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View Full Version : Little Big Dig: Reseeding New Lawn Preparation (Photo-Heavy)


capcitydude
08-07-2010, 12:52 PM
Hi Everyone,

This is my first post here but I've been lurking for quite some time now, soaking up the great information and advice that you all have to offer. My wife and I moved into this house about 20 minutes northwest of Boston, MA in February. At the time, our front yard looked something like this:

http://www.smugmug.com/photos/961335050_AUhe9-L.jpg (http://www.smugmug.com/gallery/13238847_29yio#961335050_AUhe9-A-LB)

Due to heavy rains, our basement flooded in March and we discovered that we needed to have the exterior of our foundation walls waterproofed. That required excavating down about 9 to 10 feet around the perimeter of the house, installing a plastic membrane, and laying in a French drain system. Now, our front yard looks something like this:

http://www.smugmug.com/photos/961336185_hsUXC-L.jpg (http://www.smugmug.com/gallery/13238847_29yio#961336185_hsUXC-A-LB)

My first question is: What is the best way to remove the remaining grass and extensive weeds?

For example, along the front of the house, the yard looks like this:

http://www.smugmug.com/photos/961336265_u7rFT-L.jpg (http://www.smugmug.com/gallery/13238847_29yio#961336265_u7rFT-A-LB)

Along the side, the grass and crabgrass look like this:

http://www.smugmug.com/photos/961336292_UYNn2-L.jpg (http://www.smugmug.com/gallery/13238847_29yio#961336292_UYNn2-A-LB)

In addition, I have a lot of places that look like this:

http://www.smugmug.com/photos/961336765_KYQdE-L.jpg (http://www.smugmug.com/gallery/13238847_29yio#961336765_KYQdE-A-LB)
http://www.smugmug.com/photos/961336796_dfP42-L.jpg (http://www.smugmug.com/gallery/13238847_29yio#961336796_dfP42-A-LB)
http://www.smugmug.com/photos/961336842_JjsYe-L.jpg (http://www.smugmug.com/gallery/13238847_29yio#961336842_JjsYe-A-LB)

I was planning on renting a sod cutter for the front area, but I'm not sure how to handle the weeds and crabgrass. I would like to try to avoid using any harmful chemicals if at all possible (e.g. Roundup) but would if that is the best route. My plan is to eventually truck in a bunch of loam, till it into the existing soil, rough grade it and have the irrigation system put in before I reseed later this September.

Any advice on how to prepare the property would be much appreciated.

Thanks in advance.

Samir

bigslick7878
08-07-2010, 03:02 PM
Don't see the need for a sod cutter, the grass by those big trees looks fine leave it alone.

Round up the rest over the next 2 weeks, then you are at a perfect time to seed in your neck of the woods.

Design a nice flower bed that wraps around the front of the house( and to the back around the side), with sweeping curves not straight. Straight = bad. Flowing and curving = good.

Also get those downspouts buried and have them dump somewhere away from the house the grade is sloping so you can do that easily. All you need is some black drain pipe to run under the ground. NOT perforated pipe solid. If you really want to do it right use PVC pipe.

Grade looks a little choppy off the left corner of the house in between the house and that brick wall. Get some top soil and get that right. In general get that grade nice and even everywhere before you do anything, no humps or bumps nice and even from the house to the perimeter of the property.

Try to save as much grass as possible, in some spots if there is no crabgrass(like in the pic where you can see the wall, as you get closer to the street the grass looks savable) I would just spray a weed killer (weed b gone). Any place that has crabgrass just destroy it.

LawnSolutionsCP
08-07-2010, 05:26 PM
Go by Richey & Clapper in Sudbury, MA. They are one of our dealers and have all the toys you will need. You will thank me.

I would start with a Dingo and their soil cultivator attachement...the thing is amazing. It will remove the rocks and make the ground smooth and level like screened top soil.

Then seed it with a spreader or seeder.

Make sure to take pictures: before, during, and after.

