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Old 04-16-2013, 03:30 PM   #1
Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: Bergen County, NJ
Posts: 173
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Regrading front yard for play

we purchased this 1950s Ranch last November, and while we're fixing up the inside I'm starting to plot out our eventual fix of the over grown lawn and shrubs.

I'd like some advice on regrading the front, as we have a very small back yard, eventually I'd like to use the front for kicking a soccer ball around etc, and right now it tapers down and away from the house. I basically want to make the front flat and then have a steeper slope as it comes up to the street.

I'm planning on taking out ALL of the shrubs beside the driveway because it's a danger backing out (can't see anything). We'll put a sidewalk with steps next to the driveway as well, because when it's snow covered it's almost impossible to walk up (makes good sledding though!) Basically all the shrubs in front of the house are leaving, as I'm an avid gardener, and it's south facing, so need room for my perennials, roses etc... I have no love for the overgrown shrubs. The useful life span of these azaleas and yews just is past due. The town takes all garden debris for free, so not an issue with getting rid of it.

Also the entire yard is a mix of Zoysia and weeds. So I plan on using a sod cutter and removing all of the grass, releveling, and installing a sprinkler system at that time. I want to do this right from the get go, I'm fine with a higher maintenance lawn, probably a Kentucky Blue Grass mix when we get to that point.

I am going to be renting a back hoe to rip out the shrubs, root and all, and while I'm at it I hope to regrade the front so it is more flat and then slopes sharper at the front. What am I looking for dirt wise, topsoil? It's a fairly rocky yard I'm told by my neighbors, and I expect mostly clay, although I haven't gotten a soil sample yet. But since I'm adding so much soil, can I get cheaper drainage soil for the bulk, and better top soil mixed with some sort of organic material for the top? I'll be getting a soil test shortly to ammend the soil prior to regrading and seeding.

Also if there are some books people recomend for this, I'm looking for some reading material to get more familiarized with lawn care. I'm well versed on perennials, vegetables etc... but this is the first real lawn, and I'm looking to do the reseeding by the fall (last house we did a small area in the spring and it was a disaster). Thanks

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Old 04-17-2013, 03:36 PM   #2
Join Date: Nov 2012
Posts: 42

Regrading front yard for play

You are going to need a Bobcat and a lot of dirt for the grading, not the excavator you mentioned renting. Hard to tell what the dimensions are, but it wouldn't shock me if it took 50+ yards of material to get things leveled out. Again, it's hard to tell, but a retaining wall near the street might be required depending on how much the grade will need to be elevated.

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Old 04-17-2013, 06:12 PM   #3
Join Date: Mar 2013
Posts: 37

Regrading front yard for play

I think lawns are highly overrated. The chemical runoff from them is terrible for our environment. How about terracing (gradual stepdowns) near the street that you plant with perennial flowers?
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Old 04-18-2013, 08:11 AM   #4
Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: Bergen County, NJ
Posts: 173

Regrading front yard for play

Thanks, I think I've decided that for the moment it's going to be too expensive to do the yard as I'd like. A retaining wall probably would be best, so for now I think I'm going to settle for just cleaning things up, and maybe an irrigation system. I know I'll have to move the lines eventually if I raise the grade, but that's not a huge deal given the amount of work involved with actually adding 50+ yards of material.

As for lawns, I grew up with one, and there's just nothing quite like a lush lawn. Now I am an avid gardener, and our old town house in New York City proper had 30 rose bushes, and a relatively large perennial bed, raised beds, and drip irrigation. It was wonderful to see all those plants thriving... And I definetly will have a large contingency of perennials, but I'm quite set on having a high maintenance yard. Besides the chemicals I have to use for my roses will be much worse than anything that I put on the lawn :-P just kidding, I aim for less fussy plants, but I also demand good results, and sometimes chemicals are the only way to get there with certain plants. Lumping "chemicals" into one big bad category is a naive, inorganic fertilizers and some innocuous fungicides don't hurt anyone. You'll notice the abundance of pollinators and quality of the soil based on the plants. Things that were supposed to get 3-4 feet normally would grow 6 feet tall in that yard. Lots of compost, peat, hardwood mulch, generous slow release 10-10-10 fertilizer, and drip irrigation yielded us gallons of strawberries and raspberries. We even grew Corn, watermelon, and yielded a 25 pound Kohlrabi!

At the old house we had a strip of grass in the front, the hell strip, and the back was grass. We tore that all out and planted perennials, bulbs, annuals in the hell strip, and had no grass. It didn't make much sense in that case. But when you have a huge (to us anyways) yard in suburbia, I'm going to enjoy the heck out of having a lush soft front yard. I enjoyed it as a kid, and plan on that for my kids as well.

These are pictures of the old house... .

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