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Old 04-04-2013, 10:55 AM   #1
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New home owner needing yard help


Im new to this and was seeking some advice for what I would need. Mostly product recommendations because there are so many products out there I dont have a clue where to start and can't afford to get ripped off.

Is there a recommended site or book to get me started on my research? Thanks to anyone who can give me help.
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Old 04-04-2013, 11:04 AM   #2
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Where are you located?

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Old 04-04-2013, 11:24 AM   #3
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Where are you located?
located in Missouri
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Old 04-04-2013, 11:39 AM   #4
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I always advised clients to do two things in your situation first.

1. Find a good soil lab, ask them how to sample your soil, and pay them the surprisingly little amount they charge. When States had money their extension office used to do them for free. A good soil lab will tell you all kinds of things about what to add to your soil in the form of nutrients but also how to correct the soil to adjust basic chemical imbalances like Ph just to start.

This land of yours looks like it has relatively new construction on it? Developers may have scraped and even hauled all the nicest top soil away to prepare the land for building. Ironically and sadly, you may have to buy some back from the places haul it.

2. Tape off/measure your property with a borrowed 100' or large tape (City may lend you one) and commit the dimensions to at least a rough, scale drawing. There is software that will help you with this. It is easier to move trees and things like decorative boulders on paper first. Much easier to design landscape lighting and irrigation systems too.

Obviously you want to get on with planting something green. I was a turfgrass manager at one point and love the stuff. It is the highest maintenance plant material you can possibly plant though so once you have some photocopies, actual prints, or something on screen from the plot plan you made?

Think about how much lawn you really want to maintain. I and others will certainly tell you how to prep and plant as much as you think you need but Missouri is a State like mine about to enter some serious battles about how water is used? It will snap back if maintained in the first place but if yours has to go brown for a time can you live with the look?

I would encourage you think about landscaping in part with nice, textured, climate adapted groundcovers you can water in gallons per hour with drip systems and not gallons per minute needed still for turf. And be honest about the amount of time you have (or want) to spend mowing something once or twice per week.

Trees and shrubs make great landscape anchors and you do not have to plant them so close to the house as some do. You can water perrenials and annuals with drip irrigation too. Hint, hint.

And you know, rocks and boulders can add some elevation to a situation like you have. Properly seated in the ground? I have never seen one yet that needs continuous mowing or watering. You can even sandblast the name of your family and house number into one in the font of your choice.

By the way, are you responsible for just the yard around the house you showed us or also the property in the foreground? You might see if you can have at that large patch of land for a community garden until houses are placed on it or you will be fighting lots of weeds? Lots of hand labor will work or you will have to turn to pre and post emergent herbicides and some people are squeemish about using them.

Last edited by user1007; 04-04-2013 at 11:52 AM.
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Old 04-04-2013, 12:26 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by sdsester View Post
I always advised clients to do two things in your situation first.

1. Find a good soil lab, ask them how to sample your soil, and pay them the surprisingly little amount they charge. When States had money their extension office used to do them for free. A good soil lab will tell you all kinds of things about what to add to your soil in the form of nutrients but also how to correct the soil to adjust basic chemical imbalances like Ph just to start.

This land of yours looks like it has relatively new construction on it? Developers may have scraped and even hauled all the nicest top soil away to prepare the land for building. Ironically and sadly, you may have to buy some back from the places haul it.

2. Tape off/measure your property with a borrowed 100' or large tape (City may lend you one) and commit the dimensions to at least a rough, scale drawing. There is software that will help you with this. It is easier to move trees and things like decorative boulders on paper first. Much easier to design landscape lighting and irrigation systems too.

Obviously you want to get on with planting something green. I was a turfgrass manager at one point and love the stuff. It is the highest maintenance plant material you can possibly plant though so once you have some photocopies, actual prints, or something on screen from the plot plan you made?

Think about how much lawn you really want to maintain. I and others will certainly tell you how to prep and plant as much as you think you need but Missouri is a State like mine about to enter some serious battles about how water is used? It will snap back if maintained in the first place but if yours has to go brown for a time can you live with the look?

I would encourage you think about landscaping in part with nice, textured, climate adapted groundcovers you can water in gallons per hour with drip systems and not gallons per minute needed still for turf. And be honest about the amount of time you have (or want) to spend mowing something once or twice per week.

Trees and shrubs make great landscape anchors and you do not have to plant them so close to the house as some do. You can water perrenials and annuals with drip irrigation too. Hint, hint.

And you know, rocks and boulders can add some elevation to a situation like you have. Properly seated in the ground? I have never seen one yet that needs continuous mowing or watering. You can even sandblast the name of your family and house number into one in the font of your choice.

By the way, are you responsible for just the yard around the house you showed us or also the property in the foreground? You might see if you can have at that large patch of land for a community garden until houses are placed on it or you will be fighting lots of weeds? Lots of hand labor will work or you will have to turn to pre and post emergent herbicides and some people are squeemish about using them.
Thank you for the detailed response I appreciate it. I'am just responsible for my own yard. The picture is just of my neighbors house. Sadly I have no idea where my property ends. They want to charge me $400 bucks to have a surveyor come out to tell me where my property is. I find this a bit silly as I think I should have the right as I own the property you should tell me what I own, right?

I was going for a low maintenance yard work for now. I dont mind having a green yard right away, but my problem is when it rains it turns into a muddy mess. Is there a place or product you recommend to test the soil?
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Old 04-04-2013, 09:20 PM   #6
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do all of your neighbors have this problem ? did you try putting seed down ?
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Old 04-04-2013, 10:48 PM   #7
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Soil Testing @ University of Massachusetts will only run you $15. You can send them your sample. try not to let your sample sit around too long, else the results will be off. You can store it in the refridgerator for a few days, if you must, but best to send it out the same day you dig it up.
http://soiltest.umass.edu/services

Get the Routine Soil Analysis and the Organic Matter tests.

