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Old 09-04-2011, 03:17 PM   #1
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Problem with tilling and removing roots


I'm getting ready to lay down sod in my yard, in an area with palm trees and I need to remove 3" of top soil to make room for the sod. My problem is the palm tree roots. They're everywhere and tilling didn't really help to get rid of them. Is there an easy way to get rid of the roots, besides cutting them with a shovel as I go?

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Old 09-04-2011, 03:28 PM   #2
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Problem with tilling and removing roots


3" for sod? That sounds kind of extreme unless you are planning to add something else besides just sod. If you are cutting sod, then cut it at 1-2" max. 1" is plenty though.

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Old 09-04-2011, 03:34 PM   #3
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Problem with tilling and removing roots


Both the nurseries I went to said their sod is 3" thick. So to keep it level with my walkway, I'll need to bring the area down the equal depth.
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Old 09-04-2011, 05:46 PM   #4
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Problem with tilling and removing roots


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Both the nurseries I went to said their sod is 3" thick. So to keep it level with my walkway, I'll need to bring the area down the equal depth.
No that's not true. Measure 3" with a ruler and ask yourself if you think the soil on the sod pieces is really that thick. You have to lower the work area to match the height of the sod soil not the sod grass and soil. Otherwise you break mowers when you mow up against the sidewalk and get sued by people who trip. The nurseries may have meant both soil and grass height. The soil is prob 1" and the grass 2". Although even that seems overkill.
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Old 09-04-2011, 07:44 PM   #5
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Problem with tilling and removing roots


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No that's not true. Measure 3" with a ruler and ask yourself if you think the soil on the sod pieces is really that thick. You have to lower the work area to match the height of the sod soil not the sod grass and soil. Otherwise you break mowers when you mow up against the sidewalk and get sued by people who trip. The nurseries may have meant both soil and grass height. The soil is prob 1" and the grass 2". Although even that seems overkill.
That's something to think about. I'm going to talk with the nursery again and ask a more detailed question about how thick the soil is with their sod.
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Old 09-04-2011, 09:45 PM   #6
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Problem with tilling and removing roots


It really depends on how big your yard is and whether you know where the roots are.

If the area is relatively small, you can water the areas with the roots, then get a bobcat with forks to dig underneath the roots and pop them out, then do a quick regrade. It sounds messy but if you get someone who knows what they are doing with the equipment this won't be too bad.
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Old 09-04-2011, 10:08 PM   #7
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It really depends on how big your yard is and whether you know where the roots are.

If the area is relatively small, you can water the areas with the roots, then get a bobcat with forks to dig underneath the roots and pop them out, then do a quick regrade. It sounds messy but if you get someone who knows what they are doing with the equipment this won't be too bad.
Unfortunately, the area is too small for a bobcat (fairly narrow and long stretch with palms). I was hoping that that was some kind of grinder machine that would get rid of the roots. I actually thought the tiller was going to get rid of them, but out of luck there. Oh well, sounds like shovel work is my only option.
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Old 09-04-2011, 10:23 PM   #8
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Problem with tilling and removing roots


Try a rock bar, basically a long steel pry bar, cheap money at HD or Lowes or other hardware storse. If you can get the tip under the root ball and get some leverage on it it will be enough to tear it up. It's a grunt, but slow and steady will get it done. Just think of all the money you are saving on the gym membership while you are doing it.
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Old 09-04-2011, 10:49 PM   #9
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Try a rock bar, basically a long steel pry bar, cheap money at HD or Lowes or other hardware storse. If you can get the tip under the root ball and get some leverage on it it will be enough to tear it up. It's a grunt, but slow and steady will get it done. Just think of all the money you are saving on the gym membership while you are doing it.
Yeah, between the digging bar, mattock, and sawzaw, I'm stocked with different ways to chip away at this beast. Hopefully I'll be done by October! Someone should invent a grinding machine for roots and anything else in dirt that gets in your way, kind of like an asphalt grinder.
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Old 09-05-2011, 12:29 AM   #10
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Problem with tilling and removing roots


There are such things as stump grinders. I'm not sure how common they are in your neck of the woods, but they would do the job. But if you can get a stump grinder in there, you can probably get a bobcat in there.

It really comes down to how big your job is and whether you'd rather sweat and grunt or just plunk down some cash. You'd be amazed at what can happen for a few hundred bucks given to the right people.
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Old 09-05-2011, 10:53 PM   #11
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Problem with tilling and removing roots


The only thing I will add is to remember the environment and the plants that own it. Those roots are needed to feed the plant. If you chop them, the plant might die or suffer from a disease due to losing its limbs. If you want to go nuts on the roots, then get a mattock or similar and get a good workout. Stump grinders don't work on palms. Waste of cash. Sawzalls work o.k but you need to dig and/or get a decent wood blade. Palm roots suck.
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Old 09-06-2011, 10:17 AM   #12
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The only thing I will add is to remember the environment and the plants that own it. Those roots are needed to feed the plant. If you chop them, the plant might die or suffer from a disease due to losing its limbs. If you want to go nuts on the roots, then get a mattock or similar and get a good workout. Stump grinders don't work on palms. Waste of cash. Sawzalls work o.k but you need to dig and/or get a decent wood blade. Palm roots suck.
I agree, I hate these roots. I looked up some pictures of palm root structures and it looks like there are roots at many different levels below the surface. Do you think that by chopping just the roots that are a few inches deep and leaving the rest intact, it would harm the tree much? I honestly don't like the tree much, I just don't want to spend the $500 to have it brought down.


Last edited by blue sky; 09-06-2011 at 12:35 PM.
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