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  1. #1
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    Jun 2010
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    Default Rehabilitate A Rocky Sandy New Lot

    Hello,

    My lot is pretty close to the state it was in when the builder finished years ago - sandy and rocky with weeds, typical for New Hampshire. General advice, rototil in compose, is not an option as it's one acre and there are apparently many rock walls below the surface waiting to be discovered. I've gotten one good suggestion recently from a landscape person - plant deep rooted annuals to improve the soil way down so I've spread annual rye. Would anyone have additional suggestions or suggested reading?

    Thanks

  2. #2
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    Aug 2007
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    Default Re: Rehabilitate A Rocky Sandy New Lot

    Are you going for a manicured lawn look or just want something other than weeds?

    If your soil is too rocky to rototill, then use a disc to break up and work in organic matter. You don't have to use compost unless you can get it extremely cheap and in great quantity. Fresh or composted manure will work just as well. I get mine from local horse stables, though most live stock operations have plenty to get rid of, usually free for the hauling.

    Spread the organic matter 3" to 6" deep and work in as deeply as possible. If you're going for a manicured lawn, you'll want to remove as much of the larger stone/rock as possible. Because of the amount of area, I'd recommend hydroseeding, though broadcast seeding will work, it's just a little more finicky.
    I suffer from CDO ... Its like OCD, but in alphabetical order, LIKE IT SHOULD BE!!!

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Rehabilitate A Rocky Sandy New Lot

    Manicured lawn is so far from possible right now, I'd be happy if I got one tree growing with vigor. What is a disc?

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Rehabilitate A Rocky Sandy New Lot

    A disk is an implement towed behind a tractor that breaks up the soil. You won't get as fine of cultivation as you would with a rototiller, however if you've got as much rock as you imply, this would be the best thing for the job. You can either pick one up fairly cheap on CraigsList or rent from a rental company or implement dealer.


    If you are planting trees, you don't need to amend the soil for that. The recommended procedure for trees is to use the native soil so that the roots acclimate to it and grow. If you amend the hole, then the roots tend to wrap around and around the hole in the good soil and never penetrate out into the harder, poorer soil, causing a stunted weak tree. Also, you dig a square hole to help the roots find a corner and force their way into the surrounding soil. A round hole promotes root binding.
    I suffer from CDO ... Its like OCD, but in alphabetical order, LIKE IT SHOULD BE!!!

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Rehabilitate A Rocky Sandy New Lot

    Tractor as in lawn tractor?

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Rehabilitate A Rocky Sandy New Lot

    You probably could use a lawn tractor, but you'd be at it for an awful long time. I'd rent or borrow a larger piece of equipment for the job. Not only would it cut down on the time and effort necessary for cultivation, you could use it to spread the organic materials around. For that you'd need a front end loader or a landscape box.
    I suffer from CDO ... Its like OCD, but in alphabetical order, LIKE IT SHOULD BE!!!

  7. #7
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    Jun 2010
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    Default Re: Rehabilitate A Rocky Sandy New Lot

    Only two trees have managed to survive in this yard, they're 17 years old and still spindly and one is still quite a runt.
    The botanical gardens use full size tractors to rehabilitate space and I was hoping to avoid that as I'm told that's at least two years of planting various green crop, tilling it in, plant more, til it in, etc. which sounds like I'd need to buy a full size tractor for long term repetitive use.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Rehabilitate A Rocky Sandy New Lot

    I'll bet that it's more of a lack of water issue for those trees than soil type, provided the trees are normally propagated in your area.

    I would say that you could use a small tractor, somewhere between a riding mower and a compact tractor. My personal favorite is Kubota, though a small Deere would also not be a bad choice. The advantage of a tractor over a lawn mower is that they are not only larger and more powerful, they have a variety of implements that would make working a larger piece of land easier.

    If you've got a farmer nearby, you could probably hire them to work and plant crops if that's how you want to go about enriching the soil. Yes, it will take several years of planting and tilling to see much improvement. One of the better crops would be alfalfa because it's got a hearty root structure that is able to penetrate crappy soil and break it up. It also produces a rich biomass that is extremely beneficial to the soil when cultivated back in.

    You could also scale down your project into manageable sections and just use manure or compost. You'll still need a piece of equipment to work the ground, whether that be a tractor or a commercial type rototiller.
    I suffer from CDO ... Its like OCD, but in alphabetical order, LIKE IT SHOULD BE!!!

  9. #9
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    Jun 2010
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    Default Re: Rehabilitate A Rocky Sandy New Lot

    The spindly trees surviving have been two Shademaster Honeylocust. As for natives, 2 birch are doing okay and after two good years of rain, there's a small crop of tiny oak. My neighbor gave me 2 black locust and while they are growing, I do see something's boring them.

    This year, close to the house, on two sides, I topdressed with compost, planted annual rye and have been using a sprinker. I picked rye because it can be mowed. I'll try the alfafa.

    Thanks, this discussion has been very helpful. I've been so busy fighting too many issues at the same time that I've gotten nowhere. If I focus on the edge of the lot and water (drip irrigation) trees, I could get at least some shade which should literally and figuratively take the heat off the effort and interior. I'll start talking tractor use with my local farmers and see where I get.

    Thanks again A. Spruce.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Rehabilitate A Rocky Sandy New Lot

    You're welcome. Good luck with your project.
    I suffer from CDO ... Its like OCD, but in alphabetical order, LIKE IT SHOULD BE!!!

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