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The situation is explained below in terms of my lawn with the question at the end

I recently moved into a new home two years ago and by the looks of the lawn it was low in nitrogen. A little more back story is that I don't think it was ever treated with fertilizer or chemicals as it was weedy, patchy, and overall in disarray.

While I haven't done a soil test I did quite a bit of work to get the weeds out and had a company treat with weed and feed for the past two years. After last summer the grass was still dry at times even with a diligent watering regimen.

I still suspect the lawn is low in nitrogen and I know it's very rocky underneath as I found when planting three trees. The area is newer and it appears much of the soil was taken from a nearby quarry.

Come spring I plan on doing my own lawn maintenance and have done extensive research on seeding, fertilizer, watering, and overall maintenance. All fertilizers I have researched have different claims in regards to when to apply and to what grass, but none really have a good explanation of how to treat lawns with low nitrogen, high clay and rocky soil.

Is there anything else I need to take into consideration in terms of fertilizer, weed and feed, or chemicals that I need to keep in mind when trying to revive my lawn?

What I am already doing

  • Will get soil tested
  • Have watering plan
  • Researching applicable fertilizer

back yard

front yard

  • can you add a picture or two for the yard? – black thumb Feb 24 at 2:34
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    Added top pic of backyard partially shaded by a deck and bottom pic is front yard. Both are from September 2018. Bottom pic on the left is a shadow of a flag from the house. – Gandalfous Feb 24 at 3:30
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    ADD SOME CLOVER to the lawn, it will add plenty of nitrogen to your soil. from the bottom pic it looks like a mono-culture. – black thumb Feb 24 at 4:47
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I see a few problems right away: Fertilizers are known to displace natural nutrients in the soil

  • use a polyculture seed mix as all the plants using the same nutrients in the soil, adding clover to your lawn will naturally add extra nitrogen
  • purchase a bag of mycelium that is known to aid plant growth (I recommend wine caps as they're easy to identify and edible) and plant it in the dirt around your yard with a hand shovel similar to planting saplings, or bulbs, and don't use any sort of fungicides as they damage soil health
  • mulch your leaves into the soil as leaves are nutrients from deep in the ground being brought to the surface in order to give plants with shallow roots some nutrients

If you water your grass it will get used to being watered

There's different types of soil tests (I recommend the Haney Test as that's a full picture test, but costs some money)

Chickens being moved in a cage (confined chicken tractor) around your lawn (instead of mowing) will allow you to get some eggs as well as chicken manure.

Since you have a few trees I suggest signing up for chip drop, and fill the yard with wood chips to get healthy soil (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QoGB33QAkE4) as it decomposes.

  • Intentionally introducing clover into a lawn is terrible advice. Sure, the clover will "fix" atmospheric nitrogen for free, but it will also grow faster than the grass, and in year or two you will have clover and no grass. Clover has no tolerance for being walked on or mown - if you do either of those things it will look a complete mess. – alephzero Feb 24 at 11:11
  • The Haney test appears to be successful in making money for its inventor, but whether it is actually useful is another matter. From agronomypro.com/Haney-soil-test.pdf: "at the present time (and for the foreseeable future), the Haney test is completely worthless for predicting how much N your crop will need." "The original Haney recommendations for P & K also needed to be improved. They weren’t calibrated either, and ... didn’t take into account basics." "The science really hasn’t advanced enough for these ‘report card’ aspects [of the Haney test] to find much practical application." – alephzero Feb 24 at 11:22
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    alphazero - I've had white clover in my lawn for years (it came with the house). It's at least as resilient as grass for being walked on and takes mowing fine. The rabbits love the flowers and stay away from the rest of my garden, which is a plus. It also keeps weeds down when it gets thick enough. As you noted, though, it has problems, especially in a small yard: 1) It crawls like crazy, displacing any grass it finds (as you noted), although I've found that mowing high allows the grass to share the site somewhat. 2) it would easily invade my flower and vegetable gardens if I let it. – Jurp Feb 24 at 15:31
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    That being said, I think it's a fine addition to a large stretch of lawn that just has to be green with a minimum of fuss, especially if there are no gardens on the site. Would I recommend someone planting it? probably not. Is it a terrible idea to do so? Not necessarily - depends on site and needs. I'd rather have 1000 sq ft of clover than 1000 sq ft of unhappy lawn filled with crabgrass. I've been happy with my clover but do take measures to restrict its growth. – Jurp Feb 24 at 15:32
  • my parents have 3 leaf clover all over, and it works just fine. – black thumb Feb 24 at 16:04

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