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Old 05-27-2010, 09:49 AM   #1
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Need advice regarding two large areas of overgrowth in backyard


I am awful with landscaping.

I have two large areas in my 24k sq ft backyard where trees, a flagpole, a light, and an outlet reside. When I bought my house a few years back, they were nicely mulched:





Unfortunately, I was unable to keep up the cost of keeping this area mulched. Undecided as to what to do, I just let it grow out and occasionally weed-whacked it down. Now, I want a more permanent and practical approach.

I think filling in with lawn and just mulching small areas around the trees and pole is the way to go.

My question is, somehow over the passed couple years, these piles have become raised several inches - not sure what caused this. So I'm not sure what I should do about the whole thing. Would you try to level it all off and plant grass? Or just plant grass and ride the mower up the hills? What's the best way to turn all those weeds into grass?




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Old 05-27-2010, 12:32 PM   #2
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Need advice regarding two large areas of overgrowth in backyard


I'm in a similar situation in that I have not kept up with the previous homeowner's extensive mulching of 6 different large garden beds. I eventually let 3 of them become overgrown like yours and they have also risen for some reason - maybe the new weed growth caused the soil to become less compacted to allow room for the roots? I have no idea.

Anyway, here's what I did w/the 3 mulch areas that I do not want to maintain anymore -
1) I killed/cleared all growth and turned over the soil, leveled it with my lawn, and planted grass.

2) I killed/cleared all growth, put in a new sheet of weed blocker, and covered it with rubber mulch and built a sitting bench on top of it. I will also decorate with above-ground planters. It was expensive up front, but hopefully I do not need to do anything to this area in the future.

3) I am still working on this one, but I plan on doing the same as #1 and grow grass here (it abuts my back property fence).

In general, it seems like whatever you plan on doing will cost a lot of money up front if you want it to look nice and be low-maintenance. The cheapest thing to do would be just grow some grass and just keep mowing. You don't even need to mulch those mature trees.

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Old 05-27-2010, 01:49 PM   #3
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Need advice regarding two large areas of overgrowth in backyard


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Originally Posted by Parsec View Post
I'm in a similar situation in that I have not kept up with the previous homeowner's extensive mulching of 6 different large garden beds. I eventually let 3 of them become overgrown like yours and they have also risen for some reason - maybe the new weed growth caused the soil to become less compacted to allow room for the roots? I have no idea.

Anyway, here's what I did w/the 3 mulch areas that I do not want to maintain anymore -
1) I killed/cleared all growth and turned over the soil, leveled it with my lawn, and planted grass.
Excellent, thanks for the response!

This is pretty much what I want to do. The question is, how? What did you use - products, equip, techniques,etc? My two areas are probably bigger than they appear in those photos... 48x20 and the other is 40x25....
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Old 05-28-2010, 01:13 PM   #4
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Need advice regarding two large areas of overgrowth in backyard


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Excellent, thanks for the response!

This is pretty much what I want to do. The question is, how? What did you use - products, equip, techniques,etc? My two areas are probably bigger than they appear in those photos... 48x20 and the other is 40x25....
Wow, that is a very large area - the area i planted grass in was 400 s.f. and it was a lot of work since i did it mostly by hand. First I sprayed grass killer and waited a few days. Then used a hoe to loosen all the dead weeds and grass. For your larger area, you can rent a basic gas-powered cultivator from home depot for about $20-25 for a half day to do this job. Then I removed some dirt (I used it to level off other parts of my lawn) and turned over the soil with a transfer shovel. This brings some of the good soil from 3" below the ground to the top so the grass seed will grow better. I tamped it down with a hand tamper until it was about 1" lower than the lawn around it. I added 1" of screened loam (got this delivered) and then spread grass seed, starter fertilizer, and lime. I mixed it all in with my hoe. Then I slightly tamped it down some more, ensuring it was level with the rest of my yard. I watered for 5-10 min per day for a month until it was approx half filled in with grass. You don't want to water it too much before the grass grows in because it will wash away the seed. I'm going to have to overseed it again when fall comes to try and fill it in some more. So far, results are good. I chose a grass seed blend of various fescues, and the color is slightly brighter green than the rest of my yard. I hear it will darken over the next couple seasons to blend in better with the rest of my yard. The best time to seed in Mass is early fall, as soon as the temps drop into the low 70's. You don't want it too hot or too cold. All this is just based on my experience - I'm still learning and would suggest you do some google searches on the subject to learn more about it too. I tried it 2 seasons in a row and couldn't get grass to grow. I guess 3rd time's a charm! Oh yeah, also pay attention to how many hours of direct sunlight the area gets so you buy the correct grass seed (sun vs shady vs sun/shade mix). Also don't go cheap on the seed - buy the good stuff and it will grow better.
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Old 05-28-2010, 01:17 PM   #5
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Need advice regarding two large areas of overgrowth in backyard


Btw, water is your lawn's best friend. People go cheap on water and their lawn suffers in the summer. For the rest of your lawn, I would set up sprinklers to hit the entire yard with about 1" of water each week to keep it green all summer long. For established grass it's best to get all 1" in 1 shot, once a week. It helps the roots grow deeper and stronger, whereas a quick 15 min spray every day will cause the roots to shrink. I got the vigoro 4-unit timer system from home depot (it's the most expensive one they sell - i believe it was around $100 for the starter set plus 2 additional hose hookups). this let me hook up 4 sprinklers so i can hit the entire front and side yard in 1 shot. i am impressed w/the product and plan on buying one for my back yard faucet too.

