Frugal Gardening: A Hopeless Backyard

by Mira Dessy

Dear Mira,
I have what is probably a totally hopeless case. It's the backyard. What a mess! To begin with it's all sand, can't get grass to take hold from seed. To add insult to injury, we have 2 large dogs and 3 very active children.

We have tried sectioning off the yard and sowing grass seed, not allowing anyone to set foot or paw on it, but STILL to no avail. I'm really sick of my kitchen floor being sandy, dirty looking and getting even more scratched up, but I really don't know what to do! We've tried everything we can think of. Can you offer some help? Thanks.

Dear Katrina,
It sounds like you are fighting a tough battle indeed. Unfortunately the first step that I can think of is not very frugal but may be required. That would be to put a layer of top soil over the sandy soil. Then I would plant a grass mixture that is heavy with white clover. Clover produces long roots. If you don't mind having clover in your lawn instead of regular grass the long roots will possibly help the clover and the rest of the lawn to settle. I personally like clover and think it looks nice. Plus it doesn't mind too much if you tread on it. If this works you may wind up with a lawn that is not traditional looking, but it would definitely be better than sand. Keeping the kids and the dogs off it while it is germinating is definitely something that you will need to do but unfortunately until it is very well established you may have a problem with their activities killing the new plants. Good luck!

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