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Old 04-27-2012, 10:34 PM   #1
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Turning Clover, Weeds, and Thatch to a nice lawn...eventually


I purchased a new construction home outside of Pittsburgh a few years ago and am going to focus on the lawn this summer. While the builder did seed much of my ˝ acre lot, they basically put the seed on some fill (i.e. minimal if no good top soil). My lot gets a lot of sun and by mid July I have a bunch of weeds and a brillo pad of crunchy dead grass. Please see the two photos posted. If you can see the detail, there is some grass, mostly weeds and clover, and some bare patches.


Because I am having some dirt trucked (multiple tri axel loads) in for the other ˝ of the lot that has never seen grass seed, I am curious how to handle the ˝ of my lot that does have something going for it.


I feel it is required to add some top soil and/or mushroom compost to my lot to provide a good basis for any grass to grow. What would be the best and worst option for me to proceed? My lot is pretty flat and doesn’t need much for low/high spots. While there is a lot of weeds and clover, there is some grass there worthy enough to not kill everything off (that is to resod). The side lot of my house is about 60 x 200. The front is 60 x 125. The other parts of the lot are not as visible.


I understand that any lawn work is best (at least here in Western Pennsylvania) early spring (i.e. March/April) or in the Fall (October). I will be doing other projects at the end of May or early June. So what should I do in June (and in what order) and what should I wait for in October? Since I will have access to a BobCat skid steer while doing the other project in May, I have some emphasis of not waiting until October since it would be easier to move top soil and/or mushroom compost around.

1) Should I aerate first?
2) Should I kill off all the weeds first? If so how long to wait before adding soil and seed?
3) Should I dump the new soil on top of what I have and seed, then kill weeds?
4) Should I till up the entire thing and start from scratch? (would prefer not to do this)
5) What is the minimum amount of soil to add? 1 inch, 2 inch, 3+ inch? At what point am I adding too much soil and killing existing grass?
6) How much (if any) mushroom compost should I mix in when spreading all of this out?
7) Any situation I would want mushroom compost only?
8) I will be doing this work in May. Is that too late to seed this much or should I wait until Fall to seed?
In my research, I referenced this article. http://www.dannylipford.com/top-dres...-in-your-lawn/. From what I get out of it is that dumping 3 inch of topsoil will likely kill everything, but top dress 1 inch and aerate every fall and eventually things will be better.


-Brandon
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Old 04-27-2012, 10:40 PM   #2
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Turning Clover, Weeds, and Thatch to a nice lawn...eventually


You have to get a soil test first.
http://www.scotts.com/smg/common/tem...ageId=19300170

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Old 04-28-2012, 02:13 AM   #3
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Turning Clover, Weeds, and Thatch to a nice lawn...eventually


Round up the whole thing, add the good top soil and start from scratch. You can apply the top soil etc, after a couple days of the round up.
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Old 04-28-2012, 04:41 PM   #4
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Turning Clover, Weeds, and Thatch to a nice lawn...eventually


You have to till the soil and new amendments a simple soil test suggests. You cannot just plunk seed on top and cover it with hay/straw and expect much.

Call a hydroseed contractor if you can keep it all moist for seed germination for the next 30 days.
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Old 04-28-2012, 05:03 PM   #5
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Turning Clover, Weeds, and Thatch to a nice lawn...eventually


two treatments of a 2-4D product like Amine 400 from a hose end sprayer and you'll be sitting pretty. Aerate, overseed, and apply a good starter fertilizer and be sure to water frequently and you'll be amazed at what you get.
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Old 04-28-2012, 06:26 PM   #6
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Turning Clover, Weeds, and Thatch to a nice lawn...eventually


I would put an irrigation system in while you have things tore up,if done DIY they will not be all that expensive.
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Old 04-28-2012, 06:52 PM   #7
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Turning Clover, Weeds, and Thatch to a nice lawn...eventually


Depends on your patience level. If it were my lot (it ain't of course) I'd top dress that area with compost and reseed. If clover is growing in most of it, I'd leave that for now. Clover is a legume and fixes nitrogen and makes it available to the soil. Once the soil starts improving and the nitrogen levels start coming up with fertilization the grass will out-compete clover pretty easily. Some people like clover, others consider it a weed. I don't worry about clover in my lawn as it is soft, is green, and helps fix nitrogen.

You'll be on the way to a better lawn by the end of the summer, and with a spring broadleaf control application and regular fertilization (I'd recommend compost topdress vs. chemical for the time being to help get some organics into the dirt that passes for soil now), you'll probably be looking really good by next spring.
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Old 04-28-2012, 06:59 PM   #8
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Turning Clover, Weeds, and Thatch to a nice lawn...eventually


Also, as a general practice - mow as high as you can. The deeper the grass, the more it competes with weeds and such. I try to put as few chemicals as I can in my lawn. I basically follow the plan outlined in this website:

http://www.richsoil.com/lawn-care.jsp

It is basic and it works.
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Old 05-03-2012, 11:57 PM   #9
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Turning Clover, Weeds, and Thatch to a nice lawn...eventually


Thank you all for such quick and thorough responses.
I got this soil test kit http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00...ls_o00_s00_i00

I tested two samples, one in the middle of my yard which would be less than 15 feet away from the photo in my first post. I also took a sample from around my fence where I added 4-8 inches of fresh topsoil trucked in last year.

I had assumed that the newer soil would be way better but I was wrong, they both have issues.

Both samples have relatively the same ph values. I would put both at around 7.0. One was a shade lighter but not enough to call it the next scale down (i.e. 6.5). So let us assume 7.0 and 6.9.

The K Potash value was decent at at least K3 on both samples.

The Phosphorous value was maybe a P1 (deficient) but is likely was depleated P0. The only reason I think it has anything is because of how unchanged the Nitrogen value looked.

N was defintely depleated. So it is like my lawn has no food!

So with values of nitrogen and phosphorous so poor, I obviously need some fertilizer.

I understand that if I am going to plant seed I should use a low level starter fertilizer.

So now I have the following follow up questions.

For the rear area of the yard where I am grading and then seeding from scratch, what ratio of new soil to compost would be recommended? I am considering a 33% compost to 66% soil ratio raking them both in. I will still then add a small 1/2 inch layer of compost after seeding.

For my side lawn, where I have the weed problem, my plan is to use a Amine 400 (2, 4d) which will get rid of the weeds and keep the clover for now. BTW, my local http://www.tractorsupply.com/ had some on hand. 30 days later when I have time to do all of this, I will areate and add starter fertilizer, seed, then top dress with compost. Should I do any fertilizer prior to doing the areation in a month or will the heavy content of fertilzer and weed killer interact in a negative way with each other or when I put the overseed in a month later?
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Old 05-04-2012, 07:31 AM   #10
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Turning Clover, Weeds, and Thatch to a nice lawn...eventually


The fact that you have so much clover and little else is a sure sign that nitrogen is depleted. That's why I recommend that you leave it.

If you topdress, try to put some seaweed fertilizer in the compost mix. That will help get some nitrogen in in a controlled manner.

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