Ressurecting a long dead lawn upstate NY

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Ressurecting a long dead lawn upstate NY
Wed, 03-26-2003 - 9:20am
Hi all, my apartment mates and I are trying to ressurect our apartments "backyard". It has long been "dead"(no real grass, a couple trees, but has not been taken care of in at least 6 years). The weather has been warming up and the snow over the lawn has finally melted. Yesterday we took about 4 hours to try and clean up. We are picking up all the dead branches and raking up the leaves. We got rid of the branches(trash) but are keeping the leaves in bags for possible composting. We still have more leaves and stuff to clean up before we start anything, but I want to find out what we need to do before we start doing it(which IMHO is a great order to do things in =).

There are 3 big trees in the yard that we plan on keeping, about 4 or 5 dead trees that we will be digging up, and a few alive, but barely trees we're sort of up in the air on keeping, as we'd like to have just the few big trees and the rest of the area clear.

We want to plant grass and set aside an area for a bbq stuff and possibly put in a "fire pit". We also want to plant some flowers or bushes along the side fences.

Now the only problem is, none of us have experience in doing any of this. Once the lawn area is clear I plan on marking off the areas we plan on putting cement or laying stone down to put the bbq stuff (picnic table, etc) on as well as marking off the areas to grow plants and flowers. But once I do this how should I proceed?

Some specific questions are:

1. should I place a barrier between the lawn area and the plant/flower area?

2. What will I need to do to plant grass in the lawn area? What process should I do to the soil to prepare it?

3.What type of grass should we plant? We live near Albany, NY and the backyard is surrounded by buildings on three sides, plus shade from trees, so we'll need something that can thrive in low amounts of sun light(it will get it, but not lots).

4. What will we need to do to the areas we plan on putting flowers and plants along the walls?


iVillage Member
Registered: 03-19-2003
Wed, 03-26-2003 - 9:57am
Hi there! I found cl-disvet's response to you in our archives. I'll repost it for you!

re: Ressurecting a long dead lawn in upst...


message #: 1513.2 in response to 1513.1

from: cl-disvet112

to: indierocksteve

date: Mar-25 9:05 am

replies: 2

What an undertaking......Welcome to "begining to plant new areas" type gardening

Once you mark off your "concrete" area, the next step is to take at least 3 plugs of dirt to a local nursery to have tested. They can tell you what soil ammenities you will need to bring up or down the (PH levels), fertilizer types needed, and other ammenities for loostening up your soil, such as sand, loam(peat moss), and even if you will need to add new "top soil" or composte....many garden centers do have coposte available for sale to get a start for new garden and grass areas.

Follow their plan, starting off with the PH ballance and fertilizers, composte, top soil, sand, and such, tilling them into the top two inches AT MOST NOW so you don't damage the roots of those trees. (After doing this for your lawn) take care of the trees by getting a good bit of (10-10-10) or (12-12-12) ballanced feed up to your tree trunks, and out to their "drip line" (the area that rain falls from the outside of the leaf area of them) in a heavy ammount. This will bring new life both to the good healthy trees, and to those in poor health as well.

Now.....get out your measuring tools, and mark off your planting beds compared to your lawn areas, and seed your grass, almost 1/3 more than bag requirements. This (overseading) will make sure that a spring planted grass area gets its best chance to survive. Tamp the seed onto the soil....Grass seed does not like to be burried into the soil, but needs to be pressed onto it. Now...water water water...for the next three weeks, your grass areas will need lots of it!

After your grass has risen, it will be time to work on the "flower/shrub garden" areas. Using edging between your grass and those areas, build up your planting beds to a depth no less than 4 inches deep, and no more than 16 inches deep for some plantings of shrubbery, roses, and many bushes that come in big containers. Small plants that come in those "multipacks" will do well in just 4 to 6 inches of soil.

Top this area off with a "natural" that will break down, not just blocking weeds, but feeding your plantings too for at least the next three to four years. Each year, cover that area with leaves from your trees that have been mulched up with a mower, and use the (gardening food) recipe I have posted before, using beer, soda pop, and such throughout the years to get that wonderful food to work on your lawn and garden areas.

As for your grass areas....during the mowing season, using a sharp blade on your mower, and in "mulch mode", allow the grass you've mowed to be used for food back into the lawn, again using the (gardening food) recipe weekly throughout the growing season for it as well.

Finally, come fall of each year, and ESPECIALLY this coming fall, please remember to also do any re-seeding, and a good commercial fertilizer onto your lawn and garden areas to build healthy root systems for them. Next year you will be so glad you followed these directions!