The Journey to Restore Our Front Yard
Here it is, the journey to restore our front yard, a follow-up article to my Get Sunday review. I’ve been meaning to publish this article earlier, but lacked the time to do so! Atlas, our new European Doberman puppy kept my hands full. After restoring the lawn in our backyard to a state that exceeded even its original condition, it was time to restore our front yard. Working the backyard for close to two months and extensively researching lawn care allowed me to understand what worked and what didn’t, what to do, what not to do.
Armed with a newfound experience and knowledge, it is time to transform our front yard. Just to give you an idea of how far the extent of our green thumb knowledge extended in the past, we relied 100% of our lawn growth on our sprinklers, the rain and our gardeners. The heavy rain we experienced this winter brought upon a greener front yard beginning in December 2018, but the lawn gradually died off towards mid-March 2019 as rain season phased away.
Like the situation with our backyard, our daily schedule is pretty hectic and I rarely have time to tend to our yards. Our front yard is only an after thought once I pull into our driveway from my 9-5 and then stride right through our front door. We did not pay attention to how bad our front yard had deteriorated until we noticed our backyard’s condition first. And the only way we noticed our backyard’s condition was after we placed a deposit for a doberman pinscher puppy. We had grand plans to convert our backyard into a mini dog park for our future doberman pup and a playground for our toddler.
Once I noticed the backyard, I took a look at the front yard and decided to take action. Since the backyard is somewhat smaller and hidden from plain sight, I figured if I screwed up the backyard with my DIY lawn care, it won’t be a public embarrassment (not that our front yard isn’t already as it is). And if my DIY lawn care works, then I take what I learned in restoring our backyard and apply it to our front yard. Fortunately, this is exactly how it played out.
Taking Back Our Front Yard
To revitalize our front yard, I followed the process I used to jump start our backyard. So again, I used a plethora of Scotts products to get the lawn establish and going before switching to Sunday lawn care maintenance products. I started the process in mid-May 2019 by spreading the leftover of MOSS OUT!, about 10 lbs and an additional 9 lbs. of Scotts MossEx. to the front yard a week apart in-between rain storms. The effect was immediate as patches of lawn moss turned pitch black overnight. The iron sulfate should also help bring down the high 10.0+ pH level a tad while greened up whatever patches of grass that were left.
Back to Trusty Scotts
About 4 lbs. of Scotts Weed & Feed was used in late May 2019 to eliminate the scourge of dandelions, spurge, plantains, Shepherd’s Purse, chickweed, creeping thistle, and clover fields that were creating an eyesore to our non-existent front lawn. At the same time, the fertilizer in the Weed & Feed treatment will salvage any remaining patches of grass on the lawn and begin the process of imbuing the soil with its high nitrogen content. Unlike the application of Weed & Feed in our backyard, I followed the directions to the T. Meaning, moistened the front yard by running our sprinklers for about a minute, then spread Weed & Feed with our Scotts Mini Broadcast Spreader dialed in at 3½. No water was applied to the front yard for at least 48 hours.
Lesson Learned: Read the Instructions!
When initially applying in our backyard, I immediately ran the sprinklers after I was done spreading the Weed & Feed and a rainstorm crept in the day after. The Weed & Feed still worked, killed off a nearly all of the weeds and greened up the backyard even further, but it definitely would’ve been more effective had I let the Weed & Feed granules stick to the leaves of the weeds undisturbed for a few days. Plus I emptied an entire 15 lb. bag that is enough to cover 5,000 square feet in our 885 square feet backyard. Oops, lesson learned. But hey, our backyard looks fantastic now!
After the settlement of weeds were eliminated from our front yard two weeks after the application of Weed & Feed, I dethatched the dead grass in early June.
Approximately 4 lbs. of Scotts GrubEx was spread to the front yard immediately after the initial and first round of dethatching and scarification to prepare the lawn to combat grubs in the summer. The scarification will also help prepare the top soil for a healthy application of Scotts Turf Builder Lawn Food for New Grass (10 lbs.) to further introduce nutrients into the soil. After applying the Turf Builder Lawn Food, I scarified the top soil again to help mix the fertilizer into the loosened top soil.
Our Front Yard Soil pH Level Was Through the Roof!
The soil pH level in the front yard is exactly the opposite of our backyard. It is dry, compacted, retains little moisture and the pH level is through the roof at level 8 – 10+ on various spots. Hopefully the Turf Builder Lawn Food’s high level of nitrogen will gradually lower the pH level overtime. Initially, I considered unloading a bag of fast acting sulfur to assist bringing down the pH level but decided against it. I feel the combined efforts of MOSS OUT!, MossEx, Turf Builder Lawn Food, half bag of Get Sunday and a 40 lb. of Thick’r Lawn in conjunction with two phase soil scarification should introduce enough nutrients in the soil and bring the pH level down on their own (more about this next paragraph).
