Ken-n-Nancy's 2014 Back Yard Renovation / Side Yard Overseed

Discuss how to and whether you should renovate your lawn
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ken-n-nancy
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Re: Ken-n-Nancy's 2014 Back Yard Renovation / Side Yard Over

Post by ken-n-nancy » August 20th, 2014, 8:31 pm

gryd wrote:You mean to tell me your wife does this with you? My wife won't so much as pick up a stick! In fact she hates the fact that I'm all into lawn care even though I'd probably be a lazy sack if I didn't get out there and work on the yard.
If you don't mind me asking I see you included your wife in your username. Is that because she's involved in lawn care like you (which is cool) or is it because you're so madly in love with her that you must include her in your username? Don't tell me if it's the latter of the 2. I like to think that the rest of the world us b*tched at by their wives like I am! :banghead:
gryd wrote:Ken,
You know I'm just messing with you. You have a beautiful home!
Greg
:) Gryd, First off, I realize you're joking and aren't being obnoxious! Please don't misconstrue my delay in replying as my being angry or upset -- I know this probably seems hard to believe in this interconnected age, but I've been away from internet access for the last three days, and haven't been able to even see your posts, much less reply!

Anyway, I'm definitely blessed to be able to say that my wife has indeed been working on the lawn with me! Still better, we've found that there are certain aspects of lawn care that one of us enjoys that the other isn't keen on. (Kind of like Jack Sprat and his wife.)

I (Ken) get to do all the mowing. (Nancy mowed once once while I was gone on a business trip and decided that I must be crazy for enjoying to cut the grass!)

However, I can't stand significant amounts of hand-weeding, while Nancy finds it relaxing. A couple weeks ago, she hand-weeded most of the front lawn. Talk about tenacity...

Then, this past weekend, I wasn't quite able to finish spreading lime on the yard before having to tackle other chores, so Nancy got an introduction to running the drop spreader and finished the application. The next morning she even hustled out there and got the Milorganite spread, too! :o (I consider this to be practically miraculous, as she even knows where it comes from -- although she'd rather not think about it!)

That said, I do confess to being pretty smitten... ;)

Anyway, enough about us -- we're supposed to be talking about lawns!

I still find myself second-guessing the plan to put down a 90% FF / 10% KBG mix in the back yard. I really like the appeal of an all-KBG lawn which would fill in its own holes, but conventional wisdom seems to be that KBG can't stand the shade...

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Re: Ken-n-Nancy's 2014 Back Yard Renovation / Side Yard Over

Post by gryd » August 20th, 2014, 9:27 pm

It's great that your wife is involved in lawn care. My wife couldn't care less.

How much shade do you have in your backyard? Do you get any sun back there?
I have areas in my backyard where I am forced to use fescue. It's either that or chop down some trees. Personally I like the shade in back. Sure I love having KBG in front but I don't mind having to overseed in back every so often.

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Re: Ken-n-Nancy's 2014 Back Yard Renovation / Side Yard Over

Post by ken-n-nancy » August 21st, 2014, 5:31 am

gryd wrote:How much shade do you have in your backyard? Do you get any sun back there?
I wish I knew how to quantify that a bit better. The sky is open enough in back that lots of indirect light gets down into the back yard, but there are some sections that see hardly any *direct* sunlight. Andy asked the same question -- here was my attempt to answer.

The main reason I decided to go with the JDL "Shady Select" Mix as mentioned in the very first post in this thread, is that it did so well in the shadiest sections of the front yard -- it has stayed green and thriving all summer; granted, this summer has been a bit cooler than most; we still haven't had an extended heat wave.

I guess I just want to avoid having to put down grass seed to fill in bare spots every time a chipmunk digs a hole (it's enough work putting the dirt back!) or a small spot of grass dies off for whatever reason. Maybe it won't be as bad as I fear...

