Removing Weeds and Re-Seeding Backyard Lawn

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Aug 14, 2018
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Hey everyone,

I did some digging on the forum but couldn’t really find much on something like this. The house we bought has a backyard that’s looks ok at first sight but is in rough shape. It doesn’t take long to realize that probably 95% of what is green are weeds. So I’m hoping to get some advice on how to restart and seed the lawn from scratch so I can prepare for the fall seeding season. What I’m really hoping to get advice on is the preparation of the area. I understand the basic process of re-seeding as I reseeded the fenced in area of the house we rented after the dog tore it up. But it was small enough to dig up the remainder/till all by hand. Some pointers on the best way to remove the weeds/properly prep the ground for seeding would be very helpful. Here is some info on the area in question.

  • 0.20-0.25 acre of grass in central NC
  • On southern end of house, backs up to wooded area
  • Lawn slopes away from the house moderately
  • As mentioned, it is basically all weeds
  • I honestly am not sure if renting a sod cutter is an option. Judging by the size, I don’t know if a two person lift between my fiancé and I is possible…

Some advice regarding equipment would be great too as I’m thinking about getting a rototiller as with the available attachments it can serve as a de-thatcher, aerator, and edger to cover all future overseeding and edging needs. But I don’t know if this would be the proper application for it. Thanks in advanced for any input!


Nov 3, 2014
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Cary NC
Well, I wouldn't waste my time trying to seed now in NC. Our hot summer will kill off your newly sprouted grass by the Fourth of July. You could rent a rear-tined rototiller (Troy-Built) and break up the soil. Are you in the clay or sandy area of NC? Either way, the solution is to add compost to your yard. You can get it by the pick-up load for about $22-25 a yard here in the Raleigh area or most places will deliver it for free if you order 10 or more yards. Adding compost will improve the soil, make clay soil drain better and allow sandy soil to hold on to moisture. Rototilling it in will give your grass a reason to send down deep roots, helping it survive the hot summers.

Get a good quality southern fescue seed. Or if you have the budget and don't mind your yard browning out in the winter, look at some Zoysia sod. I have a neighbor with a variety that looks fantastic in the summer and it is a nice even light brown from the first frost in the fall to the last one in spring. If you go Zoysia you could do the sod in the spring. It is dormant right now and it is a hot season grass. It is very drought tolerant though it does need to be contained if your neighbors don't share your love for it.

If you have a lot of weeds you may want to Round-up the yard before the weeds go to seed in the summer. Keep it cut short to keep them from going to seed, this will help keep your new yard weed free. Once you have your lawn established cut it at the highest setting on your mower, and you can usually just mulch the clippings. With a fescue yard in NC you can expect to have to aerate and reseed annually or at least every couple of years. I've been using Tru-Green the past couple of years and my yard is looking much better. I don't use them for aeration and overseeding though. They wanted $300 and I can do it for much less. For aerating see if your neighbors want to rent the machine and do several homes at once. Aeration is done in the fall before you reseed. Don't do it in the spring as you'll provide a perfect seedbed for crabgrass.


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Mar 30, 2019
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If it was me (and I'm well aware I'm not you and I only know part of the story here) I'd have a go at renovating that lawn. I've dealt with far worse and got -a decent play-lawn out of it.

My guess is that when you turfed it you used the lawn far too soon so it became uneven - you have to keep off freshly laid turf for quite a while, and after then, only gentle walking, not heavy duty play! It has also not been mowed regularly enough. Lawns need mowing at least once a week, sometimes more, right through the growing season.

I would kill off or dig out the bigger weeds (I've zoomed in - there aren't that many) and mow the lawn with a rotary mower set on high. Treat with an all in one Weed & Feed and keep mowing - the grass will begin to grow outwards rather than upwards - then you can fill in any hollows with topsoil and seed over them - you'll soon have a lovely green lawn. It will never be a bowling green, but you have children - you don't want a bowling green. Soon you will be able to lower the mower blade, but never cut it very low - it will scalp the grass and weaken it. Little and often is the way to get a good lawn.

Even if you take all that grass up and turf it now, your new lawn will not be able to withstand children playing on it 24/7 (or even 12/7) for the first season.

If you do what I suggest they can play on the lawn all this summer - just ask them to be careful of the re-seeded bits - they can even have little watering cans and water them for you when the sun is shining.