How can I make my lawn look better?

my_secret_garden(5)May 30, 2006

I have been using a Weed Hound to get rid of the dandilions in my yard and it has worked great. The lawn looks better already. I am just wondered what else I can do to make my lawn look better. I have a lot of "weeds" growing in my yard like clover and lambsquarter but that doesn't bother me too much except when it gets in the flower and vegetable beds. I just want to know what I can do now to make my lawn healthier and look lusher. There are some spots that are completely bare, some spots where there are big clups of grass surrounded by bare patches, but this is mostly in the backyard. The front yard looks fairly decent but has some of the same problems. I have heard that I should areate (sp?) my yard but I don't have access to one of those big things you need to do that. I am on a pretty tight budget and have a limited amount of time to spend each day. I would appreciate any suggestions.

To give an idea of what the yard looks like in some spots, here is a picture.

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just get something pokey that you can poke with... some say golfing shoes or ANYTHING pokey...that'll make holes to aerate with...just keep weeding and keep fertilizing and the grass should spread.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2006 at 8:36PM
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Yanno... I thought I was silly for contemplating golf shoes for walking around the yard. I DID have the right idea! :) Thanks.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2006 at 9:20PM
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hitexplanter(8 a)

It would be best if you could get down 6 inches of so with whatever your using to aerate the soil. Pitch fork or anything else. The golf shoes will help some and are much easier. The next step after aerating is to get some compost down into the holes. Alfalfa pellets is still one of my favorites to suggest for a lawn fert. 20 pounds per thousand sq. ft. It sells for around 8 to 9 dollars a 50 pound bag here in central Texas. Just check you local feed store. Just keep poking along it will look better as time goes on. Good Luck David

    Bookmark   May 30, 2006 at 9:59PM
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Aerate, mow high, do a soil test.

Although, frankly, those bare spots look like they're damp and shady? If so, you also need to select the right kind of grass seed.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2006 at 8:56AM
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pablo_nh(z4/5 NH)

If you have clay soil, then pokey aerators may do more harm than good. In that case you'd need a core aerator- pulls up plugs and leaves them. Core aerate, lay down compost and bunny food. You can rent a power core aerator.

Lots of folks will also claim that just compost, bunny food, and maybe ACT will aerate for you anyhoo.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2006 at 9:23AM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

The old golfing 'spikes' have been banned on the better golf courses because they compact the soil over time rather than aerate it,just as pablo suggested. Aeration requires REMOVAL of plugs, not compression of the soil to accomodate spikes.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2006 at 7:17PM
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Spile aerators seldom do much good since they simply push the soil away compacting it further, what may be beneficial is a plug aerator, something that removes a 1/4 inch plug of soil. However, the single best thing you can do is get lots organic matter into that Iowa soil because without that OM your soil will simply slide back together again.
In the meantime set your mower at the highest level you can and mow so that you do not cut off more than 1/3 of the grass blade at any time. The more grass blade exposed to the sun the more nutrients that grass blade can manufacture to feed the crown that will then send out more grass to fill in the empty places, eventually. Mulch mow too, recycling the grass clippings right where they came from will supply your turf with 1/2 the annual nutrient requirement as well as supply a bit of mulch to help conserve soil moisture and help keep the soil cooler which will keep the grass happier and somewhat less likely to go dormant this summer. However the key is to get organic matter into your soil.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2006 at 6:45AM
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That second picture looks like a very shady spot with soil that if ever dry would be as hard as a rock. Great opportunity for a hosta garden!

So after you throw some great stuff on there to invite the worms in (free used coffee grounds from a local coffee shop, grass clippings/bags of leaves left on the curb by a neighbour, etc.), I wouldn't bother with grass. Make your life simple and scout some weekend market for cheap hostas or ask a friend who's got some.

You could also add ferns and other shade loving plants. I see so much potential there and would not bother fighting with grass.

Shade gardens are the easiest to grow and the ones which need the least maintenance. And sometimes the most beautiful!!

    Bookmark   June 1, 2006 at 11:41AM
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