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Old 09-02-2019, 12:42 PM
 
1,865 posts, read 673,775 times
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Okay, first I should clarify that I am not looking to have a perfect turfgrass lawn, LOL. Been there done that in previous houses and am so over it.

I would be very happy with a yard that is roughly 1/3 clover, 1/3 violets, and 1/3 some kind of turfgrass. Fescue, bluegrass, whatever. (I'm in the NY metro area, so zone 7.) I like clover and love violets, and both stay green without coddling. But what I do NOT want are dandelions and crabgrass! I can live with whatever else ends up sharing space with a clover/violets/grass mix. So that's my goal on this half acre. (It has had a dandelion problem since day one, unfortunately.)

Unfortunately, due to a lot of excavation work that was done in May, I had to have topsoil brought in for the re-grading and it turned out to be the Topsoil From Hell. The landscape service that brought it in and graded, also seeded it. The 'new' areas make up almost the entire front yard and about 50% of the backyard. Unfortunately either the topsoil or the seed mix was loaded with ragweed and crabgrass seed, as became evident from June onward. So as a result now the property is about 85% crabgrass, 5% other weeds, and 10% struggling lawn grass. Cannot afford to have the yard stripped and redone, and the landscape service won't even return phone calls, let alone address the problem.

Talked to a landscape renovation service or two and of course they all propose a "program" of various applications of this and that over the next two years which would end up costing a couple grand at least. Which I cannot easily afford. In addition, I am told that "a healthy lawn" requires watering "each zone" for 45 to 60 minutes at least twice a week.

Frankly, that ain't gonna happen. I don't have inground sprinklers and that's because I don't want them. Had them at my last 3 houses and they are a hassle and expense that I can no longer afford. I don't mind wasting a day occasionally with moving hoses and sprinklers around after something is applied, or if we get an extended period of heat and drought in late July or August, but for six months out of the year? No way. Whatever's on the ground needs to be able to survive primarily on whatever water Mother Nature happens to deliver to it. I'll pitch in once in a while if needed but not regularly.

So given what the situation now is, and since the "professional renovation" is out of the question due to money and watering preference, what would be the best way to address the crabgrass-and-dandelions overload? The crabgrass will die off in another couple of months and I assume (?) it would be ideal to remove the dead remains in order to expose bare soil that can be treated with a pre-emergent in the spring, but what's the best way to do that? Hand pulling almost an entire half acre myself is....well, totally not an option physically, LOL. Would it come up easily with a thatching rake?
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Old 09-02-2019, 05:30 PM
 
Location: Phoenix, AZ
2,642 posts, read 1,898,005 times
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Well, you can't spray a selective weed killer to kill the dandelion weeds because that would also kill the violets and the clover.

I'd probably keep the soil moist to sprout all the seeds in the soil. Then, once the seedlings appear, I'd spray all of them with glyphosate (which will kill everything.) Keep doing this over and over to 'exhaust' all of the weed seeds in the soil you brought in.

Once the soil is reasonably free of viable seeds (after killing them previously), seed the lawn with your desired mix (clover, violets, and grass.) Yeah, it's time consuming, but I'd be open to hearing other suggestions.)

It's too late in the summer season to 'solarize' the topsoil with clear plastic. It needs to be hot for that method to work.
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Old 09-02-2019, 06:43 PM
 
Location: Upstate, NY
658 posts, read 281,582 times
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I would seed with a contractor’s seed mix which includes the grasses first. If you can, get it aerated and seeded. You could also rent an aeration machine and do it yourself. But the idea is for the seed to be injected into the turf. Water with a sprinkler if you have to, or hope it rains a lot this fall.

In the spring, in May, put down a pre-emergent crabgrass killer. It’s very possible clover will come in anyway. Dandelions are temporary but crabgrass is a problem. I have a hand tool to pop dandelions or other weeds. Getting the grass to grow is most important right now before winter. One shot of the weed killer in May should be fine. Then maybe fertilize when you can in early summer and again in fall. Seed again in fall, repeat. Good luck!
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Old Yesterday, 03:21 PM
 
Location: Former LI'er Now Rehoboth Beach, DE
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May will be too late for a premergent. It should go in early spring and you can also put it down in late fall. My bag says 55 degrees soil temperature. You have to water it in well and not add seed for 8 weeks.
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Old Yesterday, 04:01 PM
 
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I am anti-Roundup, for our environment but also for our health, my husband gets skin rash from it requiring doctors visit and RX.