David

Smallaxe
08-08-2010, 10:16 AM
The more immediate problem is the water that may continue running toward the house. I see that tree by the corner has a crown higher than the foundation and that clump in the back is also going to shed water in that direction.

I suppose you could rely on the plastic membrane and french drain, but niether will be very effective during spring thaw.

capcitydude
08-08-2010, 10:18 AM
Bigslick -- Thank you for the recommendations on the flower bed. That is something that my wife would really enjoy, especially since we had to have much of the landscaping removed when the foundation waterproofing work was done. A nice flower bed will also cover up the backflow preventer we had to install for the future irrigation system. I'll also work on burying the downspouts.

Don't see the need for a sod cutter, the grass by those big trees looks fine leave it alone.

Round up the rest over the next 2 weeks, then you are at a perfect time to seed in your neck of the woods.

... <snip> ...

Try to save as much grass as possible, in some spots if there is no crabgrass(like in the pic where you can see the wall, as you get closer to the street the grass looks savable) I would just spray a weed killer (weed b gone). Any place that has crabgrass just destroy it.

Do you think there may be any mechanical way to remove the weeds or would pulling them up by hand be too much work? Just wantedt to know if I could avoid using chemicals or if Roundup/Weed B Gone was the way to go.

Thanks again.

Samir

capcitydude
08-08-2010, 10:24 AM
Go by Richey & Clapper in Sudbury, MA. They are one of our dealers and have all the toys you will need. You will thank me.

I would start with a Dingo and their soil cultivator attachement...the thing is amazing. It will remove the rocks and make the ground smooth and level like screened top soil.

Then seed it with a spreader or seeder.

Make sure to take pictures: before, during, and after.

David

Hi David -- Thanks for the recommendation on Richey & Clapper. They seem to have a lot of good quality rental equipment. The only issue is that I'm not sure I'd be comfortable operating the Dingo with the attachment. To date, the most complicated piece of lawn equipment I've used is my lawnmower! I was going to pose a question later on regarding what to do with all the rock and stone that came up as part of the excavation. I suppose I could hire someone to rough grade the property before I put down the loam.

Thanks.

Samir

capcitydude
08-08-2010, 10:26 AM
The more immediate problem is the water that may continue running toward the house. I see that tree by the corner has a crown higher than the foundation and that clump in the back is also going to shed water in that direction.

I suppose you could rely on the plastic membrane and french drain, but niether will be very effective during spring thaw.

That's a good point. I'll try to post a close up picture of that area but they did try to leave a slight swale over there to collect and direct the water towards the front of the property. I agree that we'll have to figure something out for that area.

Thanks.
Samir

bigslick7878
08-08-2010, 03:16 PM
Bigslick -- Thank you for the recommendations on the flower bed. That is something that my wife would really enjoy, especially since we had to have much of the landscaping removed when the foundation waterproofing work was done. A nice flower bed will also cover up the backflow preventer we had to install for the future irrigation system. I'll also work on burying the downspouts.



Do you think there may be any mechanical way to remove the weeds or would pulling them up by hand be too much work? Just wantedt to know if I could avoid using chemicals or if Roundup/Weed B Gone was the way to go.

Thanks again.

Samir

No mechanical way to get rid of the weeds they need to be sprayed.

capcitydude
08-27-2010, 04:03 PM
A couple of quick updates and some questions that you can hopefully help with:
- I've decided to hire someone to take down the Hemlock that Smallaxe pointed out earlier. A couple of other local landscapers recommended the same thing (you can't see it in the pictures, but 75% of the roots immediately surrounding the tree had to be cut when they did the foundation waterproofing so we're concerned about the tree's stability). I hate to see it go though.
- I've also decided to hire a landscaper to come in and prepare the property prior to installing the irrigation system. He's going to remove the remaining grass, bring in about 100 yards of loam to rough grade the property, remove the Hemlock stump, and install a stone drip edge around the house.

