Planning to redo my lawn.
I've been out of the landscape and turfgrass business for many years but the two start from scratch approaches we used for making sure we had clean soil were Vapam and Calcium Cyanimide/Cyanide (typing from memory so look them up). I worked on the West Coast. You may need an applicator's license to purchase and use either and both worked best if you tarped over them. Tarping was required for Vapam as I remember but do not trust this aging memory too far!
Both create a toxic gas situation within the soil that kills off weed seeds, fungal spores, and even insect eggs with one approach. They are short lasting and the cyanide gas in calcium cyanimide/Cyanide disappears leaving calcium behind. Obviously you do not want kids and pets rolling on it when it is active. Maximum active range was 14 days as I remember.
Healthy turf is really a strength in numbers game. If you don't want to use these chemicals, tilling will do the most good. Once you plant millions of turf seeds you want and feed and care for them, weeds are not going to have much of a chance. You can deal with most---including crab grass---with conservative post-emergent herbicide treatment.
Once that was done, nothing beats rototilling save for perhaps tilling the soil with a tractor if one will fit on the property. Be sure and fold in ammendments and an fertilizer to the final till. Level everything off. Pull out obvious clumps of stuff and rocks that could form air pockets or certainly make your mower blade scream.
Next, if you are installing a system, lay all your irrigation lines but keep the heads above grade for now. Your nice tilled soil will be fluffy to start and will settle. If you sink your sprinkler heads to grade before the settling, you will just have to dig down and bring them up.
Hydroseeding is a gift from God. The crew will come out and spray a slurry of seed, fertilizer and crusting agent over everything and all you have to do to establish a spectacular lawn in record time is keep it moist so the seed will germinate. Hydroseeded turf will establish in a fraction of the time it takes for sod and at a fraction of the cost as well.
Once the seed has established, mow high. Set your sprinkler heads to the settled grade and water early in the day, never at night. Put yourself on a regular weed and feed schedule. Good to go.
PLUMBING, CABLE, PHONE AND OTHER UTILITY SUPPLY THINGS ARE SUPPOSED TO BE BURIED BENEATH WHAT A ROTOTILLER, TRACTOR BLADE, OR IRRIGATION TRENCHER MIGHT REACH. CALL YOUR FREE UNDERGROUND UTILITY LOCATING SERVICE TO COME OUT AND MARK FOR YOU JUST IN CASE!
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Last edited by sdsester; 02-02-2012 at 11:29 AM.