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100% Dead Grass - Assistance with Regrowth  RSS feed

 
                              
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Good afternoon,

I have a project I need some assistance with.  Any help would be appreciated.

There is a property that used to house six dogs for five years, the backyard now has no grass at all.  There are massive areas of dried dirt and a few patches of weeds.  I need to create a plan to have grass growing again...in three weeks.

My initial plan was to have the dirt tested for pH, then to remove a good portion of the dirt (if required, I am assuming "yes" and replace it with topsoil and compost.  After that toss grass seed and tend the yard.  Any thoughts would be appreciated.  Here are a few questions I have.

1.  I know there are several ways to test for pH. You can purchase a kit from the stores, but I hear those are not accurate.  Or, you can have a company come and do it.  Thoughts?

2.  If I do need to remove the dirt how much should be removed?  Six inches?  A foot?

3.  What is a good mixture to replace the dirt for very fast grass growth?

Thanks for any informaiton.
 
paul wheaton
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Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
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To have grass growing in three weeks, I would use annual ryegrass.  You'll see it in two to four days.  As long as you give it some water and fertilizer (which the dogs have probably already supplied) it will grow fast and thick!  The down side is that it will die off with a hard freeze and next year it will be all dirt again. 

1) The extension office in Misoula would do it for free for people living in Missoula.  But it seems that no other extension office offers this service.  I've used Midwest Laboratories (I think that's who it was) to do full soil analysis.  I know that they offer a pH service ...

2)  Why would you need to remove dirt?

3)  Work in organic matter.  Lots of ways to do that.  In another thread in this forum, a person is going to plant cowpeas.  So for the summer, it will be a pea patch!  Then plant grass in the fall ...

 
                              
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Thanks for the feedback.

In regards to why the dirt is being removed, it's simply dead.  The previous owner had a dog service to pick up their droppings, but the urine from six dogs for five years has killed the dirt.  The pH is no where near 6.5 for grass.  I already have the dirt removed up to three inches and have set to replace it with a 1:2 leaf compost:topsoil mix this Saturday.

The question now is - grass seed.  I've used ryegrass before, it does grow fast but as you stated it does die off quickly if the winters are too cold.  I'm in the Mid-Atlantic so it doesn't get too cold here, but depending on the season there can be some very low temps at night.

With about a two week margin, I may go with another type of seed.  Something that is stronger of course.

Thanks for the feedback!
 
paul wheaton
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Posts: 22374
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
bee chicken hugelkultur trees wofati woodworking
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I like tall fescue for a grass seed.  deep roots.  Shade tolerant.  And tolerant of foot traffic too.
 
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