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fox_forma 03-10-2011 01:58 PM

Re-shaping back yard, tilling and other questions
My back yard is looking horrible and has looked pretty bad since last summer. I have a lot of dead patch areas and the soil seems to be different all over the place. I am in AZ and some soil in the back yard is extremely packed and other soil is looser and actually grows nicely. I have a few issues I need to address and need help. I have horrible drainage within the back yard. This is because a cement slab was laid down the side of the house between the house slab and retaining wall and it is higher than the foundation. This makes all the water stay in the back yard up against the porch slab and it doesn't drain at all. I am renting a cement cutting saw this weekend to open up a run for now so the water has somewhere to drain out and away from the house towards the street. Next issue is my lawn sloping all over the place and really isn't focusing on going any one direction. I was going to rent a tiller and tear it all up and use a wide metal rake to level it out and slope it away from the house and along the retaining wall. Is this something I should attempt or would it be easier going a different route? My lot is only 35x35ft so its not much to begin with but it needs fixed. Sorry for the long post but just seeing how I should approach this and get a decent lawn this year for once.

Bondo 03-10-2011 03:35 PM

Ayuh,... Got a Picture,..??

From your description, it sounds like a tandem load of topdirt, spread in the right areas might fix All your problems...
Have it dumped at the slab, 'n rake/ shovel/ wheelbarrow it away, 'n Downhill to wherever ya gotta daylight it out...
Throw some seed on it, water it, 'n wait...

fox_forma 03-10-2011 04:01 PM

These are from the summer time and since it has just gotten worse. You can see where the grass is growing in the center of the yard but the back and front are real patchy. I will get a more updated pic shortly as these aren't the best. Also I forgot to mention I do have a sprinkler system that covers the whole yard but it seems to only really soak in where the grass is green.

Right at the porch slab

This was last feb when the grass seemed to be great in most areas. If you look closely behind the dog you can see the slab that runs along the side of the house. That is the slab that sits higher than the porch slab and no water can run by it towards the front of the house and into the street.

I have aerated the lawn, dethatched it and everything prior to this fall/winter here in AZ but the grass just never grew. I laid down RYE at that point and covered it with topsoil with no luck.

Bondo 03-10-2011 04:22 PM


That is the slab that sits higher than the porch slab and no water can run by it towards the front of the house and into the street.
Ya but which way is Downhill,..??

fox_forma 03-10-2011 04:34 PM

Sorry, downhill should be towards the porch and along the side of the house. If you look at the last pic the water should run to the left of the post and along the house out to the street. Right now all the water ends up about 4ft right of the dog and builds up against the slab and 4ft or so out. There is really no drainage the other direction as the pool is there and all the pool decking wraps around the other side of the house.

boman47k 03-10-2011 07:03 PM

Does the dog have full run to the length of the slab?

I'm wondering if traffic and shade are causing part of the problem judging by the perimeter of the yard. With maybe maybe some dog urine added to the mix.

fox_forma 03-10-2011 09:53 PM

She does have full run but she doesn't really go out back all that often. I like to get her out for walks as much as possible. When she is outback though on the tie out she stays to the exact same spot if she needs to relieve herself and its in the back left of the yard away from the worse areas.

boman47k 03-11-2011 06:21 AM

I have to wonder if the sun sets or rises to the left of the dog in the first picture and how the discolored grass corresponds to the wide discolored area on the opposite side of the yard. May be way off with that, but I am thinking those sides may be in the shade a big part of the day because of the trees on one side and the slab and covering on the other side. But, in the last pic, she is in the shade and there is an abundance of grass. Maybe someone experienced in landscaping will comment.

fox_forma 03-14-2011 11:09 AM

the sun does come up on the side of the tree line but the whole yard pretty much gets an even amount of light throughout the day. Not sure whats going on but I will be picking at it this week and prepping to seed and everything

boman47k 03-14-2011 11:25 AM

Tilling near those trees may not be as easy as you think. Some roots from fenc rows will surprise you how far they extend. I guess this is the reason some of those trees are so hard to keep cut back. At least, they were on my back fence row. I only started getting a good grip on the situation when I cut them down to the stump and put brush killer on them. But, I am assuming you want to keep the trees.

Might could do a real shallowing tilling back there without too much trouble.

Interesting problem you have. If you don't mind, keep us updated on what you do.

fox_forma 03-14-2011 11:34 AM

The trees need to get trimmed up pretty bad. I was orignally intending on getting rid of all those trees and replacing them with something that starts more at the top of the block wall and grows up but can't cover the costs at this time. I will be trimming all those trees back before I do anything. Just did the palm trees this weekend so hopefully they should be a little bit easier.

Due to the size of the yard should I even bother tilling it up or do you think I can get away with using a big landscaping metal rake and doing it that way? I don't mind the extra work if its not that complicated to do.

boman47k 03-14-2011 12:16 PM

I really don't know what to tell you.

If the ground is compacted much, I am not sure a just a raking will do. May be easier to do a shallow tilling.

Shane1 03-15-2011 04:51 AM

Your dog is just like mine he has to be in every picture I take it seems :). I would say scalp your lawn just like you would for a winter lawn. Then look closely at what the soil looks like, level it & grade it out with some cheap topsoil or sand then plant lots of grass seed. Cut that concrete like you mentioned and then see how it drains.Tilling is a pain espaecialy with irrigation lines and roots going everywhere.

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