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We've been in our home for roughly three years. The previous owners did a less than stellar job at maintaing the lawn, so I've spent quite a bit of time trying to get it back into fair condition without having to actually re-sod our entire property.

Among other things, I've spent time mowing, weeding (by hand and by using weed killer), watering, planting seed, and more. For a while, I made progress - the lawn looked good.

Unfortunately this winter, Atlanta has been relatively warm with quite a bit of rain. So much so that the yard has returned to a state that I've not seen it since we originally purchased the property.

For reference, I've provided a small gallery of photos for you to see with what I have to work. Specifically, I'm looking for advice on how to:

  • reduce the weeds
  • leverage the existing foundation of the lawn to serve as a basis for improvement
  • prepare the lawn to properly handle inclement months
  • generally improve the overall appearance

I'm relatively handy and comfortable with working outside so I'm open to all practical steps, tools, and chemicals that you suggest and recommend.

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i'm not an expert, but don't lawns thrive in warm, wet winters? –  Tea Drinker Feb 13 '12 at 10:20
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@Tom: Welcome to the site! I think this answer will address most of your concerns. If it doesn't, please reply to this comment to let us know what that answer doesn't cover. –  bstpierre Feb 13 '12 at 14:26
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Tom, could you please upload some pictures so that the question and answer is helpful to others too? Right now your Google+ gallery is either deleted or private and we don't know what the question is about... –  Lorem Ipsum May 16 '12 at 23:43
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1 Answer

up vote 1 down vote accepted

The soil appears to be typical for an urban environment, dry, compacted, low in organic matter. You can improve this situation quickly but costly or slow and less expensive.

Fast and costly is: get a 40 yard dump bin and remove the top 6" to topsoil. Rototill the subsoil to at least three inches deep and so the consistency is still chunky. You do not want a fine texture. Then replace with a premium mix of topsoil from your local suppliers. You will need at least one double axle dump truck worth. Keep in mind that the volume of soil delivered will compact by at least one third. Roll the soil to get it level and re-sod. Keep the grading the same as you do not appear to have a lot of room to drain water if you get a lot in a short time period.

Consider laying interlock or flagstone in the high traffic areas to avoid the compaction from foot traffic that appears to have caused some of the lawn's problems.

Slower and less expensive is follow the link from bstpierre and have patience. Rebuilding this way takes years.

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Thanks - between you and bstpierre's answer, I think I'm going to go with "Slower and less expensive." I enjoy working outside and the challenge seems fun - I just needed a plan of attack :). –  Tom Feb 16 '12 at 13:28
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