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Greener Thumb
Posts: 1068
Joined: Mon May 02, 2011 9:15 pm
Location: Los Angeles

Turning an old horse paddock into a lawn for soccer

I have an old horse paddock on my backyard:

The fenced-in area is ~70 x 70 or so, and the last two years it's been a [url=]pumpkin patch.[/url] For the 50 years prior it was a paddock. I'm thinking of moving the pumpkin patch elsewhere next year and planting a lawn so the kids can play soccer, volleyball, whatever.

The site:
+ pretty flat. Even if I didn't level it at all it'd be fine for its intended use.
+ rock free. There are rocks if I dig down more than 8-12 inches, but the top layers are just dirt
+ top 3-4" are nice top soil

- below the top soil is [url=]hard, compacted sand, and below that is hard clay.[/url] Drainage can be poor when it rains a lot (a "lot" in Los Angeles being any more than 1/2" in a week :)), and we'll get standing water when that happens

I also intend to keep parts of this as a garden. Right now the left ~12' is planted with corn, tomatoes, broccoli, etc., and I'd like to keep doing that.

Any suggestions on how to get started? The pumpkins will be in until the big Pumpkin Patch Party on Oct. 30th, and then I get started on whatever I want to do.

I don't want to spend a ton of money (e.g. I think sod is out of the question), but I am willing to buy seed, fertilizer, sand, &c, and I can rent a rototiller and other light farm equipment nearby. I don't own any equipment other than hand tools.

How long does it take a lawn to grow from seed to the point where it'll take the abuse of kids playing soccer?

Any recommendations for seed types? I'm in Los Angeles, so we get occasional rain, but summers are warm and dry.

What's a reasonable budget for getting this done?

I also need to think about irrigation. I have a drip system for the veggie garden and pumpkin patch, and that's reconfigurable. Otherwise I can put in something new. I don't think I want in-ground sprinklers, since the kids will be diving/falling etc. The retaining wall at the left edge of the field is about 10' high, so I could run some sprinkle the field from up top.
Sunset 23/USDA 11a, Elev. 783', Frost free since 8,000 BC. Plagued by squirrels, gophers, and peafowl, but coming to terms with it!

Greener Thumb
Posts: 720
Joined: Fri Oct 16, 2009 2:01 pm
Location: Jacksonville, FLZone 9A

I can't answer most of your questions, but if you were in Florida, I'd say Bahia grass seed is your answer. Anywhere we need tough grass, drought tolerant after it's established, it will be Bahia. Native to Mexico, so I'd say that's a good sign for you. I also think the roots will break up your hard pan sand or clay under the topsoil. Bahia roots go deep. We'd be seeding now.

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