grass, you're just continually depleting these nutrients. It's basically the worst thing you can do to a lawn. This leaves behind dead nutrient depleted soil that gets compacted into dust like a desert.

The second worst thing people do is strive for mono-culture lawns. Nothing in nature is a mono-culture. This is largely a product of marketing especially from the chemical companies. Broadleaf herbicides indiscriminately kill all broad leaf plants.

Lawn seed mixes used to actually include clover for a healthier lawn, 40+ years ago. Clover is nitrogen fixing - meaning it pulls nitrogen from the atmosphere and deposits it in the soil. It also provides better cover, filing in gaps, and maintains it's color with less water for drought prone areas. Clover actually makes your lawn healthier.

Thanks for the info.
Actually, in the past 1-2 years the entire front lawn was dug up, for the purpose of installing the leech field trenches.  I have no idea what it looked like before that, but I believe the house was seized by the bank, and then purchased by house flippers.

Anyways, when they the put the front yard back together after installing the leech field, they apparently did a half-assed job.

Case

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Re: What to do with my shitty lawn, part 1
« Reply #15 on: April 09, 2019, 09:26:51 AM »
Its hard to see how big the slope is but I would rake the snot out of it with a metal rake, aerate it, add some top soil where needed and top seed it. If need be put biodegradable mesh over the sloped area to avoid wash away.


When you say add top soil, how do I do that?  Do I just toss it on, make a college effort to spread it around sort of evenly across the lawn, and call it good?  Or do I need to do something fancy like compact it so it stays in place?  Take care not to cover up the grass so much that it is smothered?

I'm going to go for a soil analysis as recommended here, but from my initial look I may need more top soil (there are a lot of rocks in the dirt, and that combined with the crappier grass quality might mean the soil quality is poor).  I might need to get a ton of top soil...



Yea for sure go to a a good lawn care supplier and take close up photos as well as bring samples in and tell them how you feel about chemicals etc.. There are always alternatives but like alot of things some work better than others and some can get pricey. As far as the topsoil goes usually first you need to determine how much you need and then if you need enough its cheaper if you just need a yard or two then its cheaper to pick it up. If you have a Riding lawnmower and a trailer that would be easiest to shovel out of other wise wheel barrow and make piles as far or as close as you need to. They make a topsoil spreading rake that would be worth renting for a day and its just a much bigger metal rake but basically just rake and spread evenly over the whole area. Any lumps bust up but you want screened topsoil. If you spread and rake it will lay out just the way it should be. Top seed it and and depending on grade use the biodegradable screening I was talking about or lay down straw otherwise it will wash away and birds will eat a ton of it. But aerate first and seed before you add more topsoil and seed over the top of that as well. You will get a good deep root system and based on your picture it wont take you a half a day to do it. Couple hours tops.

For those that asked, yes, the front lawn is sloped.  The house is on top of a hill, so the slope is gradual at first and then becomes more steep.  Towards the bottom it is fairly steep, but not so steep that I wouldn't be able to mow it with a regular lawn mower... I don't know the grade off the top of my head.

I checked the lawn yesterday; there is at least 6 inches of topsoil there.  Small rocks (~1 in) are loosely mixed in throughout the lawn, which I am guessing is a result of when they dug it up for the leech field, and did a shitty job of putting it back together.  Anyways, hopefully it's good enough to get me going.

Anyways, my plan is toe aerate, maybe de-thatch, seed, cover with some hay or something like that, and water for a couple of weeks.  Water on any sort of permanent ongoing basis will probably never happen.  Very fortunately, sprinkler systems do not seem to be part of the culture of the area I live in; surprising, since I'm sort of in a fancy pants area... but I am east coast now.  Previously I lived in conservative mid-Michigan, where EVERYONE had a sprinkler system.  The area was humid with flooding a common major problem, and it was common to see sprinkler systems on while it was raining.  A great example of some of America's cultural problems.

I checked out the microclover that was recommended.  It seems like a good concept that meshes well with me personally, but I am more doing this for my wife as well as keeping up property value.  I am a little nervous that common preference is to see actual grass; people tend to think of clover as a weed, sadly.  Therefore, I may also look into grass that is an optimized mix of looking 'regular" (plush, green, 'healthy') and is good for the lazy homeowner. 

I live in the PA/DE border, so climate is standard mid-Atlantic region.  Mild-ish winters with occasional big snows, brief spring/fall, and hot/humid summers.  This past year had record breaking rain fall.  I suspect future weather will bounce back and forth between wetter years and drier years.  A flexible/resiliant grass is preferred, but by no means is our climate as dry as California/southwest regions; there will be rain.  Also, the front lawn gets full sun... so I'll have to get a grass that thrives under those conditions.

