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Old 04-12-2013, 10:15 AM   #1
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Help with my back 'yard'


Our back 'yard' is currently fill dirt, mostly rocky clay. This was our doing, we started a project last summer to level our yard out. Unfortunately due to time & money we weren't able to finish it before winter. It looks like the last temps in the 30's is coming this weekend so I am hoping to get some grass planted in the next week or two. (we live in the northern panhandle of WV which is in line w/ central Ohio) Anyways I know we need some good topsoil brought in but should I just spread it out on top of the fill dirt or should I till it in with the top few inches? In the past I've only patched dead spots of grass - never planted a yard from scratch - so any other comments or tips would also be appreciated. Thanks.

John
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Old 04-13-2013, 09:18 AM   #2
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A layer of topsoil will be too thin to plant in on its own so a rototiller is in your future. Do bring in what soil you need to complete your grading. Then till everything together. Next, do yourself a favor and get a soil test (not expensive) or at the very least test fro Ph. Ammend with minerals and enhance with organic matter per soil test recommendations then, after deterining how much turf you really want to take care of and thinking about groundcovers instead...

1. Till the soil, ammendments and a starter fertilizer for turfgrass together again. Your goal this time is to till the soil much finer.

2. Install automatic irrigation being careful not to compress the tilled soil any more than necessary. Use adjustable or cut-off risers and leave your heads above grade for now or they may end up too far below grade when everything settles and you will have to go back and raise them.

3. Rake the tilled soil to the final grade for your new lawn.

4. Select a seed blend for your growing conditions and distribute the seed with a spreader for even coverage. One of those handheld whirlybird spreaders will be a great investment. Typical premium seed blends contain a mix of hybrid PERENNIAL NOT ANNUAL rye grass, fescue and blue grass. Now is a great time to buy grass seed because you can buy in bulk and make your own mix. Here is a description of common turfgrasses.

http://lawncare.the-landscape-design-site.com/grass/

5. Top dress the seed with a protective mulch such peat moss, redwood or cedar mulch, or straw (not hay as it has too many seeds).

6. Fill a landscape roller half full of water and roll the top dress, seed, and topsoil together.

7. Keep the seed moist until it germinates keeping in mind that germination times will be different: 7-10 days for perennial rye and 14-28 for fescues and bluegrasses.

8. Make sure you mower blade is sharp and mow the lawn at a tall setting on a regular basis.

9. Surface your sprinkler heads to the now established grade.

10. Gradually adjust your watering schedule to water less frequently and more deeply to encourage strong root growth.

11. Establish a regular feeding and lawn chemical program.

Options

Sod is a possible option but expensive. People forget it is a transplant product and may be harder or the same to actually establish as a seeded lawn. Make sure sod is fresh---harvested within 48 hours at the most---if you use it. You cannot skip the prep steps above just because it is sod.

Hydroseeding is great technology. A slurry of seed, fertilizer and mulch is sprayed on to form a crust. You might see if a company is working your area. While more expensive than seeding from scratch it is a fraction of the cost of sod.


Last edited by user1007; 04-13-2013 at 09:22 AM.
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Old 04-13-2013, 10:20 PM   #3
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Thanks for all the good advice. Tiller time...
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Old 05-20-2013, 09:06 AM   #4
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Follow up...

To recap here's what I've done since my original post. Had 10 tons of a drainage mix brought in (about 80% sand 20% small river rock) and tilled that in to the top layer of clay. Slighly graded it towards the alley then had 10 tons of topsoil brought in and graded it as well. It covered about 2-3in in depth after compacted. I tested its pH and it was just over 6 so I didn't make any changes to it. I mixed a bag of scotts sun & shade, a midwest mix rated for my area, and a small bag of annual rye grass to help hold things in place. The combo of the sun & shade and the midwest mix was rated as just the right amount to cover this area. The first pic is day 1, second pic is 7 days later and the third pic is 15 days later (today). The annual rye grass sprouted in about 5 days and is what you mainly see in the pics. As I walk around the edge of the yard I can see some other sprouts making their way up as well, this must be the perennial grass mix. I didn't expect so much of the annual rye to grow, I hope I didn't make it a competition between the perennial and annual - not what I was going for. As you can also see a low spot has developed in the middle of the yard, thanks to a couple very heavy downpours last week. I may have to get a few bags of soil and replant that area.
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Old 05-20-2013, 12:12 PM   #5
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Starting to shape up...think about planting some evergreens
along the back for some privacy. Keep up the good work.
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Old 05-20-2013, 12:19 PM   #6
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Thanks, we have 2 dogs so we hope to put up a fence sometime this summer.
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Old 05-20-2013, 12:27 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fetzer85 View Post
Thanks, we have 2 dogs so we hope to put up a fence sometime this summer.

The fence will help.
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Old 05-20-2013, 12:46 PM   #8
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What an improvement...nice!
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Old 05-20-2013, 04:30 PM   #9
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Nice to see the progression. Your lawn is looking good!

The first thing I'd do, no matter what, would be to slap a fence up along the back. And I mean a solid fence for privacy from the alley and to hide the unsightly view. Then I'd plant shrubs in front of the fence to soften the look.

Last edited by Startingover; 05-23-2013 at 06:49 AM.
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Old 05-21-2013, 11:23 PM   #10
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You can grow different types of grasses in your back yard. The "warm-season" grasses are ideal for the southernmost states in the U.S., whereas "cool-season" grasses predominate in the North.
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Old 05-22-2013, 01:42 AM   #11
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Well I mixed 3 bags of Scotts; a sun & shade, a midwest mix, and the 'fast patch' annual rye grass. Thing is the rye is growing a lot faster than I thought it would. (first time using it) So I'm at a point now where it's about 3in long in most spots but 4-5in in a couple. The perennial seeds appear to just be sprouting and I think will continue for another week or two. Question is do I cut it for the first time based off the height of the annual rye that's growing like crazy or do I let the rye get really tall and then cut when the perennial blend reaches a decent height?
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Old 06-09-2013, 11:45 PM   #12
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Another follow up...

It's been 5 weeks. Cut it today for the first time. A couple spots were very high, but most of it was cut a couple inches. Hard to tell in the pic but it's a little bit thin so I'll definitely be overseeding in the fall.
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Old 06-10-2013, 08:52 AM   #13
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That looks good, nice and neat.
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Old 06-10-2013, 10:52 AM   #14
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Wish my grass was that nice. Looks great to me.
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Old 06-10-2013, 11:26 AM   #15
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Thanks, my only fear is that I don't know how much of it is the annual rye grass that I mixed in. I'm kinda wishing I didn't use it, that way I'd know everything I see will be back next year. That's why I need to read up on fall overseeding in hopes that I can compensate for whatever isn't coming back next year.

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