Lawn Nightmare Help! I miss my apartment!!


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Hey guys- new to the forum.

My fiance and I just bought a house in early Spring, and have come to realize that the backyard is not so much a lawn, but a bed of weeds and vines- not an exaggeration. Quite literally, there is no grass. The entire back yard is made up of vines, weeds, and clovers all tightly knit together. At a distance, it looks green, which is good, but up close, you can tell it isn't grass at all- just weeds. This being my first home with my two dogs, I badly want to get a healthy lawn back there but I don't want to spend thousands of dollars with sod and landscaping.

I've looked up soil solarization as a starting point, but is that the best way to start? Just kill it all, and then seed grass seed in 8 weeks going into the fall?

I could really use help here- I'm not a green thumb (used to live in downtown Chicago...I'm not used to this crap.) I would love a step-by-step.

Sincerely appreciate your help- I'll even Venmo you some cash for the advice! I'm desperate! lol
-Pete
 
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Firstly, congrats! Its a wonderful fun journey you two have started sharing! Secondly, it sounds like your backyard is about to teach a lesson about patience, which will, I hope, further enhance your relationship. Starting with your description that no native grass has taken up residence, might I suggest a step backward for purposes of simple observation? A high maintenance hybrid grass may not survive where hardy locals cannot themselves survive. This most certainly lends itself to a form of gardening that requires a relaxed perspective, in the sense that trying to force a plant to your will is a physical excercise at a minimum and a mental disappointment in the longer term.
 
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First of all, where are you located? What grows up north probably doesn't down south. Where are you located?
 

JBtheExplorer

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I badly want to get a healthy lawn back there
Whatever you choose to do, please consider nature in that plan, in some way, shape, or form. Native gardens are the best way to do it. Super easy to maintain once established. With the right plants, you'd have a yard full of butterflies and hummingbirds!

Lawns are bad. Oh, I should add that to my signature.
 
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Whatever you choose to do, please consider nature in that plan, in some way, shape, or form. Native gardens are the best way to do it. Super easy to maintain once established. With the right plants, you'd have a yard full of butterflies and hummingbirds!

Lawns are bad. Oh, I should add that to my signature.
And expensive to maintain.

How about "Lawns are $Bad$"?
 
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And the size.
Tize of the backyard lawn, in total, is about 800 square feet, roughly. The only plants that we are planning on keeping is a 30 year old (ish) Pin Oak tree that, strangely enough, got struck by lightning the night before we moved into the house, believe it or not (I don't believe in omens...buuuuut...)
 
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Firstly, congrats! Its a wonderful fun journey you two have started sharing! Secondly, it sounds like your backyard is about to teach a lesson about patience, which will, I hope, further enhance your relationship. Starting with your description that no native grass has taken up residence, might I suggest a step backward for purposes of simple observation? A high maintenance hybrid grass may not survive where hardy locals cannot themselves survive. This most certainly lends itself to a form of gardening that requires a relaxed perspective, in the sense that trying to force a plant to your will is a physical excercise at a minimum and a mental disappointment in the longer term.
Thank you for the kind words! Hopefully, by just killing all of the weeds and starting fresh with newly tilled top soil will get me on the right track. I could use any advice you guys could give me honestly.
 
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Whatever you choose to do, please consider nature in that plan, in some way, shape, or form. Native gardens are the best way to do it. Super easy to maintain once established. With the right plants, you'd have a yard full of butterflies and hummingbirds!

Lawns are bad. Oh, I should add that to my signature.
Definitely. I'd never want to cause permanent damage to the soil, which is why I was thinking doing soil solarization would be the safest, most natural way of getting the soil to ground zero for re-seeding grass. I'd love to know what you guys would do though because I am no expert.
 
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@JBtheExplorer definitely has a beautiful place but, you have two dogs and I don't know how they will affect a natural garden. A grass lawn is a bad idea from the beginning IMO and with dogs even more so. All I can say at this time of the year it is too late to solarize. What I would do now is mow it and determine just what is grass, what are weeds and what are vines and the name of all of them. After you do this it will be easier to figure out just what to do next spring. Mow it, rake up everything and start a compost pile with the debris.
 
