To Till or Not to Till -- that is the question!

Discussion in 'Turf Renovation' started by ricsin1, Feb 19, 2012.

  1. ricsin1

    ricsin1 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 81

    Im preparing for a lawn renovation in mid April. I have a fescue lawn that I'm trying to redo with bermuda seed. 3000 square feet... 5 lbs Riviera + 4 lbs Yukon = 3 lbs/1000sq. feet seed rate is the plan....some say you should rototill - others say no....... what say you??

    should i kill off all the fescue, skin the lawn with the bag attachment on my lawn mower....then rototill the whole yard, then seed the bermuda...... OR...

    should I just kill off the fescue...then skin the lawn with the bag attachment on my lawn mower.... then use a metal rake to scrape up the ground....then seed the bermuda....
  2. Kiril

    Kiril LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 18,335

    The decision to till depends on the state of your soil. Get an in depth soil test, audit your soil, then make a decision.
  3. RigglePLC

    RigglePLC LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 13,800

    I have not done this. But from what I have heard, if you till, it leaves big clumps of sod, that then must be raked out. You may need a dump truck.

    Ideally, you should kill the fescue. Then strip the sod with a sod-cutting machine and haul away, with dump truck. Level and prep the soil. Lime and fertilize as soil test indicates. Sow seed. Rake in. But soil temp should be warm for warm-season grasses. My opinion, soil temp of 70 or air temp about 85 or 90. Irrigation should be available and generous. Be ready to combat weeds as needed. Be ready to accept brown grass in the cool weather months.

    Correct the cause of the original problem or soil bad soil conditions, remove troublesome weeds, correct any drainage or leveling issues. Do not try to grow Bermuda in the shade. Ideally, use Bermuda sod of high quality, and suited to your level of use and maintenance.
  4. White Gardens

    White Gardens LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,776

    80% of the time you should till. You might run into the occasional older lawn that has little to no compaction and the soil structure is in great shape.

    If you till, get a mini skid and the toro soil cultivator (rhotodiron). It has the ability to till deep and it will also bury the majority of the old sod and rocks at the bottom of the till zone.

  5. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,082

    What I would do is, broadcast the seed onto the old turf, and water it down into the muclh layer of the thatch. At the correct moment, apply the glyphosate which then dies back and cover the seed, much as a layer of perfectly applied straw might do.

    Then, when everything is dried and brown, soak it down with water and let all those dead & dried, roots, thatch and blades, soak up the water like a sponge.

    It doesn't have to be kept 'sopping wet'... rather a uniform level of consistant moisture than could be accomplished on "mineral soils"...

    As the roots establish from the baby plants, they are more easily growing through the channels of previous canals formed by old roots... rather than fighting their way into compacted mineral soils...

    In no-till gardening... you are operating from that principle... and it fits well with lawns... :)
  6. RigglePLC

    RigglePLC LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 13,800

    Wow. This idea is amazing and creative, Smallaxe. So you are suggesting...sow seed, water it in, (no raking), and only THEN, kill the grass with Roundup. So the old grass is actually supposed die, cover the seed and then to act like straw mulch.

    Hmmm...have you tried this method? Has anybody tried it and compared it to treating to kill the old grass first, before sowing seed?

    I tried something similar in August 2011. However, I only had "Razorburn" which contains glyphosate plus Diquat. Results fair...there was slow fill-in from new seed.

    This needs some one to try it and compare killing the grass before or after seeding.
    I am thinking.
  7. White Gardens

    White Gardens LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,776

    My local supplier has suggested this method on lawn re-seedings. Actually works pretty good from what I hear and might try it myself in a few places. They also do Lawn Care work, and said they've had some good results with this method.

    My supplier though recommends spraying first, waiting until dry, and then power-raking in the new seed.

  8. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,082

    This is the ONLY method I use on CG dominated areas... Of course, I only do it in the Fall, when I can use 'frost' instead of 'gly.', to cover the seed with dead CG...

    In the Springtime, it is simple enough to seed with lots of AR, then to overseed in the Fall with the desired grass and use the dead AR for mulch cover...

    Basically, the Springtime is ALWAYS going to give you some kind of trouble, but this method has a lot more to offer than redoing all the soil that leaves you, with bare ground to cover the seed...

    When I overseed, Spring or Fall I rarely do more than stir the surface of the soil on bare spots. On well thatched areas, I do nothing but broadcast the seed. Timing is important, but the bottom line is that, the wet dead grass is about as perfect a germination bed as you could make...

    Experimenting the specifics, would be a great advancement in the industry... :)
  9. RigglePLC

    RigglePLC LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 13,800

    I stepped out to take picture as there is no snow at the moment. Last August I sowed Scotts "Classic" seed, and then...sprayed immediately with "Razorburn" (which contains glyphosate and diquat.)

    Results were a bit slow, but the seed did come up. No irrigation. Although from the photo it appears my spraying covered larger circle than I thought. New seed produced the grass in the center. Photo on February, 2012, temps have been between 25 and 38 this week.

  10. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,082

    What is "diquat" and what/how does it do what it is supposed to do??? :)

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