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 Post subject: Disaster lawn
PostPosted: Sun Apr 17, 2016 6:54 pm 
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Our backyard is a complete disaster - weeds, bare, cracked patches, moss, and crazy big ant nests (about 8" wide and about 6" tall at the highest peak, and we've got a couple).

We were looking to extend/redo a patio (we have loose and uneven Mattamy slabs right now), but need to do something about the grass now that we have a toddler who seems interested in going outside.

At what point do you declare it unsalvageable and resod?

Can anything be done to treat the lawn and get rid of the ants that is kid-safe?


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 Post subject: Re: Disaster lawn
PostPosted: Sun Apr 17, 2016 8:39 pm 
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Step 1 might be to make sure that you have enough topsoil over the clay to actually sustain a decent lawn.

The local developers are fond of scraping it all away and then dusting the bare clay with 2" of medium quality topsoil after the home is done. I suspect they sell the surplus.


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 Post subject: Re: Disaster lawn
PostPosted: Mon Apr 18, 2016 8:46 am 
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I think some of the better builders/land developers have changed their process from scrap and stack to putting them through a tumbler and removing rocks and debris making the remaining soil viable as top soil. I wish they all would do this but that would mean caring about the customer spending just a little more!


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 Post subject: Re: Disaster lawn
PostPosted: Mon Apr 18, 2016 9:12 am 
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Try LOTS of water and grass seed for a month first.

And pull out those weeds. Be vigilant. A dose of illegal weed killer would help wonders as well - ask your neighbors, someone has some in their garage.


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 Post subject: Re: Disaster lawn
PostPosted: Mon Apr 18, 2016 2:44 pm 
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Tinfoil wrote:
Step 1 might be to make sure that you have enough topsoil over the clay to actually sustain a decent lawn.

The local developers are fond of scraping it all away and then dusting the bare clay with 2" of medium quality topsoil after the home is done. I suspect they sell the surplus.


This is likely highly relevant. Our house is 12 years old, and the ground looks like bare clay in all of the bare patches.


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 Post subject: Re: Disaster lawn
PostPosted: Mon Apr 18, 2016 6:05 pm 
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cov-canuck wrote:
Tinfoil wrote:
Step 1 might be to make sure that you have enough topsoil over the clay to actually sustain a decent lawn.

The local developers are fond of scraping it all away and then dusting the bare clay with 2" of medium quality topsoil after the home is done. I suspect they sell the surplus.


This is likely highly relevant. Our house is 12 years old, and the ground looks like bare clay in all of the bare patches.


You need to get a pile of dirt and sprinkle it around every spring. This slowly builds up your lawn to grass-sustaining levels of soil.

It's such a pain in April/May, but those beers on July evenings are well-earned.


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 Post subject: Re: Disaster lawn
PostPosted: Tue Apr 19, 2016 5:49 am 
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Location: Milton
Fixing a disaster lawn can cost a small fortune in time and money and can take a couple years before you can stand back and admire the results of your work.

Maintaining a good lawn requires regular applications of seasonal granular fertilizers and weed removal maintenance that - because the lawn is in good shape - will be less daunting.

Applying fall fertilizer and cutting the lawn short prior to winter is a must. If you do not cut the lawn short prior to the winter then it lays flat, gets matted, and has a hard time bouncing back in the spring.

For the disaster lawn full of undesired weeds then you may need to buy a pressure sprayer, often on sale at TSC, and go online to purchase some good old fashioned Ortho Killex concentrate with 2 4-D. 2 4-D is the key ingredient. It can not be sold in Ontario but it's available in some other provinces and states. These products are considered safe when properly used by or federal government.

Adding quality topsoil to fill low spots and to add organic material to the lawn will also help.

OR - you can pay a company to completely remove your existing disaster lawn and replace it with new soil and sod and then keep it good by maintaining and feeding it properly. If you do this then buy some Roundup before the disaster lawn is removed. Spray the most offending weeds / plants. This way the Roundup will also kill the roots of these weeds so that they are less likely so show their ugly heads through your beautiful new sod.

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 Post subject: Re: Disaster lawn
PostPosted: Tue Apr 19, 2016 7:50 am 
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Some good advice HHI but I would not recommend these people re-sod at this point. They clearly don't understand how to maintain a lawn, and that sod will be dead before the next round of dandelion season. At this point, it sounds like a generous dose of fertilizer, grass seed, and water water water will set them on the right track.

2-4,D. That stuff is magic. Also used by golf courses and farmers so don't be scared of using it. Just keep those little kid feet off of it for 24 hours until the next rainfall and you're set. Ask around as people have this hidden away - sold as Killex, Par 3, and other names.

But water. Water is the key. Your lawn needs water, more than you think. So water it.


