Help me get a lawn

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Ok, this is the year. Built this house 3 years ago and I need a lawn. The front lawn is almost 90% crabgrass. Wife thinks I am wasting my time since "grass" already grows there ! Staring out my front window looking at brown dead crabgrass and I have finally snapped.
In the Northeast, can someone give me so ideas about how to get started on getting a lawn growing instead of this mess. The goal here is grass, any kind, I don't need a football field or a golf course just grass. Goal is do it on the cheap if I can. Front lawn is maybe 100x150 and including the back lawn is about 3/4 acre.
First thought is to get something to enrich the soil and discourages crabgrass. Then get one of those slice-seeders and overseed the heck out of it. Not much of a green thumb though can anyone give me some advice?
Thanks!
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snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

What a friend of mine did, when he moved into a property that had been somewhat neglected, was to roll black plastic out over the back yard and leave it there for a whole year. Then he tilled it and planted new grass. Actually worked OK.
Alternately you could shave the top inch or so off with a Bobcat and just have sod installed.
nate
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I had a lot of trouble getting my lawn started until someone told me to seed and fertilize my lawn just before a snow. It didnt make sense to me but my grass really came in.
Jimmie
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snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote: ...

Start w/ a visit/phone call to your local County Extension agent office for their region-specific (weather/soil/varietal recommendations) brochures and a chat.
Almost certainly the first item listed/recommended will be "do soil testing". Follow the advice--until you know what you have to fix you're simply throwing money and effort at a wall hoping it will stick.
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snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

Since there has recently been construction, I'm guessing that the soil will be compacted in places. The first thing that I would do is to rotovate the soil to try and get a good tilth.
How do you know that the soil will need fertiliser? Was the plot a verdent green before construction? If so, then fertiliser is likely not needed, or could be surface sprinkled later.
The fastest and most expensive way to get a lawn this side of The Pond is to buy in turf sods and lay them after rotovating and leveling.
If you are intending to go the seed route, after leveling you will need to roll and then rake the seed in. Gentle hose after - not a downpour. Spend time watching out the window as the birds come and collect the seed you have put down.
As to type of grass seed, I cannot advise from here.
I dare say that someone more local will come along soon.
Have fun and stick with it!
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On Mar 14, 2:14pm, snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

First thing is a crabgrass pre-emergent. Get it down before forsythias bloom where you live. I do this every year. Get grass seed recommended for your area and don't use quick cover or something with a lot of annual rye grass unless you have an erosion problem. I do some seeding in the spring but fall is better. When you mow, don't scalp the lawn as this encourages weeds and crabgrass.
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Frank wrote: ...

Preemergent treating and seeding aren't mutually conducive. Will have to wait if treat this year -- in NE may not be too hot too soon; here would be near fatal to trying to spring seed and get stand w/o having _way_ excessive water costs.
Fall would be better but depending again on area and needs, probably better bet will be tillage instead. But, again, County Agent will have the scoop for the area once knows the situation.
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You are correct that the commonly used pre-emergents can not be used when seeding. I was wondering when someone was going to point that out. However there are pre-emergents, eg Tupersan that can be used when seeding, though they are a lot more expensive
There are some many things in other posts here that are wrong. Like the one saying to put down pre-emergent and then wait until it's no longer effective to seed. If you do that, you're going to be seeding so late that the whole thing is doomed.
>in NE may not be too hot too soon; here

This is the best advice. You can seed in Spring, but by far the best time is Fall. In Spring, you have major competition from weeds, the amount of water you have to be able to supply is higher and increasing, and then before the turf has substantial roots, it's July and hot.
I'd get through one more season, then re-seed in the Fall. I'd kill off the whole lawn early Sept. IMO, if you have crap grass, it usually includes a lot of grass and weeds that can be difficult. If you overseed, you still have those there. Instead of having some coarse, poor color, disease prone grass mixed in, I'd just kill it all with Roundup (glyphosate) and start over. You can reseed a week after applying it. Actually, it usually takes a couple weeks for everything to die off anyway. Use a high quality mix and use a starter fertilizer. I live in NJ and prefer a mix of tall fescue and blue grass. There are tall fescues available that are endophyte enhanced which is a plus.
If you do seed in the Spring, you better have a sprinkler system and plenty of water available and be prepared to deal with big weed problems. If you seed in Fall, the grass has many more months to put down roots and become established before you get to the heat and stress of July.
Also, most of the county agri extension services will test soil for $15 or so and give you a report. Then you will know the PH, whether you need lime, etc. Another key thing, you should have 6-8 inches of good quality topsoil. If you don't then I would strongly consider fixing that. Having good soil can avoid years of struggling with disease, fungus, grass dying, etc. And it can greatly reduce the watering needs, so if you water your lawn and pay for the water, $500 spent on topsoil or soil ammendments like compost now can quickly pay back.
Then, next spring, put down a pre-emergent crabgrass control with ferilizer and you should be in good shape for next season.

