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Redoing my small neglected lawn (first timer)

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[OP]
Newbie
Dec 28, 2013
8 posts
2 upvotes
Ottawa

Redoing my small neglected lawn (first timer)

Hello community,

Newbie here. I have been neglecting my lawn (250sqft) for the past few years and wanted to spend some time on it this sprint / summer to revive and use for some family time with the kids. Right now there is no grass, just weed and there is a big slop because of the drainage.

picture of the lawn attached

How do you suggest approaching this. Trying to avoid any chemical spraying.

Here is what I researched so far and what I was thinking to do

1)remove all weed by hand
2) solarization for 6-8 weeks (is it necessary? )
3) tilling the soil
4) levelling ( how do I level it so it is not too sloppy toward the drainage)
5) seeding or installing a sod myself (how difficult is it?)
Images
  • D5DBF534-2F25-4672-964C-0F375E5372B8.jpeg
7 replies
Deal Addict
Mar 22, 2017
1249 posts
1297 upvotes
West GTA
If you want to do a complete lawn renovation, here's how it's done:

1. Kill existing plants. Easiest and best way is glyphosate (it's honestly not unsafe, it's easy, cheap and fairly quick), but if you want an alternative then solarization works. In the summer solarization works best with clear plastic (heat will kill plants), in the early spring works best with black plastic or thick landscape fabric (light kills). Solarization takes a while to work, a few weeks - you'll want to seed by the end of May, so better get to it.
2. Buy some compost. Enough for at least an inch deep layer on your lawn, ideally more.
3. Once you think everything's dead, pull up the fabric and till the soil up. Some people don't like doing this because it brings up weed seeds, but I like it for renovations because you can till in amendments. Rake up the dead plant bits.
4. Then apply your compost over the soil, and till it in so it's mixed in the first 4-6 inches.
5. Then drag the soil flat, you can use a 2 by 4. If you have access to a lawn roller, drag it then roll it.
6. Now water the soil pretty heavily. This does two things - first it settles the tilled up soil, and second it gets weed seeds to germinate. If you're willing to use chemicals you just gly the seedlings, but if not you can tarp it, hoe it or pull by hand. This takes a week.
7. You'll have lumpy soil from the settling. Drag it again.
8. Now you have a rich, flat patch of soil, no plants on it (dead or alive), and weed pressure isn't too bad. Your prep is done.
9. Now you can decide whether you sod or seed.
10. If you sod, then just get the sod delivered, lay it immediately (like as soon as you can, don't let it dry out), make sure you lay it like bricks and to have the edges tight together. Even a tiny gap will kill the sod at the edges. push down on the sod to make sure it's firmly in contact with the soil. Water it lightly every day until it's firmly rooted in the soil, takes a couple of weeks. For a small space this one might make the most sense.
11. If you seed, buy the nicest seed you can find. Cheap seed makes for cheap grass. Broadcast it at the new seed rates, apply a thin (like 1/4 inch MAX) amount of peat moss on top, then water it at least daily until it's ALL sprouted (call it three weeks). If it dries out, even for one day, it dies. Then back off on the watering slightly to 1x/day, then every other day, then slowly get down to 2x/week, but heavier to drive deeper roots. Mow it once it hits three inches, and mow it AT three inches. Tall grass has deeper roots, better disease resistance, less weed pressure, lower water requirements, and looks better.
12. Spring sodding and seeding leaves you with young grass that need a bit of protection from traffic and drought for the first season. Try to limit traffic until the grass has matured, and you'll have to baby it in the summer because it won't be able to handle dry spells.

Hope this helps. Honestly it isn't that bad, on 250sqft even the longest steps take basically no time. Your biggest issue will be keeping traffic low until the grass can handle it.
[OP]
Newbie
Dec 28, 2013
8 posts
2 upvotes
Ottawa
grumble wrote: If you want to do a complete lawn renovation, here's how it's done:
.....
Hope this helps. Honestly it isn't that bad, on 250sqft even the longest steps take basically no time. Your biggest issue will be keeping traffic low until the grass can handle it.
Thank you so much. this is really helpful. any idea on how to handle the end part of the lawn that is sloppy toward the drainage to even it out without impacting the drainage system?
Newbie
Apr 3, 2007
80 posts
70 upvotes
grumble wrote: If you want to do a complete lawn renovation, here's how it's done:

1. Kill existing plants. Easiest and best way is glyphosate (it's honestly not unsafe, it's easy, cheap and fairly quick), but if you want an alternative then solarization works. In the summer solarization works best with clear plastic (heat will kill plants), in the early spring works best with black plastic or thick landscape fabric (light kills). Solarization takes a while to work, a few weeks - you'll want to seed by the end of May, so better get to it.
2. Buy some compost. Enough for at least an inch deep layer on your lawn, ideally more.
3. Once you think everything's dead, pull up the fabric and till the soil up. Some people don't like doing this because it brings up weed seeds, but I like it for renovations because you can till in amendments. Rake up the dead plant bits.
4. Then apply your compost over the soil, and till it in so it's mixed in the first 4-6 inches.
5. Then drag the soil flat, you can use a 2 by 4. If you have access to a lawn roller, drag it then roll it.
6. Now water the soil pretty heavily. This does two things - first it settles the tilled up soil, and second it gets weed seeds to germinate. If you're willing to use chemicals you just gly the seedlings, but if not you can tarp it, hoe it or pull by hand. This takes a week.
7. You'll have lumpy soil from the settling. Drag it again.
8. Now you have a rich, flat patch of soil, no plants on it (dead or alive), and weed pressure isn't too bad. Your prep is done.
9. Now you can decide whether you sod or seed.
10. If you sod, then just get the sod delivered, lay it immediately (like as soon as you can, don't let it dry out), make sure you lay it like bricks and to have the edges tight together. Even a tiny gap will kill the sod at the edges. push down on the sod to make sure it's firmly in contact with the soil. Water it lightly every day until it's firmly rooted in the soil, takes a couple of weeks. For a small space this one might make the most sense.
11. If you seed, buy the nicest seed you can find. Cheap seed makes for cheap grass. Broadcast it at the new seed rates, apply a thin (like 1/4 inch MAX) amount of peat moss on top, then water it at least daily until it's ALL sprouted (call it three weeks). If it dries out, even for one day, it dies. Then back off on the watering slightly to 1x/day, then every other day, then slowly get down to 2x/week, but heavier to drive deeper roots. Mow it once it hits three inches, and mow it AT three inches. Tall grass has deeper roots, better disease resistance, less weed pressure, lower water requirements, and looks better.
12. Spring sodding and seeding leaves you with young grass that need a bit of protection from traffic and drought for the first season. Try to limit traffic until the grass has matured, and you'll have to baby it in the summer because it won't be able to handle dry spells.

