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Old 03-20-2015, 05:01 PM   #1
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How to prepare ground for sod??


Hi, we recently bought our first house and the yard is covered in pebbles. I don't have a ton of money to spend on landscaping service right now so I thought i'd at least add some grass to it. I've done quite a bit of research but it is still pretty confusing what I'm supposed to do before i can order the sod.

Right now I'm trying to give away the pebbles for free. I think there's some kinda tarp under them. What am I supposed to do when all the pebbles are gone? : / Please explain like I'm 5 lol. I have absolutely no idea what I'm doing when it comes to gardening

Thank you!
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Old 03-20-2015, 06:00 PM   #2
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Ayuh,.... Where about's are ya on the planet,..??
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Old 03-20-2015, 06:41 PM   #3
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Oh, I feel for you.

There is no shortcut. And if you are a beer drinker.....oh boy, that yard is going to take a lot of cold beers to get ready.

If you don't get the stones out....you will only be dealing with them later.

Put on the sunscreen and start raking. If you have some type of cloth below, you need to get it up as well.

Once that is all done, go rent a tiller. You want to till up at least 6-8" of the soil. This will do a lot of things for you. Adds air to the soil, loosens it up, helps you get rid of all the weeds and rocks, etc. If you go and put down sod without doing that, you are pretty much throwing your money away.

Once you have tilled it, and raked it and removed all the garbage, smooth it out the best you can. Depending on the size of your lawn, expect it to take at least a weekend.

Now it's time to install sprinklers. It's not that expensive if you do it yourself. You want to do it before you put down sod. There are plenty of reference sites.

Next weekend....roll it. You go rent a roller....you fill it with water and then roll your lawn to get it smooth.

Next....time to put down the sod. But before you do, throw a lite layer of fertilizer on the dirt...not the grass. Then do the sod.

Now is when your glad for those sprinklers. Water early in the morning, say 2 hours before sunrise.
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Old 03-21-2015, 07:36 AM   #4
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Get most of the pebbles in a pile and someone on Craigslist will come and haul them away for you.

Then proceed along the lines suggested by ddawg. Where He and I disagree is how deep to till it. If you till 6-8" you won't be settled enogh for sod until Fall. I rarely till more than 2" deep, use a rake and skip the roller part.

Before the sod goes down is a great time to add a thin layer of compost to the soil. This is better for the lawn than commercial fertilizer and maybe cheaper also when bought in bulk. Avoid the crap they call compost at the box stores.
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Old 03-21-2015, 11:50 AM   #5
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I'm saying 6-8" because when you start to till....4" looks like 8" when it's all broken up. And, the deeper you go, the easier it is to do the sprinklers.

But I do agree about the compost....forgot to mention that. In fact, it's a good idea to mix it in when you do the final pass with the tiller.
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Old 03-21-2015, 02:01 PM   #6
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Thanks for all the replies!
@ Bondo: I'm from Duvall, WA
@ Ddawg16: Good thing I have a tiny yard @[email protected] So once the pebbles are gone, I'm gonna get rid of the tarp. After that, don't I need to replace the pebbles with some kinda dirt before tilling? Because the pebbles are like 4 inches thick >"<.
@ Colbyt: What do you mean I "won't be settled enough for sod until Fall" ?
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Old 03-21-2015, 02:25 PM   #7
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4" Thick? Good lord, that is going to be some work. It's gonna take a lot of beers to get that up.
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Old 03-21-2015, 02:57 PM   #8
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Quote:
@ Colbyt: What do you mean I "won't be settled enough for sod until Fall"
If you till really deeply the soil needs to settle back down before seeding or sodding. Grass seeds are tiny and get lost in fluffy dirt. Sod needs a relatively firm base to establish roots without breaking them as the dirt settles.

If you need to haul in 4" of dirt just work that well as you rake it out and forget the tilling. Buying 'screened' topsoil will make your life a lot simpler.
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Old 04-10-2015, 06:02 PM   #9
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pl4, Have you worked on your yard yet ?
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Old 04-15-2015, 10:18 AM   #10
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No I haven't. I got distracted by another project lol. After that one is done, I'll get back to this one. In the meantime, I'm having someone at work come pick up the pebbles
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Old 05-02-2015, 03:54 PM   #11
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I'm late to the party, but having just had 400 square feet of sod layed, let me give you my experience.

I created two places where I needed sod in my zone 7 yard (Virginia) by leveling some previously sloping ground. Generally I just used a "cut and fill" technique to knock down the high end, and rake/scrape the fill to the low end. Where I needed soil, I dug from piles I had created years ago when excavating for various foundation posts. My soil is crummy; lots of clay, little organic material, etc. Once I had the planting beds for the sod flat, I called for an estimate (the sod work was going to be done in conjunction with some other work) and discussed the project with the landscaper.

I worried that my crummy, clay filled planting beds would not be adequate --- shouldn't I rototill, add organic matter, etc.?? His answer was don't worry about it. The sod is harvested from fields that are exactly like my planting areas. Nobody tilled those six or eight inches, or added a bunch of organic material, etc. So I went with his advice.

The sod went in in late October, and now looks lush and better than any of the grass it borders. So the "no-sweat" method worked for me.
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Old 05-02-2015, 08:55 PM   #12
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Tilling 8" deep is only good if you got 8" of good soil. I have a couple of inches of good soil and then a bunch of clay. Tilling 8" deep would only bring a bunch of clay to the surface.
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Old 05-02-2015, 10:59 PM   #13
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Only thing I will add is IF there is a tarp under the pebbles. Find the edge of it & pull. Pull all 4 corners to the center, Depending on the strength of the tarp & how many pebbles you have, you might be able to attach a light chain or rope to your car to do the heavy lifting for you. You MIGHT even be able to drag it off to a better location to await pickup like this, but I wouldn't suggest it. Good way to rip the tarp & end up with an even bigger mess than you started.

This will make the job much easier of gathering all the pebbles in 1 spot instead of having to rake them into a pile. Then let someone come grab them. They might even take the tarp too.

Everything else, the other members hit on well.
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