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Old 10-08-2012, 10:34 AM   #1
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Preparation for planting grass - equipment, etc.

Hi. I'm starting a new thread that is specific to the new 'issue' at hand. We've filled in our old in-ground swimming pool this weekend. The surface is now nothing buth rough fill that is not good enough for growing grass in. As I see it, the next step of the project is to add topsoil, rent the proper equipment to lay out the topsoil properly (including leveling the ground), then planting seed. Here's my questions...sorry for the detail, but I always get great answers here.
  • Topsoil - how thick do I need to apply?
  • I'm not sure what type of equipment to rent to spread out the topsoil properly:
    • I've seen a contraption that looks like an 8 foot long, steel rolling pin with thumb-sized spikes sticking out of it. Apparently it rotates counter-clockwise and you drag it behind a tractor? I don't know.
    • More commonly, I see contractors at new houses on small tractors dragging something that looks like a very large, wide steel rake.
    • A drag box? I don't even know what that is!
    • Ok, sorry for my ignorance. I've done so many projects in my life and yet, when it comes to planting grass, I've always done it with a rake and throw the seed like chicken feed - not good enough for this project.
  • Anther question - It's early October. I'm thinking I've missed the window of opportunity for planting grass in Buffalo Ny for this year? Yes/no?
  • Anyone recommend Hydro seeding?
  • I see some really cool things out there that people use; hydro seeding, or that machine that chops up straw and shoots it out all over the place. Are these things available to rent or are these specialized pieces of equipment for contractors?
  • Finally, I hate to have the yard sit all winter with nothing but mud. If I can't plant grass, maybe I should throw straw over everything for the winter (or would that just make a nasty mess for spring?
Ok, I forgot the details. The area we're talking about is probably 5,000 sqft (rough estimate). Of course, the area got a whole lot larger than original plan once I climbed into the skid steer and it rained all weekend. Ugh, it was a mess. But I have to admit, the swimming pool project went really well.

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Old 10-08-2012, 01:01 PM   #2
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I answered part of this in your other post. You are too late to plant turf in Buffalo this year.

You need to let all you have done to fill in your pool settle since you do not know yet how the dirt is going to fit itself around all those concrete chunks down under?

You should be able to estimate how much topsoil to bring in. Your pool had dimensions. Take those and the inches the pit has already sunk to figure the cubic yards of material to bring in just to level it. Get the new soil tested.

You certainly will not hurt anything by spreading some seed free straw or other organic matt material to keep mud down but you are going to be buried in 18 feet of snow by December?

The machine with spikes you see being towed behind a tractor is probably a core aerator and is used on established turf or compacted soil to add air space and provide channels for nutrients. Not sure the other thing you see being dragged but its purpose is probably to level to grade (which you do not have until you know how much things settle) and sort out rocks and things.

I am a total fan of hydroseeding although if all you have to do is a pool shaped and sized plot it may be overkill. A contractor is not growing to race to you for such a small plot. But you said you now expect to plant nearly 5,000sf? Now would be a great time to line someone up to do it for you next spring when they are working near and have extra stuff in the truck. Yes you can rent the equipment it makes no sense for such a small area. And you do not know what the yahoo before you planted with it and how well he/she cleaned it all out. I could be wrong, but I doubt a DIYer would save much trying hydroseeding on their own. And a contractor will stand behind the work. Why not put your energies into prepping?

Hydroseeding involves mixing seed, fertilizer, mulch material, and usually a color indicator into a slurry that is sprayed on almost like gunite on a swimming pool surface. It will stick to slopes and grade changes. Once dried to a crust it keeps birds from pecking at the seed and seedlings and insulates seeds and keeps them moist. A hydroseeded lawn will establish faster than a sod one and with less water at a fraction of the cost.

Whatever method you choose. Seed, hydroseed, sod, sprigs, etc. you have to prep properly.

Come spring, you will have to bring your soil to final grade and till the top layer of your soil to as fine a mix as makes sense. A heavy rototiller will do it but you seem to have room for a tractor that could dish it for you? With soil test in hand you will have known which organic and chemical amendments to add. Depending on the method you will have added a starter fertilizer or know which one to add to the hydroseed slurry. Then rake it out evenly.

You broad cast the seed or hydroseed evenly and then you must keep all the seed moist until it germinates. As mentioned, for most popular blends this means you have to be attentive for 7-21 or more days. Somes species will sprout sooner than others but you want it all. As also mentioned, you will be able to custom mix from bulk seed come spring.

With either seed or sod, you should roll the surface with a half-filled landscape roller to ensure contact. Not with hydroseeding and in fact you should roll for it first. With sod, you should water it immediately and as you go and it should have been harvested and delivered to you within no more than 48 hours hours.

And please, those of us who were once in the business called in planting and managing turf. Not planting grass.

One other thought to pass by you as you think about this over the next months? Do you really want to plant and maintain 5,000sf of turf or would some nice groundcovers and lower maintenance options be a possibility? Have you ever scaled your plot to paper and played with plantings and hardscape and other elements. You seem to have made a good choice getting rid of a high maintenance pool but why replace it with potentially matching turf maintenance requirements?

Last edited by user1007; 10-08-2012 at 01:12 PM.
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