Hope this helps. Honestly it isn't that bad, on 250sqft even the longest steps take basically no time. Your biggest issue will be keeping traffic low until the grass can handle it.
Great rundown, helped me as well. Is it always necessary to kill the whole lawn first? I have a pretty big yard and it would be a ton of work. Can i just put soil on top and overseed and water? will the new grass crows out the weeds?
Deal Guru
User avatar
Mar 23, 2008
11890 posts
8141 upvotes
Edmonton
inculiqbus wrote: Great rundown, helped me as well. Is it always necessary to kill the whole lawn first? I have a pretty big yard and it would be a ton of work. Can i just put soil on top and overseed and water? will the new grass crows out the weeds?
Lots of information in here:
more-weeds-than-grass-what-do-2035454/

Start reading!

C
Deal Addict
User avatar
Mar 23, 2008
4043 posts
439 upvotes
Toronto
inculiqbus wrote: Great rundown, helped me as well. Is it always necessary to kill the whole lawn first? I have a pretty big yard and it would be a ton of work. Can i just put soil on top and overseed and water? will the new grass crows out the weeds?

Judging by that pic, I agree to wipe out the lawn. You have 95% weeds.

Putting topsoil and seed immediately is another option but the weeds are there. You would need to apply a selective herbacide when the seeds germinate and after the second cutting.
Deal Addict
Nov 16, 2008
2251 posts
430 upvotes
Believe it or not an old neighbour of ours had a lawn similar to your, with slope, etc. A bit before they sold their house they resodded over the entire area which is about the same size as your maybe wider but shorter. New people came into a total mess of weeds, and everything bad you can imagine. grumble gave you a very detailed breakdown but I'm wondering if you go the sod route, are you not better to pull the weeds and lay down a nice level of top soil prior to putting fresh sod over it?
Jr. Member
Sep 26, 2019
119 posts
35 upvotes
Montreal,QC
grumble wrote: If you want to do a complete lawn renovation, here's how it's done:

1. Kill existing plants. Easiest and best way is glyphosate (it's honestly not unsafe, it's easy, cheap and fairly quick), but if you want an alternative then solarization works. In the summer solarization works best with clear plastic (heat will kill plants), in the early spring works best with black plastic or thick landscape fabric (light kills). Solarization takes a while to work, a few weeks - you'll want to seed by the end of May, so better get to it.
2. Buy some compost. Enough for at least an inch deep layer on your lawn, ideally more.
3. Once you think everything's dead, pull up the fabric and till the soil up. Some people don't like doing this because it brings up weed seeds, but I like it for renovations because you can till in amendments. Rake up the dead plant bits.
4. Then apply your compost over the soil, and till it in so it's mixed in the first 4-6 inches.
5. Then drag the soil flat, you can use a 2 by 4. If you have access to a lawn roller, drag it then roll it.
6. Now water the soil pretty heavily. This does two things - first it settles the tilled up soil, and second it gets weed seeds to germinate. If you're willing to use chemicals you just gly the seedlings, but if not you can tarp it, hoe it or pull by hand. This takes a week.
7. You'll have lumpy soil from the settling. Drag it again.
8. Now you have a rich, flat patch of soil, no plants on it (dead or alive), and weed pressure isn't too bad. Your prep is done.
9. Now you can decide whether you sod or seed.
10. If you sod, then just get the sod delivered, lay it immediately (like as soon as you can, don't let it dry out), make sure you lay it like bricks and to have the edges tight together. Even a tiny gap will kill the sod at the edges. push down on the sod to make sure it's firmly in contact with the soil. Water it lightly every day until it's firmly rooted in the soil, takes a couple of weeks. For a small space this one might make the most sense.
11. If you seed, buy the nicest seed you can find. Cheap seed makes for cheap grass. Broadcast it at the new seed rates, apply a thin (like 1/4 inch MAX) amount of peat moss on top, then water it at least daily until it's ALL sprouted (call it three weeks). If it dries out, even for one day, it dies. Then back off on the watering slightly to 1x/day, then every other day, then slowly get down to 2x/week, but heavier to drive deeper roots. Mow it once it hits three inches, and mow it AT three inches. Tall grass has deeper roots, better disease resistance, less weed pressure, lower water requirements, and looks better.
12. Spring sodding and seeding leaves you with young grass that need a bit of protection from traffic and drought for the first season. Try to limit traffic until the grass has matured, and you'll have to baby it in the summer because it won't be able to handle dry spells.

Hope this helps. Honestly it isn't that bad, on 250sqft even the longest steps take basically no time. Your biggest issue will be keeping traffic low until the grass can handle it.
Great tutorial! Thanks!

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