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joetab24 04-19-2009 09:29 AM

what's wrong w/ my lawn??
We've lived here for 2 years. The lawn has never been great, but I've at least had something to mow. It appears that there is a moss on it. Any ideas suggestions are appreciated greatly (especially by my wife!!) :)

bob22 04-19-2009 01:01 PM

What state are you in?
What kind of soil do you have (sandy, clay, loam)?
Does this area have a tree in it (kinda hard to tell from photos)?
How much sun does it get?
What have you done to try to improve it?

joetab24 04-19-2009 04:10 PM

Hi Bob,

-I am in southeast PA
-Yes there is a tree in the center of my yard. This area gets pretty shady in the spring/summer.
-The soil is not sandy or clay, so I guess it is loam (not really sure)
-I haven't done anything yet.

chrisn 04-20-2009 04:10 AM

I am no expert but it looks like you need to get rid of the weeds, get the soil PH tested,apply proper lime,fertilizer,re plant grass.Proper PH will keep the moss from growing.

Davidb6 04-20-2009 08:43 AM

Not an expert but trying to improve my lawn too.

Start with a soil sample, I sent mind to a local university and for a few bucks you will know what your lawn is missing..from this you can work on lime, fert, etc.

Can't fix what it if you don't know what's wrong.

good luck.

joetab24 07-05-2009 11:42 PM

Ok..back to the lawn (I finally finished garden wall project).

I tested the Ph, and it was fine. Right in the middle (7..I think).
I sprayed weed and feed about a week ago, and I've noticed some of the weeds shriveled and came out easily when I raked. At this point, my plan is to rake the lawn (vigorously) and remove all of the weeds manually (Shoud I do this?) I started to do this today and like someone mentioned above, I realized I have very little lawn, lots of weeds. Here are some pics.

Should I rake this pile of dirt and picked weeds back into the lawn, or should I toss it? Also, I am not sure if I should go ahead now and plant seed, or should I wait? If I should wait, when is the best time to plant? I am in south east PA. Thanks for taking a look!

Davidb6 07-06-2009 08:34 AM

Lets wait for some the experts to reply.....not sure where you live but spending $$ planting a lawn in early July my not be a good idea.

Spring and summer...feed, get rid of the weeds and adjust the soil
Very late summer early fall (in CT anyway) feed and seed
Fall...feed for winter and spring

My lawn is very shady and is doing great this year because of the helpful and knowledgeable people on this site.

downunder 07-06-2009 07:10 PM


I tested the Ph, and it was fine. Right in the middle (7..I think).
Fine for what?


At this point, my plan is to rake the lawn (vigorously) and remove all of the weeds manually
That will just bring more weed seeds to the surface so they can germinate better.

With all the bare spots you have, I would concentrate on killing the weeds first. One or two more applications of weed killer would be a good idea.

With the shade, it will be more difficult to get grass to grow. Check you local extension service for varieties recommended for your area. And then check for what pH that grass needs. I could even see taking another soil sample (several from random areas, mixed together, and a testing sample taken from the bulk) when you decide on what grass, or groundcover, etc. and then list that as your crop on the sample request.

Ga Certified Landscape Professional

joetab24 07-06-2009 09:09 PM

I see your point about PH. I meant it was neutral.

TooledUp 07-08-2009 08:12 AM

Yup, I would kill all the weeds first. If you are going to plant, plant in the fall. I have had really great luck in the fall and I live in Michigan. I have a 2 year old lawn and it is filling in great. I have been hammering it with fertilizer this year. I have done a little research on the web and talked to a couple of landscapers and they have said that if you are seeding over an existing lawn to use a slit seeder. You should be able to rent one at HD or Lowe's. Also, buy some contractor grade seed, look in the yellow pages for it. The stuff grows about any place or that is what I am being told. I am going to slit seed this fall. I am also a firm believer in watering!!! I do not have sprinklers yet, but I know it will help.

Good Luck!!

downunder 07-09-2009 05:16 PM


I see your point about PH. I meant it was neutral.
When you said it if fine, my point was that most plants prefer either acid or alkaline to some degree. Most grasses, but not all, prefer a pH in the area of 6.0 to 6.5. In other words, slightly acid. A few, particularly coastal grasses, prefer an alkaline soil. Remember, they are in a generally salty environment.

Another point on pH is that it affects nutrient uptake, but I don't think we are there yet.

bob22 07-10-2009 06:22 AM

I would go to and register. They've zip code specific info that will help you choose the correct path forward in terms of time to apply chemicals etc...
Also, site with very good links:

Penn State's website is a great source for lawn info.

Read a bit and see what advice works best for you.


ccarlisle 07-10-2009 09:18 AM

Of course, you realize that all this advice is worth nothing unless you rectify the cause of there being no grass under the tree - and has nothing to do with pH or fertilizer...


beerdog 07-11-2009 07:15 AM

If it were moss it would mean the area is continually moist and shady. Try spraying weed killer and rake them up after a week or so. May have to do it twice. Try going to a full service garden center. They may have a better selection of grass seed and beter knowledge. There are many grass species for shade.

You could always call a lawn care specialist and just tell them you want grass there. It will cost a little more but you will get a guarante on grass growth. Butthen again, this is a DIY community. What fun would that be.

diy'er on LI 07-14-2009 09:11 PM

Well, I'm not a pro, but on the flipside, I've been gardening since I was a kid. I've never seen moss out-compete grass unless it was in full shade.
From the pics, there really aren't too many weeds... the most noteable thing is an absence of grass and not much growing at all! It's very difficult to grow grass in full shade. you might want to plant shade plants in that area in lieu of grass. Conversely, you could selectively trim the tree so a little more light hits the ground. Barring a major grub or fungal issue in the soil (dig a few shallow holes and see if you find anything odd), I think you're problem is simply having not enough light for shade grass

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