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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
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    3

    Default Putting a new yard in

    Hello all, I am about to completely re-level and re-seed my entire yard, front and back and pour a new driveway, which is now asfault and is sinking and cracking badly. The front yard is not level at all and the same with the back and side yards. The back yard has sunk due to, well I believe, the drain field from the septic tank. So what my plan is is to bring in fill dirt and level with a bobcat, my yard is 1/2 acre.

    So my question is, do I need to kill or remove the existing grass? Is has many many many weeds and dandylions so I am not that worried about trying to save the existing grass. Or can I just spread and tamp fill dirt directly over the grass that is already there? I'm thinking I should just kill the grass, all of it, then spread dirt over and level that way, but not for sure?

    But there is no sense of killing the grass if I have to remove the grass that I just killed... AM I over thinking this????

    Any help will be greatly appreciated!!!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Posts
    6,481

    Default Re: Putting a new yard in

    Removing the existing grass with a sod cutter would be the best course of action. By removing the top inch of grass and soil you'll be removing the majority of the weeds currently plaguing your property. Once that is done, you'll want to install or repair the irrigation system. After that, you're going to amend the existing soil with organic materials, compost or manure, then you're going to work the soil with a rototiller, grade for drainage and aesthetics, and finally either seed or sod over the prepared area.

    Keep in mind that anything you do to the existing surface will ONLY affect the surface vegetation and do nothing for dormant seed that will be brought forth by stirring the soil with a rototiller. Removal of the top layer will remove most of the issues, but weed seed will always remain. Also, in lieu of a bobcat I recommend a compact tractor with a tiller and bucket. This will move anything you need move and cultivate the soil, all in one machine, whereas a bobcat will only move things, then you're back to the rental yard for another implement to turn and prep the soil which will double or triple your rental costs.

    I personally recommend sod, while more expensive than seed, there is none of the negatives that are associated with seed. With sod, you can lay it and within a couple of weeks be out on it and enjoying your lawn and within 6 weeks use it as vigorously as if it'd always been there. With seed you'll get spotty germination, prolonged gentle care, and not get to use it for the duration of the summer. Put the initial cost against the prolonged negatives and sod really is the better choice.
    I suffer from CDO ... Its like OCD, but in alphabetical order, LIKE IT SHOULD BE!!!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Houston Texas
    Posts
    2,360

    Default Re: Putting a new yard in

    You don't want to bury any green plant material as that will decay and create toxic gasses which will kill the new seedlings. In short order the gasses will dissipate, but save yourself the headaches. I would use a product like roundup to kill all the vegetation. Once its brown, then cover it with new soil, tilled into the old soil, or amend the old soil as need be. Removing the old sod will also remove some topsoil, and there is no reason to do that. Once dead and brown, the old weeds and grass can be buried. The old weed seeds will still be there, but aside from a pre-emergent control, you can't do much about them aside from fumigation, which is far beyond the DIY level of gardening as it requires State licensing and some serious chemicals.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Posts
    6,481

    Default Re: Putting a new yard in

    The side effect of using herbicides is that they NEVER dissipate, regardless of the claims of the manufacturer. They are not safe, and they will continue to affect whatever is planted and the environment for years to come.

    Removal of topsoil with a sod cutter is not an issue, especially when amending the remaining soil prior to planting seed or sod. I've taken absolutely dead, barren soil and brought it back to life with organic amendments too many times to be swayed otherwise.
    I suffer from CDO ... Its like OCD, but in alphabetical order, LIKE IT SHOULD BE!!!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Houston Texas
    Posts
    2,360

    Default Re: Putting a new yard in

    Another lifetime ago, made a living as a certified pesticide applicator.

    The chemistry of Roundup has the characteristic of binding to soil particles permanently. While trace amounts can be detected years later, they are still so tightly bound to the soil particles they do not separate and do any harm to plants or animals. If you have ever seen the inside of a sprayer used solely for Roundup, you will find it to be dirt free as the binding action is so tight. If the roundup remained in the soil and continued to be effective, it would continue to kill plant material for eternity, or when the last molecule is gone. Since that doesn't happen, there is no fear of any residual action or harm from this particular herbicide.

    An alternative would be using fire to burn off the existing crop, but then you pollute in other ways.

    Choose wisely grasshoppah.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Portland, Oregon, formerly of Chicago
    Posts
    1,584

    Default Re: Putting a new yard in

    Here in Oregon, one of our largest agricultural exports is grass seed. Burning the fields is done commonly to clear away old vegetation and weeds. I suppose it could be called pollution, but compared to other things that get thrown into the atmosphere, "natural" smoke seems relatively harmless. Mother Nature has been clearing land and forests this way for time and eternity.

    I did use Houston Remodeler's technique to clear my totally hopeless backyard. I killed all the weeds with Round-Up , then rototilled it under with a tractor with rear rototiller. After leveling, new sod was laid. What a dramatic difference in only a couple weeks time!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Houston Texas
    Posts
    2,360

    Default Re: Putting a new yard in

    Its not my idea, but a variation on the old practice of 'no till' farming. Top soil preservation is important in many areas.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Posts
    3

    Default Re: Putting a new yard in

    Thank you all for your help!!! Well looking at the price of sod, I will not be able to afford to buy the sod at this moment so I am going to have to seed. So thinking about this from all the input I have recieved, I think for best results a sod cutter will be the route I go. Then bring in some good manure and fill dirt. Then I am thinking of installing a sprinkler system throughout the yard, I need to wait until I get the yard leveled before I install the sprinkler system right? Then seed and water. I am thinking this is my plan, but subject to change....

    Thank you all again for your help and input and any further advice is always appreciated!!!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Posts
    6,481

    Default Re: Putting a new yard in

    A 1/2 acre is a lot of sod, have you considered doing a smaller area of sod that you'll be able to enjoy this year, and seed the rest. You could even do the sod in two stages, half now, half in a month or two when the funds are available. As I mentioned, even in ideal conditions, grass seed can come in spotty and take a very long time to become usable. Sod is good to go in only a couple weeks and it's "instant green". At the very least I would recommend sodding an area closest to the house, then do as you will with the rest of it.

    I would use this order
    1 - Grade first to roughly where you want the finished contours to be.
    2 - Amend and rototill the soil and roughly smooth it out.
    3 - Install the irrigation, be sure to use flags at all sprinkler head locations, you're going to need them later. Initially, you install the lines with just the risers - no heads. Once in, you'll run water through them to blow out the dirt and debris, then install caps on all the risers.
    4 - Backfill the trenches and rototill to break up clods and mix any of the original remaining soil with the amended soil. This will also help settle the trenches more evenly with the yard, preventing ruts later on.
    5 - Final grade and install the sprinkler heads a little proud of the ground. As the dirt settles, you'll have to shorten the risers to accommodate.
    6 - Apply your seed and then water it in, keeping it moist until it germinates and becomes established. In the case of using sod, you want to run the sprinklers a little before laying the sod, just enough to lightly dampen the soil without making a mud pit. This will help prevent stunting the sod by letting the roots drying out. Once the sod is down, irrigate well.
    I suffer from CDO ... Its like OCD, but in alphabetical order, LIKE IT SHOULD BE!!!

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Posts
    3

    Default Re: Putting a new yard in

    Thank you! 1 more question though, how deep do I need to bury the pipe for the sprinkler system?

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