Let There Be Grass! (Seeding Some Bare Dirt Spots)

Back on this hosta post I left a not-so-subtle indication that we were planting some fresh grass ’round these parts.

Though as pretty as superimposed text looks in that area (not), we’ve been working on getting the real thing for a while now and it’s finally (mostly) photo-ready. But let’s head back to the beginning, which is actually one step before the photo above… when it still looked like this:

Yep, we still had some weird liriope lingering to the right of the brick path, so we dug that up (to the point where it was even with the stone border on the other side) and called this area ready for grass seed.

Here’s the strip from the other side of the house. If you recall, this is where we used to have a line of boxwoods making the pathway look very, um, boxed in.

The area near our front porch wasn’t the only spot in need of grass seed. We also had a stripe of dirt (and ivy) where our “bush fence” once resided at the front of the property.

So once we ripped out all of the ivy, this area was also ready for some serious seedification.

Because this is not a good look. And we’ve been living with it like this since last fall. And we’re pretty tired of being “the house with the dirt path to nowhere.”

As for actually spreading the seed, we didn’t use our usual routine of starter fertilizer followed by grass seed in a broadcast spreader (detailed here). Since we were getting towards the end of the grass growing season (once it gets really hot the seed can burn before it begins to grow) impatience got the best of us and we bought this “seeding mixture” that has fertilizer and seed in one. I think it was about $20 per bag (sorry, lost my receipt to double-check).

I worried my broadcast spreader would waste a lot of seed by tossing it way beyond the bare strips. So instead I just tossed it by hand – kinda using the motion I imagine one might use to feed a bunch of chickens. Not that I’ve ever done that, so maybe I’m way off.

Once it was all spread, I got my water on. Again, since it was such a small area I skipped our usual sprinkler routine and broke out the hose. So picture me out there once a day (usually in the evening or the early morning, so the sun wouldn’t just burn it off) soaking both areas.

Now, to force a little bit of delayed gratification in this story (since it there was about two weeks of daily watering that delayed any real life gratification) I’m gonna switch gears momentarily. Let’s talk about these random ferns that pop up under our magnolia tree.

We both like ferns. Just not in this spot. It just looks messy to us and we have other plans for under this tree someday. So we dug them up.

They were actually a bit of a pain to get up – and there were lots of them too. I filled two whole wheelbarrows full of them (which I hauled to our naturalized side yard, where I’d be happy for them to take root). I also like how this photo unintentionally looks like our West Elm ceramic speaker-pig is trying to escape up the tree to avoid the wheelbarrow. #PigProblems.

Now it’s a big empty round of dirt – but at least it doesn’t have those gangly ferns creeping all over the place anymore. And someday we’d love to plant some green low-lying groundcover for a more seamless look (that screams big-ring-of-dirt-under-a-tree-where-grass-won’t-grow a little less). Someday.

Okay, now back to grass mode. It took about 10 days for any hint of grass to start showing up. A bit longer than our past experiences (which were usually seven on the dot), but we chalked it up to being late in the season when it was a bit warmer out.

Here’s a farther-away shot of the area just starting to get a subtle green tint to it around ten days in.

Fast forward another week or two and things are finally filling in pretty nicely:

You can still see the distinction between the fresh grass and the mature grass, but once the new stuff starts to grow out of its neon green newness it should be less obvious.

We can’t tell you how much this excites us just to see a carpet of grass here, totally unobstructed by bushes, ivy, or dirt. Kinda wish it hadn’t taken 18 months of living here for this to finally get done!

It’s also much easier to mow now that I don’t have to weave around a bunch of bushes (these pics were taken right after mowing, which is why you can see some fresh wheel lines in some of the shots).

The stripe closer to the house is having a bit of a rougher go at filling in. The area by the street is lower, so water runoff seems to go there – which makes all of the grass down there a little lusher. We might end up overseeding this path area another time this fall, just to help it fill in more evenly.

Here it is from the other side. Again, not perfect…

…but definitely an improvement!

And while we’re looking at old before photos, let’s take a peek at how the view from the front has improved. Here’s a before shot taken about a week after we bought this house (even before Sherry trimmed up the magnolia).

And here we are today.

It’s pretty grass-tastic if you ask me. And thankfully since it’s only a three-foot strip of grass out front and next to the path that we added in place of all those bushes, it only takes a few more runs of the mower to get ‘er done (five more mowing minutes are definitely worth the curb appeal that we gained).