Lulee

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Re: What to do with my shitty lawn, part 1
« Reply #16 on: April 09, 2019, 09:45:35 AM »
I'm thinking of getting some form of the microclover seeds to patch my mother's yard which is sandy and in full sunlight.  On the show, it didn't appear you could tell what was grass versus what was clover until the camera got within inches of the ground and there's already clover in her grass anyway, but taller stuff which the bees enjoy.  The folks cut down trees in the front lawn and had to seed huge sections after the moss all died and then put in a new septic system out back a couple years back which has left sandy dirt patches.  They never fertilize beyond leaving the cuttings to mulch down so more clover to fix nitrogen in would be useful.

SunnyDays

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Re: What to do with my shitty lawn, part 1
« Reply #17 on: April 10, 2019, 11:26:05 AM »
Beware of allergies to clover, either your own family's or the neighbours, who will then hate you.

Fishindude

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Re: What to do with my shitty lawn, part 1
« Reply #18 on: April 10, 2019, 11:33:42 AM »
Periodically overseed a little new grass seed, and give your lawn some nitrogen.   Grasses crave nitrogen.

GuitarStv

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Re: What to do with my shitty lawn, part 1
« Reply #19 on: April 10, 2019, 11:36:18 AM »
Green spray paint once a year.

Case

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Re: What to do with my shitty lawn, part 1
« Reply #20 on: April 10, 2019, 06:44:52 PM »
Green spray paint once a year.

I already proposed paving the front lawn with asphalt, but my wife wasnt down with that.

HipGnosis

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Re: What to do with my shitty lawn, part 1
« Reply #21 on: April 12, 2019, 09:13:00 AM »
Green spray paint once a year.
I already proposed paving the front lawn with asphalt, but my wife wasnt down with that.
Synthetic grass, aka 'astroturf'

jpdx

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Re: What to do with my shitty lawn, part 1
« Reply #22 on: April 12, 2019, 11:49:49 PM »
All lawns are shitty, so minimize! Add areas of mulch, shrubs, boulders, and trees. Add raised beds/planters to grow food.

happy

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Re: What to do with my shitty lawn, part 1
« Reply #23 on: April 13, 2019, 01:40:23 AM »
Personally I'd try the easy fix first as a couple of others said. That is: lawn food (= nitrogen), water and mow regularly cut long ( every 2 weeks or even weekly if you can manage it). Its coming into spring in the northern hemisphere..this will be on your side. I recently rehabbed a very sick looking lawn with just these measures. Everyone was amazed.

If you don't get anywhere in a 2-3 months, then think about aerating/soil testing/topsoil/reseeding blah, blah. Its a lot more work which you might easily avoid.




GuitarStv

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Re: What to do with my shitty lawn, part 1
« Reply #24 on: April 15, 2019, 08:16:48 AM »
In all honesty, I don't really try for a 'lawn' . . . I'm just looking for something green on the ground.  Depending on your soil/light/water conditions, you could largely replace the grass with clover, thyme, or even green onions (my back yard is currently about 40% green onions) which all look fine and will out-compete regular grass if the conditions are right.

It's a waste of time and energy trying to make a plant that doesn't want to grow in a place grow there.

MDfive21

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Re: What to do with my shitty lawn, part 1
« Reply #25 on: April 15, 2019, 12:26:36 PM »
Periodically overseed a little new grass seed, and give your lawn some nitrogen.   Grasses crave nitrogen.

i believe what you're looking for is Brawndo.  It's got what plants crave.  It's got electrolytes.







https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GFD2ggNxR1g

Case

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Re: What to do with my shitty lawn, part 1
« Reply #26 on: April 15, 2019, 06:54:35 PM »
Periodically overseed a little new grass seed, and give your lawn some nitrogen.   Grasses crave nitrogen.

i believe what you're looking for is Brawndo.  It's got what plants crave.  It's got electrolytes.



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GFD2ggNxR1g

Now in all fairness, it is a lawn over a septic leach field.  So it really is water, like in the toilet.

Case

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Re: What to do with my shitty lawn, part 1
« Reply #27 on: April 15, 2019, 06:57:56 PM »
I bought a new house recently, and the lawn is in rough shape.  I donít really care about nice grass, but my wife wants it to not be the worst yard on the block.  I am willing do put in some sweat equity to turn this thing around, as long as pesticides are not used (well water).

