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Anyone out there know about lawn care?

A few years ago I bought an old house and this year is the year to get the yard in order. May Dad though he was doing a good thing and went out in the yard and raked last week. He thought he would rake up the dead grass. I went out today and I see that he raked down to bare dirt in huge sections. I don't know if the grass just does, or the grown was too wet (I am in a suburb of Boston, Massachusetts) and he just pulled everything up. Does anyone know if it is too early for grass seed? Also, does anyone have any ideas on how to keep the birds from eating all the seed? The neighbor's trees are filled with sparrows and I just didn't want to create a buffet for them.

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( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
rhodielady_47
Apr. 9th, 2014 10:40 pm (UTC)
I suppose you could always plant your grass seeds in small areas and then keep each area tented so the birds can't easily get to it.
Once each small area has germinated, you can then move on and reseed the next section.

I'll be interested in seeing what everyone else comes up with on this problem.
:)
virginiadear
Apr. 10th, 2014 01:54 am (UTC)
Cheesecloth, m'dear.

Unless you have to keep the surface of the ground absolutely flat and smooth (not the same as perfectly horizontal), you may, but only may, want to put some topsoil onto the bare spots.
Whether you do or don't add a thin layer of topsoil on the bare areas, seed your lawn and place cheesecloth over the seeded areas. You have to stake it down so it doesn't blow away; you want it stretched out so it's kind of firm so birds can't stand on it and peck the seed through it; you want it to rest just at the tips of the existing blades of lawn grass so there is some little bit of space between the cheesecloth and the seed but not enough for the birds to get under the cheesecloth to get at the seed.
Stakes around the edges of the cheesecloth supporting long strips of fabric about one-inch wide (in my old and old-fashion neighborhood, folks used to use strips of cloth from the "rag bag" which every thrifty housewife kept: worn out clothing, worn out household linens such as bedding and towels found their way into that bag to be used for washing windows, floors, scrubbing the bathtub or the sinks, washing the car, waxing the car, polishing furniture....and scaring birds away from freshly seeded lawns. The idea was that the flutter of the strips in a breeze would frighten the birds away.)
And it helps if you water.

It might depend on the type of grass you have (and unless you're completely redoing your lawn with a more suitable grass, you'll want to match the new seed to the existing grass), but your seed source can or at least should be able to tell you when the best time is to sow the seed.
I will mention, though, that Nature abhors a vacuum: if there's an empty space on the ground, she wants to fill it and what usually shows up as a filler is crabgrass, so I'd say sow your grass seed just as soon as it's possible.

https://www.greenviewfertilizer.com/articles/how-to-plant-grass-seed
http://www.thisoldhouse.com/toh/how-to/intro/0,,1099789,00.html
wobblerlorri
Apr. 10th, 2014 02:30 am (UTC)
Depending on how huge "huge" is, you might want to consider plugging or sodding. It's more expensive than seeding, but the birds don't eat your plugs/sod. Be sure you select sod that spreads by rhizomes/stolons/runners.

Rent, borrow, beg or buy a tiller, and till the bare spots to a depth of about 1 to 2". Rake it smooth, and then it's time to plant your plugs/sod.

Sod will come in rolls, and all you do is just roll it out, tamp it down, and keep it watered until it greens up. Plugging is taking sections of sod, cutting it into roughly hand-sized clumps, dibbling a little depression in your seedbed, pressing in the plug, then move on about 6" away and do another one.

If you plug, be sure to stagger your plugs so that it's a checkerboard sort of pattern -- that way it'll fill in more naturally. If you do straight lines, you'll have funny looking thinner spots between these lush ranks of grass. It all fills in over time, but checkerboard plugging makes it look fuller quicker.

Either way, keep it well watered until the grass is established and sending out runners, then water it as regularly as you'd normally water a lawn. Eventually your sod/plugs will fill in the bare areas, and even take over the rest of your lawn so in a few years' time it will be a homogeneous lawn.
eanja
Apr. 10th, 2014 10:47 am (UTC)
Nothing to add to above comments re how to seed, but as someone else in the Boston area who started with a long neglected lawn, it's not at all surprising that you'd be down to bare patches after raking. Exactly the same thing happened to me when I de-thatched- half the lawn turned out to be either matted dead grass or goose grass, and really you're just better getting that stuff completely out of there (if you can).

On the bright side, even w/out any protective measures beyond covering the seeds a/ some topsoil, the lawn looks infinitely better after a season or two of seeding and overseeding.

It is pretty much exactly the right time for spring seeding up here- warm enough for the new grass to grow, but the goose and crab grass won't quite be getting started yet.It's been a pretty cool spring this year, but anytime this month should be pretty much fine.
low_delta
Apr. 11th, 2014 02:20 am (UTC)
I put straw down over it. It helps retain moisture too. But then I have horrible luck getting grass seed to sprout - with or without straw.
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