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Old 08-19-2012, 07:49 PM   #1
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Backyard grass issues NEED HELP


This is my first post and I hope I have found the right forum. Ok so here goes.... I have been fighting several grass issues in the front and back yard. I think I have finally turned the corner on the front yard, so it's now time to focus on the back yard. Currently, my backyard is pretty much a case of worst case scenario, in every sense. I am honestly embarrassed to even show it. These pics are actually a little old and the backyard is in even worse shape now. Currently, the yard is 95% crabgrass and weeds. There are other parts that are covered by moss. To top it all off i know the soil is in rough shape thanks to my dog. Her peeing and poop have done a number on the soil.

So what I would like to do is remove all the bushes and create just a simple nice backyard where my kids can play. I have been holding off on doing anything until the fall because it's way to hot in the summer to plant any grass seed. I honestly don't know where to start. Do all the weeds and crab grass need to be removed by hand? Or sprayed? Or can I just rent a tiller and till it? I do not have the funds to do sod, so I will have to use seed. My backyard is almost a half acre. What time of year should I tackle this project? I am located in Raleigh NC. Any help and guidance would be much appreciated.
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Old 08-19-2012, 08:13 PM   #2
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Backyard grass issues NEED HELP


First thing I would do is take some soil samples and have it tested.
Take a look on the Scotts website. Loads of good info on there.
Is there any way to get a truck back there? Reason I'm asking is when you go to get rid of the bushes it's best to yank them out by the roots. I do it with a heavy duty chain with a slip hook on one end and a grab hook on the other hooked to my trailor hitch.
Other wise your going to have to hand dig out the roots or rent a Dingo to pull them.

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Old 08-20-2012, 07:16 PM   #3
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Backyard grass issues NEED HELP


Have you thought about turning it into a native plant habitat? Native plants are much hardier because they are indigenous to the region. You could create a lovely backyard native meadow. The bonus is that your upkeep will be lowered and they are hardier against your dog pee/poop issue. Also, your kids can pick the wildflowers too.

NC has so many native orchids, I would love to have a native garden there. The native plants in Memphis are not as pretty as the selection you have.

Here is a link that lists all of the natives in your region. Have fun with your project and post pictures as you progress.

http://www.ncwildflower.org/index.php
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Old 08-20-2012, 09:06 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joecaption
First thing I would do is take some soil samples and have it tested.
Take a look on the Scotts website. Loads of good info on there.
Is there any way to get a truck back there? Reason I'm asking is when you go to get rid of the bushes it's best to yank them out by the roots. I do it with a heavy duty chain with a slip hook on one end and a grab hook on the other hooked to my trailor hitch.
Other wise your going to have to hand dig out the roots or rent a Dingo to pull them.
Sorry for the stupid question, but where do you go to have the soil tested? Any idea how much that costs?

No access to the backyard for a truck. That sucks because I need to get more topsoil back there. Last time it took me three days to take ten truck loads back there with wheel barrow.
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Old 08-20-2012, 09:11 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shadytrake
Have you thought about turning it into a native plant habitat? Native plants are much hardier because they are indigenous to the region. You could create a lovely backyard native meadow. The bonus is that your upkeep will be lowered and they are hardier against your dog pee/poop issue. Also, your kids can pick the wildflowers too.

NC has so many native orchids, I would love to have a native garden there. The native plants in Memphis are not as pretty as the selection you have.

Here is a link that lists all of the natives in your region. Have fun with your project and post pictures as you progress.

http://www.ncwildflower.org/index.php
That is a interesting thought. I can't say I have thought about that before. One concern I would have is that half of my backyard is on a fairly steep declining slope and I worry about soil erosion. I don't want to effect the foundation of the house in anyway.
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Old 08-20-2012, 10:22 PM   #6
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Backyard grass issues NEED HELP


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Originally Posted by RedSoxNation View Post
That is a interesting thought. I can't say I have thought about that before. One concern I would have is that half of my backyard is on a fairly steep declining slope and I worry about soil erosion. I don't want to effect the foundation of the house in anyway.
All the more reason for a native yard. Native plants and trees can help with erosion issues better than most other plants. I had a small grading issue in my backyard that caused water to collect during heavy rains so we planted a native River Birch tree. Totally took care of the problem plus it looks great with the decorative bark and the filtered sunlight/shade for the back of the house.