See picture below.  I only want to fix teh lawn in the front half.  It receives full sun, and is also a leech field for our septic system, so i cannot put anything other than grass there.  The grass is somewhat sparse.  The soil is a little rocky.  Lots of dead grass is visible; weíll see how much recovers as it warms up.

I have not done a soil chemistry test yet.  I was planning to either aerate or dethatch, or both.  The thatch layer does not seem thick, but there is quite a bit of dead grass.  After dethatching/aerating (either/or necessary?) i would overseed (seed type?).  Water regularly.  What is critical?

Any thoughts?  Not going for a home run here, maybe a double.

My wife and I busted ass all weekend to dethatch, aerate, seed and water (should ave added more electrolytes  though).  I went with tall fescue, which is generally the mustachian low maintenance choice, though im slightly nervous the long roots will get into the leach field pipes, in which case im totally fucked.  Its hard to find info on what grasses are best for septic fields.

MrUpwardlyMobile

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Re: What to do with my shitty lawn, part 1
« Reply #28 on: April 15, 2019, 09:36:55 PM »
https://hgic.clemson.edu/factsheet/landscaping-over-septic-drain-fields/

Probably what you wanted to read before planting.

Aegishjalmur

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Re: What to do with my shitty lawn, part 1
« Reply #29 on: April 16, 2019, 04:38:27 PM »
Does it have to be grass? I see  a couple options for you if you want something a bit different:

1. Xeroscaping- essentially put in rock and plants that do not require heavy watering. This has become a lot more common out in Denver and the SW as it is dry, and frequently we have water restrictions.
2. Artificial grass- I have seen some pretty nice ones that look pretty real. Might be a bit more expensive upfront but upkeep/water wise may save you time and money longterm.

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Re: What to do with my shitty lawn, part 1
« Reply #30 on: April 21, 2019, 08:56:21 AM »
You really don't have to devote a lot of time and money to have a nice lawn. First off, if you hate weeds, don't disturb the soil. That means do not aerate or dethatch. Find some good quality compost (make you own) and toss it on the lawn. Microbes will take care of the thatch and loosen up your soil. There are good DIY liquid aeration recipes out there that are great for the soil.

Do not fertilize in the spring or summer (unless it's organics). You will force top growth at the expense of root growth and it will wreak havoc on your lawn in the middle of summer. Fall is the time to fertilize and plant new grass. Try to stay away from chemicals. Use organic "fertilizers" like soybean meal, Milorganite, alfalfa pellets, etc. Even horse bedding pellets will loosen up your soil. I scored Milorganite last year for $5/bag.

Be ok with weeds. It's just a lawn. Or landscape a bunch of it. I've extended a bunch of my landscape beds. I've even started planting trees in my mostly unusable backyard. 

MrUpwardlyMobile

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Re: What to do with my shitty lawn, part 1
« Reply #31 on: April 22, 2019, 08:16:33 PM »
You really don't have to devote a lot of time and money to have a nice lawn. First off, if you hate weeds, don't disturb the soil. That means do not aerate or dethatch. Find some good quality compost (make you own) and toss it on the lawn. Microbes will take care of the thatch and loosen up your soil. There are good DIY liquid aeration recipes out there that are great for the soil.

Do not fertilize in the spring or summer (unless it's organics). You will force top growth at the expense of root growth and it will wreak havoc on your lawn in the middle of summer. Fall is the time to fertilize and plant new grass. Try to stay away from chemicals. Use organic "fertilizers" like soybean meal, Milorganite, alfalfa pellets, etc. Even horse bedding pellets will loosen up your soil. I scored Milorganite last year for $5/bag.

Be ok with weeds. It's just a lawn. Or landscape a bunch of it. I've extended a bunch of my landscape beds. I've even started planting trees in my mostly unusable backyard.

This advice isnít really tailored to the question, which is really limited to the presence of a septic leach field.

Lulee

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Re: What to do with my shitty lawn, part 1
« Reply #32 on: April 24, 2019, 08:21:03 AM »
My wife and I busted ass all weekend to dethatch, aerate, seed and water (should ave added more electrolytes  though).  I went with tall fescue, which is generally the mustachian low maintenance choice, though im slightly nervous the long roots will get into the leach field pipes, in which case im totally fucked.  Its hard to find info on what grasses are best for septic fields.

