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Smoothing Out Top Soil

Discussion in 'Homeowner Assistance Forum' started by Nullqwerty, Jul 11, 2013.

  1. Nullqwerty

    Nullqwerty LawnSite Member
    Posts: 37

    I'm installing a new lawn. One side of the lawn has pretty good loam and was full of weeds. The other side had awful loam, so much so that not even weeds were growing.

    I rototilled and raked all of it. Nice and smooth. I then bought some Scott's Premium Top Soil, which has Peat Moss mixed in and put a couple of inches on top of everything.

    My problem is that the new top soil is so fluffy that everything is very lumpy and doesn't look smooth. I had planned to rake it smooth, but it has such a different texture than the loam underneath it that when you rake it, you end up just pulling it off the underlying loam and nothing gets smoothed out.

    How do I get this to be smooth? I thought about rototilling it all again with the top soil on top, but then it's going to mix heavily with the underlying loam (including the bad stuff) and I'm afraid the grass won't grow well.

  2. Kiril

    Kiril LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 18,308

    Work with the soil you have. Get a soil test, amend the soil as needed, till it all in.
  3. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 10,081

    What is important is that soil become fertile... bad stuff,,, as you put it requires that you balance as much as possible the sand, clay, silt and OM... oftentimes,,, tilling in compost is all that it required... your bagged sphagnum moss is not the best, but will aid water retention and drainage once tilled into your "bad stuff"...

    Do you know what the bad stuff is composed of??? :)
  4. Nullqwerty

    Nullqwerty LawnSite Member
    Posts: 37

    I had it tested when it was first put in. I don't remember off-hand what the results were, but nothing looked too bad. It compacted really hard though, which is what possibly prevented even weeds from growing over the last year. Also, it was "bad" because it had small shards of glass in it, which is in part why I wanted to top dress it (the other part is that I needed it to be a couple of inches higher anyway). Also, I had read that you're supposed to put new quality top soil and peat moss on top before seeding

    So it sounds like you guys are saying I should rototill it again to mix it all up. That'll get it smooth. Then test it, make any corrections, and seed. Is that correct?

  5. Kiril

    Kiril LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 18,308


  6. foreplease

    foreplease LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,939

    Agree with tilling suggestions above. Layering in soils is a bad thing. Once your yard is established your underlying soil will be somewhat protected from severe compaction. Most importantly though: this is an awful time of year to try to establish a yard from seed. Worst possible time you could choose in my opinion.
  7. Nullqwerty

    Nullqwerty LawnSite Member
    Posts: 37

    Ok, thanks. It's weird cause I read so many sites that say to do it.

    I know. This was the quickest I could get it done though, so my choice is to do nothing for the rest of the summer and have dirt/weeds for a lawn, or just try it and if I fail, I aerate and try again in September. I went with the latter but picked up a timer and sprinklers, so watering will be diligent.

  8. RigglePLC

    RigglePLC LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 12,215

    Forplease is right, Null.
    Be ready with the battery-operated timers and sprinklers. Good idea. 30 minutes per day is good, 45 if its over 85 degrees. With luck and rotary sprinkler heads on spikes, you should be able to water two 80 foot circles at a time.

    Be aware that it is normal for a lot of weed seeds to reside in the soil. Those weeds will sprout if the soil is moist and warm. They can usually be killed later--usually.
  9. Nullqwerty

    Nullqwerty LawnSite Member
    Posts: 37

    Great, thanks everyone!
  10. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 10,081

    People believe in layering becuz it is quicker than doing it right... no matter what you put on top of the compacted dirt, you will have problems forever which aeration will not fix... good luck... :)

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