Good evening everyone. My wife and I have been trying everything to grow a great yard of grass for our family (2 dogs and a 2 year old,) for about 3 years now with no luck. We have tried adding lyme, overseeing, weed killer, aerating, fertizing, the list can go on. Yet, grass only grows in patches and the yard is still covered in weeds! Please help as everyone else in my neighborhood is probably tired of seein my lawn like this.
Note- the front lawn had been sodded in 1997 and the back was seeded the same year... But then no one took care of it afterwards, till we got there in late 2007
I had that same problem 2 years ago!!! I went to a feed store here in the city. They really gave great tips. Sod had been planted in my yard also. Because we had construction on the entire street. But the rest of the yard was just grass and bold spots. To make a long story short. The feed store gave me some Blue Kentucky seeds, Triple 15 Fertilizer and some amonia nitrate. I spread that over the entire yard. I watered for 2 weeks in the morning and in the evening. I mow it on high and not very low. My grass now is green just like a golf course. The neighbors are green with envy. I do still water maybe twice a week. Every spring I use the fertilizer and amonia nitrate. In the winter I use triple 13.
Before you spend any more money on chemicals...do yourself a favor & get a soil test to see what your soil REALLY needs.
Most of the time you can get them thru your local county extension office. If not, they can certainly tell you where you can get a good one done. In my state they only cost $6 each.
Another tip for getting rid of weeds...mow high, at least 3", 4" is better & mow often. This let's the grass shade out weed seeds, helps keep moisture in.
I wouldn't be putting down all those chemicals if I had pets & children! Just IMHO!
"The soil is the source of life, creativity, culture and real independence." David Ben-Gurion
Start by contacting your counties University of North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service office about having a good, reliable soil test done to see what your soils pH is and which type of lime you might need to add, if any. Also look for how much organic matter is in the soil, how well that soil drains, what kind of life exists in the soil, what they tilth (workability) of the soil is. These simple soil tests may be of some help.
1) Structure. From that soil sample put enough of the rest to make a 4 inch level in a clear 1 quart jar, with a tight fitting lid. Fill that jar with water and replace the lid, tightly. Shake the jar vigorously and then let it stand for 24 hours. Your soil will settle out according to soil particle size and weight. A good loam will have about 1-3/4 inch (about 45%) of sand on the bottom. about 1 inch (about 25%) of silt next, about 1 inch (25%) of clay above that, and about 1/4 inch (about 5%) of organic matter on the top.
2) Drainage. Dig a hole 1 foot square and 1 foot deep and fill that with water. After that water drains away refill the hole with more water and time how long it takes that to drain away. Anything less than 2 hours and your soil drains’ too quickly and needs more organic matter to slow that drainage down. Anything over 6 hours and the soil drains too slowly and needs lots of organic matter to speed it up.
3) Tilth. Take a handful of your slightly damp soil and squeeze it tightly. When the pressure is released the soil should hold together in that clump, but when poked with a finger that clump should fall apart.
4) Smell. What does your soil smell like? A pleasant, rich earthy odor? Putrid, offensive, repugnant odor? The more organic matter in your soil the more active the soil bacteria will be and the nicer your soil will smell.
5) Life. How many earthworms per shovel full were there? 5 or more indicates a pretty healthy soil. Fewer than 5, according to the Natural Resources Conservation Service, indicates a soil that is not healthy.
Once these questions are answered then a plan of action can be worked out and started.
The sign of a good gardener is not a green thumb, it is brown knees.
Just to add to the other good advice above. Inquire about the type of seed that would give you the best coverage and sustainable lawn with the least amount of effort. This varies in geographical areas and also the amount of light/shade and tree/shrub competition your yard currently has.
For example, we kept trying to grow shade loving creeping fescue for the shaded areas under large oak trees (blue grass varieties failed and winter killed as well as the red fescue). Finally we got some great advice from a local lawn care person who suggested a sunny area, fine bladed, turf fescue. We finally have a lawn that is remarkable even in the constant shade.
We are in NC and have lots of experience with trying to grow grass here. Your best bet at this point is to wait until fall. Timing is important because you don't want the temps to fall too much at night but you don't want it getting too hot during the day. I think last year we did it in late Sept/early October. At that time, aerate and seed, and apply some starter fertilizer. I have found that lime helps to green up the grass but we don't use it anymore since we buy our stuff from an organic place and go according to that schedule. We use a tall fescue grass seed. Make sure to lightly water it each day to keep the seed moist until it germinates. In early spring, we apply a preemergent to keep the weeds down, and then we do another application in the summer.
Mom of 3 boys
trkane10, the people at North Carolina State will tell you to not add any lime, of any kind, to your soil until you have had a good, reliable soil test doen to see what kind of lime (Calcitic or Dolomitic) is needed and how much. I know many people that have been told that lime will help their soil so they spread some, often not nearly enough, every year and never see any results from doing that. Applying anything to soil without good guidelines is a waste of yoru time, energy, and money just as having a doctor tell you to take some medicine, but not how much or how often, would be if you were ill.
Many places today restrict the amount and types of "fertilizers" that can be applied because of ground water pollution from overuse of those materials. Many people overwater their lawns, also, just as many people underwater.
The sign of a good gardener is not a green thumb, it is brown knees.
Thank you all for the help. Needless to say I am going through the county and am going to get the soil tested, and then move from there in the fall! Hopefully something will work and next season the grass will be tall and beautiful. Hopefully some will somehow grow this summer (doubtful as nothing has yet.) The soil is very clayish, and this summer some French drains will be placed in.
Have you tried a germination mat? I ask because we tried for several years to get grass to grow in our side yard. We had the soil tested and amended it as needed, tried different grass seeds in different seasons, and it would only grow in patches.
This year we decided to use a germination blanket. Most are made out of natural fibers (completely weed-free, unlike hay) and decompose in the yard. It's a bit expensive ($25 for about 400sf) but so worth it. We purchased 5 rolls and a few bags of the biodegradable staples. We tilled the soil, added compost and tilled it to mix, spread the seed (we used a contractors blend since there is mixed sun and shade), worked the seed into the soil with a rake, and covered it with the germination blanket. After watering daily for about one hour each time, after 2 weeks we began to see grass. After 3 weeks we had a full lawn. It has now been 6 weeks and the grass is perfect. We've only cut it once since we planted it and will cut it again this weekend.
You might want to try a small area and see if it works before spending the money on your entire lawn.
If you can find natural burlap (you can order it online) you can use that instead of the germination mat. It's typically a lot cheaper than what you get at the big box stores but I couldn't find any locally and I was too impatient to wait for it if we ordered it.
Good luck, I know what battle you are facing!
Just wanted to add that our soil also has a lot of clay. That's why we tilled it up and added the compost before planting the grass.
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