Breaking Ground

Discussion in 'Homeowner Assistance Forum' started by Ben98gs, Sep 8, 2005.

  1. Ben98gs

    Ben98gs LawnSite Member
    Posts: 18

    Well, per recommendations from the nice folks here, I gave up on trying to grow a lawn during the horrible dry summer we had. I am now ready to start breaking ground though.... LITERALLY...

    That is where my question comes in... What would the best way to do this (breaking up the ground) be??? I have virtually no grass to start with and some weeds. The ground is virtually ROCK hard (so it seems)... The area between the sidewalk and the street especially needs to be tilled, fined and smooth (it is so lumpy the lawn mower "bottoms out" on dirt chunks). The yard is only 1/2 acre... Would my best bet probably be a full weekend with a tiller??? Would a tiller break through the ground fairly easily???

    Is it still a little early to be worrying about this??? We are still having 80*+ days.

    What are your recommendations on helping me get some grass going (planting KY bluegrass).

    Thanks,

    Ben
     
  2. CT John

    CT John LawnSite Member
    Posts: 90

    Rent the tiller. You won't need it for more than a day. Maybe even just a half day. Assuming the soil is in decent shape, till, rake, seed and then lightly rake the seed into the soil.
     
  3. olderthandirt

    olderthandirt LawnSite Platinum Member
    from here
    Posts: 4,900

    Rent a tractor with a pulverizer for a 1/2 day, this will loosen and smooth out the area ready for seed, unless there are alot of debris then rent a harley rake and spend a whole day on the prodject.
     
  4. Ironmower

    Ironmower LawnSite Member
    Posts: 69

    You can also break it up with a tractor and disc (probably cheaper), just make sure you don't have any shallow wires in the ground. Then after a good thorough disting you can come back in with a drag harrow and drag out the lumps, clumps, and rocks. Then hit it with some fertilizer and lime (if necessary) and then throw some seed to it, run it on about the 3rd setting (notch) up from the bottom on a tractor mount 500lb. spreader for seed, and the 4th notch up for the fertilizer and lime. Do the fertilizer first, drag that in, lime second, drag that in, then the seed, and drag that in. Then pray for rain.

    If you start early enough, this all can be done in a day (with a tractor). I was able to manage 2 acres in a day, but I had all my fertilizer, seed, and lime there before I started, so I didn't have to make any trips to the supply house.

    Edit: Forgot to mention, I used 10-10-10, pelletized ag grade lime, and Kentucky 31 Fescue (tall variety).
     
  5. Ben98gs

    Ben98gs LawnSite Member
    Posts: 18

    When you say "tractor" what exactly to you mean, like a lawn tractor/mower with some attachment or a like a farming tractor (I think big when I think of this)...

    Main reason that I was thinking tiller was because that way I can get close to the flower beds/curves and also the area between the sidewalk and street is only about 3' wide or so, if I get something too big then I wouldnt be able to do this section (which is in horrible need of it).

    Where do I get lime??? Would places like Lowes carry that or do I need to find out how close the Tractor Supply Co. is???

    Also, no one responded on if I should start now or wait a little longer into the fall... Should I wait a week or two???

    This basically sounds like what I was really thinking... I know that I can get a truck to transport a tiller, but I dont know if I will be able to find something/trailor big enough for a tractor.

    Thanks,

    Ben
     
  6. olderthandirt

    olderthandirt LawnSite Platinum Member
    from here
    Posts: 4,900

    To do a 1/2 acre with a tiller is gonna be so much trouble your gonna wish you had rented and had delievered a compact diesel tractor in the 30 hp range or a skid steer with a harley rake. Both will do the section you descibed be running it back and forth rather than lengh wise. I doubt if you need to add lime and other ammenities. I would use a good blend of seed 50% blue grass 30 per. rye 10 anual rye and 10 fescue works well for this general area. And starter fert. I'd wait till the 3rd week in sept if It was my own prop. Good Luck
     
  7. Ironmower

    Ironmower LawnSite Member
    Posts: 69


    You'd need at least a Farmall 140 sized tractor. That has just enough down pressure on the lift to break the ground with the disc. If you have any friends or acquaintances that farm ask if you can 'rent' their tractor (most farmers won't let anyone borrow anything unless you're real close friends) for a day with a disc and a spreader and a drag harrow.

    The 3rd week-4th week of September is the best time to sew in the fall. It's just about that time. I suggest you make a list of what you need and make appropriate arrangements to obtain the tractor and materials, you don't want to get in a mad rush the day of trying to get all the materials because then it will take you another day after you have ran errands that day.
     
  8. Ben98gs

    Ben98gs LawnSite Member
    Posts: 18

    Well, per recommendations, I waited until this weekend (third weekend in Sept) to tear up the yard (neighbors kinda looked at me like I was crazy :cool2: )... I ended up using a 9HP 21" Craftsman tiller that my grandpa had (free tool rental is always good). It took me about 3 1/2 - 4 hrs to till up the entire yard. Then we walked through and picked up rocks and weeds (I have a few pretty good sized rocks and what seems like 1000's of 1" or bigger rocks). Ran a light spread of Starter Fert before we smoothed, and then we raked the lawn level again and pulled out anymore weeds that had been up-rooted and got stuck in the rake. Ran the first layer of seed down. Took a rake and basically just dragged it along the surface to slightly "bury" the seed (and also to help gather up more weeds/grass clumps). Did another layer of seed on top of that and then another light layer of the fertilizer to top it off... Watered it yesterday evening for the first time and it started sprinkling/light rain this morning, with heavier rain expected tonight... Now i am going to start trying to water in the morning... And then again probably at around 4:30pm...

    Does that watering schedule sound good for now trying to get the seeds to germinate??? I just want to the top layer wet for now, until I actually start to get sprouts and then I want a slightly longer/deeper watering schedule correct???

    Thanks for all the help... It was a little bit of a pain to do all that without the "proper/professional" tools, but got it done none the less...

    Ben
     

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