A Four and a Half Month Hiatus
I had to pause the front lawn revitalization project during summer, from June through mid-November, due to the heat. That’s a 4½ month hiatus. During this time, crabgrass and other weeds began to propagate again. Nothing a little dethatching couldn’t take care of.
I applied the remaining half bag of Weed & Feed (about 7 lbs.) in mid-September in preparation for a November seeding. The soil during September was still very warm, averaging around 80°F. Not ideal for seeding. The Weed & Feed takes about 6 weeks to dissipate as to not harm grass seedlings, or around early November, just in time when the soil is hovering around 70°F – the perfect temperature to plant lawn seeds. At the tail end of September, I scarified the front yard again before I emptied the remaining half of the Scotts Turf Builder Lawn Food for New Grass. At this time, I have about seven weeks left before I re-seed our front lawn.
Overseeding the Front Lawn with Scotts Thick’r Lawn
The fertilizer and soil enhancer, combined with previous applications of Weed & Feed, Turf Builder Lawn Food, MossEx and MOSS!OUT will hopefully imbue the front yard soil with enough nutrients for a sustained growth.
On November 10th, I emptied 3/4 of a 40 lb. bag of Scotts Thick’R Lawn Tall Fescue Mix, scarified the Thick’r Lawn mix into the top soil, watered twice daily for two weeks until the grass seedlings reached 2″ tall. The sprinklers ran for 5 minutes at 5 AM and 5 PM, 12 hours apart just like the backyard.
On the 10th day, a Thursday, the seedlings sprouted in droves all around the front lawn. After all, it was 3/4 of a 40 lb. bag of Thick’r Lawn. The front lawn finally look like a real lawn by the end of 2019.
Front Yard Revitalization Progress
Current State of Our Yards – 3/13/2020
2020 Sunday Subscription
I received our 2020 Sunday lawn care package on Sunday, March 1st, 2020. I have applied half the Iron Booster pack to the front yard and half to the back yard. Within a week, I noticed our yards have gotten noticeably darker shade of green. Per instruction, I will apply the Lawn Vitality booster pack late May 2020 and write a follow-up article documenting the result. My summer maintenance pack is expected to ship July 17, 2020. Winter Prep pack expected to ship September 22, 2020. With the front lawn now established and healthy, Sunday will be the route of lawn care and fertilization I’ll be applying from here on. Our backyard experienced some summer dormancy last year but has kept its shape. Patches of areas that turned brown due to dormancy has sprung back to life in winter due to the wet season.
The backyard has only enjoyed Sunday lawn care maintenance products since last summer and will continue to do so. This includes Sunday’s line of non-toxic weed control products. It is important that I use non-toxic lawn care products to maintain the backyard lawn since it gets used a lot. We have two tortoises that are currently indoor but as soon as spring temperature arrives, they will be grazing the lawn for the next 8 months. We host a lot of play dates for our 3 year old, so it is important to keep the lawn free from fertilizer and pest controls that contain toxic ingredients.
And finally, our Doberman make use of the backyard day and night, regardless of the season. He will casually snack on the grass, so it is imperative to use natural non-toxic solution to maintain the backyard.
For the first time in 2½ years, I can proudly display this sign on our front yard:
Rachio 3 Smart Irrigation Controller
To have more control over our irrigation system, I swapped out the 20 year old Champion controller that came with the house with a Rachio 3. I did this around Christmas in 2019.
Not only does Rachio 3 allow me to water individual zones with the swipe of a finger, it lets me fully customize watering schedule. I can set watering time, watering duration, freeze/rain/wind skip (skip watering when rain is in the forecast, temperature drops below set threshold or wind speed exceed set mph), soak cycle and more.
Fully Automated Irrigation Schedule
If I want a fully automated watering system, which I do, I set Rachio 3 to run on Flex Daily mode and it use local weather systems to automatically determine which days to water, how long to water, automatically skip and soak. If I have gotten Rachio 3 before I reestablished our backyard, I could’ve saved water and reduced our water bill. Rather than re-adjusting the watering schedule for different season, especially summer, I let Rachio 3 do it for me automatically.
And if I see dog walkers letting their pet do their business on our new front yard, despite the “Please be respectful, no pooping or peeing” lawn sign?
I hose them down from the comfort of my home office. I can control Rachio 3 through Alexa and water a zone simply by telling Alexa, “Hey Alexa, run zone 2 for two minutes.”
What Products Did I Use to Restore My Front Lawn?
I used practically the same products used to restore our backyard with the exception of the Lime. The front yard is alkaline instead of acidic like the backyard. You can find a list of the products I’ve used in my first article:
I will publish another follow-up article sometime in summer 2020, possibly in August after I have received and applied Sunday’s summer care pack. By then, our backyard will have had a full of year of purely Sunday lawn care maintenance treatment and we can gauge how effective Sunday is! The journey to restore our front yard has been a success. I am proud to say that with absolutely zero prior lawn care experience.