I live in Bay City, MI and am starting a new lawn from scratch and would really appreciate some help along the way. My yard has been free of any chemical gick for almost 5 years and I decided to plant tall fescue after reading Paul's great article on lawn care, very inspirational.
I rented a sod cutter, cut the whole yard in three hours and am now in the process of removing all the sod. I wish it took me only three hours to remove it!!! Wow, this is one major project. I decided to remove it myself instead of contracting out mainly because of the cost. But also, doing the work myself gives me great satisfaction and will allow me to enjoy this beautiful lawn when it is finished. You know, the "ahh, fruits of my labor!" thing.
After I finish removing/hauling away all the sod I plan to plant a couple of trees, landscape with some edging blocks, create some small slopes on which to plant small bushes while surrounding with cedar mulch (not grass). As I'm pulling away the sod the topsoil underneath is level to the sidewalks/driveways/curbs. This remaining topsoil is compacted well from walking over it while removing the sod. I plan to have a 2:1 (dirt:compost) load delivered for the landscaping and lawn. My first question is: 1) What should I do with the topsoil? Rake/aerate and add compost? Take some up and incorporate into slopes? I will have the soil pH tested professionally before I plant seed.
I have a second question regarding grass seed. 2) Is 100% tall fescue just tall fescue or are there other varieties that fall underneath this category? Where can I order/find 100% tall fescue as recommended by Paul?
Thanks for the reply Paul. And no, you're not too late. I would love to make a garden but I live in the city and have no room . Here in Michigan Mother Nature & Father Time have the soil/sod rise and it creeps above the sidewalk/curbs/driiveways. Do you know why this is? I have heard theories but am not totally sure. Is it from the glaciers that were once here?
Before I removed the sod it was about 2-3 inches higher the the level of the sidewalk. When mowing, the edges would always get cut too low and burn. I had no place to put the sod, it contained weeds & moss and I want to plant that robust tall fescue. I am familiar with this grass as my brother has it in his yard and just like you said, it just won't let the weeds gain any ground.
With regards to the cedar mulch, I intend to use it as a decorative moisture barrier on top of the soil. In addition, I love the smell of the stuff. Do you have any objections to it being used this way? I've used it this way for years and it does a great job of holding moisture. But eh, I'm learning here and maybe there is something I don't know about it.
The compost, I'm not sure what is considered commercial. We have some local compost piles which I was going to look into. What do I need to look for? Where is your article on compost, I'd love to read it.
The seed, I did search online and I couldn't seem to find anything that was "100% Tall Fescue." Are there different types of tall fescue? How about this, what should the label say and what is a good brand/source?