It's been about 10 days now.  How's it looking?  Mostly asking because we're just a handful of days beyond the snows being completely melted around here, with only a few the trees having started budding, and I'm jonesing for the sight of beautiful green lawns. :)

Case

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Re: What to do with my shitty lawn, part 1
« Reply #33 on: April 24, 2019, 11:46:59 AM »
My wife and I busted ass all weekend to dethatch, aerate, seed and water (should ave added more electrolytes  though).  I went with tall fescue, which is generally the mustachian low maintenance choice, though im slightly nervous the long roots will get into the leach field pipes, in which case im totally fucked.  Its hard to find info on what grasses are best for septic fields.

It's been about 10 days now.  How's it looking?  Mostly asking because we're just a handful of days beyond the snows being completely melted around here, with only a few the trees having started budding, and I'm jonesing for the sight of beautiful green lawns. :)

Hah, well, I planted fescue, which I think takes 10ish days to germinate.  So it still looks like shit.  Though with much less thatch... so browner (maybe even shittier).  Hopefully in another week or so there will be little shoots popping up.  I have been watering regularly, so the seeds should be adequately moist, though it kills me a bit on the inside to waste water like that (even if it's well water).

Lulee

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Re: What to do with my shitty lawn, part 1
« Reply #34 on: April 25, 2019, 08:19:09 AM »
Hah, well, I planted fescue, which I think takes 10ish days to germinate.  So it still looks like shit.  Though with much less thatch... so browner (maybe even shittier).  Hopefully in another week or so there will be little shoots popping up.  I have been watering regularly, so the seeds should be adequately moist, though it kills me a bit on the inside to waste water like that (even if it's well water).

Ah, well, it's just a matter of time and patience then.  It's been a cool, wet April here and I've run out of patience waiting on Spring to arrive.  So I was hoping to live vicariously through you.  In a couple of weeks, your lawn will have sprouted & headed towards a lushness that will make your wife happy and I'll be thawed out when the warm weather gets a real foothold.

MrSal

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Re: What to do with my shitty lawn, part 1
« Reply #35 on: April 25, 2019, 10:23:33 AM »
My wife and I busted ass all weekend to dethatch, aerate, seed and water (should ave added more electrolytes  though).  I went with tall fescue, which is generally the mustachian low maintenance choice, though im slightly nervous the long roots will get into the leach field pipes, in which case im totally fucked.  Its hard to find info on what grasses are best for septic fields.

It's been about 10 days now.  How's it looking?  Mostly asking because we're just a handful of days beyond the snows being completely melted around here, with only a few the trees having started budding, and I'm jonesing for the sight of beautiful green lawns. :)

Hah, well, I planted fescue, which I think takes 10ish days to germinate.  So it still looks like shit.  Though with much less thatch... so browner (maybe even shittier).  Hopefully in another week or so there will be little shoots popping up.  I have been watering regularly, so the seeds should be adequately moist, though it kills me a bit on the inside to waste water like that (even if it's well water).

Since you seeded in spring you need to make sure you water your lawn throughout the summer, otherwise it wont survive. The root system is still very undeveloped. Best season to seed is fall, because then at least, there are 2 growing seasons until the lawn has to face a hot summer.

MasterStache

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Re: What to do with my shitty lawn, part 1
« Reply #36 on: April 27, 2019, 06:43:37 AM »
My wife and I busted ass all weekend to dethatch, aerate, seed and water (should ave added more electrolytes  though).  I went with tall fescue, which is generally the mustachian low maintenance choice, though im slightly nervous the long roots will get into the leach field pipes, in which case im totally fucked.  Its hard to find info on what grasses are best for septic fields.

It's been about 10 days now.  How's it looking?  Mostly asking because we're just a handful of days beyond the snows being completely melted around here, with only a few the trees having started budding, and I'm jonesing for the sight of beautiful green lawns. :)

Hah, well, I planted fescue, which I think takes 10ish days to germinate.  So it still looks like shit.  Though with much less thatch... so browner (maybe even shittier).  Hopefully in another week or so there will be little shoots popping up.  I have been watering regularly, so the seeds should be adequately moist, though it kills me a bit on the inside to waste water like that (even if it's well water).

Since you seeded in spring you need to make sure you water your lawn throughout the summer, otherwise it wont survive. The root system is still very undeveloped. Best season to seed is fall, because then at least, there are 2 growing seasons until the lawn has to face a hot summer.

+1

Unless you experience a really wet summer, you better get used to watering.