I would still like to seed and fertilize myself. My questions are:
(1) Is it still worth getting a soil test? I don't have much time between when the irrigiation system goes in and when I have to seed.
(2) Can I just apply some lime? I'm thinking of going with a TTTF blend for grass seed because a lot of the yard is in the shade.
(3) Is there a recommended starter fertilizer that I should use (preferably something organic if available)?
(4) After applying the lime and fertilizer and seeding, I was thinking of top dressing with 1/4" compost. Does that sound reasonable? Or can I just rake in the seed with the back of a lawn rake and call it a day?
(5) Do I need to roll the seed? I've heard that if your roller is too heavy, you can create dips and depressions.
(6) Any suggestions for what to do around the trees?

Sorry for so many questions but thanks in advance!

Samir

RigglePLC
08-27-2010, 10:22 PM
My personal suggestions, picture number four shows a heavy concentration of violets--a very tough weed. Roundup needed here, probably more than once. Left side--yes somehow correct the potential runoff toward house--if tree has to go--do it. Ryegrass and Kentucky bluegrass is a good mixture in your part of the country. But time for seeding is very tight. First frost is due Oct 17--won't kill your new seed but major slowdown. Seed this week for best results--seed when the soil is warm for best germination. Be sure to include starter fertilizer. Milorganite will work OK. Get the soil test, but you can add lime later, if needed. Be sure to feed it again to build the turf at 30 and 60 days after seeding. Rake in the seed. Compost is good but not really needed--and it might take several tons. Roller is OK, but use a light roller--skip the water.

robtown
08-28-2010, 12:18 AM
pond liner will kill all ...roll it out over the weeds and grass and let it sit there for a week in the sun and it will burn everything.
If you are going to add compost, add alot and till it in. Do not just topdress it.
Get a good compost and you will not need lime. The compost we use comes in at 7.0
I would not rush the Base. This is your one chance to get this right.
If you have done all this i would put sod down. it is not that expensive.
Since you already have the the lawn apart now is a good time to landscape it.
Come up with a plan for how you want it to look. A complete plan.
Beds, Trees, Walkways.
Where the sunny parts of the yard are that need more irrigation.
Pvc under walkways and driveways for future lighting projects.
Think it Through.
Instead of a house on an ant hill, I would tier the lawn. Throw in a boulder wall 40 ft out from the house and go with a gentle slope, a nice flagstone walkway, a nifty paver driveway and bamm your all set.
Good luck
cool looking house

bigslick7878
08-28-2010, 02:48 AM
A couple of quick updates and some questions that you can hopefully help with:
- I've decided to hire someone to take down the Hemlock that Smallaxe pointed out earlier. A couple of other local landscapers recommended the same thing (you can't see it in the pictures, but 75% of the roots immediately surrounding the tree had to be cut when they did the foundation waterproofing so we're concerned about the tree's stability). I hate to see it go though.
- I've also decided to hire a landscaper to come in and prepare the property prior to installing the irrigation system. He's going to remove the remaining grass, bring in about 100 yards of loam to rough grade the property, remove the Hemlock stump, and install a stone drip edge around the house.

I would still like to seed and fertilize myself. My questions are:
(1) Is it still worth getting a soil test? I don't have much time between when the irrigiation system goes in and when I have to seed.
(2) Can I just apply some lime? I'm thinking of going with a TTTF blend for grass seed because a lot of the yard is in the shade.
(3) Is there a recommended starter fertilizer that I should use (preferably something organic if available)?
(4) After applying the lime and fertilizer and seeding, I was thinking of top dressing with 1/4" compost. Does that sound reasonable? Or can I just rake in the seed with the back of a lawn rake and call it a day?
(5) Do I need to roll the seed? I've heard that if your roller is too heavy, you can create dips and depressions.
(6) Any suggestions for what to do around the trees?

Sorry for so many questions but thanks in advance!

Samir

First off...a 100 YARDS of top soil?? Do you mean 10 maybe?

