Weedy Poor Looking Lawn
Our bluegrass/fescue lawn looks pretty bad. Each year it seems to have more weeds and bare patches. We don't water and have lots of shade. Where do we begin?
You can improve the health and appearance of your lawn. Start with an evaluation this spring. If over 50% of your lawn is covered with weeds or bare spots it may be easier to start over. Kill the existing weeds and grass and reseed.
Take the time to improve the soil. Time and money spent adding 2 to 4 inches of organic matter to the top 6 inches of soil will pay off in years of a healthy an attractive lawn.
If less than 50% of the lawn is bad you can start rebuilding your lawn with overseeding, fertilization and weed control.
Use a knife to slice into the turf and look for thatch. Thatch is a brown spongy layer of partially decomposed grass. If there is more than 1/2" you need to core aerate or dethatch the lawn. Since the lawn is thin. I would overseed with a shade tolerant grass seed after dealing with the thatch.
Once the grass is established you can start tackling the weeds. Keep the grass at least 3 to 4 inches tall. This gives you healthier grass that can better compete and crowd out the weeds.
Fertilize in early September and again in late October. Established lawns can also be fertilized in late May or early June. Lawns growing in shade need half the fertilizer as those growing in full sun.
If you decide to use a herbicide consider starting a regimen of corn gluten meal. A spring and fall application (when not seeding the lawn) will reduce the weed population by 50% in three years. If you decide to use a traditional chemical consider spot treating areas in the fall. Be sure to read and follow label directions carefully. .
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