New to Lawn Care

Hello All,
I have never planted anything in my life. I am completely new to gardening and lawn care.
My wife and I recently bought our first house. We have a large backyard but it is in rough shape. Most of the yard has grass but there are large patches of dirt (we think there may have been trees there originally). But the biggest problem is the weeds. About two thirds of the lawn is covered in some sort of purple weed. The other third is covered in dandellions. There are also small prickly things growing everywhere.
My question is ... where do we start? Do we have to hand pluck all the weeds? Is there an organic solution? Should we hire someone or do it ourselves? We have a dog so we don't want to use any harsh chemicals that could pose a danger.
If anyone has any advice for a first time homeowner it would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks a lot,
Matt
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You've come to the right place. Lots of good advice from posters here.
Depends on your budget. You could pay to have $od in$talled. They'll pull up and level your entire property if you like. Doing it yourself means pulling the weeds. You could Roundup the whole thing, but then you'll have to wait a couple weeks so as not to kill new seed. Weed B Gone works too. I don't know if it'd hinder germinating seed. If you're North, then this is about the latest I'd throw seed down. Then keep it wet. You won't be able to enjoy the lawn for a couple months. You need to decide what's best for you.
Just one thing- please don't let the dog crap on neighbors' lawns! :-p (see other posts)
snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

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Frankly, I'd hit the library, bring home a few books, and blend the suggestions with some you'll get here. I'll add a few ideas:
1) Lawn chemicals never have been, and cannot be proven safe. This is true for a number of reasons, some related to legislation purchased many years ago by the chemical industry to keep anyone from looking too closely at what they sell, and some related to the fact that the only acceptable way to prove their safety is to test them just like medicines, on the people who may be exposed to them. Obviously, that ain't gonna happen. Avoid them at all costs. Anyone who tells you otherwise is getting his information only from the labels on the chemicals.
2) Ever heard the saying "Nature abhors a vacuum"? If there's an open space where something can grow, something will, and odds are it'll be another weed. So, even if you *did* clear large areas of weeds using chemicals, another weed may well end up taking over the area before you can get grass growing. You can improve the odds in your favor by planting at the right time, thereby giving grass a better chance. Remember that plants are in constant competition for resources, whether that's light, water, nutrients or simply space without damaging factors (traffic, flooding, etc). You have to manipulate those factors to help the weaker species (grass) overtake the stronger ones (weeds).
3) Burlap is your friend. Go to a REAL garden center and ask them why that's true, and how to use it to your advantage when starting grass seed. Don't balk at the cost of a large roll. It'll come in useful for many years if you store it carefully.
4) Be patient. The only instant solution is sod. Everything else might take 2-3 seasons, unless you choose to poison your yard.
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snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote in

Hire someone to:
Analyse existing conditions Provide organic solutions to remediating the soil Provide solutions to installing a new lawn Provide information on care and maintenance of lawn.
Where are you located?
--
David J. Bockman, Fairfax, VA (USDA Hardiness Zone 7)
email: snipped-for-privacy@beyondgardening.com
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After all the bullshit peddled by the egos here read the following link for all you need to know.....
http://attra.ncat.org/attra-pub/PDF/turfcare.pdf
On 23 May 2005 08:08:40 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

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Thank you all very much for your wonderful help, this is an amazing news group. I still have a few questions if you don't mind me imposing once again.
It sounds like the game plan should be:
1. Kill the weeds with an organic solution. 2. Grow more grass, or impove the existing grass, or lay down new lawn (?).
Does this sound about right?
I guess my options are, do it myself or pay someone to do it for me. Also, some of you made points regarding timing. I live in Toronto, Canada. The weather this time of year typically ranges from 15 - 25 degrees Celsius with low-to-moderate rain fall. Is that a good thing or a bad thing?
Not sure if this helps you determine the time of year but all of the radio this weekend everyone has been saying that this is the weekend Torontonians typically plant flowers (although I'm not sure if they mean seeds or already grown flowers). Anyway - I figure we'll wait on the flowers until the lawn is in order.
I guess I'll call some companies and get some quotes and then I'll figure out how much time and money it'll take for me to do it myself.
Thanks again for all the help.
- Matt
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