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Re: Ken-n-Nancy's 2014 Back Yard Renovation / Side Yard Over

Post by gryd » August 21st, 2014, 1:05 pm

Is there creeping red fescue in your mix? That stuff slowly spreads. Between that and the 10% KBG you should be okay. If all else fails send the wife out to over seed in a couple years. Sorry, just had to get that one in there! :D

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Re: Ken-n-Nancy's 2014 Back Yard Renovation / Side Yard Over

Post by ken-n-nancy » August 21st, 2014, 9:25 pm

gryd wrote:Is there creeping red fescue in your mix? That stuff slowly spreads. Between that and the 10% KBG you should be okay.
The mix is 35% creeping red fescue. I guess time will tell how it does with filling in...
gryd wrote:If all else fails send the wife out to over seed in a couple years. Sorry, just had to get that one in there! :D
:good:


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Re: Ken-n-Nancy's 2014 Back Yard Renovation / Side Yard Over

Post by ken-n-nancy » August 24th, 2014, 9:37 pm

Meant to post these progress photos last week, but too much work to do to post photos! Figured I'd add a couple for those that prefer to see progress in photos instead of words.

Photo 1 - Spreading Loam. (I used the bricks so that the landscaping rake would screed the loam to a uniform depth. I had already carefully scraped away excess subsoil to get a nice level surface, so that in principle, uniform addition of loam should give a level surface after rolling. We'll see if it comes out that way...) Oh, by the way, Nancy deserves the credit for laying the new pavers at the bottom of the stairs.
Image

Photo 2 - Rolling Loam. My sons are grown and flown the coop, but my daughter isn't scared of some manual labor!
Image
Last edited by ken-n-nancy on August 25th, 2014, 8:35 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Ken-n-Nancy's 2014 Back Yard Renovation / Side Yard Over

Post by ken-n-nancy » August 24th, 2014, 9:55 pm

This weekend's yard work wasn't in the back yard (which is currently fallowing) but was instead trying an experiment to address the problem I've had with the town snowplow removing the topsoil from the first couple feet of lawn along the road edge in the first plowing every winter. We often get our first significant snow in November before the ground is really frozen, so the plow blade nicely shaves off the topsoil and tosses it into the yard. It ends up being a double-whammy, as not only is the roadside grass removed, but the tossed soil ends up smothering the grass wherever it landed -- of course, we don't get to find out where that is until March, by which time the shaved topsoil has become a permanent addition wherever it landed due to freeze/thaw cycles over the winter, generating new bare spots every spring.

What I'm going to try is surrendering the two feet nearest the road to just be sand, and providing a row of cobblestones for the plow blade to ride on, protecting the topsoil of the lawn. Nancy and I laid cobblestones down in this section to see how it went. We only managed about 10 cobblestones per hour -- digging here was tough going, as the "soil" is mostly nitpack in crushed rock. The crabgrass likes it, though. ;)

If this ends up working well (spraying glyphosate tomorrow to take out the crabgrass between the cobblestones and the roadway) we'll consider the same approach for the rest of the front lawn, but that will take a lot of blocks!

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Last edited by ken-n-nancy on November 13th, 2015, 12:06 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Ken-n-Nancy's 2014 Back Yard Renovation / Side Yard Over

Post by ken-n-nancy » August 26th, 2014, 5:55 pm

Heading out for "seed-down" tonight... We'll see how this goes!

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Re: Ken-n-Nancy's 2014 Back Yard Renovation / Side Yard Over

Post by JustAGuy » August 26th, 2014, 6:29 pm

ken-n-nancy wrote:Heading out for "seed-down" tonight... We'll see how this goes!
Woo hoo :clapping:

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Re: Ken-n-Nancy's 2014 Back Yard Renovation / Side Yard Over

Post by ken-n-nancy » August 26th, 2014, 10:11 pm

Day 0 - Seed Down
That took longer than I expected! Needed to turn on the floodlights around the house and use a headlamp to finish!

Tonight, I managed get down starter fertilizer (3#/1Ksqft of 24-25-4), spread seed (4#/1Ksqft), roll the seed in, and perform the first watering on all 3000 sqft being renovated. Thought I could get that all done in 2 hours, but it ended up taking 3.5 hours instead. Spreading the seed took a lot longer than I expected using my drop spreader. Initially, I set the spreader setting too light. The good news is that the seed is probably spread evenly, as it took me four passes to use up all 12 pounds of seed, so I guess it's extra time well spent.

