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My lawn is brown :(

I recently moved into a house that has pretty much just sat for a year- so the lawn is horrible. My fiance tried racking the leaves and they are so old and its so many it seems almost impossible to remove them! We have very few spots of grass, But a lot of weeds and brown spots. How do we fix this? In the fall the grass was beautiful. But now everything just looks brown and dried out. Do I need fertilizer, seeds? We don't want to sod the yard. Thanks for any help!

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Posted 2012-04-24T20:32:01+0000  by Dtcolby Dtcolby

Hi Dtcolby,


This is Ricks Picks out here on the West Coast.  Welcome to our community and thank you for your question.  You have a number of options with your grass.  There is no “easy fix” and but it will not take long to remedy your situation.  Depending on your area and type of grass was originally in your lawn, the spring thaw should start warming the ground.  When this happens lots of things will start to grow as you found out.  If you had used a Pre-Emergence in the fall, then all the weed seeds that blew in over the winter months would not be germinating now.  But that is old news.  For now you can use a liquid weed killer to attack the broad leafed weeds or you can just grab your weed puller, a tilling tool and a kneeling pad and clear the weeds out section by section.  I like the latter choice because in the process of tilling the weeds out, you are also turning the soil over and aerating the ground. 


Bayer Weed Killer&Crabgrass control.jpgOrtho Weed B Gone.jpg

Hand weed & Dandilelyon Puller 2.jpgTrue Temper hand cultivator.jpgCultivator Hoe combo.jpg

                                          Kneeling Pad.jpg


Re-seeding is going to be the most economical path for you.  Remember that sometimes a lush green lawn may actually be weeds in disguise.  Once the winter months passed, these previous grass imitators’ did not come back, leaving you with a lot of brown spots.  Once you have cleared out the weeds and loosed up the soil in the bare areas, it is time to add a good quality topper to those bare areas.  The topper is important because it gives the new grass seed a nutritious bed in which to germinate in.  Once you have laid your topper, the next step will be to seed those bare areas.  Check with your local Home Depot for some good recommendations on grass seed for your area.  Once the area has been seeded it is time to put about 1/8 inch of topper over the seed.  This will protect the seed from drying out in the direct sun, from being washed away by the sprinkler or blown away by the wind. But most importantly, it will prevent hoards of hungry birds from descending to your lawn and stealing most of your grass seeds.  A newly seeded lawn that has not been covered with topper is like hanging a sign out that says “Smörgåsbord” to the passing birds!


Once you have cleared your lawn of weeds and placed the topper over your grass seed, you can spread a Starter Fertilizer over the topper.  The starter fertilizer is high in phosphate which will speed the germination of your grass seed.  


Scotts Lawn soil.jpgScotts Organic Choice.jpg

Scotts Starter Fertilizer.jpgVigoro Starter Fertilizer.jpg

Your next job is to just keep the lawn looking damp for the next 10 days or so, depending on how warm your area gets.  The warmer the days and nights, the faster the grass seed will germinate.   You may see some weed seeds growing in with your new grass.  As long as you do not trample the new grass, you can gently pull the weeds out.  Do Not use any type of weed killer on your newly planted lawn.  The new grass will not be able to tolerate the stress of the weed killer.  Just be patient and let some of the weeds grow in with your grass.  Just pull out what weeds you can without damaging your new grass. 


In about 3-5 weeks, you will be able to give your reconditioned lawn a nice haircut.  Be sure to have your lawn mower bladed freshly sharpened when you do your first cut on the lawn.   With a sharp blade, you are less likely to rip out the new grass and are more likely to get a nice smooth cut.  A smooth cut will help to prevent the tips of the grass from turning brown.  The grass will probably be about 4-5 inches tall by then.  Only cut off about 1&1/2 inches of the new grass the first time and then in about 3 days, take another inch off.  This two fold approach to cutting your new grass will prevent the new grass from being pulled out by your lawn mower and also prevent the more tender lower shoots of grass from being burned with their new exposure to the sun.


After about two months, you can give your new lawn its first feeding.  To be safe, I would use a light setting rather than the standard one on the fertilizer package and then repeat in about 30-45 days.  Just be sure to water the grass well the day before you plan on adding fertilizer and water again right after you add your fertilizer.  Scotts makes a great Organinc fertilizer which would be great for your lawns first feeding.  Just be sure to use a spreader to apply it. The Home Depot carries a nice hand held one that would be perfect for smaller areas.


                                                      Scotts Organic Lawn Food.jpgHand help rotory spreader.jpg


I know it seems like a lot of steps, but come July, you will have a beautiful lawn.  Be sure to send pictures of your lawn project so we can all share in your journey with your lawn here at The Home Depot community.  I am sure that there are lots more home owners out there with similar issues, but they may be too shy to ask.




This has been another of,


Ricks Picks

Posted 2012-04-24T22:38:59+0000  by Rick_HD_OC

You lawn may have not greened up yet, some types of grass take awhile to green up, like zoysia or Bluegrass this article discusses these still dormant lawns and other reasons -

Posted 2012-04-28T11:37:34+0000  by drblade
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