The Q&A Archives: Sparse Lawn, Many Type Weeds

Question: Lawn 18 years old, common bermuda and 60% weeds (grassy & clover). 50% shaded by Shumard Red Oak 18 years old. Lots of bare soil under tree and tree roots on top about 3 inches. Soil sand, clay, test shows needs Nitrogen and additional phosphorus and potassium, also organic matter. HELP - WHAT DO I DO FIRST, SECOND, ETC.

Answer: I don't think there is an easy answer to your lawn problem. You may want to try and rehabilitate the lawn by digging out or using a weed control product, then overseeding and spreading a thin layer of compost over the top. Or, you might want to start all over again by rototilling the area, raking out the debris, incorporating some organic matter and fertilizer, tilling again and then seeding a new lawn. Either way you may not be successful in keeping the lawn green beneath the shade of the trees because turfgrass loves sun. There are some shade tolerant varieties, but they will need to be reseeded every few years as they peter out, even in the shade. If you're going to start from scratch, you might consider using a groundcover in the shadiest area, fringed with turfgrass in the sunniest spot. Hope your turf appreciates all your work!

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