The Q&A Archives: Lawn

Question: My lawn is not attractive and I would like to improve it. I have some an ant hill (small one in center of my yard); dandelions; and patchy grass with areas of just soil. I have not really done much to my yard for years and now I want to improve it. Can you give me some basics on what I should do first and recommend certain products I can buy. I do have a dog and would prefer pet safe products--my dog does not use the front yard for his business, but he does walk on the grass in the front yard. Please advise.
Thank you,

Answer: I think the first approach is to eliminate the weeds and the ant hill, then rake the bare areas and reseed the entire lawn. I understand your concern about chemicals and pets. All of my research indicates that glyphosate (Round-Up) and Scythe (pelargonic acid and related fatty acids) are safe to use on lawns as long as you keep the animals off the grass for a day or two after application. Round Up will kill dandelions all the way down to the roots so it is the most effective product. Others will kill the tops, but the roots can send up new shoots a week or two later. So, spot treat the broadleaf weeds with Round Up (it will kill any vegetation it touches so don't spray it all over the lawn, just target the pesky weeds).

After getting rid of the weeds you can aerate your lawn (rent an aerating machine at your local garden center). If you have the money and are so inclined you can spread some sand over the lawn. The plugs that are removed during aeration will decompose and any sand you spread will work its way into the holes the plugs left. This will help your lawn drain well and loosen the soil enough for the roots of the grass to easily penetrate. Water your lawn regularly and the grass should green up and become thicker; reseed the bare areas and it will fill in quickly.

Best wishes with your lawn!

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