RetiredAt63

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Re: What to do with my shitty lawn, part 1
« Reply #37 on: April 29, 2019, 05:36:17 AM »
My lawn over my leach field looked like yours when I moved in.  10 years later it is still the worst lawn on the property, because leach fields have sandy soil on purpose, and it dries out fast.  But my lawn looks a lot better now.  As others said, cut the grass tall and try to use a mower blade that cuts the clippings short so they decompose easily.  Grass roots are sized in proportion to the green growth, so tall grass blades means better root systems, which is extra important here.  Don't worry about grass roots and your leach field.  But no bushes, or trees or deep rooted plants (did you know tomato roots and alfalfa roots can easily go 4 feet down?).  Clover is good because if you have a dry spell in summer the grass will go dormant and brown but the clover will stay green.  The clover itself won't add much nitrogen to the soil, but all the clover clippings will as they decompose.

If you want to add a bit of interest to your lawn, I have seen lawns where the owners planted the tiny spring bulbs like Scilla and snowdrops and Chionodoxa and the small species crocus.   They are pretty much finished blooming before the grass needs its first cut, and their leaves are small enough that mowing with the mower set on high barely touches them.  I've seen one lawn that was basically blue in spring, with Scilla.

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Re: What to do with my shitty lawn, part 1
« Reply #38 on: April 30, 2019, 09:11:08 AM »
I'm in the camp that thinks lawn is a waste of time and resources.  You feed and water the lawn just so you can cut the lawn down, but you do that so it grows again.  I have never understood it, but maybe that's just me.

I knew nothing about leech fields, but the first two responses indicate that plants are actually good for a leech field. 

https://www.unce.unr.edu/publications/files/ho/2007/fs0732.pdf

https://www.pubs.ext.vt.edu/content/dam/pubs_ext_vt_edu/426/426-617/426-617_pdf.pdf

Obviously you need to do your own research.  But, a flower bed is an excellent idea and despite what many think, they require far less care than grass.  The care is even less if you choose native plants.

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Re: What to do with my shitty lawn, part 1
« Reply #39 on: May 01, 2019, 07:01:34 PM »
My lawn over my leach field looked like yours when I moved in.  10 years later it is still the worst lawn on the property, because leach fields have sandy soil on purpose, and it dries out fast.  But my lawn looks a lot better now.  As others said, cut the grass tall and try to use a mower blade that cuts the clippings short so they decompose easily.  Grass roots are sized in proportion to the green growth, so tall grass blades means better root systems, which is extra important here.  Don't worry about grass roots and your leach field.  But no bushes, or trees or deep rooted plants (did you know tomato roots and alfalfa roots can easily go 4 feet down?).  Clover is good because if you have a dry spell in summer the grass will go dormant and brown but the clover will stay green.  The clover itself won't add much nitrogen to the soil, but all the clover clippings will as they decompose.

If you want to add a bit of interest to your lawn, I have seen lawns where the owners planted the tiny spring bulbs like Scilla and snowdrops and Chionodoxa and the small species crocus.   They are pretty much finished blooming before the grass needs its first cut, and their leaves are small enough that mowing with the mower set on high barely touches them.  I've seen one lawn that was basically blue in spring, with Scilla.

Thank you!  I have discovered most of this info at this point, but your response is the first to focus in the leech field part, which is an important part.

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Re: What to do with my shitty lawn, part 1
« Reply #40 on: May 01, 2019, 10:18:22 PM »
https://hgic.clemson.edu/factsheet/landscaping-over-septic-drain-fields/

Probably what you wanted to read before planting.

Pretty sure I addressed leach fields by providing you with a link to the relevant authority on landscaping over a leach field...

Case

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Re: What to do with my shitty lawn, part 1
« Reply #41 on: May 02, 2019, 04:18:03 AM »
https://hgic.clemson.edu/factsheet/landscaping-over-septic-drain-fields/

Probably what you wanted to read before planting.

Pretty sure I addressed leach fields by providing you with a link to the relevant authority on landscaping over a leach field...

I saw your link and yes, I appreciated it.  The other reply was not intended to offend.  But

I had read tons of webpages like the one you linked. It's always nice to have someone chime in with personal experience rather than tossing in a link.  That is why I made the above comment.  But again, I appreciate your response.

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Re: What to do with my shitty lawn, part 1
« Reply #42 on: May 02, 2019, 07:19:27 PM »
For those who do fertilize more often do you always put down a pre emergent crabgrass prevention in the spring?  I don't have a problem with crabgrass but continue out of consistently.  Interested to hear what other people do.  **Live in Minnesota.