At lunchtime today, I had done a final spraying of roundup on the various just-germinated weeds that sprouted during fallowing. In hindsight, I wish I had started a few weeks earlier to have extra fallowing time. I only had 8 days for fallowing, which seems like it was barely enough to get weeds to sprout -- they started appearing about 2-3 days ago. I think that 14 days would have been better; maybe even 2 cycles of 14 days would have been best. Nonetheless, there were plenty of freshly-sprouted weeds that got their dose of roundup. I suppose that any germinated weed seeds that were killed off by the fallowing I did are ones that won't get a chance to compete with the new grass, so some killed is better than none.

I would have liked to have been able to put down Tenacity today with the seed, but I chickened out of doing so, since the Sygenta label suggests not applying Tenacity as a pre-emergent when seeding with mixes of over 20% fine fescue. My "shady" mix is 90% fine fescue, so I decided to play it safe and deal with weeds later -- hopefully they'll be easy ones that can be readily handled with the triangle approach. I had considered putting the Tenacity down with the fine fescue seed despite the Sygenta label warning since I've seen some more recent university studies that reported success with doing so, but I decided I'd rather deal with some weeds than with poor germination.

In my planning, I waffled back and forth about whether or not to topdress. Decided to skip it since I don't think I'll have too much trouble with keeping the soil moist due to the irrigation system and a fair bit of shade -- the "no topdressing" approach seems to work for turf_toes so I'm hoping it works for me, too. 8-) Plus, having read about the time others have spent topdressing with peat moss, I opted to take the lazier approach.

Nonetheless, I'm beat after tonight's labors -- would be a lot easier if the roller weren't full of water. ;)

Now it's on to the waiting game... Waiting for seeds to sprout in the back yard, and for weeds to die in the side yard after this recent weekend's dose of CCO!
Last edited by ken-n-nancy on September 27th, 2014, 7:28 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Ken-n-Nancy's 2014 Back Yard Renovation / Side Yard Over

Post by ken-n-nancy » September 19th, 2014, 7:02 pm

Day 24
We haven't provided an update since "seed down" because we left on a 3-week midwest road trip about 36 hours afterwards! We had set up the irrigation system for a very light watering (6 minutes) 5 times each day (8:00a, 11:00a, 1:00p, 3:15p, 6:00p) and were able to confirm it was working fine on the one day before departure. Then, the renovation was out-of-sight, hands-off (but definitely not out-of-mind) for the next three weeks!

It was a little nerve-wracking wondering if the amount of sprinkler watering was correct (in hindsight, I think it may have been a bit too much as it seems that some areas were overwatered a bit, showing signs of puddling). I know that last year when the front lawn was seeded that I tweaked watering on nearly a daily basis in accordance with temperature, humidity, sun/clouds, and rain to try to keep the soil moist without any puddling. This time, however, it was a matter of setting it once and leaving it there for three weeks without the ability to adjust for any of the weather factors.

In general, the germination seems to have gone pretty well. Everywhere that received water seems to have germinated. My seed spreading isn't as even as I had wanted / expected -- I think that is probably partly due to spreading mostly in the dark and adjusting spreader settings as I went. There are a couple swaths that clearly got missed in the later passes when I had opened the spreader further, as there are well-defined linear edges to the thin coverage, so I know it was seeding-related, rather than due to watering or shade.

Image
(Same view as before photo and dead grass photo.)

The areas that were sunnier (and thus also probably a little drier) are the tallest (about 2") and thickest. Areas that were shadier, wetter, and sparsely seeded look pretty pitiful from up close. However, we plan to get more seed down on those areas this weekend and water less for the next couple weeks, so hopefully those areas will fill in well before winter. Our average first frost is on Sep 26, so time is running out. However, last year's front yard seed-down date wasn't until Oct 9 and that turned out well, so we're still hopeful.

The section that gets the most sun (see below) also had a fair bit of crabgrass germination. We should have fallowed longer, but ran out of time. I chose not to use Tenacity as a pre-emergent, as I was seeding 90% fine fescue and Tenacity is not recommended at seed-down for fine fescues. We're planning to hand pull the crabgrass to keep it from stealing nutrients from the new grass, even though we realize the crabgrass only has a couple more weeks before the cold weather kills it off.

