After reading Paul's "Cheap & Lazy Lawn care" and doing some research I have decided to seed our brand new lawn with an endophyte enhanced tall fescue. More specifically, a 90% tall fescue / 10% Kentucky Bluegrass mix from Grow Organic that Paul recommended in another thread on this forum:
We live less than a quarter mile from southern Lake Michigan in southwestern Michigan, which gives us a more temperate growing season. I believe our Zone is 5b. After remodeling the entire exterior of our house, we started landscaping in 2009 and now have gardens or landscaped areas (bushes, shrubs, and flowers with mulch) on about 50% of our city lot. I plan to establish a lawn on the rest.
We are currently waiting to receive our ph test results and should have them within a week. Most of our “soil” is clean fill dirt we hauled in to raise the level of our lot, which was very low and had flooding issues. Raising the level of the lot solved those issues but now I am concerned we don’t have a very healthy soil to start the lawn. The ph tests should reveal more.
In the meantime I have been researching when the best time to plant the lawn would be. Most research suggests fescues are best to start in the early fall, but early spring can work as well. I would rather not go another late spring and entire summer with a bare dirt yard (outside the landscaped areas)...which leads to my question:
- Can I safely seed this spring to have a healthy lawn?
- And if so, in what date time frame?
- Lastly, what can I start to do to prepare for seeding?
I’ll share my ph test results here when I get them. In the meantime, I hope someone wiser than I can make some suggestions.
Here are two pics of the back yard. Keep in mind, this was bare dirt when we filled the lot in late last summer. Since then, these weeds have grown in.
I will attach a few more pics of the side yard and front yard in the next post (you'll see they are all similar, though the back seems to have more weeds)...
My big question now: Do I till and start new, or overseed and try to fill in? I am worried that the soil is very compact from the remodeling we did last year. I am leaning toward tilling the entire thing and seeding from scratch.
I do have the 8.1 ph to deal with, though. Recommendations for bringing that down?
The pics tell the real story. Here is my analysis - your lawn is fugly.
Normally I try to convince people to not till because every time you till you lose 30% of your precious organic matter. In time, your "soil" turns into cement like dirt.
You are already at the cement like dirt stage.
Can you dig a hole a foot or two deep and upload pics?
The good news is that you get to completely start over. So we can talk about making soil that is two feet deep, but that will probably require some coin. Maybe you just wanna get by with the bare minimum, in which case we're talking about ending up with four inches of something closer to "soil".
If you throw seed on that, you can baby the seed for a while, but you'll end up with something almost as pathetic as what you have now. Let's put seed on soil rather than dirt.
What your chemically dependent state analysis is failing to mention is carbon. Your soil is dead; if you go at this with organic ferts they will just sit until you get biology in there. Start learnin up on compost teas; this will help you immensely with the rest of it...
NEVER ever ever spring seed. It is a losing proposition, more attuned to growing the weeds than the grass. Let's skip my long winded explantaion and just work on getting soil ready for the fall, when grass is favored and weeds are not... Paul's thoughts there are spot on (we don't agree on everything, but Paul and I are in lock step about lawn care...)
Skip the bluegrass. It's a sissy that needs too much water and fertilizer (like four times more of each over a Tall Turf Type Fescue). Who needs it? (OK maybe not lock step)
Connecticut Accredited Nurseryperson Accredited Organic Land Care Professional (NOFA)
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