Last edited by Parsec; 05-28-2010 at 01:19 PM. Reason: adding sprinkler information
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Old 05-28-2010, 03:40 PM   #6
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Need advice regarding two large areas of overgrowth in backyard


Wow, excellent info. Thanks for the awesome print-worthy write-up. I have no worries about water, the whole yard gets a perfect amount from a very nice irrigation sprinkler system with a timing and rain senors... it's 20+ heads..

The rest sounds like I will follow your lead here, except perhaps I will use equipment where applicable due to the size of the area. I'd like to do this as cheap as I can whereas I've got some other things around that require attention and money. Thanks!
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Old 05-28-2010, 04:27 PM   #7
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Need advice regarding two large areas of overgrowth in backyard


Quote:
All this is just based on my experience - I'm still learning and would suggest you do some google searches on the subject to learn more about it too.
Please read the following as learned experience. I am a Master Gardener, Ga Certified Landscape Professional, and I work as a horticulturist with a local parks department.

Quote:
I tried it 2 seasons in a row and couldn't get grass to grow.
Quote:
I watered for 5-10 min per day for a month until it was approx half filled in with grass.
You should have had grass in 7-10 days. You are correct in not watering so hard that the seeds will become dislodged. However, for germination they need to be kept damp continuously. You cannot let them go from wet to dry. Well you can, but you don't get good germination percentage.

You did not say that you applied any mulch. Did you not or was this an omission? Covering the seeded area with wheat straw is half of the job. Just enough so that you can barely see the soil here and there.

I commend you on your prep work but I would suggest that you did things the hard way. Spraying everything out before starting is a good idea. A thorough tilling will get the soil from three inches incorporated into the upper level soil. That is good, but I can't imagine having done it with a hoe and shovel. Instead of tamping it, a roller will suffice fine with much less work!

The rent for a cultivator seems low to me unless you are talking about Mantis-type tinker toy. Use a real rototiller and rent it for the day. That way you won't be in a hurry trying to beat the clock. Take time to rest.

I have never heard of a given variety getting darker over time. That could have something to do with nutrient changes, but not due to the particular variety in and of itself.
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Old 05-28-2010, 05:51 PM   #8
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Need advice regarding two large areas of overgrowth in backyard


I never water my lawn
Only time I water is if I am putting down grass seed
It may brown up if we have a dry stretch/hot weather
But it has always come back

I usually seed in the fall
But a few areas I have put grass down in the Spring
I have a 1/2 acre & only 1/3 of that is grass - and decreasing
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Old 05-28-2010, 07:52 PM   #9
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Need advice regarding two large areas of overgrowth in backyard


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Please read the following as learned experience. I am a Master Gardener, Ga Certified Landscape Professional, and I work as a horticulturist with a local parks department.

You should have had grass in 7-10 days. You are correct in not watering so hard that the seeds will become dislodged. However, for germination they need to be kept damp continuously. You cannot let them go from wet to dry. Well you can, but you don't get good germination percentage.

You did not say that you applied any mulch. Did you not or was this an omission? Covering the seeded area with wheat straw is half of the job. Just enough so that you can barely see the soil here and there.

I commend you on your prep work but I would suggest that you did things the hard way. Spraying everything out before starting is a good idea. A thorough tilling will get the soil from three inches incorporated into the upper level soil. That is good, but I can't imagine having done it with a hoe and shovel. Instead of tamping it, a roller will suffice fine with much less work!

The rent for a cultivator seems low to me unless you are talking about Mantis-type tinker toy. Use a real rototiller and rent it for the day. That way you won't be in a hurry trying to beat the clock. Take time to rest.

I have never heard of a given variety getting darker over time. That could have something to do with nutrient changes, but not due to the particular variety in and of itself.
Great information downunder. I did start to grow grass within approx 10 days, but I meant it took over a month to get thick and long enough to mow. Good tip on the grass - I didn't think about that, maybe that's why I got weeds. BTW, I neglected to mention I was out there for about 5 min a day hand-picking the weeds as they grew. I was paranoid that the weeds would take over my grass and I would have to start over yet again! The price I quoted was for the mantis. I'm sure it would have done the job for my small area much more easily than my hoe and shovel, but I enjoy the exercise Also, a tamper was $25 and I used it for my current retaining wall project too. I was trying to save money by not renting a roller.

Again, good time-saving ideas from downunder, but of course ease and convenience always comes with a price.

J187: what part of MA are you from?
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Old 06-01-2010, 11:04 AM   #10
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Need advice regarding two large areas of overgrowth in backyard


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Great information downunder. I did start to grow grass within approx 10 days, but I meant it took over a month to get thick and long enough to mow. Good tip on the grass - I didn't think about that, maybe that's why I got weeds. BTW, I neglected to mention I was out there for about 5 min a day hand-picking the weeds as they grew. I was paranoid that the weeds would take over my grass and I would have to start over yet again! The price I quoted was for the mantis. I'm sure it would have done the job for my small area much more easily than my hoe and shovel, but I enjoy the exercise Also, a tamper was $25 and I used it for my current retaining wall project too. I was trying to save money by not renting a roller.

Again, good time-saving ideas from downunder, but of course ease and convenience always comes with a price.

J187: what part of MA are you from?

Oh wow, didn't even spot your location at first. Small world. Metro West for me too. Framingham, specifically. I was headed to Gloucester early yesterday when the smoke came. There were fire engines driving up and down 95 I think before they knew it was coming from Canada.

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