Burn, till, and reseed, or...?

Hi All,
I've been lurking the past couple of weeks, and now I'm going to finally post and hopefully get some good suggestions from you all.
I just purchased a house that was previously owned by a little old lady who had nothing else done with her lawn besides mowing for the past 15-20 years.
When I first moved in, about a month ago, the lawn was infested with creeping charlie and some kind of clover (I was told by somebody it was black medic). Two good dosings of Ortho Weed B Gone Max, and most of the weeds have indeed been killed, which of course left large barren spots.
I pulled up as much of the dead weeds as I could, and put down some "quick" patch multch/fertilzer/seed to cover the bare spots until I decide what to really do with the lawn.
The problem is, as I was putting down the patch, I discovered the lawn was terribly uneven. It seems to me like it was a garden at one point, and somebody just through seed on it and let it fill in by itself. The soil is fairly compacted.
I have some pictures,
http://i222.photobucket.com/albums/dd79/dalmus29/tiredlawn005.jpg
The ground of the bare spot on the right is about 2" lower than the ground on the left... you can also see two kinds of grass. The majority of the backyard is full of depressions and bumps like this.
http://i222.photobucket.com/albums/dd79/dalmus29/tiredlawn001.jpg
General picture of the back yard... freshly mowed, and taken after about 7 straight days of regular rain. Not much greening going on...
So, my question is: what's my best course of action? Do I RoundUp the entire back yard, till it up, and reseed? Or is there something less drastic I can do?
Thanks for you input, and sorry for the long-ish post!
Ryan
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
wrote:

The first question is what kind of topsoil you have. If you have 7" or so of decent topsoil, then I would kill off everything with Roundup. A week or two later, mow the dead stuff very short, rake and remove debris. Fill and level any low spots with screened topsoil. Then rent a slice seeder and seed with an appropriate high quality seed. Apply starter fertilizer and keep surface constantly damp for 2-3 weeks, usually 5-10 mins several times a day, with a sprinkler is good, until germination is complete. Then slowly back off watering, less frequent, but little longer each time.
This will give you a decent high quality grass, with good texture, color, disease resistance, etc. IMO, it's better than spending a lot of time trying to make some random grass look good, which may never happen.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Trader4 gave you excellent advice. Nuke it with Roundup and start over. Fill your lowspots and seed it with a slice seeder like trader said. (they call it an interseeder in my neck of woods)
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
You could always rent a core aerator, and seed instead of killing everything off with Roundup. This way you wont have a dead looking yard for god knows how long while you wait for the new seed to germinate Do the same watering that trader4 said in the spring time your yard will look much better then it does now.

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

<top posting fixed>
Some weeds can be controlled, to a point, with good grass and proper mowing but this one looks like it needs more than that. Core aeration can only do so much. It really needs to be amended with good compost, leveled, then core aerated, fertilized and reseeded, whether by slit seeding or broadcasting a good quality seed for the area. I always lightly (and I mean lightly) roll the seed to get good soil contact when broadcast seeding. The slit seeder will give you good soil contact by design but you need to seed twice at 45 deg angles or you'll get corn rows. I would pretty much do what Trader4 says minus the roundup. That is unless the grass you have is undesirable for your area. Looks like you still have some ground violet but that can be easily controlled after you get the lawn in good shape.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
do snipped-for-privacy@do.com wrote:

I'm located in SE Wisconsin, so my soil is pretty much clay (to respond to Trader4's comment). I'm concerned that if I go the "easy" way and roll it in spring, it'll compact the ground too much?
I was visiting an old neighbor of mine who used to work for the park system, and his suggestion was to take a rear tine rototiller (that way I don't need to round up the yard)to the entire area, level the ground, and then use a broadcast seeder to spread a mix of molorganite, perennial rye, and Kentucky blue. He suggested I do this in November.
My next question is should I mix in some good compost during the tilling process, or wait until the seeding portion of the project? And is November really a good time for that?
Thanks for your comments!
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
wrote:

You don't want to roll any soil, as it just compacts the ground, which is the opposite of what you want to do. If the soil is heavy clay, then doing the tilling and mixing in some type of organic material is an excellent idea. Exactly what you use depends on price/ availability.
I'm not a big fan of rye grass. I'd use bluegrass and one of the new endophyte enhanced dwarf/slower growing, turf tall fescues, And I wouldn't listen much to anyone that told you to re-seed in Nov in Wisconsin, especially with bluegrass. You want to do it in Sept, early Sept is ideal, weather permitting. You want the grass to have time to develop and harden before a hard cold freeze. Blue grass takes 2-3 weeks to germinate. Doing it in Nov is a prescription for disaster.
Also, regarding doing a major renovation without killing what's there in a lawn that's a mess, is, IMO, a mistake. It's very easy to kill everything. And if you don't there can be undesirable grass left that will be a big problem later on, as in many cases, there is no selective herbicide to eliminate it.
And get your PH checked. I'd mix up some soil now that will approximate what it will be like when tilled. Then add correct amount of lime when tilling.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
snipped-for-privacy@optonline.net wrote:

Really? I always use a water roller with a couple of gallons of water in it and roll the seed. I don't find it compacts the soil except at the very surface, and then only slightly. I feel the aeration takes care of the soil deeper and allows the roots room to grow. Am I really doing more harm than good? It seems I get better germination this way.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
do snipped-for-privacy@do.com said:
[...]

--> It seems I get better germination this way. <-- If you roll it every time, how can you possibly know that you get better results? Hmm? =)
--

Eggs

Before they invented drawing boards, what did they go back to?
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Eggs Zachtly wrote:

Better than before I started to roll. Soil contact.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Sep 2, 11:52 pm, do snipped-for-privacy@do.com wrote:

It wasn't clear to me at what part of the process Ryan was going to do the rolling. He had mentioned that his yard wasn't even, had high/ low spots, etc. I took it to mean he was going to roll it to try to level it out. Which doesn't really work and compacts the ground. I don't have a problem with lightly rolling loose topsoil to get better contact after seeding. But I usually seed without the benefit of fresh topsoil and use a slice seeder.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
snipped-for-privacy@optonline.net wrote:

His thought process on the seed mix was that the rye grows quickly and protects the bluegrass seeds while they germanate. His idea about seeding in November (which struck me as odd, too) was that if you level and seed while everything is dormant, you'll get better germanation in the spring.


Would I just go to my extension office, or can I go to any garden center?
Thanks,
Ryan
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
wrote:

They sell DIY test kits at some garden centers, also available online. I think for PH they are accurate enough, but never got consistent readings on the other readings. The ext service is going to be the best. They usually have free handouts on how to seed, refurbish, etc.
As for seeding in Nov, how is the grass going to know that you don't want it to germinate immediately? Nov is not likely to be cold enough to prevent it. Plus, even if it did work, you'd have a brown non-lawn to look at all winter, together with erosion problems that may come with it.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
wrote:

Seed it NOW, don't wait 'till November. I seeded last October and got less than favorable results. In fact, I'm getting my lawn interseeded tomorrow, to correct the problems from last October.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
J.A. Michel wrote:

Yeah... I'm going to rent a tiller and do it in the next week or so. Having a dirt lawn for a few weeks is better than having massive bald spots and horrible uneveness.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Related Threads

    HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.