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total newbie vs neglected backyard

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total newbie vs neglected backyard

Postby Kumar » Jun 11, 2011 3:59 pm

Hi

I joined this forum today after spending a few despondent hours thinking about how my wife always tells me it is time to mow the the weeds in the backyard instead of telling me to go the lawn.

I moved in about 5 years and never really bothered with the back. It was just never a priority. But after using a shovel to pull out a dandelion tree (at least if felt like it was a tree when I was digging it out) I decided I needed professional help. But since I don't want to pay for it just yet I'm going with something even better - internet help!

I will be getting a deck put in sometime in August but in the mean time, I want to be able to get rid of those ugly weeds and have some lawn that my kids can play on. The yard is about 35 feet wide and goes back about 60 feet or so. I had the cedars put in 2 years back and hope they will give me some privacy in a few years.

Here are some pics to give you an idea of what it looks like right now. This was taken a few weeks back after I mowed the weeds.

Right now I just want to know how to get rid of the weeds and get a nice lawn. I will worry about design after that. I could try to pull out each and every weed by hand put it will leave the yard looking like the moon with all the craters.

Any advice will be appreciated. If I end up hiring a professional landscaping company I will forever be losing arguments with my wife when she utters the words "and didn't you end up hiring someone to do it anyways?" (p.s. I mean that tongue and cheek. my wife is a wonderful woman. and she also reads these forums sometimes)
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Re: total newbie vs neglected backyard

Postby Eeyore » Jun 11, 2011 5:38 pm

Your lawn looks to be in pretty good shape so it's not a lost cause. Dandylions are the bane of a gardeners existance and it seems we have a bumper crop this year. They aren't even regarded as a weed by the city!

Anyway, to deal with the problem you need to create a healthy lawn. Water and fertilizer! Also aeration. To start with use your lawn mower and a de-thatching blade (kinda looks like a rake) and give the lawn a good thorough going over. And then have it aerated. It's a machine that takes plugs out of the lawn to provide air and water to the roots of the lawn. Then fertilize with a really good fertilizer designed for lawns and water well. This is a job that is usually done a bit earlier in the spring and a lawn care company will do these initial steps in about 2-4 hours depending on the size of the lawn. It's worth the investment

You CAN use something like Killex on your lawn (if you can find it) to get rid of broadleaf weeds but frankly the best way to get rid of dandylions is to dig them out! It's easiest to do when the soil is wet. Use a dandylion remover or get one of those fancy pullers that you can use from a standing position and just keep working at it. It's a big job but by the end of this season you should have them under control and next year won't be as brutal.

Before winter get a winter fertilizer for your lawn and leave the grass cut longer. Then in the spring you should start off with a healthy lawn. :D :D
Lyn
AB, Zone 3A
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“Those who say it can't be done are usually interrupted by others doing it.” ` James Arthur Baldwin"
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Re: total newbie vs neglected backyard

Postby Countryboy » Jun 11, 2011 10:23 pm

A lot of people dig out their dandylions . . I mow them. And all the weeds too. They're green . . . just like grass. :wink:

Lyn's points are good. The soil is very likely compacted, so aerate it. U can rent a machine for a couple of hours and have it all done . . front and back. Keep it mowed, 3" minimum. Top dress it whenever u can with anything good that u can get yr hands on . . . topsoil, peat moss, manure . . whatever's available.

It's a good idea to reseed periodically. Just before topdressing is a good time.

To turn that backyard into a good lawn will take some time . . . three or four years. But u can do it for next to nothing.

Best of luck. :)
Adopt the pace of nature, her secret is patience.
.....Ralph Waldo Emmerson....

Frank . . ON5a
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Re: total newbie vs neglected backyard

Postby Kumar » Jun 12, 2011 7:47 am

Thank you both for the quick replies. I will start out with pulling out the weeds and rent a dethatcher. I guess I could get someone to do it for me, but I want the sense of accomplishment at doing it myself.

Thanks again!
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Re: total newbie vs neglected backyard

Postby Countryboy » Jun 12, 2011 9:45 am

I'd save the rental money for the Aerator. U can buy a universal dethatching blade, that will fit most gas lawnmowers, from Canadian Tire for abt $12.

