That Apple Fell Straight Down: Advice to Restore an Overgrown Lawn

As parents, we see ourselves in our kids, both good and bad habits and behaviors. I’ve been a yard guy for years, so it shouldn’t be a surprise to see some of my passion for turfgrass in our daughters, but it was.

Sherri and I required our girls to help out around the house. Andrea didn’t show much interest in yard work. While she would help with projects in the yard, as soon as her part was done, she would head for the house.

Andrea’s Nightmare Backyard

Then she moved into her first house with a yard. It was a scary old house in Richmond’s Museum District. No front yard with a small backyard with some of the tallest grass and weeds, as well as out of control shrubs and trees sprouting up everywhere. It was so bad, one neighbor put up a six-foot privacy fence to keep the mosquitoes out of his yard.

We only had time to get her moved in the house. As we were leaving to head back to Atlanta, I wished her luck with the yard and suggested she split the cost of a landscaper with her two roommates.

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Andrea conquers the overgrown backyard's first obstacle: a lawn full of weeds.

Into the Jungle

A few months later, in late winter, Andrea called to asked what should be done to restore an overgrown lawn. I told her to put down a pre-emergent herbicide, which is very safe and effective for crabgrass. Just as important was to mow the grass down to get as much thatch as possible off the yard.

As written in this Super-Sod blog, “Frequent mowing is a must for the health of your lawn, especially with quick-growing grasses like Bermuda.” Once Andrea was able to get past all the weeds, she found that the yard grass was Bermuda.

When we went back to visit in early summer, it was a transformed house. Andrea had spent most of her free time fixing up the house and restoring the overgrown lawn. She did treat the yard with pre-emergent and was using a non-selective herbicide to clean out weeds in the beds.

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Instead of Richmond sightseeing, the family helps tackle remaining landscaping challenges.

Saving the Hidden Treasures

The definition of a weed is "a plant that is where it's not supposed to be." There were perennials planted decades ago by previous owners. Unlike her dad, Andrea was patient and careful to protect what might be a desirable plant or flower. (I would have hit the whole area with non-selective herbicide and hoped for the best.) One neighbor lived next door for years. She was happy to see the yard back in shape with many of the earlier-planted perennials kept in place.

While our plan was to go sightseeing for the day, we were so inspired that we spent the day working in the yard trimming shrubs and trees.

With just a little advice, combined with the desire to have a beautiful space in the backyard, Andrea had what she needed to spend the day outside working hard in the yard so she could then sit back at the end of the day to enjoy the results of her labor and passion.

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Andrea carefully identified existing perennials and helped them realize their potential.

More Lawn Advice from Dad

The younger daughter, Chelsea, is building her first house. It’s been great to be with her on the walk throughs. In my next few posts, I’ll be sharing some of Chelsea’s questions about the process of choosing a turf type, installing her first lawn, and caring for it. We will see if that apple also falls straight down.

Read more Super-Sod advice for DIY Lawn Care.

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The final result of lawn restoration enjoyed from the porch.



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