Instructions about how to prepare for the soil test are here: http://soiltest.umass.edu/sites/soil...g-editable.pdf


Other places to get soil tests... Check with your local University's Extension Office. Some do testing, but not all. Even more are stopping, due to budget cuts. Also, Logan Labs http://www.loganlabs.com/

How many inches (depth) of topsoil are on your lot? (you'll find out, when you dig up your soil samples). Hopefully there's at least 4", but better if there's more.

You're definitely going to need a core aeration on that lot. Around Seattle, it costs the same amount to have a guy come out and aerate my lawn, as it would cost me to rent the aerator, so I let the guy do it. After aerating, broadcast seed the lot. Your local University Extension Office or a local nursery can help you decide which turfgrass seed it best for your area and can discuss benefits of each cultivar. After the seed is down, cover with 1/4" - 1/2" of a nice organic compost or peat moss. Shovel the compost or peat into small piles around your yard and rake it out. This helps keep moisture against the seed, as well as incorporating itself into the aeration holes, which helps to build better soil structure. The organic compost has the added benefit of it being a slow-release fertilizer, as it breaks down. Next, broadcast a seed-starter fertilizer, as recommended here: http://www.ipm.ucdavis.edu/TOOLS/TUR.../strtfert.html Starter fert is high in phosphorus. Starting is really the only time that your lawn needs phosphorus. Finally, keep the soil moist, until the seed sprouts. My aeration guy's website has some detailed information on how to water properly during this time. http://www.aerating-thatching.com/se...awn-directions

Having the yard powerraked after core aeration and before seeding is not a bad idea either, as it will help make a better soil surface for the seed to start.

Last edited by Seattle2k; 04-04-2013 at 11:14 PM.
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Old 04-05-2013, 05:32 AM   #8
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Sombebody SHOULD HAVE filed a plot plan and your title documents should describe the land. You can probably find the survey pins with a metal detector.

It is important to know your land boundaries for issues with nasty neighbors on down the road. You no doubt have easements for the the utility companies, front city planted trees and that sort of thing.

I would check with the ag extension people with your county, state or university for help directly with a soil test or list of soil labs. The library may have a list as well.

A rototiller or tractor is in your future but you want to know what to fold into the soil first. Hydroseeding is a nice technology for installing a new lawn. You do have to gix drainage issues if you have a muddy mess when it rains. Unless it is mainly from soil compaction.

I don't think aeration and de-thatching will accomplish much for you until you get lawn established. And again, think about how much lawn you really want to take care of.

Last edited by user1007; 04-05-2013 at 05:35 AM.
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Old 04-05-2013, 12:01 PM   #9
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Wow! I would of never thought having a yard could be this complicated. I'm the kind of guy that likes to do things the right way the first time and I don't mind putting in the extra work to have a awesome looking yard. Eventually I do plan on getting a dog and growing my own vegetables.

Actually, most of the neighborhood has the same yard as mine. I guess not a lot of yard enthusiasts live here. So I found out that Mizzou does soil testing http://soilplantlab.missouri.edu/soil/testfees.aspx but Im not sure what I need done. Do all I need is the regular $10 dollar analysis? I would prefer Mizzou just because I live only 45 min away from them and it could get me started on the "yard project."

Should I installed a water irrigation system first before I start the yard work? Also what kind of plants do you guys suggest for my yard? Preferably easy ones to take care of.
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Old 04-05-2013, 01:51 PM   #10
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Should I installed a water irrigation system first before I start the yard work? Also what kind of plants do you guys suggest for my yard? Preferably easy ones to take care of.
Most drip irrigation systems need to sit on the soil surface or just below it so you can add most of the components later. Drip irrigation emitters come in all kinds of configurations from simple things that drip to things that mist and spray. They are sold by how many gallons per hour (GPH) they put out. Some irrigation valves will not handle the low flow rates though. For most residential yards, water pressure should not be an issue for drip irrigation.

Obviously, drip systems do not yet work for turfgrasses since you would chew them up with a mower on the first pass. Your lawn sprinklers will have to be run from buried plumbing or dragged around the lawn. Sprinkler heads are sold by the gallons per minute (GPM) they draw and the amount of water pressure they need to function over the distance and pattern they spray. So you need to know your water flow rate and your PSI of water pressure to determine the size, number of heads, and number of heads you will need for the sprinklers.

Once you know how many circuits you need you can pick a controller.

Placing the lawn sprinklers can be helped having your yard scaled reasonably accurate to paper. Then just take the minimum performance data of the sprinkler heads you have picked and make a grid of equilateral triangles (to start) using the radius of the heads. Lay the grid over your scaled drawing, twist and turn it, and pick angular patterns for heads that end up near streets, and sidewalks. Buy patterned heads that only spray half, quarter, 3/4 etc in front or in back of them for those areas.

One thing you should always do before you start digging to deep with an irrigation trencher or even a rototiller is to call your local utility locating surface and have them mark where buried utilities hide. They will do so for free. You should transfer the markings to your scaled drawing.

All you utilities should be buried below the depth of the trencher setting or rototiller but you never know.

As for plants? Trees and shrubs you like and that work in your climate zone are always a good way to start a landscape project. Just know how big they are and plant them far enough away from the house to start. If they shed leaves that need to be raked consider your attitude toward that level of landscape maintenance. Plant some lawn if you want it otherwise get your groundcovers started. Leave room for your future vegetable garden.

This will all make so much more sense to you if you measure and scale your yard. I promise.


Last edited by user1007; 04-05-2013 at 01:55 PM.
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