RetiredAt63

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Re: What to do with my shitty lawn, part 1
« Reply #43 on: May 04, 2019, 07:47:35 AM »
My lawn over my leach field looked like yours when I moved in.  10 years later it is still the worst lawn on the property, because leach fields have sandy soil on purpose, and it dries out fast.  But my lawn looks a lot better now.  As others said, cut the grass tall and try to use a mower blade that cuts the clippings short so they decompose easily.  Grass roots are sized in proportion to the green growth, so tall grass blades means better root systems, which is extra important here.  Don't worry about grass roots and your leach field.  But no bushes, or trees or deep rooted plants (did you know tomato roots and alfalfa roots can easily go 4 feet down?).  Clover is good because if you have a dry spell in summer the grass will go dormant and brown but the clover will stay green.  The clover itself won't add much nitrogen to the soil, but all the clover clippings will as they decompose.

If you want to add a bit of interest to your lawn, I have seen lawns where the owners planted the tiny spring bulbs like Scilla and snowdrops and Chionodoxa and the small species crocus.   They are pretty much finished blooming before the grass needs its first cut, and their leaves are small enough that mowing with the mower set on high barely touches them.  I've seen one lawn that was basically blue in spring, with Scilla.

Thank you!  I have discovered most of this info at this point, but your response is the first to focus in the leech field part, which is an important part.

I am sure everything  you have read has warned you against willows.  This is why - the guy who cleaned my septic tank last fall told me he had to install a new leach field for someone because a weeping willow that was over 200' away from the septic tank had roots all through the leach field pipes.

Every house I have owned (on my 4th, plus a cottage) has had a septic tank and leach field.  Never any problems.  They are super reliable if you treat them right.  Which means nothing with deep roots on them or nearby.  When I moved into this house the previous owners had a little flower garden in the middle of the lawn - you know, curb appeal.  First thing I did was pull out the bushes in that little garden.  Second thing was move everything else to other flower beds, cutting around a silly little garden in a big lawn was just plain annoying.

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Re: What to do with my shitty lawn, part 1
« Reply #44 on: May 05, 2019, 09:42:24 PM »
My wife was just discussing lawns with a neighbor, she mentioned a very nice lawn on our walking route.
She said she saw the owner out one morning and ask him about it. He works at a golf course doing maintenance.
 He killed everything on his lawn with roundup, then bought seed, $150 worth and spread it once and it took over.
 When I see him I'll get the name of grass seed he used.
I will watch this lawn over the year and see how it fairs. I thought many times about helping my wife improve the lawn,
but she spends many hours a week pulling weeds, I don't know if it is a good idea to reduce this therapy time by improving our lawn,
but that neighbors lawn does look beautiful.
We are in NW Fl. that makes a big difference on what type of grass to use.

Case

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Re: What to do with my shitty lawn, part 1
« Reply #45 on: May 19, 2019, 05:14:47 PM »
I bought a new house recently, and the lawn is in rough shape.  I donít really care about nice grass, but my wife wants it to not be the worst yard on the block.  I am willing do put in some sweat equity to turn this thing around, as long as pesticides are not used (well water).

See picture below.  I only want to fix teh lawn in the front half.  It receives full sun, and is also a leech field for our septic system, so i cannot put anything other than grass there.  The grass is somewhat sparse.  The soil is a little rocky.  Lots of dead grass is visible; weíll see how much recovers as it warms up.

I have not done a soil chemistry test yet.  I was planning to either aerate or dethatch, or both.  The thatch layer does not seem thick, but there is quite a bit of dead grass.  After dethatching/aerating (either/or necessary?) i would overseed (seed type?).  Water regularly.  What is critical?

Any thoughts?  Not going for a home run here, maybe a double.

Update ~5-6 weeks later. Lawn still has a ways to go, but has filed in some.  There is tons of clover, so I put down at some milorganite thinking that it is due to too low nitrogen.  I have not done a soil analysis due to laziness.

See picture.  It is a hell of a lot more green, though that is at least partly due to Winter-->Spring, though things.  We also have had a shit-ton of rain which is keepign everything greener.  The lawn has been growing a lot and mowing every week is not quite enough to keep it under control.  When it gets overgrown, the clover dominates, though the grass is maybe getting stronger with time.
« Last Edit: May 19, 2019, 05:26:11 PM by Case »

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Re: What to do with my shitty lawn, part 1
« Reply #46 on: May 20, 2019, 08:58:37 AM »
That is looking way better! Good work so far

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Re: What to do with my shitty lawn, part 1
« Reply #47 on: May 20, 2019, 09:07:29 AM »
Looking much, much improved!