A 100 is a LOT for that property. A WHOLE lot! Either you are mistaken, or the landscaper is trying to jack the price up because there is no way 100 yards is needed.

1) If you are going to be getting all that top soil no need for a soil test, that dirt is gonna be good.

2) No need for lime. TTTF is good for sun, you mihght want to use a finer fescue in the dark shade areas. TTTF will grow, but it won't thrive in that type of shade.

3) Scotts, or I am sure you could find an organic starter fertilizer easily.

4) Raking seed over is fine, compost topdressed is way better. Could be pretty labor intensive if you are doing it by shovel.

5) Use a roller but make sure it is not too full or heavy, you don't need a lot of weight to go over seed.

6) For the trees, dig out a mulch area where the canopy outline ends around them. You could combine the two areas or make one large one around both trees, whatever. The mulched area will also allow you to not have to worry about grass in an area where grass won't grow anyway.

capcitydude
08-28-2010, 01:06 PM
My personal suggestions, picture number four shows a heavy concentration of violets--a very tough weed. Roundup needed here, probably more than once. Left side--yes somehow correct the potential runoff toward house--if tree has to go--do it. Ryegrass and Kentucky bluegrass is a good mixture in your part of the country. But time for seeding is very tight. First frost is due Oct 17--won't kill your new seed but major slowdown. Seed this week for best results--seed when the soil is warm for best germination. Be sure to include starter fertilizer. Milorganite will work OK. Get the soil test, but you can add lime later, if needed. Be sure to feed it again to build the turf at 30 and 60 days after seeding. Rake in the seed. Compost is good but not really needed--and it might take several tons. Roller is OK, but use a light roller--skip the water.

Thanks for the feedback. I hit the whole front yard with Roundup a few weeks ago but may need to hit it again as you suggest.

Unfortunately, the seeding won't happen until sometime between September 10 and 17 (mason is finishing rebuilding the stairs/landing/retaining wall now and landscaper is pretty booked up next couple of weeks).

Appreciate the suggestions on the fertilizer schedule and use of an empty roller.

Samir

capcitydude
08-28-2010, 01:16 PM
pond liner will kill all ...roll it out over the weeds and grass and let it sit there for a week in the sun and it will burn everything.
If you are going to add compost, add alot and till it in. Do not just topdress it.
Get a good compost and you will not need lime. The compost we use comes in at 7.0
I would not rush the Base. This is your one chance to get this right.
If you have done all this i would put sod down. it is not that expensive.
Since you already have the the lawn apart now is a good time to landscape it.
Come up with a plan for how you want it to look. A complete plan.
Beds, Trees, Walkways.
Where the sunny parts of the yard are that need more irrigation.
Pvc under walkways and driveways for future lighting projects.
Think it Through.
Instead of a house on an ant hill, I would tier the lawn. Throw in a boulder wall 40 ft out from the house and go with a gentle slope, a nice flagstone walkway, a nifty paver driveway and bamm your all set.
Good luck
cool looking house

Interesting suggestion on the pond liner. Never thought of that. Any idea of where one get pick that up? Forecast calls for several sunny, dry days the next week or so.

Regarding the sod, I had generally thought that was a lot more expensive than seeding. We've burned through a lot of cash with waterproofing the foundation, rebuilding the stairs, patio and retaining wall, the irrigation system, new roof, etc. etc. :cry:

I've found couple of good quality seed products that I was looking at so that's why I'm headed toward seeding.

Regarding the plan, I like your idea of tiering the lawn, we had thought of that (and several people have also suggested that), but right now, we just can't afford it. I think it's a great idea and would really set the house off nicely from the street. We do plan on getting a landscape architect to draw up some plans for us soon so that my wife and I can start to set aside time and money for that. We've already received quotes from 2 local architects. For now, I just want to get some grass in so we can open our windows without having a lot of dirt blown into the house. We're also trying to future proof the masonry work now by installing stair light boxes and putting in chaseways underneath to run electrical lines and irrigation.

The driveway is beat to death but that will have to wait.

