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  • How can I improve my lawn?

    Created by Jim Moehringer on

    So I had some regrading done to improve my backyard and the new fescue grasses we planted died off, not sure why, but a lot of rain may have had something to do with it. We live in Asheville, NC. The soil is mostly clay….

    Now there is a good amount of crabgrass growing in, as well as some clover and fescue which is what we had planted.

    This fall I’m hoping to rehab the lawn and get a tall fescue going as well as the current clover mixed in. I’m just wondering if my plan is sound, and have some questions sprinkled in, bear with me.

    1. Over the next few weeks leading up to ideal fescue planting time (late summer/early fall) I’m going to pull as much of the crab grass and other weeds as I can.

    2. I’ve submitted a soil sample to NCDOA and will amend the soil as necessary. Also will probably amend it generally with compost and other organic generally suggested additives as the soil samples probably are a little off, as we had some top soil added etc.

    Here’s a question, how to mix the compost and other additives into the soil? Do I add these before I aerate? I don’t think I need to completely till everything, but I do think I need to stir some new food into the soil for sure (it’s pretty clay filled, and is compacted..). Or maybe I do till completely where it really needs it? Additives>till> aerate? additives>aerate? additives>power rake>aerate? Other suggestions?

    3. So I’ve pulled the weeds, added some fertilizers and amenders, physically prepared the soil (power rake/aeration?) now comes the seeding. I plan on planting a mix of tall fescues, and allowing some of the white clover to continue to exist.

    Is there a multi-cultivar tall fescue mix that anyone can recommend?

    A neighbor of mine swears by the Billy Goat Overseeder, I might use it. Any other suggestions?

    Open to any feedback regarding this plan or suggestions to add. I’m just hoping to get something down that isn’t crab grass and will last with some smart maintenance.

    Thank You!


  • Author
  • #286188

    Eric Vinje

    Hi Jim –

    Thank you for your thorough questions.

    Amending and breaking up clay soils can be a frustrating lawn care issue and can be a multi-year process to correct. We recommend aerating in both the spring the fall then applying a layer of both compost and gypsum, a mineral that loosens and conditions clay soils. Seasonal raking to remove dead grass also promotes new, fresh growth of grasses.

    Organic lawn fertilizers applied periodically throughout the growing season provides critical nutrients for grasses to uptake, resulting in green, lush lawns all season long. Leaving lawn clippings to resupply soils with a source of nitrogen is also recommended. For more in-depth information on fertilizing and amending lawns, check out Planet Natural’s Organic Lawn Care guide.

    Area seed producers can suggest grass cultivars and mixes based on local climate and individual yard conditions, such as degree of traffic, water availability, and shade. As always, we recommend planting local, native varieties that are drought-tolerant to conserve water during hot summer months. More in-depth information on grass seed varieties can be found in our Green Landscaping guide. Lastly, promoting and maintaining a healthy lawn prevents weed colonization.

    Hope it helps!

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