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Old 10-19-2010, 11:57 AM   #1
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Garden conversion


I'm very new to all of this home improvement stuff. I have a house that we bought last year and have a nice backyard. The backyard is mostly a flower garden with some some small bushes and tiger lillies and the sorts. We want to convert it to grass. I've basically decided to wait until the first frost (we live in upstate NY) and pull up all of the big plants and bushes. Then we think we're just going to till the rest, rake it, and plant seed come Spring. Any thoughts on this idea? Again, we're new to this and want it to look as nice as possible. On another note, we have a new puppy so he uses this space to do his "business" so applying chemicals to kill the plants is not an option a this point. Any suggestions are greatly appreciated.

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Old 10-19-2010, 12:46 PM   #2
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That's pretty much the process. A lot of people plant seed in the fall, but I have encountered mixed results in that regard, so I just wait for spring any more. Either way, you'll probably have some issues with the new puppy, but that is pretty much unavoidable, so just something that you'll have to deal with. If you are in a subdivision, or otherwise have closely adjoined neighbors, it is possible that some of them have enjoyed seeing the plants and flowers that are there, so before pulling and tilling, you may want to ask if any of them would like some of them. Just a thought.

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Old 10-19-2010, 12:59 PM   #3
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I've read where people use vinegar as a natural way to kill plants and weeds. Any thoughts on that?
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Old 10-19-2010, 01:32 PM   #4
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I am not an expert, but I seldom use anything to kill any kind of vegetation, except for the grass in our gravel driveway, the weeds that invariably show up in a pile of dirt that I have for future use, and nuisances such as poison ivy. For a project such as you have described, I would simply pull whatever will alow me to pull roots and all, dig out whatever needs to be dug out, and then cultivate, either with a rototiller or by hand. It's not that I am averse to using chemicals when appropriate, but, why add something that you then have to wonder what the results will be, and once your grass gets growing, any unwanted vegetation will be removed from the picture anyway.
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Old 10-19-2010, 01:39 PM   #5
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Makes sense. It's just that it's about a 50'x40' area and will require so much work. I guess hard work will pay off in the long run. You are right in the fact that I will be able to kill off any unwanted weeds once the grass begins to grow in.
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Old 10-19-2010, 02:58 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by erichwic View Post
Makes sense. It's just that it's about a 50'x40' area and will require so much work. I guess hard work will pay off in the long run. You are right in the fact that I will be able to kill off any unwanted weeds once the grass begins to grow in.
50'x40' can be easily tilled in a day with a 17" rear-tine tiller. You can probably rent one for a day for less than $100, or could possibly buy one for that on craigslist.

The suggestion of giving plants away to neighbors is a good one.

I would take a weedeater to whatever is left, and then till it. The organic material will be good for the soil. I would spread some starter fertilizer before you till, it's good to have some nutrients already in the soil. Then rake, level, spread seed, and lightly rake again. If you're going to seed in the fall, you probably ought to get it done this weekend. If you're going to wait until spring, you've got a while.

You might think about putting in a big rotating sprinkler head with a 25' radius in the center of the area before you put in your grass. You could probably do it for a couple hundred bux and it will make it much easier to regularly water when your seed is germinating/growing. It really does make a huge difference.
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Old 10-19-2010, 06:33 PM   #7
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so before pulling and tilling, you may want to ask if any of them would like some of them. Just a thought
absolutely!
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Old 10-19-2010, 06:58 PM   #8
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That sounds like a solid plan. So, if I till the till the soil with some of the greenery still in the soil it will be ok? I just don't want it to regrow the same plants come spring.
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Old 10-20-2010, 09:46 PM   #9
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Depending on the consistency of the soil, you may want to pick up a few yards of sand and till it in to the soil. Lawns typically prefer a well drained sandy soil, at least 50% sand content. It will make the soil easier to level as well. You should also borrow a roller. So till everything up, then till again with sand, rake everything level, roll the soil, rake everything flat again, spread lawn seed, rake the seed in to soil, and roll again. Water in well. For best results, the lawn should get a little water 2 or 3 times a day, as the grass grows taller you should increase the watering time while reducing the watering frequency. Once lawn starts to come up, fertilize and over seed.
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Old 10-21-2010, 06:45 AM   #10
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Just want to clarify. Once I till, should I filter out all of the root systems of plants?
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Old 10-21-2010, 08:17 AM   #11
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"Filter", no, remove larger ones during the course of preparing the area, yes. Once you till it, you are going to have to level it out with a rake anyway, so, between those activities, toss aside anything that you don't want there. The roots will break down, and be good for the soil, so the only ones that you want to be concerned about are ones that might prevent you from spreading the grass evenly, so basically, say anything larger in diameter than a pencil and longer than a foot or so. Otherwise, leave them there, and save the extra bending.
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Old 10-21-2010, 08:27 AM   #12
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By the way, once you have the area prepared, I would probably cover it with a relatively thin layer of straw, maybe a bale or two for that size area. Then, in the spring, you can till it again, rake it out, and have that many more natural nutrients to help get your new grass started.

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