The Finished Product
This is a followup to a post from last summer where I did the same thing: www.reddit.com/r/DIY/comments/3b75y9/i_reseeded_my_lawn_this_year/
I had a number of people request that I do a followup in 2016, so here it is.
As is tradition, this is the end result as the first image, but before I show you what it looked like this spring, I want to remind you what it looked like last year.
Pretty bad. Most of the yard was dead and needed to be re-seeded.
November 8th, 2015
Still green. We didn't get snow for another 10 days.
Just wanted to show you what the grass looked like right before the snow fell.
2016 – Snow has finally melted
Thanks to another year with minimal snowfall and the presence of lawn murderers (An old dog and a small child), this is what my back yard looks like at the start of every year.
March 24th – Raking Begins
As soon as the yard is dry enough, I take the rakes to it. Alternating between a metal garden rake to loosen up the grass and all the crud sitting on top of it, and then a plastic leaf rake to collect it all.
Featuring: Lawn Murderer #1
March 25th – Snow's Back.
This is what I get for trying to do *anything* in March.
April 29th – Can we try this again?
After a month of snow then sun then snow again, here's a better look at the compacted dead crap on the grass. This needs to be raked away. In fact, getting rid of that is often all you need to do, and the lawn will fill itself in. The problem is that layer blocks the water and sunlight from reaching the soil and the roots, so very little can grow beneath it.
May 6th – The Railing and the Damage Done
It's not as bad as last year, but it's still pretty bad. This isn't going to grow in by itself.
We've raked a bunch of times and the "dead zone" boundaries are pretty clear. Tomorrow we start ripping this up and replacing it with new stuff.
May 7th – It Begins
I don't know why I keep using this stupid hand tiller. I should really just rent a gas one and be done with this part in a fraction of the time.
Anyway, the first step is to break up the dead stuff so it can be removed, or if you have a gas powered tiller and you can get it to be fine enough, you may even choose to just leave it there and build on top. I removed the old dead stuff.
WTF R U Doin? I worked hard to kill all that grass!
Remove the dead stuff
I made a nice big pile next to the tree while I debated what to do with the old soil. I could let the yard waste guys take it, or maybe start composting with it. Well, I'll deal with that later, for now it's a pile.
You could seed directly into this if you wanted, but adding new soil will always be better.
One Cubic Yard of Soil
If you have a pickup truck, this should cost in the area of $25 to $50. For a lawn my size, you only need one of these.
This soil is *heavy*. I have airbag suspension in the back to keep it riding level under load. Without that, it'd be squatting and there would be next to no suspension travel for bumps.
I love this part
I will never grow up. Dropping the tailgate and watching the soil maintain its shape never gets old.
Spread the New Dirt
Get in there nice 'n deep like.
Shovel the dirt from the truck into the wheelbarrow, then dump piles around the area. Spread it with an upside-down garden rake.
Still haven't decided how to deal with that pile.
Canadian Tamping Tool
Before you seed you're supposed to level and pack the soil. There are tools for this. Some people drag a log behind them with ropes.
I put a bag of dirt in a snow shovel.
Look at those nice lines…
I didn't spend as much time on this as I should have, but whatever. My lawn doesn't need to be perfectly level, it just needs to have grass.
Same seed as last year
It's an All Purpose Mix of:
– Creeping Red Fescue
– Turf-type Perennial Ryegrass
– Annual Ryegrass
– Kentucky Bluegrass
I neglected to take any photos of the actual *seeding* process, but you can see the green seeder in the background of the next photo. I fill that with grass seed, set it to the level recommended on the bag, and walk around the yard. I "double seed", as in I cover the soil once, mix it in the the rake, and then repeat a second time. I'm not sure if this is as beneficial as I think it is, but the results have always been good.
Water the shit out of it…
This is important, especially in the first 7 days or so. Once the seeds have germinated, you don't have to water it nearly as often (unless it's unusually hot and dry out)
This is what you want it to look like after watering. Wet throughout, but not soaking in puddles.
I watered it once a day in the evenings around 8 PM. Avoid watering mid-day, because most of the water will just evaporate before it has a chance to soak into the ground.
And now we play the waiting game…
Yes, that is a Sriracha Beer.
Yes, it was awesome.
In case you're wondering what it looks like…
It's a stout, so it has a strong coffee flavor as well.
11 Days Later…
May 21st – 2 Weeks After Planting
You can see plenty of grass coming in, but it's still extremely patchy. Don't panic, it'll fill with a little more time.
You might also notice that I still haven't decided what to do with that pile of dirt next to the tree. I got rid of some of it, but there's still some left.
It's one of those, "It'll only take a minute" jobs that you just never get around to doing.
May 26th – Still Patchy
May 31 – Lookin' Good
At this point I'm ready to cut it, but the weather has been too rainy and I've been too busy.
You can also see the tumbler composter in the background that we bought and used some of the old dead grass and soil to get started.
WHAT YEAR IS IT?
Ok, I know I made this joke last year, but it's relevant this time too.
Also, this is June 4th, right before I finally cut it. At this point the grass had been growing for almost a month (Seeded on May 7th). This is pretty typical. You won't normally cut it until 3-4 weeks have elapsed.
It's like taking the clippers right down the center line of a full head of hair, except the lawn won't freak out when you threaten to leave it that way.
We have a lawn again!
And I finally got rid of that dirt pile, too. Except now the dirt sitting there for a month has killed the grass that used to be underneath it, so I have to plant more or wait for it to fill in naturally >.>
A day or two after this was taken (on June 10th) we had to put her down.
She was 15, mostly blind and mostly deaf. She was diagnosed with cancer at the beginning of the month. It was time.
You'd never know that most of this was dead just a few months ago. It takes a while, and it can be a lot of hard work, but it's worth it in my opinion.