I am zone 9 and over several years converted our lawn to native grasses and weeds and eliminated the green turf grass (St Augustine) by not irrigating the lawn. Dandelions are not a problem for me but if they were I'd hit them individually with a propane torch before seeds mature, every year you have many less but of course if your neighbors have dandelions then you have dandelions due to their charming seed-head, make a wish and blow. I really wish clover would grow here, fond memories of it, but nope.

I suggest calling your local extension office and ask how to have a "natural lawn" with no irrigation. They may be able to suggest native groundcovers to blend in. It will not be an overnight sensation but it will be good for you and the earth to go natural.
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Old Yesterday, 07:19 PM
 
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I personally never use RoundUp (glyphosate); for general herbicide my go-to is Spectracide which is primarily Diquat and Fluazifop with a dash of Dicamba. No glyphosate.

I assume most lawn care companies use glyphosate because it's probably cheaper than the other alternatives.

The problem with a 'natural plants lawn' approach is that if allowed, crabgrass will take over everything (at least in my zone) and the other plants won't stand much of a chance. Plus if that area isn't going to be mowed short, the crabgrass tillers will be seeding not only into that groiund but into any adjacent planting beds as well.

IMHO the natural-lawn approach is best suited to yards that don't have traditional planting beds within them. But in addition to perimeter beds along all three sides of my property, there are five island beds in the front yard and 10 island beds in the back yard. I would be spending every waking hour trying to eradicate crabgrass and dandelions from all those beds if I let either of them colonize the lawn space between and in front of them. Right now, all but three of the 15 island beds are empty because I've spent the past two years trying to clear them of invasives from the prior owners and I've been able to do that job with sprays; but once I start planting them up again I will need to keep the worst of the weeds out of the adjacent grassy areas, otherwise I will be fighting a losing battle.
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Old Today, 08:32 AM
 
826 posts, read 231,420 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BBCjunkie View Post
Okay, first I should clarify that I am not looking to have a perfect turfgrass lawn, LOL. Been there done that in previous houses and am so over it.

I would be very happy with a yard that is roughly 1/3 clover, 1/3 violets, and 1/3 some kind of turfgrass. Fescue, bluegrass, whatever. (I'm in the NY metro area, so zone 7.) I like clover and love violets, and both stay green without coddling. But what I do NOT want are dandelions and crabgrass! I can live with whatever else ends up sharing space with a clover/violets/grass mix. So that's my goal on this half acre.
The “ professionals” gave you a bad advice - you don’t need irrigation in your area- you have enough annual rainfall to keep the grass healthy- and they probably caused your problems as they most likely over seeded with the cheap “contractor” mix seeds- which germinate in 4-5 days, but as mostly annuals- they die within a year.

Sounds like you want to have a low maintenance lawn- excellent- you don’t need to irrigate, don’t need to fertilize, do not need to treat your lawn with pesticides and herbicides, no need to de-thatch, no need to aerate (core aeration could be nice though and inexpensive to rent machine and use- like walking behind the lawn mower, but you only aerated in Fall. Spring aeration causes weeds to spread!

Here is what you need to do with a minimum costs and some not so exhaustive elbow grease.
Educate yourself
https://turf.cals.cornell.edu/lawn/l...nmental-asset/
https://ag.umass.edu/turf/fact-sheets

Some stuff they miss - North East lawns do not have thatch - extremely rear and only happening over in highly over fertilized lawn[/b] and they don’t say that spring aeration causes weeds spreading in poor kept lawns
1)Measure your lawn area - all lawn care products are based on 1000 sq ft measure. How many do you really have?
1/2 acre- around 20-22 thousands of sq ft?

2) Spend $10-15 on your soil test. Don’t concern yourself with most of the nutrients- your tolerance of clover in your lawn will benefit you as clover will be supplying nutrients to your grass
Mainly you need to know pH ( acidity/alkalinity) as cool season turf grasses in your zone prefer slightly acidic pH between pH 6.3- 6.8. Your soil is most likely very acidic around pH 5-5.5.
pH 5 is 10 times more acidic as pH6, so you may have a soil which is 100 times more acidic than the grass needs. That is why your grass could be dying. Fine fescues tolerate acidity and wet soils better, but not traffic.
https://soilhealth.cals.cornell.edu/...ting-samples/- photo on how to take samples, but send it to UConn- Cornell might be too sophisticated.

http://www.soiltest.uconn.edu/docume...elawnldscp.pdf

You may need to spread lime according to pH tests results- DM me if u need help understanding the results. It may take 2-3 years to eventually change the soil pH by liming twice per year in spring and fall (before the rain in the forecast or over snow) Once you correct pH- you don’t need to lime anymore for 20-25 years most likely.

