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Hopefully some of you can steer me in the right direction. I moved into my current home a few years ago. I have a few acres that are heavily wooded, and way overgrown with brush. In an effort to reclaim some lawn around the house I cleared all the underbrush from my front yard. I also cut down or ripped out all the small trees and left just the larger diameter desirable species. I still have a few mulberries and dead trees to get this spring. After clearing the area, I hit it in several directions with my box blade with shanks all the way down. Then I leveled the box and rsised the shanks and leveled the loose dirt. I then spread starter fertilizer and seed in early September. I watered multiple times a day, not too heavy. Grass came in in 7 days. However it never "thickened up" over the rest of the growing season. I now have a muddy mess, that I really need to be a dense lawn as soon as possible. Last frost for me is May 2nd. Pictures of the area attached. Looking for direction on how to get a dense lawn.
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My first thought was the same as farmer52 - the soil in the woods is quite acidic.

A soil test is your best bet. Then try to balance the soil pH then seed with a grass that is made for shaded wooded areas.

It may take a couple years to get anything firmly established.

I did the same with my property many years ago. Parts of my woods were just a tangle of jagger bushes and brush. I cleared it all and brush hogged but didn’t do anything else. I did not disturb the ground itself at all. All I did was brush hog it all again - once in mid summer and once again in the fall. After a while - a couple years - I now have natural grasses and no brush. It certainly isn’t lawn quality by any means but it green and no mud.
 

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Use the granular lime. Spread it and let the rain dissolve it just like fertilizer. If you try to work it into the soil you will likely uproot the grass that is currently growing. As coaltrain mentioned, it will take a couple years to get the grass established. I would also overseed in the fall.
 

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It looks like you have a drainage issue. If your last thaw is in May, your not going to get anything to grow till after that..unless I’m reading incorrectly?
 

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It looks to be in decent shape for less than one season old. Apply a good quality starter fertilizer at your earliest convenience. I didn't look to see what part of the country your in, but in central Ohio, a fescue blend does well in the shade. As others have mentioned, I would test the soil and apply lime pellets if necessary. Patience is the key.
 

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Hopefully you didn’t box blade with shanks down too close to the trees. They won’t live long if you messed up their root system. Make sure you’re planting shade tolerant grass. I’m doing a similar project and will be planting a fine fescue blend.
 

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I had no lawn when I moved into my place and had to cut down a lot of scrub pines and trees. My dirt is all clay and rock.
After clearing everything and getting rid of the rocks I hauled in a trucload of topsoil and spread it and seeded it and then did like you. Watered and prayed.

So my lawn grew in like yours is. I got some more topsoil and in the thin areas, (like you have around your trees in your pics) I took a rake and lighty scratched up those areas. I spread some lime pellets that break down the clay dirt. I put down more topsoil, spread grass seed and then some fertilizer. The fertilizer had a grass starter feed in it. Then I covered it with a thin layer of straw to help keep it moist when I wasn't watering it. The next few days were the critical ones with watering it. Plus keeping the birds out of it.

I have been doing that for years as i keep expanding my lawn. I have a new addition going on my house and have to tear out some of the old lawn and regrade and it kind of makes me upset because of the hard work it took to get my lawn nice and thick.

Owell. Once the rain stops and it dries out, I can get out there and start all over again. Some places will be redone and others are brand new. The straw is the key...

Good luck!
WB
 

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Before buying any fertilizer or lime, get your soil tested !!!! Home depot and probably other stores carry test kits...cheap, easy to use. Once you teat the soil you'll at least have a rough idea of what you need to do. Right now, you don't know if you need 10-10-10 or 5-5-10 or?? And how much lime, 100 pounds per 1000 sq. feet or 1 pound per 1000 sq. feet!
 

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How dense is the shade? I can't tell for sure from your photos, but it looks like it would be pretty significant.
 

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My big area is heavily shaded but stays very green it’s not true grass it looks like a little green leafy plants that top out at about 8 inches. I Norland mow them a few times a year to about 4”. The area is also heavily full of wild strawberries which the critters love in the spring. I only have real grass in front of the house and where they disturbed to build the house.

I mow regularly to the left of the fence and one mower width to the right. The rest of the area I mowed 4 times last year. I have no clue what it is growing it came with. The house.


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Discussion Starter #14

  1. Before buying any fertilizer or lime, get your soil tested !!!! Home depot and probably other stores carry test kits...cheap, easy to use. Once you teat the soil you'll at least have a rough idea of what you need to do. Right now, you don't know if you need 10-10-10 or 5-5-10 or?? And how much lime, 100 pounds per 1000 sq. feet or 1 pound per 1000 sq. feet!
    Bought a kit from lowes and tested tonight a few times. 6.5. So I guess I dont need lime.
 

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OK, you've got a start! That $12 +/- kit saved you $$ and time NOT having to apply lime. Next is nitrogen, phosphate, & potash. Get your existing soil levels and check with local sod farmer. He'll KNOW EXACTLY what you should have for your seed/grass. Great job, Bob
 

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Around here in central Va, the natural pH is about 5.5. Need to get to at least 6 for grass. Fine fescue is what we tell people with shade here. I'd get some clover seed and put it in, too. Green grass does not do much for the ecology. It's a green desert to bees and other beneficials that want some nectar. Moss is good, too. It likes the 5.5 pH. I've moss down the back hill through the trees. Does not require mowing.
 

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Don’t go to a box store for your seed or anything. Go to a landscape place and talk to them. Ask for the the best grass for your area. I did the box store at my last house and my lawn was terrible. I built my house in the woods on a gravel pit. I put clay down then the old woods loam and power raked it with the tractor. Then literally a few tons of lime then starter fertilizer and seed with a brilliant seeded I borrowed. My first season and my lawn is amazing. I now lime every year and fertilize every 4-5 weeks with what the landscape place recommended based on conditions. Lawn was planted late fall and this picture was in June the next year
 

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Don’t go to a box store for your seed or anything. Go to a landscape place and talk to them. Ask for the the best grass for your area. I did the box store at my last house and my lawn was terrible. I built my house in the woods on a gravel pit. I put clay down then the old woods loam and power raked it with the tractor. Then literally a few tons of lime then starter fertilizer and seed with a brilliant seeded I borrowed. My first season and my lawn is amazing. I now lime every year and fertilize every 4-5 weeks with what the landscape place recommended based on conditions. Lawn was planted late fall and this picture was in June the next year
Good advice. FWIW, the more you fertilize the more acidic the soil will become so you need to lime often.
 
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