Image

Image
(Above photo shows the new grass / old grass border, along with all the crabgrass in the sunniest area. Same view as dead grass photo.)

The picture below shows about the worst section. I clearly under-spread seed in my early spreading, as most of this area was covered in my earlier passes. At the end, when I was using "more open" settings on the spreader, I came back to the area around the well and spread a bit more seed - that section looks good with some well-defined drop spreader edges! (How embarrassing!)

Image

Still a long way to go, but it seems the most nerve-wracking part is behind us!

Any recommendations on things to be careful about or watch out for now?
Last edited by ken-n-nancy on September 19th, 2014, 11:27 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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Re: Ken-n-Nancy's 2014 Back Yard Renovation / Side Yard Over

Post by JustAGuy » September 19th, 2014, 7:16 pm

:good:
Looking good. The back looks fantastic.
I wouldn't worry about the first frost date, we have growing into October.

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Re: Ken-n-Nancy's 2014 Back Yard Reno / Side Yard Overseed

Post by ken-n-nancy » September 23rd, 2014, 8:38 am

Day 25 (20 Sept 2014)
Applied 11 pounds of Scott's TurfBuilder Starter (24-25-4) over the back yard / side yard combined area of 5800sqft, for a rate of 0.46#N/Ksqft. This is the first fertilizer I've applied since seed-down.

Hand-weeded the crabgrass and other germinated weeds out of about two-thirds of the renovation area. Didn't finish due to getting too old for this! (We figured it was best to quit while there was still hope of recovering to finish on another day soon...)

Image

The tallest / sunniest sections of the renovation (which are actually the old garden around in the side yard being overseeded) were tall enough for me to make a pass over them with the mower at a height of 2.25", but I think only about 75% of the shoots were cut. These sections look pretty good, actually matching relatively well with the low-cut side yard which is being prepped for overseeding.

I've decided I definitely want to sow some more seed in a few bare areas in back.

Nearly mowed over a praying mantis in the side yard, but spotted him just in time and played with him for a few minutes before he decided it was time to fly away...

Image

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Re: Ken-n-Nancy's 2014 Back Yard Renovation / Side Yard Over

Post by ken-n-nancy » September 23rd, 2014, 8:04 pm

Day 27 (22 Sept 2014)
We finally finished the last of the "major work" associated with this year's back yard renovation / side yard overseed!

"Day 1" of our renovation was "seed down" in the back yard. However, we had decided to hold off on the overseeding of the side yard until after the return from our 3-week midwest road trip (which commenced the day after "seed down.")

Now, day 27 of the back yard reno is "seed down" day for the side yard overseed! Two days prior to seed down, Ken had mulch mowed the side yard to 2.25" (down from the normal 3.25"). Clippings weren't too much of a problem as the grass there is pretty thin (old fine fescue which has thinned out a lot). Today, an hour before seed down, Ken mulch mowed the side yard down to 1.875" inches (the lowest setting on our mower without switching back to original wheels).

Meanwhile, Nancy blew the leaves off the back yard reno so that there would be clear soil for us to sow additional seeds in areas that were a bit too thin and bare for our liking.

Image

After the low mowing, we topped off low spots with a bit of topsoil. (We did some hole-filling before our vacation; it had settled in a bit, allowing us to re-level again.)

Lastly, we spread seed in the thin areas in the back yard renovation, and then seeded the whole side yard, with a higher seeding rate in the completely bare areas.

Now it's time to wait while the sprinklers do their job and hopefully seeds start sprouting!

Image
In the photo above, if you look carefully, just left of center in the photo, you can see the rectangular old garden area which has 27-day old grass.

Image

Image
In the photo immediately above, you can also see the rectangular old garden area with 27-day old grass just off the end of the house.

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Re: Ken-n-Nancy's 2014 Back Yard Renovation / Side Yard Over

Post by HoosierLawnGnome » September 24th, 2014, 10:39 am

Nice work!

The day you see my wife donning a backpack sprayer is the day you need to bug out for the coming apocalypse.

