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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
We are seeding our back yard in the next month and currently it is about an acre of what used to be farmfield. It was mowed regularly for years for the hay so grass is growing there pretty good, just not nice grass. We just applied round up to kill. Would it help the soil, which is clay, if we tilled this up and left it, then seeded or push the killed sod aside and seed on the underlaying ground. The guy installing the lawn said its a pain to till thru the grass and wants to push it aside. Im thinking it would be better for the new lawn to use it. I guess Im looking for advice. We live on a walkout lot so getting topsoil in the back is a no go, trucks cant get down. I appreciate any feedback. Thanks
 

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The #1 rule of a successful seed job is, first and foremost establishing excellent seed-to-SOIL contact for your seed to have any chance of rooting after it's initial germination stages.

I get the feeling that the person you've hired to do this work may be of the opinion that there may be still too much 'organic matter' existing for this seed-to-soil contact to happen. Am I right?

Is it possible for you to post digital pics here? :confused:

I agree that some organic matter is a good idea to have in your soil, but keep in mind that it's generally a common practice that the organic matter that is typically added to seed prep areas, is almost always finished compost, not undecomposed matter like what you're dealing with.

Maybe a compromise move would be to scalp the area of all vegetation....and I mean ALL THE WAY to the ground... and then have it all raked away, before it's tilled and seeded.
This could, in theory at least, save you that "sod cutting" labor.

Again....good seed-to-soil contact is vital!
A little undecomposed organic matter won't hurt, so long as it's tilled in well.
:waving:

p.s.....I wouldn't wait too long to seed! Winters coming!
 

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The problem is removing the vegetation without removing the topsoil. I agree with Marcos, get in there with a bagging mower and set it as low as it will go. Get the dead material out and into a compost pile for next year's topdressing.

As a compromise with your landscaper, I suggest after the above you use a Harley rake (power rake, whatever). A Harley rake will rip out and windrow the fescue clumps from the hayfield without scalping off all your valuable topsoil. It will be a bit easier than a tiller, and will likely have less follow-up hand work.
 

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If you till it up several things that may happen, you are stirring up all of the weed seeds that have been in the soil for years, so prepare for a flush of weeds. You will need to cover with straw or hire a hydroseeder to keep the soil from eoding away in a heavy rain.

If you scalp and seed is the best answer I think, all of the roots will become organic matter for the soil microbes and will feed the plants in the long run, the roots of the existing plants have already broken up the soil so the new turf can just follow along

Fungi establishment in the soil is inherently disease suppressive, if you til it you will destroy all of the fungi and have to start over.

I vote scalp and slit seed, thats what the no til farmers do every year but they leave the bushhogged material where it lays as a green mulch
 

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So Im gathering it probably isnt the best idea to just till it up and reseed because it will be too "thick" for good seed, soil contact, ect.
I assume you're talking now about the option of stripping the area of everything, and just tilling up the heavy clay before seeding, right?

There's been some wonderful turf grown on some pretty awful clay soil, believe me! Clay-based soils, more often than not, contain a rich base of nutrients. The problem is, that clay, in and of itself, has such a small pore space that nutrients tend to get 'locked up' in the soil.
Plus, the ground itself can get quite hydrophobic in the worst cases, especially if it's compacted clay.

You can grow a fair-to decent lawn on a clay-based soil.
If you scrape the organic material off the field, and use it in a compost pile to use for next year's lawn topdressing (like jeffinsgf wisely suggested) you could have the best of both worlds, and satisfy all parties involved in the current project.

Once in a while your compost pile will have to be turned. And you could add household food scraps, and chipped tree limbs / landscape cuttings to it, too.

Once the compost is finished, just call someone local who can load it with a Bobcat into a manure spreader, then when your ( then finished) back yard's good and dry, they can run a small tractor and the manure spreader around on your lawn and spread the joy! :)

In a scenario like this...I would still core aeratethe lawn, thoroughly, at least every other year or so, to help incorporate the compost into the clay soil.
Otherwise, you may develop a type of 'sheet wash' situation during heavy rains, especially if the area is sloped.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
About 1/2 acre of the backyard is farmfield, the other 1/2 acre is clay fill. I dont think scalping and slit seeding is an option because that would be 2 different processes would have to be done then. The farmfield area is also very very bumpy, it definately needs smoothing out.

I think Marcos is getting what I am wondering. Do I have all the farmfield sod pushed aside, leaving a clay base to be tilled up and seeded, or do I have that field grass be tilled into the land ect and seed.

And thank you for the responses, this site is so helpful.
 
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