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@JBtheExplorer definitely has a beautiful place but, you have two dogs and I don't know how they will affect a natural garden. A grass lawn is a bad idea from the beginning IMO and with dogs even more so. All I can say at this time of the year it is too late to solarize. What I would do now is mow it and determine just what is grass, what are weeds and what are vines and the name of all of them. After you do this it will be easier to figure out just what to do next spring. Mow it, rake up everything and start a compost pile with the debris.
Copy that. So just maintain the madness for now, do some research into what kind of madness is actually going on and who the exact culprits are, and plan on doing solarization next spring?
 
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Copy that. So just maintain the madness for now, do some research into what kind of madness is actually going on and who the exact culprits are, and plan on doing solarization next spring?
Exactly. You might not have to solarize once you know just what is actually there. There are other means available that are fairly safe and inexpensive. You will just have to wait for the actual hard work to begin. In the meantime do your research and decide what you want the lawn to look like.
 
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Exactly. You might not have to solarize once you know just what is actually there. There are other means available that are fairly safe and inexpensive. You will just have to wait for the actual hard work to begin. In the meantime do your research and decide what you want the lawn to look like.
If I took pictures of some of the weeds, would you guys be willing to help point me in the right direction?
 
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If I took pictures of some of the weeds, would you guys be willing to help point me in the right direction?
Sure. Just take close-ups of the leaves, flowers, seeds etc. How large they are. Everything. The more info we have the easier it is to identify.
 
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Thank you for the kind words! Hopefully, by just killing all of the weeds and starting fresh with newly tilled top soil will get me on the right track. I could use any advice you guys could give me honestly.
No tilling. You would be served better by spraying 2 tablespoons of molasses per gallon of water (2 gallons for your 800sf is plenty) every 2 weeks until you choose a path. This carbon will feed the soil biota, which will shortly die, providing mad quantities of organic matter deeper into the soil than you could till anyway. if you want to miss a week, miss it early rather than later, as once per week would be a better, but higher effort approach.
 

the lawnsman

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no lawn love in this thread. lol
I think a nice lawn done right accents a landscape, and done right need not be pricey or high maintenance.
to the OP, your seeding time in your zone is just about now-800 sq. ft. should be easily done, I'd even consider using a local lawn company to power seed.

a nice turf type tall fescue blend would work where you are.

DSCF4643 (2).JPG
 
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I use Titan Rx as a high heat resistant tall fescue. It really works but I have to water deep at least bi-weekly in the summer. By that I mean run water 4 hours or more. But I have 2 water meters, and one is for agricultral irrigation only. I spread the Titan Rx and centipede seed out last week. The fescue is already up. I watered some this evening.
 

the lawnsman

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here's the blend I've had great results with.
I think the OP could use this in his location/zone.
good stuff.
DSCF4416 (2).JPG
 
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Hey guys- new to the forum.

My fiance and I just bought a house in early Spring, and have come to realize that the backyard is not so much a lawn, but a bed of weeds and vines- not an exaggeration. Quite literally, there is no grass. The entire back yard is made up of vines, weeds, and clovers all tightly knit together. At a distance, it looks green, which is good, but up close, you can tell it isn't grass at all- just weeds. This being my first home with my two dogs, I badly want to get a healthy lawn back there but I don't want to spend thousands of dollars with sod and landscaping.

I've looked up soil solarization as a starting point, but is that the best way to start? Just kill it all, and then seed grass seed in 8 weeks going into the fall?

I could really use help here- I'm not a green thumb (used to live in downtown Chicago...I'm not used to this crap.) I would love a step-by-step.

Sincerely appreciate your help- I'll even Venmo you some cash for the advice! I'm desperate! lol
-Pete
I would just cut it as low as you can and keep it short and most of the vine should die out. My back lawn is full of clover and I enjoy watching the bees and bunnies play in the clover. and if the dog digs in the lawn it won't hurt it.
 

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