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Re: Ken-n-Nancy's 2014 Back Yard Renovation / Side Yard Over

Post by ken-n-nancy » September 27th, 2014, 7:26 am

HoosierLawnGnome wrote:Nice work!
Thanks! I find myself wishing I had a lot of shade-tolerant KBG (read Bewitched) in the new seed I put down (if not all Bewitched), but we'll see how this goes...
HoosierLawnGnome wrote:The day you see my wife donning a backpack sprayer is the day you need to bug out for the coming apocalypse.
OK, you're not going to believe this, but Nancy practically begged me to let her get the leaf blower out to clear the leaves off the back yard reno -- it's her lawn toy!

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Ken-n-Nancy's 2014 Back Yard Renovation / Side Yard Overseed

Post by turf_toes » September 27th, 2014, 7:40 am

HoosierLawnGnome wrote:Nice work!

The day you see my wife donning a backpack sprayer is the day you need to bug out for the coming apocalypse.
:)

I seriously laughed out loud on reading that.


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Re: Ken-n-Nancy's 2014 Back Yard Reno / Side Yard Overseed

Post by ken-n-nancy » September 27th, 2014, 8:27 pm

Day 32 (27 Sept 2014)
It's been a week since our last photo update for the back yard renovation so it seemed like it was time to update those pics. However, in all honesty, this week's photos don't look very different from the prior set on Day 24.

The only work on the back yard since Day 24 was done on Day 27: blowing the leaves off the reno area and sowing additional seed on bare spots. After 5 days since that additional seeding, we don't yet have any germination of those new seeds.

We're still watering the entire reno area 4 times a day very lightly in order to keep the soil moist for germination of the additional seeds. The grass that sprouted with the initial seeding seems to be tillering now - most plants seem to have 2 or 3 shoots, rather than just 1, so that's encouraging!

Image
(Same view as before photo, dead grass photo, and Day 24.)

The below section looks better after Nancy's having hand-pulled the crabgrass last week.
Image
(Same view as Day 24.)

Image
(Above photo shows the new grass / old grass border. Same view as Day 24 and dead grass photo.)

The picture below shows about the worst section. Not much new progress here; the additional seed hasn't germinated yet. However, by looking at last week's picture, minor headway can be noted.
Image
(Same view as Day 24)

Today's big accomplishment wasn't in the back reno area, but was instead in the front and side (overseed) area. The front lawn is growing very quickly now with the fall weather. Our summer mowing height had been 3.75" but today's cutting was the 3rd at the slightly lower height of 3.25". We also spread Milorganite at bag rate on the front and side, with micros for boron, copper, and zinc, per Andy's interpretation of our soil test on those areas.

The application of micros went pretty well, with Ken mixing up the next bag of milorganite with micros while Nancy was spreading the prior one.
Image
(Nancy spreading milorganite w/micros on the side (overseed) lawn.)

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Re: Ken-n-Nancy's 2014 Back Yard Reno / Side Yard Overseed

Post by ken-n-nancy » October 2nd, 2014, 8:02 pm

Day 37 (Day 10 for the overseeding) - 2 Oct 2014

I was starting to get a little worried that the overseeding and bare spot repairs we did back on Sept 27 weren't going to germinate due to poor watering or something else we may have done wrong.

I had not ventured out to check closely during the last few days since I've wanted to avoid walking on the overseeded areas, especially as the soil has been soft due to 2.5 days of gentle light rain -- however the weather has been perfect for germination with cloudy days and daytime highs in the 60s with overnight lows in the 50s.

So this morning now that the rain had stopped, I just had to check...

Image(click to enlarge)
Yay, new grass sprouts! Looks like they probably actually sprouted a couple days ago and have been growing eagerly!

Image(click to enlarge)
We also have germination in the overseeded areas, too!

Whew, that's a relief!

Now the cold weather just needs to hold off for a few more weeks so these babies can get strong enough to survive the winter! The 10-day forecast still has all nights over 40F, so there's still hope, even though we're already 6 days past average first frost for here in southern NH.
Last edited by ken-n-nancy on October 2nd, 2014, 8:10 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Ken-n-Nancy's 2014 Back Yard Renovation / Side Yard Over

Post by Othertime » October 2nd, 2014, 8:08 pm

You all have done great work! Its great to see you all do it as a family too!

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