New Ride and New Lawn. At Least One is a Sure Bet.

We returned home from a week-long conference to find our newly planted lawn fully germinated and apparently thriving where our extra long driveway once stood. The little green spikes of lawn grow in stark contrast with the several thousand square feet of weeds covering the rest of our yard. And those green spikes were, consequently, just the the push we needed to dive head-first into improving, or re-doing, our entire lawn.

S purchased a lawn care book while I was at my conference and while he was supposed to be studying for a plane upgrade, somehow managed to read the entire lawn book. Studying usually means a marathon session of Angry Birds, so at least this was a productive distraction. Apparently the book told us to aerate our lawn. And apparently S's dad read the book too.

S's dad was going to aerate for us one day while S was at work, but discovered that the aerator was too large for his car. Enter our new 'whip (I don't know where I get that from, some gangsta reference from back in the day I'm sure.) I suppose now is as good a time as any to reveal that we're proud owners of a new Toyota 4Runner. We looked at lots of vehicles and this one made the most sense for us. We needed something that I could pack up and go on a long trip to Maine with Feeney, something reliable for around town, and something that could handle a Home Depot run any day, any project, any time. My poor Saab was just costing too much and sadly, city mechanics didn't make it economical to keep anymore. It was a painful decision for me to sell her since she was in our family for 13 years. I would have kept the car if we still lived in Maine and had Saab Steve, the most amazing Saab mechanic ever, to care for it. But city prices for an old car just don't add up (think $2 per mile for repairs on average this year).
Stevie Wonder's "Isn't She Lovely" plays in my head when I look at this photo. It's a lovely new ride and will hopefully remain so for the next 10-15 years. I get attached. Very attached.

So with our (my) new vehicle in our fleet, S was able to rent the aerator and bring it home without issue. The only issue was that S parents were away on vacation so instead of S's dad aerating our lawn for us, S aerated theirs for them. Details. S rented the machine at 7:30, took it first to his parents' house and was at our house by 8:30.
It's a very cool machine. Those spikes on the back take plugs out of the lawn and leave what look like goose poos all over the place. All those little holes loosen the soil and when the goose poo plugs incorporate back into the ground the soil is looser and therefore aerated. That's my take on how it works, feel free to correct me.
S aerated an area where in a fit of frustration, we dug up the lawn consisting of 100% weeds. We quickly realized that we had no where to dispose of the weed/dirt mixture and gave up digging and moved on to aerating.
The whole machine is weighted down by a water-filled drum on the front, which also squished down some of the goose poos it created on each of the previous passes. You're supposed to "overseed" after aerating since the seed will have raw soil to cling to, which a quick check of the book and a few google searches confirmed. So we loaded a big bag of tall fescue seed into our two spreaders and spread a generous amount of seed.
And then after calling my mom to confirm we weren't going to cause any harm, we went back over the yard and spread another generous layer of seed (throwing caution or likely cash to the wind and tossing by the fistful instead of by Scott's pre-measured settings) for good measure.

Just as we finished up with the rental equipment we saw a lawn care company stop next door and pull out an equally large aerator. We were happy to see that we weren't the only ones aerating and overseeding this fall. Of course our neighbors have a lawn to envy, which only means that we've got drastic steps to come. What steps do you suggest we take to turn our 95% weed lawn into a lush green, yet hardy, chemical-free, paradise?

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  1. Ngoc Dinh10/18/2010

    I would love to know how this turns out. Our yard is also 95% weeds. Luckily all the crab grass died with the cold spells, so now is the time to seed?

  2. Hi Ngoc - Our whole lawn project is working very well; we have tons of grass germinated and so far no weeds. From what we've learned, the fall is the best time to plant a lawn. You'll just want to make sure to plant a mixture with a lot of perennial seed. It would be great if you could rake up all the dead crab grass, or aerate, or do something so the seed actually touches the ground. The crabgrass is an annual but its seeds will winter-over. They key to having it stay away next year is to choke out its light with healthy grass, which means mowing the lawn with the mower on its highest/longest setting. You may also want to send a sample of your soil to your local cooperative extension for testing; you might need to add lime, or some other treatment to balance out the nutrients. Of course, if you aren't opposed to using chemicals (I am because of the dog) then you could treat the whole lawn (after planting in the fall) with weed & feed. Safelawns.org also gives non-chemical options for the spring if you don't feel comfortable with the chemical route with the boys and your pup. Good luck!

  3. I know this post was about the lawn, but as someone who recently laid her beloved saab to rest, I wanted to say - I feel your pain :)


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