KC Gardens

Old pasture = New yard?


We have 5 acres of spent farmland/pasture as our “yard”. We live in a subdivision where the HOA expects acres of dandelion free/weed free bluegrass, as if we live in Kentucky. With only a few inches of not so great topsoil on top of feet of heavy clay, how do we get to some semblance of a green, weed free lawn, in an ecofriendly way? We are opposed to using chemicals if at all possible. The big pressure right now is to get rid of the dandelions to make the HOA happy. Sod was laid around the perimeter of the house 15 years ago and I am not sure with which type of grass the rest was seeded. - Sharon -


  1. 11 months ago

    I have a lot to say about this. We moved into our home on three acres surrounded by farm land and semi-rural properties in 2007. Thereal estate manager of the property, who ran the HOA at the time, told me it was expected that all the acreage be manicured. My response to him was a big, “As IF.”

    I had studied horticulture and turfgrass maintenance in college in the mid-2000s. Iknow how unrealistic a demand this was, even for someone like me whoknew what I was doing. I also had an idea how cost prohibitive it was, and having never been a fan of herbicides, I had to bite the bullet and learn to use them in a responsible and ecofriendly way. Yes, it can be done. There are SO many misconceptions out there about the persistence of chemicals in the soil and the damage they do, but when selected and used correctly, they biodegrade in a matter of weeks after they have done their jobs. Please reconsider your feelings on this, because to rid a 5-acre property of weeds without them will be impossible, and once they have been removed, they will always return, especially on acreage properties.

    We let a portion of our back field grow tall and unmowed a few years ago. Imowed pathways through it and it was beautiful. The result was no dandelions in the spots where the grasses and wildflowers grew tall. But you probably won’t care to go that route — or the HOA (a thorn in so many sides) won’t allow it. Pulling the weeds isn’t an option. Spraying them with vinegar, a popular folk remedy, doesn’t work. You will need a broadleaf weedkiller, and a lot of it. That is the reality.

    It is best to control dandelions in the fall, however, so would it help to just keep the acreage mowed short now that the dandlions are coming to the end of their bloom cycle? Then you can kill them off in August and then seed a lawn around Labor Day.

    Still, that is A LOT of lawn. It will be very expensive to maintain. Have youconsidered putting in large berms of shruberry, trees and ornamentals? We pretty much turned our place into a park doing just that. We have a lot of lawn, a lot of berm footage, and about an acre of field that we keep mowed. It all looks very tidy, and certainly nothing any HOA would have thenerve to complain about!

  2. 11 months ago

    I can feel your pain and understand your issues. First if or when you use a chemical there are points to follow. Dandelions are best controlled in the fall. Their spring window is just about done. I understand you don’t want to use chemicals but you might need to strike a balance. Treat in mid-October through early November. At this time there is less wildlife activity in the lawn so less side issues. Also this is when the weeds should be controlled.

    Other things you can do is mow properly, keep the mower high, 3 to 4 inches as this will decrease weed pressure. My guess is the lawn is seeded with fescue. Your best defense against weeds is a dense lawn so maybe a yearly fall fertilization in September will help improve the lawn and reduce weeds. Dennis - Johnson County Extension

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