Thanks again for the feedback and comments -- I appreciate you taking the time to respond.

Samir

capcitydude
08-28-2010, 01:36 PM
First off...a 100 YARDS of top soil?? Do you mean 10 maybe?

A 100 is a LOT for that property. A WHOLE lot! Either you are mistaken, or the landscaper is trying to jack the price up because there is no way 100 yards is needed.

1) If you are going to be getting all that top soil no need for a soil test, that dirt is gonna be good.

2) No need for lime. TTTF is good for sun, you mihght want to use a finer fescue in the dark shade areas. TTTF will grow, but it won't thrive in that type of shade.

3) Scotts, or I am sure you could find an organic starter fertilizer easily.

4) Raking seed over is fine, compost topdressed is way better. Could be pretty labor intensive if you are doing it by shovel.

5) Use a roller but make sure it is not too full or heavy, you don't need a lot of weight to go over seed.

6) For the trees, dig out a mulch area where the canopy outline ends around them. You could combine the two areas or make one large one around both trees, whatever. The mulched area will also allow you to not have to worry about grass in an area where grass won't grow anyway.

Thanks for chiming in and for responding to my questions.

Both landscapers we quoted said they would need roughly 100 yards of topsoil and loam. It's tough to tell from the pictures I posted but the yard is in really rough shape with lots of erosion.

I like the idea of the mulch bed around the trees. I hated mowing around there because the roots were so high.

Thanks again!

Samir

RigglePLC
08-28-2010, 03:57 PM
20 truckloads of dirt--and you already have dirt. Plant grass in your dirt. Done.
I thought you had killed the violets--but if not--instead of pond liner you could just lay black plastic (or blue) over the weeds and grass you want to kill--takes about 2 weeks. If you can, Robtown is right, drive a pipe under driveway for future wires or irrigation lines, cable internet whatever.

bigslick7878
08-28-2010, 04:27 PM
Thanks for chiming in and for responding to my questions.

Both landscapers we quoted said they would need roughly 100 yards of topsoil and loam. It's tough to tell from the pictures I posted but the yard is in really rough shape with lots of erosion.

I like the idea of the mulch bed around the trees. I hated mowing around there because the roots were so high.

Thanks again!

Samir

Ok, but just to let you know 100 yards is 10 FULL dump trucks worth of soil. They can only carry 30k lbs and a yard is about 3k lbs.

I would be watching to make sure that is what they are giving you, landscapers have been know to say you are getting one amount only to deliver another. It is very easy to do especially with top soil and mulch and with that high of an amount.

I will still go on record that 100 yards is overkill, that is going to cost a pretty penny.

capcitydude
09-07-2010, 07:55 PM
Just a quick update for those who are interested. The mason is finally done (well almost finished -- he just has to install the granite lamp post) and the electrician will be by later this week to wire up the stair lights. But the bigger news is that the landscaper we hired started today to start regarding the property. Sharp eyes will notice we took Smallaxe's and others' recommendation. Notice anything missing?

I was originally thinking of going with a 80/10/10 Fescue/KBG/PRG blend in the front but part of me thinks I should bite the bullet and go KBG all the way. Am I crazy to call an audible this close to the endzone?

http://www.smugmug.com/photos/998775360_EFa2D-L.jpg (http://www.smugmug.com/gallery/13238847_29yio#998775360_EFa2D-A-LB)

http://www.smugmug.com/photos/998775468_PmUZe-L.jpg (http://www.smugmug.com/gallery/13238847_29yio#998775468_PmUZe-A-LB)

capcitydude
09-19-2010, 09:18 PM
I thought I would post a quick update on the progress of our new lawn installation. But before I do, a quick thanks to Smallaxe, Riggle, Bigslick and others who have been very gracious with their time and expertise -- not only to me but to the many others who have posted similar questions to mine.

