We have a front yard. The house we bought is a foreclosure, and sat empty for a few years before we bought it. The yard was 'maintained' by the Village, which basically meant that they mowed it regularly. It is essentially a massive weed bed at this point. It has one pretty crabapple tree, a few shrubs (about 6) at the borders, and that's it. Lots of weeds. So we need a plan to reclaim it.
My lot is 50 x 176. My front yard is maybe 50 x 35? I'm guessing a bit there. I'd ideally prefer not to have lawn in the front yard. Don't want to mow, don't want to water a lot (I live in Oak Park, Chicagoland weather, tending towards dry and prairie-like). Like the variety of lots of flowers.
So, okay, I need to kill all those weeds. I admit to trying some Round-up (motivated by a severe invasive tree-of-heaven infestation), but although it got rid of most of the tree-of-heaven, it wasn't very effective on the other weeds -- I don't know whether Round-up doesn't work well on crabgrass, etc. or if I didn't use enough (I was mostly targeting the tree-of-heaven and soaking that), or what. But I'm feeling somewhat reluctant to put more poison into the soil.
I gather that my main options at this point are:
A) rototill (and then lay fresh topsoil over?)
B) lay black plastic over the yard and leave it for several months (I'm sure the neighbors, who have already endured much construction, would LOVE that)
C) lay newspapers over the yard, cover with fresh topsoil, let it sit and decay.
D) more poison
Which leaves me with questions. Approach A would be immediately effective, and I could rent a rototiller, but I don't know whether I need to lay fresh topsoil on top of that? B is ugly. C is appealing because it enriches the soil, but I'm a little worried about the cost of all that topsoil. D we've already discussed.
1) If I rototill now, say, am I supposed to put topsoil over that?
2) If I put topsoil (either on newspapers or on rototilled previous sod/weeds), will it just blow away in the wind and/or accumulate a ton of weeds if I don't plant immediately?
3) Would covering the whole yard with mulch after topsoil (or instead of topsoil) be helpful / necessary, given that we have almost no garden budget this fall?
4) If I have five hundred early-flowering spring bulbs that I ordered some months back (the only thing I'm likely to plant this fall, given the terrifying state of our budget after some months of construction), what exactly do I do with them? Lay them on the rototilled ground before adding topsoil? Actually put down the new soil and then dig holes? (Sounds like a lot of work!)