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Why can't we all get a lawn..?
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On Mar 14, 6:43pm, snipped-for-privacy@optonline.net wrote:

I should have also added, if you decide to wait until Fall to re-seed, then I would put down a combo fertilizer and pre-emergent crabgrass control this Spring. That will give you a better looking lawn with what you have and go a long way toward getting rid of the crabgrass.
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On Sat, 14 Mar 2009 11:14:25 -0700 (PDT), snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

Crabgrass seeds can remain dormant for 20 years. Crabgrass growing in a lawn will usually have sunny bare or sparsley planted areas. Crabgrass has a hard time growing in thick grass, so until that time you will need to apply a pre-emergent (I would guess immediately for your area), and apply it again in 90 days. The cheapest method to get a lawn is with the highest-quality seed you can find. Using cheap or seed with a high weed content will result in more work, or even disappointing results. Do not sow seed until the pre-emergent period is over. Find out the best time to plant and the best kind of grass for your area. Crabgrass is an annual, so are you saying you have a 10% grass lawn during winter?
It may be a better idea to contract for 12 months with no experience/equipment to do the job, then start doing regular maintenance yourself. A nice lawns needs work and patience.
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snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

Best time to plant new grass in the NE is in late September.
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Grin, not in the same situation but I know the feeling. Our lovely well tended grass was a mess after 7 years away in Japan (rented out).
Even crabgrass where you are goes brown in that cold. If you cant use the advice others posted here (resodd, wait til fall etc), you can slowly beat it down and have some better greenery this year. Next year will be better.
Go to a local garden store. Preferably not a 'HQ/LOwes' sort but that will work if you can not find better. The local most selling grass seed is probably what you want and will do well enough. You dont need soil testing as you said you didnt want a fancy golf green, just normal grass. You may need to run an airator well over the whole mess a bunch of times (that spikey thing that looks like a rake and rolls along poking holes).
They sell crabgrass killer here. I bet they do where you are too. It takes time to work (2 seasons to really work). If zoning allows, do not cut the grass too close. Let it be 4-5 inches at least normally and up to 6 before cutting for just this spring. The real grass will take over in conditions like that.
Yes, seeding works best in fall, but you can seed now and get quite a bit of effect back.
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don't take this the wrong way, and good luck on doing this, but there is a newsgroup about lawns/gardens

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Don't go there. They don't like lawns, fertilizers, pre-emergents, or anything else a monk would not do.
wrote:

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Phisherman wrote:

You got that right ;)
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snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

Mowing high can help a better lawn evolve. My favorite lawn grasses don't like hot soil. Crabgrass loves hot soil. If you mow short in summer, the sun heats the soil and crabgrass takes over.
Tall fescue does well at 3 or 4". If you mow at 4" in summer, that will help the year-round grasses and hurt the crabgrass by keeping the soil cooler and shadier. (You don't see much crabgrass in the shade.)
If trees drop leaves on your lawn, a mulching mower is an easy way to improve the soil.
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snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

What did you start with when the home was built - sod in front, seed thrown down by builder, no lawn? Shady? Sunny? Top soil depth? Sprinklers? Nobody can give you good advice for your lawn without knowing the conditions, other than to "consult your local extension service". Soil test is good idea. Pre-emergent crabgrass herbicide is good idea - if you want to plant a lawn this spring or this fall, having less crabgrass seed to compete with will help either way. Get out as much rock as possible - yeh, crawl around your 3/4 acre or hire neighborhood kids to do it. Get advice from ex. serv. for seed to plant - might as well make the right initial investment that you can build on. If you kill the crabgrass, something else will take it's place and it might as well be desirable grass, rather than more weeds.
Steer clear of weed-and-feed mixes - slow-release nitrogen is better for the lawn and better for environment. Herbicides, esp. broadleaf, work better on ACTIVELY GROWING WEEDS and the lawn grass has a better chance of withstanding damaging effects if it isn't stressed - so feed first, get both going, then kill weeds. Don't use either in hot, dry weather. Broadleaf herbicides are rarely needed as regular, all-over treatment; get most of the weeds first or second application, then spot-treat or pull as the lawn grass fills in.
This is all assuming your diagnosis is right and you do have crabgrass - dig up a plug to take to your extension service to ID and get advice. Proper watering and mowing have everything to do with how much work your lawn will need to keep it decent. If you think you might install or alter a sprinkler system, plan your landscaping beforehand, so you don't need to cut tree roots or have dead zones where sprinklers are blocked by trees. Got a riding mower? Want all grass, or "islands" of other plants that save you mowing and trimming? See the ext. service info for ideas and guidance in choosing plants. Once you get weeds under control, whatever your final plan is, proper mowing and weeding will save trouble - just pulling one weed might keep a few hundred or a few thousand more from growing from seed. Healthy, thick, properly cut grass helps discourage weeds. Have fun!
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snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

http://landscaping.about.com/od/weedsdiseases/qt/kill_crab_grass.htm
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snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

http://www.ladybug.uconn.edu/factsheets/index.html
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