In the spring we were worried that the grass in our backyard had reached the point of no return. Our poor lawn was suffering from:
- chinch bug damage
- a dandelion explosion
- and many, many burn spots from the doggies
The lawn in our backyard is by no means perfect, but it is definitely on the mend. Here's what we did to bring it back to life.
There were several indications that are lawn was very acidic (lots of moss and weeds). So, we bought a giant bag of lime and generously spread it over the grass with a rotary spreader. I think we are due for another treatment but I am planning to pick up a soil pH kit just to be sure.
2. Aeration and Over-Seeding
Since our lawn was in such bad shape, we decided to invest in this service from a lawn company. A few years ago we rented an aerator from Home Depot and did the whole process ourselves. This time, however, we wanted the professionals to do the job properly and quickly! We were a little bit skeptical that this would make a difference. Much to our delight, it did!
3. Sprinklers / Watering
The lawn company that we used recommended that we water our newly over seeded lawn morning and night for two weeks. Yikes! We decided to be all hard-core about it. Go big or go home, right? So, Alex invested in some new sprinklers and we were pretty diligent about the regular watering. What do you know, in two weeks we had new grass sprouting up everywhere.
4. Thatch Removal
There were several areas in the yard that had large patches of thatch from chinch bug damage. We probably should have removed all of the thatch before we limed and over-seeded but at the beginning of the season we just didn't have the time. So, where the grass seed didn't take (because of thatch) I've been working away digging out the dead grass so that new grass has a chance to grow.
5. Top Soil + Extra Grass Seed
Wherever there was thatch or burned grass I dug out the dead stuff and added new topsoil (PC Black Earth) and seed (Scott's Coarse Grass Seed). I ended up buying a huge contractor bag of seed because we had a lot of spots to fix. I only worked on one small area of the yard at a time so that I could keep on top of the watering. Many of the little areas are blending right in to the rest of the lawn now. Yippee!
We waited quite awhile to apply fertilizer to the lawn. We didn't want to burn our newly sprouted grass. We used a rotary spreader and applied Scott's Turf Builder a few weeks ago. We plan to add another round of fertilizer in the late summer / early fall.
7. Weed Control
Even though our lawn is looking better, we still have a lot of dandelions and clover. Here in Ontario, dandelion pesticides have been banned since 2009. Not that I'm a huge fan of using chemicals on our lawn - but the recent ban on pesticides means that every lawn on our street has dandelions and the seeds spread everywhere!!! It's been really hard to keep on top of. We did pick up an iron-based weed control product called Scott's Ecosense Weed-B-Gone. We have to spray each weed individually so it's a slow process. We also invested in a stand-up weed removal tool (Fiskars Deluxe Weed Remover) - which works great but is a tedious task when you have a lot of weeds. One day I had to stop after filling four large buckets full of dandelions. Oy.
8. Mowing the Grass Long
Alex raised the blades of the lawnmower so that they are almost as high as they can go. This keeps our grass nice and long so that it doesn't dry out in the hot sun. We do have to mow it more frequently but it's worth it because it really does make a difference.
Of course, I couldn't have done any of this without my little helper.
He's at the age now where he will occupy himself for a few minutes and then he will come along with his little shovel and fling topsoil e-v-e-r-y-w-h-e-r-e. :)
If you have any lawn care tips or tricks make sure to leave me a note in the comments section!