But it is your decision and I look forward to seeing what you do.

FYI about soil testing, usually you can get it through the Ag department of your state. Check out the below link. Looks like your state does testing at no charge but I bet you will need to pay for the kit. They usually are pretty cheap.

http://www.ncagr.gov/agronomi/sthome.htm

http://www.ncagr.gov/agronomi/pdffiles/samhome.pdf
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Old 08-21-2012, 05:47 AM   #7
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I would scale your yard to paper so you have a visual to work with as you decide on what to plant and where. It is a lot easier to move plantings around with a mouse click first than with a shovel! There are a number of free and inexpensive software programs out there. You just need measurements to plug into them.

Natural habitats are great ideas but you probably will still want some turf for the kids. Ground covers also look nice when properly thought out and require a fraction of the maintenance cost---in time and money---that turf does.

You will have to live with the dog and keep after the spotting by compensating for the chemical change from the urine and so forth. Especially with turf. If the savage beast has established a run pattern, maybe you can incorporate a turf free run and litter box schema into the new landscape design.
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Old 08-21-2012, 08:19 PM   #8
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Thanks for all of the suggestions. One question I have since all the grass is essentially crab grass, can I mow it as low as possible and then till it and the apply seed? Or do I need to pull everything out at the root?
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Old 08-22-2012, 05:51 AM   #9
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Backyard grass issues NEED HELP


You can till everything and then just pull the obvious clumps of crabgrass out. Just remember you will be shaking loose and distributing any crabgrass seed so definitely mow it as short as you can and catch the clippings if you can. And plan on a pre-emergent application of crabgrass preventer late next spring. Crrabgrass seed should not germinate now so your new seed should have a chance to get going.

Obviously, you want to buy quality seed and not bags of cheap contractor lawn seed with lots of ANNUAL rye and weed seed in it. Such packaging will promise fast germination which is true but the fast germinating grass will only last a season and will be very coarse looking stuff. The seed package should state the amount of inert material and weed seed in the package. The pretty picture of a lawn on the packaging that makes it costs $10 more does nothing for the quality of the grass seed by the way. Always check for a date on seed. It is not going to do you much good if it has been sitting around for years.

Most turfgrass mixes for the consumer market are a blend of hybrid PERENNIAL (not ANNUAL) ryes, bluegrasses and fescues. If you have a seed company near, or sometimes a real nursery or real hardware store even this late, they will have different grasses in bulk bins you can blend yourself.
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Old 08-30-2012, 08:53 PM   #10
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Well I have been extremely busy the past two weeks and I havent done anything as of this point. This weekend I will be working on the front yard (will start a different thread for that one). I have some new photos to show what I am dealing with. I am ashamed that it has gotten this bad, but working 60 hours a week and having two little ones running around I haven't found time to do much. Too bad I can't afford to pay someone to do it.

One thing that drives me crazy is that I am always fighting the woods surrounding my back yard. It's really bad too because one of my neighbors has let these bushes that should be about four feet tall get to about 30 feet. They are almost as tall as my two story house. As you can see the grass is all crabgrass, moss, and a mix of everything else that should not be there. It's so bad I don't even know where to start.
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Old 08-31-2012, 07:14 AM   #11
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Backyard grass issues NEED HELP


