Newbie from Manchester - Please help!

Hi, I am new to this forum (and gardening) so please forgive me if this is written in the wrong place, I have searched but cannot find a solution to my problem.. I am hoping someone could offer me some advice?
I have recently moved into my first house which has a 'garden'.. I say 'garden' because it is more like a small overgrown meadow! My first task was to cut the grass and privets back. The first time i cut it was about a month ago with a strimmer, but i would bet that it hadnt been cut for a good few years before that as the grass was at least 2ft long, contained moths, toads and god knows what else! My girlfriend and i went on holiday the weekend after i cut the grass and on returning home 2 weeks later, we found it had hrown again to about a foot in length! Now this grass isn't nice looking. it's thick and straggly and is more like grass you would find in a wild, overgrown field, than someone's back garden. There are weeds everywhere and the ground is not level.. My question would really be - Can I take off the top couple of inches, maybe a foot to kill the grass and weeds and use what i have dug out to level the ground? I would like to get the garden looking half decent before the winter and maybe next year look at making it actual look good!
I cannot use any kind of weed killer in the garden because I have a dog, I am on a fairly tight budget so the more cost affective the better really. However, I am more than willing to do a lot of manual labour and digging in order to get it sorted.
Any help or advice would be greatly appreciated!
Ryan
--
bluemoon 1502


Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
bluemoon 1502 wrote: ...

it's a shame you can't leave some part of it wild as habitat for those frogs/toads/bugs...
one thing that can be done easily is to keep mowing it (using a mulching mower is best) regularly. as you do this it will discourage the plants you don't like and encourage those you do. since you have a dog there's no sense in being a perfectionist about the grass, just keep it mowed and it will be fine. once it gets cooler (this fall) you can cut it short, scratch it with a rake and then seed it with some grasses suited to your area and soil and then keep it moist to get that sprouted and growing.
for leveling, it depends upon how unlevel it really is. again, because of the dog, it's really not worth worrying about this too much, but raking a light mix of compost and topsoil will fill in gaps. some people use rollers to flatten areas, but compacted soil isn't usually all that great for plants...
on a low budget and with a dog that's about all i would do.
songbird
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Saturday, July 20, 2013 5:08:50 AM UTC-4, bluemoon 1502 wrote:

If you're seeking to create a lawn with grass, then I would kill off what is there and either re-seed with a top quality grass seed or lay sod. For killing it, I would use glyphosate (Roundup) and just keep the dog off it for a couple weeks. Glyphosate is widely used, including on food crops. If you don't want to do that, you could cover it with tarps for a few weeks until it dies. How practical that is depends on how large the area is.
As for digging up a few inches and using that to level it, that's not going to work. That soil is full of roots and will be a clumpy mess. I can't see what is there, what kind of soil you have, etc. But depending on what's there, if possible, I would kill it off, mow it very short, rake up. Then get whatever screened topsoil you need to level low areas. Then re-seed using an over-seeder, which is power eqpt you can rent. It cuts grooves in the soil and drops the seed. Another alternative would be core aeration, either instead of the over-seeder or before it. Apply starter fertilizer and keep it constantly moist for several weeks. You should also test the PH and adjust if needed.
Best time to do that is in very early Fall. Then you have cooler temps, less competition from weeds, more rain, etc. I would not attempt it now.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

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.