Toledo Talk

How do I grow grass?

This may be a simple process but I don't know how to get started, or when to start. At my new rental house, the lawn is pretty tore up. The last tenant chained their dog outside and let them wear the grass away in various spots, so I have major patches where there is no grass, and even beyond that, the grass that is there is not ... it just doesn't cover the ground very well. I don't really know how to describe it.

My concern is that the house is on a bit of a hill, and that the lack of grass will allow erosion to happen (I've already seen some with the storms last fall), thus possibly damaging the foundation of the house if the yard isn't dealt with. Yes, this is a rental, but I'm close to the owners and promised to take care of the house after the last tenants totally mangled it ($15,000+ in repairs and months of my time to get it back to livable condition).

So how do I grow grass? Do I need fertilizer, straw/hay, what kind of seed, do I need to match new seed to the current grass kinda growing?!?

I probably have about 1/4 acre of yard that is at issue. I can water off of a well so watering is not an issue (though my electric bill will probably skyrocket running the pump). Oh, before I forget - the yard is sandy, very, very sandy.


created by MsArcher on Mar 20, 2015 at 08:42:34 am     Outdoors     Comments: 11

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What about a ground cover plant instead of lawn grass? The advantage of purslane is that you can eat it. It's good on salads.

If sandy soil and if it receives some sunshine, what about native prairie plants, like Oak Openings natives?

If too shady, try hostas, especially if you know someone who can share some with you.

Or maybe a mix of plants, including lawn grass.

Our Oak Openings natives, hostas, and some kind of ground cover plant do well on our sandy soil that's mostly shaded. The less lawn grass, the better for me.

You may need some small shrubs to help prevent erosion on a slope. How steep is the slope? Do you need to terrace it?

I'm sure holland can provide info.

posted by jr on Mar 20, 2015 at 09:04:01 am     #   1 person liked this

jr: Oak Openings definitely has some beautiful wild flowers. Looking forward to photographing them this spring/summer.

MrsArcher: wish I had some help/recommendations for you.

posted by INeedCoffee on Mar 20, 2015 at 10:10:49 am     #  

The house has a drive-in basement garage; its probably about 50-60 feet from the front door to the bottom of the slope if that gives you an idea of the slope. There is a tiewall on the garage side to prevent erosion, but from the front door around to the other side is where I'm concerned.

The yard is bounded by trees on the east and south side, but is generally sunny.

I have no idea about ground cover. What type of maintenance does it take? Can you still walk on it? (We like to have bonfires and parties for my kids). How do I go about figuring out what to plant?

posted by MsArcher on Mar 20, 2015 at 10:37:47 am     #  

Oh wrong kinda grass. I was going to say we haven't passed that law yet lol

posted by lfrost2125 on Mar 20, 2015 at 11:37:27 am     #   1 person liked this

I suggest you get a Sun/Play formula seed. That is what I have used in my yard. It will stand up to the wear and tear of foot traffic, as well as tolerate the sun/heat. Most hardware/home improvement stores will carry one. I always get mine at Black Diamond, and I get the kind that they bag up for you, which supposedly is formulated more for our area, as opposed to the prebagged stuff. You will need to lightly rake each area, to remove any dead stuff, and also to "roughen" up the soil Sprinkle your seed on, leaving a little extra for the birds that will suddently find the new "restaurant" in town. Then loosely cover with some good dark dirt. In the past, I have also topped that with either some burlap or straw. I'd say the straw works the best, but if you have a big area, it looks crappy laying there, and it can be a mess/chore getting it off once your grass comes in. Lately, I haven't been using anything, just the dirt, but you HAVE to keep it moist. At least for the first 7-10 days until the grass starts showing up, you will need to water twice a day. After that, as long as it's not super hot, once a day watering for another week or so, until it really fills in and you start mowing. Don't put down any weedkiller or crabgrass preventer either before you sow (the seed won't grow), or until fall (you'll kill your "baby" grass).

posted by llz on Mar 20, 2015 at 11:54:07 am     #  

First thing to remember is that grass seed will not sprout unless the ground temp is 60 degrees or above. Around here May 1 seems to be a good date. Starter fertilizer will definitely help speed things along and strengthen the baby grass. Covering it with dirt, grass clippings, or straw will help keep it wet and as liz mentioned keep the birds from eating it all. However it does need to be kept wet all of the time until it germinates, which really means 4 or 5 times a day. The easiest way is to get Scotts Patchmaster, it has seed, fertilizer and mulch all in one. It looks like the hydro seeding the professional use. It will also survive on just 2 or 3 watering's a day.

posted by OldTimer on Mar 20, 2015 at 01:00:14 pm     #  

We used Patchmaster last spring when our yard got dug up for foundation work. The Hub smoothed out the damage and filled in with topsoil where the ruts were deep then used the Patchmaster and at the end of summer you could barely tell, good stuff!

posted by nana on Mar 20, 2015 at 03:15:09 pm     #  

I recommend calling Dennis' Top Soil and Landscape. They're located on Dorr, just west of Holland Sylvania.

A few years ago, I moved into a new house and even though the developers had so carefully and precisely applied hydro-seed to the property, the lawn never fully developed and was patchy, bare and weedy.

It was my first house so I was a novice at the whole lawn care thing (besides mowing my folks' lawn growing up). Our house was a mile away from Dennis and I went there almost weekly asking for advice. They were so helpful in helping me purchase the right blend of seed, with watering advice, weed killing advice, etc.

They helped me a ton, when the most I would spend was 15-20 a trip.

posted by skippy5k on Mar 23, 2015 at 11:34:20 am     #  

developers had so carefully and precisely applied hydro-seed

Was that sarcasm?

Actually, Dennis is just down the road from me. And I do want to work on the landscaping as well. May be worth the trip there.

posted by MsArcher on Mar 23, 2015 at 01:59:13 pm     #  

Dripping with it... ;)

posted by skippy5k on Mar 23, 2015 at 04:17:03 pm     #  

Another question for the Toledo Talk growing experts.

I'm going to overseed my lawn and plant seed in a couple of bare spots. Can (and should) I use starter fertilizer on the entire lawn or will that not be good for the established portion?

posted by Spaceace on May 01, 2015 at 11:50:30 am     #