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A Few Ways to Improve Your Lawn, Control Crabgrass and Save You Some Money!

Updated on April 19, 2020
Pick-mattox for digging in my yard a few years ago
Pick-mattox for digging in my yard a few years ago
Black Plastic Edging
Black Plastic Edging
Self-propelled core/plug aerator
Self-propelled core/plug aerator
Milorganite fertilizer
Milorganite fertilizer
Kentucky bluegrass mix for sunny areas
Kentucky bluegrass mix for sunny areas
Red fescue mix for shady areas
Red fescue mix for shady areas
Weed and feed fertilizer and weed killer
Weed and feed fertilizer and weed killer
Pre-emergent crabgrass preventer
Pre-emergent crabgrass preventer

What a change. We now have one of the nicest yards in the neighborhood.

When we first bought this property I had to use a pick-mattox in order to remove a small magnolia tree that was in the wrong place. I weigh 185 pounds and couldn’t even get a shovel into the ground while I was jumping up and down on it.

After I got tired of running sprinklers and hoses all over the yard during hot weather I hired an irrigation specialist to put in a sprinkler system.

Ron was also very successful landscaper. His yard looked like an estate; like something that you would see showcased in an expensive gardening magazine. He gave me a few tips that have worked wonders for me that I would like to share with you.

There were several problems that would require more than just the addition of an irrigation system to fix.

The front part of the yard is sloped; primarily hard-compacted clay and the sun beat down on it all day.

The slope that I mentioned is just steep enough so the water wouldn’t lay on the grass long enough to soak in before it would just run off into the street and then down the storm drain. Considering how much water costs these days that can be a sad sight. The net result was that the ground there was too hard to support anything other than toughest hardiest weeds and fire ants.

I put in some black plastic contractor’s edging along the street to stop the water from running off too quickly.

I then aerated that slope with a self-propelled core/plug aerator; making several passes until I was sure the ground had enough holes in it to allow a lot of the water to soak in before it ran off. One bonus of having the holes in the ground was that a lot of the grass seed fell in them. It stayed in the holes safely until it germinated

If I applied regular fertilizer to my lawn at any time other than spring or late fall, it would invariably burn the very grass that I was trying to help. To solve that, Ron recommended using Milorganite. It is very inexpensive compared to other complete fertilizers. It will fertilize your lawn without burning it, even when the sun is baking it; and, it will also keep the deer away because it is smells like people to them. It already has 4% iron it. If that’s not enough to do the trick to green up your lawn to your satisfaction then you can buy some extra ferrous sulfate pellets or granules and spread enough of it around the yard to do the trick.

I sewed a blend of Kentucky blue grass and tall fescue in the front yard. It also has a little bit rye grass that germinates quickly. I covered the new grass in that part of the yard with wheat straw and waited until the seedlings started come up through the hay before I attempted to do anything more to it.

The rest of the yard is flat and pretty well shaded so just about any kind of grass will work there. I use a red (creeping) fescue mix in the heavily shaded parts. The red fescue is also drought tolerant, which definitely came in handy the last couple of years.

Ron said that one of the best ways to break up the clay and thus soften up the soil, partly due to the mulching effect, is to leave the grass clippings on the lawn. I converted my mower from rear-bagging to side-discharge. It took a year or so, but I was actually happy to see to the dirt get soft enough to allow a mole to rummage around looking for grubs and worms in it.

All we have to do now is to put down a little weed and feed in the early spring and late fall.

And, to prevent crabgrass just put down some pre-emergent crabgrass preventer in the early spring when the ground temperature stays over 55 degrees or when the Forsythias start to bloom.

We live in Charlotte, North Carolina astraddle of the North and South Carolina border in agricultural zone 7.

How to use a core/plug aerator


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