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Old 03-23-2017, 10:12 AM   #1
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Aerate, seed and topsoil for bumpy yard?


I live in Wisconsin and the ground is still cold so I'm planning on what to do to "fix" my backyard.

Background:

I have two large trees that cover my yard and throughout the fall and winter, I get a number of branches that I spend an afternoon cleaning as the weather warms.

I also have two good size dogs that do dog things. I also tend to get a bit of clover each year.

My plan is to aerate, then heavily seed and then put down an inch or so of topsoil hoping that it will even out the lumps. I've read a bit about rolling my yard but the consensus seems to be that it merely compacts the soil.

I hope to have a lawn that isn't like rolling over rocks when I mow, something that won't lead to ankle injuries when my kids play and a selling point if we ever move.

Has anyone successfully "flattened" a lumpy and bumpy yard? And while the attachment makes my yard look horrible, each year the grass comes back pretty nicely but the underlying lawn foundation leaves much to be desired.

Any tips or advice would be appreciated.

Thank you.
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Old 03-23-2017, 09:31 PM   #2
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Re: Aerate, seed and topsoil for bumpy yard?


Rolling won't level the soil but a light roll after seeding will help ensure that the seed is in contact with the soil. Top dressing is probably your best bet. "Heavy seeding" might be a waste of money - most seed species have a recommended over-seed coverage rate. You might have to do it more than once and make sure you water it well every couple of days once it starts to germinate, usually 10-14 days if I recall. The success of your efforts will depend on factors such as soil composition, nutrient levels, acidity, etc. You can either try to figure this out scientifically or just give it your best shot. I actually don't mind clover. It might not look like the traditional pristine lawn but you don't have to mow it and it adds good nutrients to the soil
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Old 03-23-2017, 09:37 PM   #3
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Scientifically? Any resources in doing it from a science stand point? Check nitrogen levels? Base it on seed species? Weather patterns?

I'll give anything from weekends of manual labor to reading lawn books a try.
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Old 03-23-2017, 10:47 PM   #4
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Re: Aerate, seed and topsoil for bumpy yard?


Things are likely different in the US but I understand many of your counties may offer a soil analysis service. Otherwise, perhaps a property maintenance company or a private commercial lab. My brother used to run a property maintenance company and it sounds like they got a fair bit of training in this area. Of course, I get to pick his brain for free, but I'm not that committed. I'm happy with something that is green.
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Old 03-28-2017, 11:58 AM   #5
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Re: Aerate, seed and topsoil for bumpy yard?


lenaitch is right on point. It's not going to be a quick fix but aerating several times a year is the best way to eventually get where you're going. At least once a year, aerate, seed, and topdress to speed everything along. Light rolling isn't a problem if you're soil isn't too wet. It's great to help along the overseeding after topdressing.

Your local UW or county extension office will do your soil sampling for pretty cheap. It's critical for knowing what direction you need to take fertilizing as well as for the type of topdressing you want to put down. A mix with sand is often called for but compost is ALWAYS a good idea for soil structure and nutrition.

I'm a parks guy from SE Wisconsin if you want to know what my background is for dealing with your specific problem. I have the same issues in my backyard!
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