Lawn Reclamation - looking for an overall plan!

JesseBen_SJuly 14, 2012

Hi everyone. I've been lurking and now I need to jump in!

I moved to the Boston area and a neglected lawn last summer. I spent the spring building a veggie garden in back, promising to wait on the ragged front yard until drastic-measures-autumn. The yard is small and shady with a couple hours of sun through most, with a small patch receiving maybe 4 hours full sun. That sunny spot is dominated by what I think is nimblewill.

My goal:

-a usable grassy ground cover with as little broad leaf plantain and dandelion (the current leaders in the hostile takeover) as possible.

-staying away from Roundup, etc.

-keeping out the unwanteds with a healthy blend of zone-healthy grasses

When I spoke with garden center folks, they said to tear up what I have in the early fall. Till, adding compost and lime to the mix. Seed with a shade mix and water through germination. Worry about weeds next spring.

Can anyone help me understand the timetable and order of operations with this undertaking? I don't mind an obvious heterogenous mix, with say, clover in there if need be. Do I really not worry about the invasive stuff until next spring?

Much appreciated and thank you for having me here!


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edit: not nimblewill. I think it's just a robust patch of smooth crabgrass.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2012 at 4:17PM
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Those people at your garden center were almost on track. Start your renovation by having a good, reliable soil test done. Contact your local office of the UMASS Cooperative Extension Service about having this done. One admonition you see from most all soil scientists is to never add lime to your soil without a good, relibale soil test to guide you.
Then dig in with these simple soils tests,
1) Structure. From that soil sample put enough of the rest to make a 4 inch level in a clear 1 quart jar, with a tight fitting lid. Fill that jar with water and replace the lid, tightly. Shake the jar vigorously and then let it stand for 24 hours. Your soil will settle out according to soil particle size and weight. A good loam will have about 1-3/4 inch (about 45%) of sand on the bottom. about 1 inch (about 25%) of silt next, about 1 inch (25%) of clay above that, and about 1/4 inch (about 5%) of organic matter on the top.

2) Drainage. Dig a hole 1 foot square and 1 foot deep and fill that with water. After that water drains away refill the hole with more water and time how long it takes that to drain away. Anything less than 2 hours and your soil drains� too quickly and needs more organic matter to slow that drainage down. Anything over 6 hours and the soil drains too slowly and needs lots of organic matter to speed it up.

3) Tilth. Take a handful of your slightly damp soil and squeeze it tightly. When the pressure is released the soil should hold together in that clump, but when poked with a finger that clump should fall apart.

4) Smell. What does your soil smell like? A pleasant, rich earthy odor? Putrid, offensive, repugnant odor? The more organic matter in your soil the more active the soil bacteria will be and the nicer your soil will smell.

5) Life. How many earthworms per shovel full were there? 5 or more indicates a pretty healthy soil. Fewer than 5, according to the Natural Resources Conservation Service, indicates a soil that is not healthy.
which can help you see where your soil is and what you need to do to make it into a good, healthy soil that will grow strong and heatlhy plants better able to ward off attack from insect pests and plant diseases.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2012 at 8:03AM
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Forgot this attachment.

Here is a link that might be useful: UMASS CES

    Bookmark   July 15, 2012 at 8:06AM
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