Small Front Lawn

(Question)

I just moved to a new house with a small front lawn, but the grass is not in good condition & 1/3 is Impatiens with different colours which I don’t like.  Just wanted to get the lawn ready for next spring/summer to have beautiful green grass.  I’m not a much of a gardener so any advice on how I can get the lawn ready would be appreciated? Do I need to add extra soil & Fertilizers? Soil around Impatiens seems to be very dry as well & the grass is scattered around with weed ( buckhorn, found the name on google ). Don’t mind some nice plants near the front door. Any advice regarding this would be very helpful. Thank you!

 

(Answer)

Congratulations on your move to a new house; it’s unfortunate that the existing front lawn is not in good condition. However, early Fall (late August through September) is really the best time of the year to start improving your lawn.

Perhaps you are aware that having “beautiful green grass” requires a lot of maintenance, even once it is established.  If your house is in a recently-developed area, the type and condition of the soil in your front lawn may need to be your first consideration; often builders will put down a minimal layer of topsoil on which sod is laid. Many topsoils also contain ‘weed’ seeds that will eventually out-compete the grass. This is possibly what has happened in your front yard. No matter what your soil condition is, it is always a good idea to amend whatever soil you have with organic material–compost, composted manure and leaf mulch. [Amending the soil will also help the soil to retain moisture–you refer to ‘very dry’ soil around the impatiens]. If you choose to re-seed your front lawn, you will need to mix organic material with some topsoil before spreading around to a depth of 12- 15 cm. before you reseed.

Which direction does your front lawn face? If it’s on the north side of your house, your small front lawn may not be getting enough sun; you mention that there are impatiens (an annual) growing; impatiens generally grow best in shady conditions. If you are dealing with shady conditions, there are grasses that will tolerate more shade; if you decide to reseed your lawn, look for a grass seed mixture that is designated for shade.

There are many factors that you will need to keep in mind when re-establishing and maintaining a lawn. See: http://landscapeontario.com/sowing-grass-seed. For more information about rehabilitating your lawn, check out this: http://www.torontomastergardeners.ca/askagardener/suburban-lawn-rehabilitation/.

Have you considered using a ground cover instead of grass in your front yard? If not, check out the possibilities here: http://www.torontomastergardeners.ca/guidecategories/lawns-groundcovers/. Either these Master Gardener guides will give you some ideas for plants other than high-maintenance grass.

You mention that you would like to have some plants near your front door. As with growing any plant, one must first consider the conditions–how much sun, type of soil (clay, sandy, drainage, etc.), moisture retention of soil to mention just a few. Choosing the ‘right plant for the right place’ will generally help one to achieve success in a garden or lawn. The Toronto Master Gardener web-site has lots of information about what plants to consider for your conditions.

Even though you don’t consider yourself ‘much of a gardener’, you are certainly aware of where you can get advice and learn more about gardening. Thank you for getting in touch with the Toronto Master Gardeners. Good luck with your front yard.