good pix,those tres/bushes where your son is standing next to get a electric hedge clippers and walk into them to your property line and start cutting up right to the top to get your property back.the lawn on the long shots looks pretty good the close ups are typical we all have that stuff.how long have you been in that castle...do you seed fert mulch or bag the lawn.tons of shade is good which way does your back of the house(sunporch) face AM/PM sun?i would plan on attacking that lawn in the fall with seed fert airation..and definitly cut back anything over hanging your property..maybe relocate those plantings around that tree add a benching set up maybe some flag stone for the BBQ off the back...seems it gets tons of foot traffic....your up in Red sox nation there,so snow and rain is plenty?i wouldn't do any resloping get the grass setup for fall/winter boost for that first cut in the spring 2013 lets hear back on those items you have/haven't done to the lawn since your there...that 3rd to last pix of the entire yard looks good just hammer those neighbors over hang back, trim the sunporch bushes to a rounded shape,the lawn isn't Fenway ,but but far sfrom shot..needs some mulching and just plain old top soil drop spreaded into it .if you seed in the fall before after T-Day and the snow/rain covers it thru into 2013 you will see a different.is that natural sand or did you put it there?

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Old 08-31-2012, 08:53 AM   #12
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Your problem is beyond trying to save any grass that might be there. I would Roundup the WHOLE yard to kill the roots. When its all dead, rent a LARGE tiller and till it up OR rent a small bobcat type machine and scrape off the few 3 inches of soil. Rake it all nice and even, add topsoil if needed and sod the whole yard or seed it. If you seed it you need to water a lot, never letting the soil dry out. Trying to use a weed and feed or pellets wont work.

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Old 08-31-2012, 04:17 PM   #13
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forget weed killer crap and all that stuff seed top soil LIME it big time and your in for the spring of 2013
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Old 09-10-2012, 07:42 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by RedSoxNation View Post
Well I have been extremely busy the past two weeks and I havent done anything as of this point. This weekend I will be working on the front yard (will start a different thread for that one). I have some new photos to show what I am dealing with. I am ashamed that it has gotten this bad, but working 60 hours a week and having two little ones running around I haven't found time to do much. Too bad I can't afford to pay someone to do it.

One thing that drives me crazy is that I am always fighting the woods surrounding my back yard. It's really bad too because one of my neighbors has let these bushes that should be about four feet tall get to about 30 feet. They are almost as tall as my two story house. As you can see the grass is all crabgrass, moss, and a mix of everything else that should not be there. It's so bad I don't even know where to start.
Unfortunately, I think you need to stop and prepare to fix this issue next fall. I had this issue last fall in the backyard. I've been prepping the front yard this year. I was told that spring plantings of grass are major upkeep bc it is so hot in NC, I'm in VA.

You should be able to get a soil kit from Lowe's or Home Depot for $5-$10 and I think they will run the test for free. You probably need the full shakedown on your yard. For prepping, I would Lime it now, fertilize it now, fertilize in October, and fertilize in November. I would de-Grub your lawn now, just read the warnings and make sure to be responsible with doing this stuff and the dog/kids.

In the spring, you need to put down Fertilizer with Crabgrass Preventer in March and April. Remove all of the bushes and trim up your property line as much as you can/want. Anything over your property line is up for cutting.

If you use Round Up / other weed killer this year or next. You need to wait at least 2-3 weeks before putting down grass seed. I just laid new topsoil throughout my backyard last fall and raked that up before dropping the seed. I placed hay over it and watered. However, a thin layer of hay only! a think layer of hay will choke the grass seedlings (made this mistake).

I can't think of anything else that I may have missed. Not a professional, just had a backyard full of wild violet and strawberries last summer after buying a foreclosure. Killed the entire back yard with Round Up and started over. I've been told a yard that is over 70% weeds should just be scrapped and started over on. I'm trying to spot kill everything in the front yard now. I've done multiple rounds of weed killer, now moving to Round Up for the monkey grass planted lining the street.

Enjoy, plan, do it right, relax and enjoy.
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Old 09-11-2012, 08:52 PM   #15
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Just wanted to let everyone know I am waiting on the results of the soil samples. Hopefully I will have the results soon.

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