3) Overseed your lawn with premium grass seeds- do not buy anything with moisture crystals- marketing scam! Add seeds to your turf annually every second half of September.
Your goal is to thicken your lawn to crowed out the dandelions and crabgrass out of your lawn
Don’t concern yourself now with dandelion and crabgrass seeds in your lawn.
An acre of soil has several pounds of weed seeds, they just sit there and wait for a wind or rain to blow off some soil, or a grass blade to die- so they can see some sunlight and start growing! they germinated a crabgrass seed from 500 years ago.
If you have a a thick lawn, that when trying to separate the grass blades you can’t see the soil- weeds seeds can not germinate and grow! it means you achieved dandelion and a crabgrass control!
Buy and plant more grass seeds!!

Read the label on the seed bag . You need a mix of Kentucky Blue grass, perennial rye and fine fescues. Only fine fescues if your lawn is shady. KBG and perennial rye do not tolerate shade.
However, fine fescues can not handle traffic. Make sure the seeds are fresh - not more than 6 month from the germination test date on the label
Read the label on a seed bag different type grass has different seeding rates- KBG 2-3 lbs per 1000 sq ft , perennial rye 6-8 lbs per 1000 sq ft, etc
Look in agricultural stores or on-line;
in Walmart and HD only buy premium and fresh seeds
Bluegrass (Kentucky): Seedland.com
reduce your lawn by planting native shrubbery around your property?
If your soil is acidic- plant blueberry bushes for wildlife- then you don’t need to lime that part- reducing your expense- blueberries shrubs live for 20-25 years and more..
When mowing the grass - keep it minimum 3” high- leaf blade can make food for itself and higher lawn will shade weed seeds! Leave the clippings on the lawn as additional food for the grass!
Don’t feel overwhelmed:
Pick up the most prominent part of your lawn that you care about- and start improving just there. Progress to other parts of your lawn eventually or just reduce your lawn if it is too shady or too wet or hard to mow on incline and plant gorgeous native shrubs: then you can spread your fall leaves under them- creating a free mulch! And not paying to remove leaves!

https://www.dec.ny.gov/docs/lands_fo...actnatives.pdf

Interactive database below: select + or- at the top of each column for selection
CELS-CRMC Coastal Plant Guide
DM me if you have more questions

Last edited by Nik4me; Today at 08:42 AM..
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Old Today, 09:07 AM
 
1,865 posts, read 673,775 times
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Thank you SO much, this is exactly the approach I needed!

Actually we have a branch of the Cornell Cooperative Extension Service here on Long Island. They have very restricted hours (the main location was recently closed and the satellite one is only open from 9 am to noon on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and often when someone is supposed to be there they are not) but at least it's local. "Each report indicates the soil pH, the conductivity reading as well as a rate of limestone (if needed) to raise the soil pH into the correct range for the plants/crops being grown in the sampled soil."

The section-by-section approach is one I have been considering for sure. The smallest lawn area (and I will measure later; there are many island beds but luckily I have a measuring wheel so can add up the square footage of numerous 'blocks' of lawn) is probably the front yard which is of course the most visible... and the worst as far as the crabgrass infestation.

As far as mowing, due to health issues I cannot do that myself and so a service comes once a week from late April through October. Lawn mowing is Big Business here (lol) and I'm lucky to have found someone who only charges $30 for a cut-and-edge of a flat half acre; the average is anywhere from $45 to $55 for a lot of this size. The downside is that there's a language barrier and as a result I'm stuck with whatever height they decide to mow at. But that's the case for most of these lawn crews, to be honest. Even if the business owner speaks English, the cutting crews don't and they will just cut every lawn on their route at the same height no matter what anyone says. This is just as true for the $55-cut companes as for the $30-cut ones, unfortunately.

I am guessing my soil is going to end up being acidic because it's clay. This is the first time I've had to garden on clay and I am not happy. All my other houses/gardens were on nice sandy loam but I now live on the northern part of LI which is dense rocky clay. It's also prime poison ivy country which I've never had to deal with before and am fighting a constant battle with, with small plants popping up even in the lawn areas. Triclopyr has become my new best friend in that regard, LOL!

First order of business is to figure out my square footage today.
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Old Today, 04:36 PM
 
826 posts, read 231,420 times
Reputation: 2139
Quote:
Originally Posted by BBCjunkie View Post
Thank you SO much, this is exactly the approach I needed!

Actually we have a branch of the Cornell Cooperative Extension Service here on Long Island. They have very restricted hours (the main location was recently closed and the satellite one is only open from 9 am to noon on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and often when someone is supposed to be there they are not) but at least it's local. "Each report indicates the soil pH, the conductivity reading as well as a rate of limestone (if needed) to raise the soil pH into the correct range for the plants/crops being grown in the sampled soil."

