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Repairing/recovering lawn - new homeowner

All - 


We purchased a home recently and found out that the last resident did not water or take care of their lawns at all.  There is vegetation growing pretty high and weeds all over the place.  As of now, looks like there's clovers growing randomly.


From reading and researching, it looks like I have to do the following in this order:


1. Killing weeds (with roundup?)

2.  Rototill (done when soil is moist?)

3.  Add top soil/fertilizer

4.  Sod

5.  Keep lawn moist for best results


Are the steps above correct? Some additional questions I have:


1.  Would it matter if I sprayed with roundup , rototilled then sprayed with roundup again to kill any weed seeds that may have been tossed up from rototilling?

2.  I have weeds that are pretty long/big/tall and of course small.  Would I have to manually pick out these weeds first or do I just remove the large weed growth and leave whatever is small that can be processed by the rototiller?





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Posted 2013-01-22T16:06:58+0000  by johnbui615 johnbui615

Hi johnbui615,






Welcome to the Community!!!




If you are intending to put down sod, these steps seem sound. I don't know where you are located, so if you could give us your zip code, we can pinpoint your climate zone. This will help us make the best recommendations.




Round-Up is an excellent non selective herbicide that will eliminate weeds and grass where you apply it. It works in about 2 weeks. After the weeds are dead, mow them low. Weeds cut short will be easier to till.




Rototilling will allow you to smooth and even out the soil. This would be the best time to add soil amendments to improve the soil texture. Bear in mind that tilling will introduce new weed seeds to the area that will germinate when exposed.




Weed control after new sod is applied is a delicate matter. Simply keep the lawn mowed according to the particular grass' requirement and use selective herbicides only after the lawn is considered established. The time that it takes to become established differs with grass type.




I recommend applying fertilizer to sod after it has been laid. Fertilizer applied under the sod will travel away from the roots as the water dissolves it. Fertilizer applied on top will dissolve down through the root zone of the sod.




Post back and let us know how your new lawn develops! Thanks for asking.










Posted 2013-01-22T16:55:51+0000  by Travis_HD_ATL

Thanks for the reply LawnRanger!


After Rototilling, would it be wise to use roundup again - wait 2 weeks- then apply soil amendments?  Or should I go directly with applying soil amendments after rototilling then sod/fertilizer.




Thanks again!


(ZIP:  92801)



Posted 2013-01-22T17:04:34+0000  by johnbui615

Trouble is, each time you till, it makes more unwanted seeds. If you Round-Up to kill the existing growth, that should be enough.




Try to limit applications of any given herbicide to twice per year. Random use is bad for your yard and the environment.




Frequent mowing prevents those plants from flowering and thus reduces weed seed production. Mowing regularly will reduce the need for herbicides in the lawn.




Posted 2013-01-22T18:04:38+0000  by Travis_HD_ATL

Hi all,


So after doing estimates, etc. I found that sod may not be feasible - Didn't realize it'd be so costly!


So it looks like I will be doing seed (Zip 92801).


Is the process of seeding any different than sod?  Would I rototill, add top soil to even things out then seed and apply fertilizer on top??


I understand that this is best done when there is warmer weather but with SoCal weather last year or so, never know what to expect!



Please advise - 

Posted 2013-02-05T15:51:58+0000  by johnbui615

Hi johnbui615,


Yes, sod is a lot more expensive than seed, but the advantage is that you have an instant lawn!  Using seed will take about 10 days up to two weeks to germinate during the cooler weather here in Southern California.  The soil preparation for seeding or sod is exactly the same.


Out here in the west, we recommend that the soil be cleared of all growth, rototilled to break up the soil, a soil amendment added to the top of the ground (at least two inches thick) and then rototilled again to a depth of at least 6 inches.  The deeper the soil amendment is, the deeper the root system of your grass can be. 


I prefer to rototill twice, once to loosen up the soil and again to mix in my soil amendment.  Out here on the West Coast, we have access to products by Kellogg which produces a great soil amendment and is OMRI certified.  For a regular sandy loam type of soil, I prefer the 3 cu ft bag of Kellogg’s Garden Soil ( )  


One 3 cu ft bag will cover about 18 sq ft to a depth of about 2 inches.






Once the ground has been prepared and your sprinkler system has been installed, level the ground to the desired slope.  When using seed, it is recommended that you put a one inch layer of a good top soil such as Kellogg Topper or Scots Lawn Soil. This will be the base for the new grass seed.


Now that  you have laid down your topper, it is time to add the seed.  For best results, use a regular spreader either hand help, push rotary or a drop spreader for most complete coverage.   The bag of seed will usually give you the correct settings for your particular type of spreader.  


Handy Green II 1,000 sq. ft. Handheld Spreader





For best results, seed the edges of your area first, then, using a “S”  pattern, go side to side and then top to bottom for best  and complete coverage.  Many of the bags of grass seed will give you a coverage estimate.  This coverage estimate is for the maximum coverage using the minimum amount of seed.  Look for the words "Up To" and you will find an estimated coverage.  I have found that when putting in a new lawn, a large bag of seed will cover about 1000 to 1500 sq feet.  Heavier seeding will result in a nice, thick, green lawn.




Once you have finished spreading the grass seed, it is now time to “Cover” the seed.  It is important to place a thin layer of soil over the seed, usually at least 1/8 inch but no more than 1/4 inch:

  1. To help keep the seed damp during germination,
  2. To keep the sun from drying the seed out,
  3. The wind from blowing the seed away
  4. And most importantly, covering the seed will prevent all the birds from descending onto your lawn and eating all the grass seed!


Regular watering will be a necessity for the first week-ten days of growth.  Remember that the seed is only about 1/8-1/4 inch below the surface.  This will be one of the only times that you will be able to effectively water the lawn by hand.  Depending on the weather, you may have to briefly water the grass for 5 minutes 4-6 times a day for the first week- 10 days. 


Once you see the seedlings sprout, increase the amount of time you water but decrease the number of times you water.  This is where a good sprinkler timer comes in handy, especially if you are not home to water during the day time.


The goal is to keep the ground damp but not wet.  This is where a good sprinkler timer comes in handy, especially if you are not home to water during the day time.  The amount of time you water will also be dependent on the weather.  Cooler weather, less evaporation, less watering needed.  Warmer sunnier weather, more evaporation will occur, more watering needed to keep the ground damp. 


Be sure to take pictures of your project from start to end and share the pictures with the rest of the gardening community under the “I Did This” of the Project Library segment of the Community.


Please let us know if we can be of further asssitance to you.


This has been another of,


Posted 2013-02-05T20:54:37+0000  by Rick_HD_OC
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