Our landscape contractor finished regrading our property last week and rough graded everything prior to installing the irrigation system. My only beef with the company was that the loam he used seemed to be on the sandy and dry side. A quick test of the pH with one of those quick and dirty (read "cheap") test kits revealed that the material was quite acidic. I ordered 6 cubic yards of some higher quality loam from a local garden center that was a mix of loam, top soil and compost. The stuff was real dark and rich -- much better than what the landscaper used.

Here's a quick summary of what we did:
(1) We spread about a 1/4 inch of the new loam/top soil/compost material by hand all over the property. It took my wife and I about 7 hours to do do that. :cry:
(2) After raking it in to the loam the landscaper trucked it, it didn't look quite level so I went over everything with an empty roller to better let me see the high and low spots so we could fix the finish grade.
(3) Next, I spread some lime and starter fertilzer.
(4) I raked that in to prepare the final seed bed.
(5) Then, I put down the seed. I used the Classic Sunny mix from Lesco in the front (50% BG / 30% Fescue / 20% PRG) and the Shady Nooks (primarily Fescue with a bit of BG and PRG) from Jonathan Green in the back.
(6) We then gently raked the seed in using the back of a big plastic lawn rake to cover the seed and and spreader tracks.
(7) We then put up wooden stakes and ribbon to keep the school kids off the seed.

That was all the weekend of September 11.

I've been watering about 4 times a day (except when it has been raining). I've seet the irrigation to go for 5 minutes per zone at 05:00, 10:30, 13:30 and at 17:00.

Here's what we've got so far after about a week.

http://www.smugmug.com/photos/1014272722_ZA2Ff-L.jpg (http://www.smugmug.com/gallery/13238847_29yio#1014272722_ZA2Ff-A-LB)

http://www.smugmug.com/photos/1014272768_NeKEh-L.jpg (http://www.smugmug.com/gallery/13238847_29yio#1014272768_NeKEh-A-LB)

http://www.smugmug.com/photos/1014272793_9ptpG-L.jpg (http://www.smugmug.com/gallery/13238847_29yio#1014272793_9ptpG-A-LB)

http://www.smugmug.com/photos/1014272843_auZgz-L.jpg (http://www.smugmug.com/gallery/13238847_29yio#1014272843_auZgz-A-LB)

The main challenge now is to keep it moist and to keep the leaves and debris off. I haven't made up my mind as to whether I'll have time to fertilize it again later this fall. Comments and suggestions are appreciated.

Thanks again to all of the help and encouragement of the board.

Samir

capcitydude
09-19-2010, 09:20 PM
One other lesson that I learned -- stay away from the el cheap Scotts spreaders. I had bought both the drop and the rotary spreaders but both were huge failures. The rotary spreader would never shut off properly so we ended up spreading lime and fertilzer all over the place even when we didn't want to. Also, because it and the drop spreader were so light in weight, the wheels wouldn't turn properly.

I ended up borrowing a neighbor's "professional" rotary spreader with the rubber pneumatic tires. What a difference!

RigglePLC
09-20-2010, 12:08 AM
You are amazing, Samir!
Hurrah! Success. Be sure to apply fertilizer at 30 and 60 days from your seeding date. Say October 9th and November 10th. Get it as thick as you can before the snow falls. Plan to mow sooner than you think.

bigslick7878
09-23-2010, 01:21 PM
Great job!

Just keep watering away. Probably for the next month or so. You can cut the water back to a couple times a day when a lot of germination occurs, but keep 4-5 times a day right now.

I am pretty nitpicky, and I only see one tiny issue. The stonework by the house looks fantastic, but the edge of the driveway at the bottom where the lawn meets it (picture 2 bottom of steps to orange cone) is all messed up. (At least it looks that way in the picture) Then again looking at it it could just be the top soil running over and making it look that way.

Anyway nice clean edges make a big difference and it is a pretty easy fix if it is broken up.

jbailey52
09-30-2010, 07:49 PM
Riggle, at 30 and 60 day intervals, what fert should he/we be using? High N? like a 32-0-8 or starter fertilizer again?