The section-by-section approach is one I have been considering for sure. The smallest lawn area (and I will measure later; there are many island beds but luckily I have a measuring wheel so can add up the square footage of numerous 'blocks' of lawn) is probably the front yard which is of course the most visible... and the worst as far as the crabgrass infestation.

As far as mowing, due to health issues I cannot do that myself and so a service comes once a week from late April through October. Lawn mowing is Big Business here (lol) and I'm lucky to have found someone who only charges $30 for a cut-and-edge of a flat half acre; the average is anywhere from $45 to $55 for a lot of this size. The downside is that there's a language barrier and as a result I'm stuck with whatever height they decide to mow at. But that's the case for most of these lawn crews, to be honest. Even if the business owner speaks English, the cutting crews don't and they will just cut every lawn on their route at the same height no matter what anyone says. This is just as true for the $55-cut companes as for the $30-cut ones, unfortunately.

I am guessing my soil is going to end up being acidic because it's clay. This is the first time I've had to garden on clay and I am not happy. All my other houses/gardens were on nice sandy loam but I now live on the northern part of LI which is dense rocky clay. It's also prime poison ivy country which I've never had to deal with before and am fighting a constant battle with, with small plants popping up even in the lawn areas. Triclopyr has become my new best friend in that regard, LOL!

First order of business is to figure out my square footage today.
I would be surprised if your soil is clay- I would expect it to be silty loam.. or sandy loam or loamy sand or silty sand... Coastal areas don’t have clay in high proportions- very little clay , «young” soils around...
Good news that your silty? soil could hold a lot of nutrients and moisture compare to sand. It is not bad- just need to know how to handle it. Rocky soil has some advantages as well.
https://youtu.be/fufeaLBLGlk
Find your area below
http://ccesuffolk.org/resources/long...pe-soil-health
Attached Thumbnails
Is this a reasonable 'lawn' expectation?-4a7f2211-8acc-43ea-8d56-7422e79ad317.jpeg  
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Old Today, 06:29 PM
 
Location: Zone 6B ~ Northern VA
1,941 posts, read 2,492,994 times
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You’ll find lots of good ideas and suggestions here: Lawn Care Tips

Quote:
Originally Posted by BBCjunkie View Post
Okay, first I should clarify that I am not looking to have a perfect turfgrass lawn, LOL. Been there done that in previous houses and am so over it.

I would be very happy with a yard that is roughly 1/3 clover, 1/3 violets, and 1/3 some kind of turfgrass. Fescue, bluegrass, whatever. (I'm in the NY metro area, so zone 7.) I like clover and love violets, and both stay green without coddling. But what I do NOT want are dandelions and crabgrass! I can live with whatever else ends up sharing space with a clover/violets/grass mix. So that's my goal on this half acre. (It has had a dandelion problem since day one, unfortunately.)

Unfortunately, due to a lot of excavation work that was done in May, I had to have topsoil brought in for the re-grading and it turned out to be the Topsoil From Hell. The landscape service that brought it in and graded, also seeded it. The 'new' areas make up almost the entire front yard and about 50% of the backyard. Unfortunately either the topsoil or the seed mix was loaded with ragweed and crabgrass seed, as became evident from June onward. So as a result now the property is about 85% crabgrass, 5% other weeds, and 10% struggling lawn grass. Cannot afford to have the yard stripped and redone, and the landscape service won't even return phone calls, let alone address the problem.

Talked to a landscape renovation service or two and of course they all propose a "program" of various applications of this and that over the next two years which would end up costing a couple grand at least. Which I cannot easily afford. In addition, I am told that "a healthy lawn" requires watering "each zone" for 45 to 60 minutes at least twice a week.

Frankly, that ain't gonna happen. I don't have inground sprinklers and that's because I don't want them. Had them at my last 3 houses and they are a hassle and expense that I can no longer afford. I don't mind wasting a day occasionally with moving hoses and sprinklers around after something is applied, or if we get an extended period of heat and drought in late July or August, but for six months out of the year? No way. Whatever's on the ground needs to be able to survive primarily on whatever water Mother Nature happens to deliver to it. I'll pitch in once in a while if needed but not regularly.

So given what the situation now is, and since the "professional renovation" is out of the question due to money and watering preference, what would be the best way to address the crabgrass-and-dandelions overload? The crabgrass will die off in another couple of months and I assume (?) it would be ideal to remove the dead remains in order to expose bare soil that can be treated with a pre-emergent in the spring, but what's the best way to do that? Hand pulling almost an entire half acre myself is....well, totally not an option physically, LOL. Would it come up easily with a thatching rake?
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