U can also dethatch with a good, stiff raking. Use a metal leaf rake or an ordinary garden rake. Metal tines are important to loosen all the matted material.

And u can burn off lots of calories while yr doin' it. :wink: lol

Oh! . . I should say to rent the aerator only when the ground is a bit damp. They don't work well on bone dry, hard ground. :(
Adopt the pace of nature, her secret is patience.
.....Ralph Waldo Emmerson....

Frank . . ON5a
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Re: total newbie vs neglected backyard

Postby Kumar » Jun 12, 2011 10:39 am

I decided to post some close up pictures so you can get an idea of what it really looks like. There seems to be a variety of weeds. One option my neighbour presented to me was to just lay topsoil over and sod on top of that.

If I went that route could I skip to the other steps of weeding, dethatching and aerating? Could I just not mow the lawn really low, dress it up and throw on the sod?

Also, because the yard is deep, and the back isn't too bad, I want to do it in steps. The front part first, then the back if needed.

By the way, the entire front of the lawn looks pretty much like the picture. There is more weed and dirt than there is grass.

Thanks again.
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Re: total newbie vs neglected backyard

Postby Eeyore » Jun 12, 2011 11:52 am

Oooh! That's quite discouraging indeed. Your neighbour might have a good idea there if you want to spend that kind of money. The underlying lawn would decompose and add nutrients to the new lawn. You'd have to be diligent about pulling any weeds that might come through. Some of them are quite tenacious and may even come up through 6 inches of topsoil and new sod but at least you could deal with them quite easily.

Another option is to cover the entire area with black plastic and leave it for a year. This kill off everything underneath and then you could rototill and top with sod.
Lyn
AB, Zone 3A
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“Those who say it can't be done are usually interrupted by others doing it.” ` James Arthur Baldwin"
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Re: total newbie vs neglected backyard

Postby Grannygardener » Jun 12, 2011 1:51 pm

I'm curiously watching what the suggestions are to your dilemma. I have a similar if not worse situation. The first cut of the season was to mow down almost knee-high grass and weeds with both a whipper snipper and lawn mower by an angry son. He mowed down flower beds and shrubs as well.Oddly enough I can live with that because everything has been neglected for so very long. But now I'm trying to find out how to basically start from scratch and create an easy to care for yard. Son wants to rototill and plant seed or lay sod. My concern is that all those old weeds and layers of seed are going to bounce back to life and I'm back to square one.Certainly not capable of doing the job myself and have to be careful of how much to invest. Been thinking of laying down the plastic and hope to kill off everything and then bring in top soil and then seed or sod. Some areas will be set aside for a patio and some smaller gardens.It's a big project but I'm hoping it can be done in stages without getting bogged down.Keep adding suggestions folks, then I'll gather my family around the computer and show them what "them that know" suggest. If it wasn't hard-baked clay I'd rent out sections for gardeners. Edie
I've spent most of my time in the garden,the rest I've wasted. Edie Zone4A, Ont.
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Re: total newbie vs neglected backyard

Postby Eeyore » Jun 12, 2011 2:52 pm

Edie, you can do it in sections. I'd go with the "kill all the grass first" scenario you mentioned. While you are waiting for the grass to die you can start perusing magazines and plotting your ideas on paper. Or find a Landscape architect or student that will listen to what you want and design a plan for you. I'd choose some low maintenance shrubs and trees along with perennials that don't need a lot of care and plan them around your paito area.
Lyn
AB, Zone 3A
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“Those who say it can't be done are usually interrupted by others doing it.” ` James Arthur Baldwin"
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Re: total newbie vs neglected backyard

Postby Grannygardener » Jun 12, 2011 2:59 pm

I think you're right. I get gung ho thinking I can do this and that and then run out of steam or as lately, sick for a few years. Now to find black plastic. My guess is the big box stores and fairly heavyweight not garbage bags. I did try an area a couple of years ago with tarps but the darn grass and weeds grew up through it. What a waste that was. Edie
I've spent most of my time in the garden,the rest I've wasted. Edie Zone4A, Ont.
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