Has anyone else played the grass seed game yet this year? Or have you had any past triumphs (or trials) with planting grass around your home? Are you slowly inching along with outdoor improvements? It used to make us so sad that outside things seem to take forever, but we learned with our first house that a lot of little updates over a few years can definitely make for some dramatic results. So keep the faith. And make sure your ceramic pig isn’t trying to run off…


  1. Megan says

    Why does it seem like yard work is never ending? We planted all new plants in our front beds last year and we had the intention of doing the back yard this year but instead we catch ourselves still working on the front beds. We have a few plants that have really taken off and others that seem to be dying and for the life of us we don’t know what the problem is.Every other bush being dead is not a good look.

  2. says

    The overall before and after is amazing! It must feel really good to have those photos to look back on, since when you’re doing work little by little it can be hard to see how much progress you’ve made.

    It also gives me very real hope that we can improve our curb appeal quite a bit more than we already have – but we’re going into winter now, so that may have to wait a bit.

  3. Kat says

    Amazing! After ripping up the ivy, it did not come back? I’ve been fighting with that terribly invasive beast in my yard since I moved in.

    • says

      Amazingly not! We dug it as deep as we could to try to get the root (if you tear out just the “legs” of it, it’ll definitely spring back up).


  4. alex says

    I love my ceramic pig speaker but we have tried using it outside and even turning it on its back it just does seem as good of a sound…..so we got one for outside. Do you guys have that issue at all? I feel bad turning the poor thing on its back…I don’t want PETCA calling me (people for the ethical treatment of ceramic animals.)

    • says

      Haha, we haven’t had that issue, but I have a feeling some of those speakers have fared better than others. Ours has great sound inside and out, but we have heard from folks who had no luck (terrible sound, etc) so maybe it varies by batch?


    • alex says

      It sounds amazing inside….but outside its just not as loud…could also be the fact that our friends are loud. Ha, we just went with a more powerful set up for outdoorsy things and my pig can be safe and sound in the livingroom.

  5. Jessica says

    Wow your front lawn is looking beautiful! I live in Central Florida and the ferns you removed are pretty popular and hardy over here. Will you be transplanting them to another location on your property? You could make a couple beautiful hanging fern baskets.

  6. says

    Y’all have made a bunch of headway on your yard. I love that all the plants you are digging up you get to transplant to your natural area. Talk about killing two birds with one stone. I bet your neighbors are loving what oh have done with the place already… It’s a big improvement. Oh, and Sherry that yellow door is really growing on me.

  7. Lauren says

    The before and after pictures are amazing! It gives me hope for our yard that has so many problems it covers a front and back of a “to-do” list! Thanks for getting me motivated to tackle the list!

  8. Amanda says

    We just seeded our front yard earlier this week and are now faithfully watering it (with our fingers crossed!). We got a great tip from our neighbor that the key to a weed-free lawn is to continually seed. Apparently that is why golf courses look so great!

  9. says

    I’ve been fighting the battle of the ferns this spring too. My strip of landscaping was completely overgrown with ferns when I moved in. I chopped everything down in the fall, and this spring I started digging. I thought I had the fern problem under control until I went to plant new plants, and I found several new growths under the top soil just waiting to emerge. Keep your eyes peeled for new sprouts. Those little boogers are sneaky!




  10. teresa says

    Great job! Such a nice improvement!!

    We did the grass seed thing… over 10,000 SF of the grass seed thing. Then those helicopter seed thingymabobs did their thing… and grew into our grass. It’s been a fun spring, lol. After lots of weed pulling, things are starting to look up :)

  11. says

    Wow, that looks awesome!! So impressed that you guys are able to grow grass … we inherited much more yard with our new house than we know how to manage, and at this point are satisfied with weeds, as long as the yard looks green from a distance, ha!

  12. Alison says

    Wow! What a difference! Good work as always!! One note- Are you slowly inching along with ourdoor improvements? I think you meant outdoor. :-)

  13. says

    So.. after following you guys for a while I just realized that tree in your front yard is a magnolia…. I have two in my yard and we are completely submerged in leaves twice a year… You guys have that problem? Any advice or solution that doesn’t involve hours of work every week?

    Grass and entire yard looks great. Thanks!

    • says

      Yes, it’s a total leaf dumper! Limbing it up seemed to help (fewer branches = fewer leaves to drop) but we keep hearing from landscapers that they’re no ideal for yards since they’re so “messy” and drop leaves all the time. For now we just mow the grass which seems to chip up the leaves so they’re not as much of an issue. Hope it helps!


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