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Old 06-21-2011, 07:43 AM   #1
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Leveling a lumpy lawn


Previous owners had a pack of hounds that wiled away their days digging the *^&$ out of the backyard. I have been slaving away for months addressing the worst aspects, trying to get some grass in the completely bare patches and removing all the gravel they had dumped in various locations (a singular joy in itself), and now I'm to the point where a majority of it is green and actually grass but the whole thing is lumpy and bumpy. Is there some feasible method to smooth things out without taking out a 2nd mortgage and hiring a construction crew w/ heavy equipment? I have a rototiller and considerable soil available to try and make some type of improvement, but is there something easier/better/more effective than just tearing it all up, adding enough soil to roll out flat and start back at square 1 growing grass?
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Old 06-21-2011, 07:53 AM   #2
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Leveling a lumpy lawn


How much area do you have and would rototilling and regrading more or less by hand be feasible? Do you want what is there to be all turfgrass or would a planned landscape with some ground covers, perrennials, shrubs and so forth work? I mention this because the grading needs would not be so picky for them as for turf.

Obviously, if you had dogs in an area where you want to plant you are probably going to have to make some basic adjustments to the soil to correct for Ph imbalances at the very least. You may want to get a soil analysis for this. They are generally not expensive and a soil lab will guide you through how to prepare samples. You can get a basic Ph test kit at a nursery.
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Old 06-21-2011, 08:17 AM   #3
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Leveling a lumpy lawn


It's not that much area, it would be completely possible to do it by hand. I'd like to have grass as opposed to plantings so that boyzilla has somewhere to play. The soil Ph is a good point, I'll look into that, thanks. I was really looking for some input as to technique, am I just buying a ton of extra work by considering tearing it all out and starting over or is there some other option?
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Old 06-21-2011, 08:29 AM   #4
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Leveling a lumpy lawn


I think you will find that with a good rototiller it will go fairly fast to just turn everything over and start from scratch with a well prepped seed bed. You should end up leveling things out in the process of creating that seed bed. Your turf blend will take and your lawn will establish. If you try to band aid this I fear you could spend many seasons trying to patch things together.

Just my opinion I suppose and I really can think of things more fun than spending a weekend with a rototiller and rake.
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Old 06-21-2011, 09:04 AM   #5
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Leveling a lumpy lawn


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Originally Posted by ThatDaveGuy View Post
It's not that much area, it would be completely possible to do it by hand. I'd like to have grass as opposed to plantings so that boyzilla has somewhere to play. The soil Ph is a good point, I'll look into that, thanks. I was really looking for some input as to technique, am I just buying a ton of extra work by considering tearing it all out and starting over or is there some other option?
There's no fast and/or easy way to get a good lawn.

I've been facing a somewhat similar dilemma after tearing a huge storm bunker out of my back yard several years ago. Dirt settles at different rates, leaving a very rough yard.

For the most part, I've got a good stand of grass going. So rather than dig everything up and start over, I've just been filling in low-spots with good topsoil, seeding and watering. I'm assuming it'll take 5 years for me to get it to where I really want it.

By no means is it perfect, but it was good enough to have our daughter's wedding in our backyard a month ago, and a lot of people talked about how nice the lawn looked. That's good enough for me.
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Old 06-21-2011, 09:18 AM   #6
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Leveling a lumpy lawn


Thanks Dr., that's kinda what I wanted to know, if it was even possible to just "fill in" or something similar. The prospect of telling my 7 yr old and his dog "Hey, guess what? It's summertime and oh by the way, I tore up the backyard and you can't play in it" wasn't too appealing.
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Old 06-21-2011, 11:02 AM   #7
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Leveling a lumpy lawn


If you take this approach, and no reason you should not if you have the patience, just be sure and triage a bit. Make sure you fill in the ankle threatening holes first.
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