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 Post subject: Re: Disaster lawn
PostPosted: Tue Apr 19, 2016 8:44 am 
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Hodor wrote:
Some good advice HHI but I would not recommend these people re-sod at this point. They clearly don't understand how to maintain a lawn, and that sod will be dead before the next round of dandelion season. At this point, it sounds like a generous dose of fertilizer, grass seed, and water water water will set them on the right track.

2-4,D. That stuff is magic. Also used by golf courses and farmers so don't be scared of using it. Just keep those little kid feet off of it for 24 hours until the next rainfall and you're set. Ask around as people have this hidden away - sold as Killex, Par 3, and other names.

But water. Water is the key. Your lawn needs water, more than you think. So water it.


water is the key but water smart. evenings are usually best or early morning. though this might be a no brainer for some but the amount of ppl i've seen watering their lawn at 2pm is crazy


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 Post subject: Re: Disaster lawn
PostPosted: Tue Apr 19, 2016 9:20 am 
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If that's the only time you can do it though, then do it.

Also sometimes you need to do what's required to prevent grass seed from drying out.

Look at me, talking like my grass is something special (it ain't).


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 Post subject: Re: Disaster lawn
PostPosted: Tue Apr 19, 2016 12:05 pm 
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Hodor wrote:
Some good advice HHI but I would not recommend these people re-sod at this point. They clearly don't understand how to maintain a lawn, and that sod will be dead before the next round of dandelion season. At this point, it sounds like a generous dose of fertilizer, grass seed, and water water water will set them on the right track.

2-4,D. That stuff is magic. Also used by golf courses and farmers so don't be scared of using it. Just keep those little kid feet off of it for 24 hours until the next rainfall and you're set. Ask around as people have this hidden away - sold as Killex, Par 3, and other names.

But water. Water is the key. Your lawn needs water, more than you think. So water it.


True. We bought the house resale, and the lawn was pretty much dead when we moved in (it was November when we bought, January when we moved in, so we never saw grass until spring). We're between 2 schools and near "greenspace" (i.e. untreated town weeds), so it's kind of a losing battle. I'm not looking for the nicest lawn on the street, just one my kid can play in safely without needing protective gear!


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 Post subject: Re: Disaster lawn
PostPosted: Tue Apr 19, 2016 1:36 pm 
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Location: Milton
I called Trugreen for a weed treatment quote, it was around $300... would that be normal for a 30' wide lot?

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 Post subject: Re: Disaster lawn
PostPosted: Tue Apr 19, 2016 1:44 pm 
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Last year I brought back my front yard which had been completely destroyed over the winter by voles (field mice). It took a lot of work and time but the lawn finally came back around July-August and I had lots of compliments from neighbours about how beautiful my garden looked.

First off, recognize that Milton's soil is mostly all clay to begin with and therefore you need to apply a couple of inches of good top soil, every year, spread out not only on top of the grass but also on flower beds, if you have any. I'm always amazed to see the top soil literally disappears into the ground every season. You can purchase one of those big bags of top soil for $120/$130, including delivery to your home.

Secondly, buy a large bag of premium coated grass seed and generously apply as per the instructions given on the bag. Gently water the lawn after applying the seeds and thereafter almost daily if you see that the top soil has dried out. Its important to keep the soil moist until you see the new grass shoots start to come up. This can take up to 2 or 3 weeks time.

Thirdly, buy a good spring and summer fertilizer and apply as per instructions. Also purchase some weed killer and use it throughout the growing season as needed.

After that, all you need to do is to make sure to water the lawn frequently, preferably in the morning or early evening, cut the grass once a week, and to apply a fall/winter fertilizer sometime in November. You will be surprised how green and lush your grass will be next spring.

Sounds like a lot of work but you can easily do it on a weekend. Otherwise, you have the option of either buying new sod or contracting a professional to come around every week to look after the lawn for you.


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 Post subject: Re: Disaster lawn
PostPosted: Wed Apr 20, 2016 9:03 pm 
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I'm important to understand what "lots" of water means.

I used to water my lawn every couple days. I'd throw the sprinkler on for 45 minutes, and wonder why my lawn looked like crap. So I asked the local retired guy with the amazing lawn what his secret is, and he said once a week he waters it for 3-4 hours. Twice if it's been really hot and dry for a sustained period.

I tried that, and my lawn transformed. You need to soak the soil, not the grass.

Top soil is important, but you can get away without it for a pretty long time. I've been here for 8 years and never applied any, and it's only the last year or two I've noticed it starting to really hurt. You can buy a cubic yard of triple mix from vanbeeks for $55. It drops to $30 after 6 yards. That's taxes and delivery included, not bagged. Those big bags almost double the cost. Just get a wheel barrel and have them dump a load on the driveway.


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 Post subject: Re: Disaster lawn
PostPosted: Thu Apr 21, 2016 7:25 am 
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Wheel "barrow", Ricky.


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