Lawn Help

Ok, year #2 in the beautiful newly built house in the NE with the crappy lawn. Builder half-assed it and the lawn is sparse with a lot of crabgrass. I don't need a "home and garden" lawn but I'd like some grass ! Questions:
1. My thought is to use a slit-seeder rented from home depot since previous attempts by just chucking down seed and watering has failed. Make sense? Other ideas?
2. Is now a good time to seed or should I wait 2 weeks or a month?
Thanks for your guidance!
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Early Fall late Summer is the proper time to plant so that the grass grows roots not top growth. If you seed now you can not use a crabicide.
If I were in your place I would treat for crabgrass, feed it well and hope it fills in some, kill weeds all summer a seed heavy in the fall. You need 8-10 weeks of growing before the heavy frost to get established.
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snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

is through the U. of Florida extension service. Your county or, at least, your state, probably have the same. You might save yourself a lot of grief, some money and considerable effort by using extension service.
Early April in the north is likely too early you don't want a freeze after new seelings emerge. Fall seeding, or later in the spring, is better. Depending on what your builder left for you, you might want to look at either scraping away the whole mess or putting down sod. Did you get topsoil with sufficient depth? Any sod? Got a plan for the whole plot? How much area? Planting islands of something other than grass might be more attractive and less work.
Crabgrass, unless you remove it by hand, should be treated with pre-emergent herbicide. The timing is crucial and the products are not enviro-friendly. It is probably the toughest weed to get rid of, but it can be done. With a lot of bare soil, you are inviting weed seed to germinate, so be prepared to treat other weeds later.....broadleaf herbicides generally are effective used one time, assuming there is grass to fill in. Spot treating later, along with some hand weeding, after all-over treatment, can often keep them down to manageable levels. Proper mowing and watering also help a good deal in keeping weeds down.
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First thing is a soil test. You especially want to adjust the pH towards neutral as soils tend towards acid in the northeast. Look in your phone book government pages for a cooperative extension service, most will test your soil for a nominal fee.
As for seeding, seed tends to rot in the spring as the soil temps are low. Adjust your pH and fertility issues first and in the interim set your mower to cut as high as you can, the existing turfgrass can choke out the weeds if you let it grow a bit higher.
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You can seed in Spring and the seed isn't going to rot. If seed rotted that easy, grass wouldn't survive on it's own. It takes soil temps in the 50s to germinate, which roughly translates into daytime temps in the 60's. But as another poster pointed out, Sept is the optimum time to seed. Then you have cooler weather, it's usually rainy, competition from weeds is greatly reduced, and you have 10 months for the grass to get established before it gets hit with the high temps and stress of Summer, which is particularly important if you have limited ability to water.
If you seed in Spring, you need to be able to apply a lot of water to keep it wet to germinate and also during the hot summer months if there is no rain. You also can't use a conventional pre-emergent crabgrass control. There are others available, like Tupersan, but they do cost more.
I'd probably do with the advice to apply pre-emergent and fertilizer now, then follow up with weed conrol. Usually spot treatment with a tank sprayer minimizes the use of herbicide and delivers it on target.
Then, in Sept, you can use the slice seeder, Depending on how much good grass there is, you may also want to just kill the whole thing then with Roundup and re-seed with a quality grass of the appropriate type. If the lawn is a wreck, that approach can be more effective, than trying to salvage a lawn with some half-ass grass that may be of pure texture, color, disease prone, etc.
Also, as suggested, check and adjust the PH as needed. And make sure you have 6+" of decent topsoil.
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On Apr 7, 3:16pm, snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

Lots of good advice in the posts here, but lets get down to the basics: 1) Most of the soil in NE is absolutely terrible. 2) Too many new houses (and likely yours) are built on graded subdivision land where the already pitiful topsoil is carted away since it interferes with getting the structure built. 3) Weeds will grow on almost anything that isn't impermeable rock and that's what you now have. Given these conditions, you first need to truck in some decent topsoil, like something from an ancient woodlot that has been clearcut. Lawn services will siphon off your money for years dumping chemicals on your sterile surface, and a decade hence you will still not have a stable topsoil. If the budget is slim, buy topsoil annually to improve selected areas and let it build up to a nice 6" over time. Then check prices on sod at the box store and put it down quickly to protect the precious topsoil. Feed it. weed it, trim it high and expect to spend three or more years getting it in the shape you want. It will be an exercise in persistence, so good luck.
Joe
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snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote in

I went throught a similar experience in my new house in south central Pa. just three years ago . The top soil was basically turned under during the building process. So, the real problem is lack of fertile soil for the grass seed to get off to a good start. I had a soil test done at the local extension office. They recommended the type of grass seed (Kentucky Bluegrass) for my locale, and they said to use a starter fertilizer when I seeded, and to follow up with continued use of the starter fertilizer over the next three years, during the early spring, early summer, and late fall. Worked out great. Important steps are:
Get the right grass seed for your area; Use the correct starter fertilizer and apply it when you seed (expensive step, but if you don't do it the grass seed won't germinate in the poor soil); Insure good seed and soil contact; e.g. rake, cultivate, or use a slit seeder, etc.; Continue to fertilize poor soil for several years;
Be patient; it will grow and then you can spend a lot of time cutting it :-) If you seed in the spring and don't get enough rain to get that instant lush lawn, don't fret about it over the summer. It will grow in the fall. Oh yea, about the weeds; I wasn't to concerned with them. For the most part they are green and will help to keep down erosion untill the lawn is established, then you can attack the weed problems. But, if weeds do really bother you and the current lawn isn't worth saving, spray the whole area with roundup and start over. Good luck!
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I would get the soil analyzed. I suspect you don't have good top soil. The site may have been a parking lot, a waste dump, or a fill site. Find out what your soil requires before spending more money on chemicals, seed, and water.
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