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FlyingWolf's avatar

What's the best way to weed my scruffy yard?

Asked by FlyingWolf (2487 points ) April 16th, 2014

I have a smallish back yard with a slight slope. When we moved in a couple of summers ago it was overgrown with weeds and totally unkempt, I am afraid to say it remains that way. Every spring I have great intentions about cleaning it up and planting a garden and grass. Every spring I get totally overwhelmed with the amount of work to be done.

What is the best/most efficient way to get rid of all these weeds? It is a decent sized area and I would like to plant some veggies so I would like to avoid an herbicide.

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21 Answers

LornaLove's avatar

I also have a tiny little garden. It depends on how much you want to spend really. What I did, and I am no expert, was pull up the weeds (on hands and knees). Then turn over the soil well to make sure the roots are gone. You don’t want to use a herbicide, maybe someone knows of natural cures to get rid of them.

I am quite pleased as I washed the stone pathing, tidied up and it looks really pretty now.

GloPro's avatar

Rent a goat for a couple of days. Then till it up, lay down grass seed.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

~ ~ Is concrete an alternative?

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

If it’s been in weeds for years they’re probably going to be pretty tough to kill without herbicide. You could try weed eating the area and then lay down thick layers of newspaper or weed fabric and then mulch it heavily.

Coloma's avatar

Buy a trio of geese! The chinese are weeder geese, my goose Marwyn loved to help me weed. he was great for pulling all the grasses out of the pea gravel border around my patio. haha

Cruiser's avatar

My best approach would be to pull all the weeds and then apply 3”- 4” of a mulch to discourage regrowth of the weeds. Better yet is to install a landscape cloth under the mulch and then you never have to worry about weeds again. It’s a labor intensive undertaking but you only have to do it once.

FlyingWolf's avatar

@Tropical_Willie I have some pavers I want to put down on part of the yard, but I can’t afford to concrete the whole thing.

@Adirondackwannabe and @Cruiser how expensive is weed cloth? We had some trees trimmed last summer so I do have a bunch of mulch to put over the top of it.

johnpowell's avatar

Pulling weeds isn’t fun. Planting stuff is fun. Unfortunately you need to do the shitty part first. Or maybe you don’t.

I had a massive patch of blackberries outside my window and I tried removing them myself. I gave up and put a ad on Craigslist. They were all gone a few hours later for 30 bucks. You might want to just pay someone so you can get to the fun stuff.

FlyingWolf's avatar

@johnpowell, I like the Craig’s List idea!

Cruiser's avatar

@FlyingWolf A quick google search says average twenty cents a s.f.

FlyingWolf's avatar

@Cruiser thanks for doing that! That sounds doable.

gailcalled's avatar

Rent a roto-tiller for round one. Then rake up the weeds, stones and debris. Then add soil improvement and enrichment (humus, compost, dried manure etc). Prepping it once correctly will hold you in good stead for years to come.

LuckyGuy's avatar

This answer will be unpopular here. I’m just throwing it out in case it sticks.
Depending upon where you live and the weather, you can spray with a selective broadleaf herbicide that will kill the weeds but let the grass survive. Read the labels carefully. Some need to be sprayed when the weeds are actively growing. You can aerate the lawn and over seed with new grass seed selected for your area and soil conditions.
The spray for 5000 sq feet costs about $5.00. The seed will cost about $20. You can rent an aerator for almost nothing at the hardware store. $20 per day? A couple of hours work early this season and by next year you will have a real lawn – if that is what you want. It will also add to your property value.
If you want a garden I’d either rent a TroyBilt rototiller or pay to have someone else do it.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@gailcalled Gave you an excellent answer. I forgot to ask what kind of soil you have. That is the most important part of this job.

FlyingWolf's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe, I am in the Midwest and we have a lot of clay in the soil.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

@LuckyGuy My neighbor did my yard and his like that once. It did not take long for us to go get sod because there was nothing green left. I would have been happy to have the weeds back. At least they were green. It was all edible too, chickweed, clover and dandelions. I do raised bed gardens now and never going back.

Cruiser's avatar

@FlyingWolf I too live in the Midwest with that same crappy clay soil that only weeds love to grow in. The landscape fabric is your best bet for preventing weed growth but then if you do want to have landscape plants and flowers then you will have to consider the tips @gailcalled offered. It would be a huge and IMO unnecessary undertaking to roto till and amend the whole weed area if you opt for the landscape fabric. And when I plant plants/flowers I just amend the soil in the immediate area where the plant will go I just dig a slightly larger hole and add peat moss and potting soil and the plants grow just fine. And you do this after you have laid the fabric and just cut an “X” in the fabric, do your planting and then fold the fabric back and mulch.

gailcalled's avatar

@LuckyGuy: I do have to chime in against the idea of spraying with any kind of herbicide…think of our watertable, please. Real lawns have dandelions, purslane, sorrel, creeping gill (aka creeping Charlie) and violets and all the rest of nature’s friends. When mowed, they look just like grass (and as @ARE_you_kidding_me says, taste just like salad).

Cruiser's avatar

I agree @gailcalled I live next to a wet land and refrain from using fertilizers as I know what impact that can have on the pond out there as well as our water tables. I mulch my lawn when I cut it and I use the can of beer, cola, cup of ammonia and ¼ cup of mouthwash spray on my lawn and looks as good as the lawns that have pro service and best part it smells minty fresh.

chyna's avatar

I would look for a reliable lawn/landscaping company in your neighborhood and ask them to come out and give you an estimate on cleaning up your yard. If it’s not a big area, I don’t think it would be over 50.00.

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