Ask a Question forum: How do I redo my whole back yard?

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Apr 12, 2017 6:13 PM CST
Hello I m trying to redo my whole back yard ever since I was a kid we have never really took care of it so it s full if weeds and just a mess. Now that Im older I can Start working on it and I want to start by getting out all the weeds and getting grass in the yard. I'm thinking about going with seeds in order to plant the grass. But i dont know types of grass are good for my area or when i should plant. Im thinking about trying to till the whole back yard but after some reading some people are saying that tilling the weeds in is good while others say that it will cause weeds to spread. So what should I do? Also I dont want to use much chemicals if any because I might eventually want to plant some produce. i live in San Antonio Tx. Thank you :)

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[Last edited by Josiahroger - Apr 12, 2017 6:17 PM (+)]
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Name: Lin
Florida Zone 9b, 10a

Region: United States of America Deer Region: Florida Charter ATP Member Million Pollinator Garden Challenge I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
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Apr 12, 2017 6:27 PM CST
Hi Josiahroger, Welcome!

I can't offer much advice; I myself dislike having a "lawn" but unfortunately my husband grew up with the wide expanse of green sod and he loves it so he's the one who takes care of it. I'd much rather have a native landscape with plants and flowers native to my area of Florida. Grass/sod requires so much water, fertilizer, etc. whereas if we plant natives, once established they wouldn't require as much effort as tending a lawn and native plants and flowers would attract birds, bees and other wildlife to the garden.

Hopefully others will be along soon to offer advice and tips regarding tilling the weeds and planting grass. You might also be interested in our Texas Gardening Forum: where you can possibly find ideas of what grows well in your part of the country.
~ Playing in the dirt is my therapy ... and I'm in therapy a lot! ~

Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
Garden Sages Plant Identifier
Apr 12, 2017 7:27 PM CST
I won't be much help either. I haven't had a lawn in 35 years. But I can tell you this: Herbicides (such as Roundup) and weed preventers (such as Preen) do not last forever. You would be wise to eliminate as many weeds and seeds as you can. They will be a lot easier to get rid of if you don't have to worry about killing your lawn.

Next, tackle one piece of yard at a time. Develope a master plan so you know what you want and where it goes than go from there. Get rid of all those weeds and seeds and plant the 'canopy' part of your yard (start with the trees). Once the mainstays are in, go for shrubs, then grass and other 'in between' plantings.

Spend the summer getting rid of the weeds and planting trees and/or shrubs. Plant the grass seed next fall.

BTW, if you are against using chemicals, you should not be planting lawn. Lawns require a lot of water, a lot of fertilizer and a lot of broad-leaf weed killers. Are you ready for that?
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming...."WOW What a Ride!!" -Mark Frost

Name: Porkpal
Richmond, TX
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Keeper of Poultry Farmer Roses Raises cows
Garden Ideas: Level 2 Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier
Apr 12, 2017 8:05 PM CST
Most Texas lawns seem to be either St Augustine grass(which has to be sodded) or Bermuda grass which can be grown from seed or sprigs. In your pictures there is already some Bermuda, but I can't identify the other grasses. Mowing the existing plants short and fertilizing will encourage the Bermuda grass which can eventually crowd out most of the weeds. It is probably the lowest maintenance grass for Texas.There are also a number of quite safe broadleaf herbicides which will eliminate everything except the grass. RoundUp and its clones kill virtually everything. Very few herbicides available for general use will persist in the soil.
Name: Sandy B.
Ford River, Michigan UP (Zone 4b)
(Zone 4b-maybe 5a)
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Apr 12, 2017 9:30 PM CST
Welcome to NGA, @Josiahroger .

I would advise against just tilling up the problem areas -- even up north where I am, the weeds seem to survive while the grass dies. I agree with tackling one area at a time; depending on what you want to plant, raised beds could be a good option. Or, digging out the sod in an area that you want to plant and then amending the soil with compost and such. Just be aware that it's never "once and done," you will have to be vigilant and continue to dig out weeds (and grass) that continue to pop up in that area.

Starting a new garden area is a long-term project... start small. Here's an article from the "Learning Library" that might be helpful:
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[Last edited by Weedwhacker - Apr 12, 2017 9:32 PM (+)]
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Name: Sally
central Maryland
Seriously addicted to kettle chips.
Charter ATP Member Native Plants and Wildflowers Region: Mid-Atlantic Composter Region: Maryland Birds
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Apr 13, 2017 5:30 AM CST
so far, I like porkpal's plan, which I think is
start regular mowing and a care plan for the Bermuda grass. Here's one
Anything that is green and mowed gets you 75% of the way to 'lawn' Smiling and caring for grass helps it spread and over come weeds, like porkpal said. Spot treat big weeds like rosettes of thistle.
Tilling and major weed 'killing' have to be followed by dedicated plan for new grass, or you'll just have weeds again.
..come into the peace of wild things..-Wendell Berry
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Name: Elaine
Sarasota, Fl
The one constant in life is change
Cat Lover Master Gardener: Florida Tropicals Multi-Region Gardener Vegetable Grower Region: Florida
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Apr 13, 2017 11:59 AM CST
I agree with porkpal's idea of mowing first to encourage the grass that is already there.

I most strongly agree with plantladylin's advice to plant native plants, and what Daisyl said about planting shrubs and trees first. You won't find a lot of people who love lawns on this site. What you really want to end up with is a beautiful garden with maybe pathways of grass in between the nice native plants. Grass really is pretty high maintenance.

The one thing I would do, if you are tackling this project on your own is, set yourself a goal, such as "clear one square yard every day" for the areas you want to plant natives, perennial butterfly plants, shrubs etc. This way you don't get overwhelmed and give up. Once you clear a square yard, reward yourself by planting a nice new plant in that space. Then move on to the next square yard. Take small "bites" don't try to do the whole thing at once.

Start near the house, where you walk out the door first. That way you'll also see your project every time you go in and out. That's a reward in itself.

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
Name: tarev
San Joaquin County, CA (Zone 9b)
Always count your blessings in life
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Apr 13, 2017 12:11 PM CST
I don't have grass here, since we got into drought mode for years, so I have pavers on my little side yard here. Have chosen mostly drought tolerant plants in containers instead.

But it is a matter of choice really, do you want to have grass all over that you will have to constantly mow and you have to provide water/set-up irrigation, or do you want to create half functional space that would be easier to maintain, where you have a clear space to sit down and relax and do other backyard entertaining.

Always good to have a plan/design you wish to follow so you visualize and really understand what you need to have there, and how much effort in maintenance you are willing to allocate for it year round.

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