activia
Newly Registered
Posts: 5
Joined: Mon Apr 20, 2009 5:26 pm
Location: Mansfield, MA

Help - Installing New Lawn

Hi Everyone!

I am new to this forum but am working on a project that I have very little experience with and am a little confused.

So when I moved into my house I found that the previous owners and cleared a fairly decent side area in the back of the back yard. It is a little less than a quarter acre. When we moved in June 1st they didn't mow anything. So that area had weeds up to my shoulders growing. So this spring we wanted to clean it up and make it all a lawn.

I rented a brush cutter and cut down all the pricker bushed, there were tons! Then we rotatilled the entire area (just a once over).

We are bringing in a bobcat next weekend to level it off and make a downward grade away from the house with some some additional soil that they piled up. We do have a septic system back there btw.

Now I'm trying to decide if I should test the soil and get additives and manually remove all the rocks that the rotatille brought up or bring in 2-3 inches of loam and spread that.

Either way I plan to compact the soil after I am done and have a company spray the seeds.

Can you let me know what I should do and if I am missing or doing anything wrong?

Bestlawn
Cool Member
Posts: 94
Joined: Wed Feb 18, 2009 6:28 am

What shot out at me was your plan to compact the soil. Just allow the bobcat (or boxblade) to grade and slope the area. Afterward, you can smooth it out with a rake, which will leave grooves and is perfect for laying sod or seed. Which do you plan to do? Sod or seed?

You said you rototilled, so I'm wondering what is there left to spray? The weeds haven't grown back yet, have they?

Do get the soil tested, but wait until you have finished spreading soil/loam. That is what the grass has to grow into, so that is what should be tested (also). Other than regularly fertilizing, additives should be based on test recommendations.

Over the septic tank can potentially pose a problem if you plant/lay deep-rooting grasses like Tall Fescue. If you are planning on a Tall Fescue lawn, then at least in the area over the septic system you may want to plant some shallow rooted ground cover, like maybe wildflowers or something. This will avoid deep roots from interfering with the system and also avoid the grass browning above the system for lack of water.

activia
Newly Registered
Posts: 5
Joined: Mon Apr 20, 2009 5:26 pm
Location: Mansfield, MA

Help - Installing New Lawn

Thanks for the help!

We are definitly not sodding. We are trying to decide if we are going to hydroseed or seed it ourselves.

I was referring to the hydroseeding but there are some weeds that have grown back when we rotatilled a smaller area a couple of weeks ago. I dug most of them out.

Should I get loam or get compost? I've read that I should rotatille this in after we spread it?

I've been told to compact and not to compact..so confusing. I agree that we are not going to compact just rake. Now when/if we lay seed we should roll it down a bit so I've heard?

We haven't decided on the type of grass. We are in a northern climate (Massachusetts). It will be some kind of mix.

Anyway I think this is my revised plan:
-----
April 24th
-----
1. Get 2 inches of Compost Delivered
---
April 25th
---
2. Remove rocks already brought up by rotatilling
3. Bobcat to level it off with the downward grade
---
April 26th
---
4. Bobcat to spread the compost
5. Rake
--
May 2nd
--
6. Manually spread some lime and soil additives (based on test results)
7. Rotatille once over
8. Rake it smooth and level
--
May 16th
---
9. Dig up any weeds that grew
10. Rake trouble spots
11. Spread seed with starter fertilizer
12. Roll compact the seed in with 1/2 filled water
13. Spread garden hay (keep away birds and weeds)
14. Setup watering devices from home depot
15. Water twice a day for 3 weeks

I'll make sure not to plant tall fescue and if we have trouble areas due to the the septic we'll plant something else there.

Did I miss something? Should I do something different?

Thanks,
Nicole

Bestlawn
Cool Member
Posts: 94
Joined: Wed Feb 18, 2009 6:28 am

LOL I am loving that you are giving it so much thought and effort. But yes, you should do it differently.

1. You want to expedite this process much faster, as in yesterday. We are near the end of April and you are already late. Spring is a good time to seed a lawn, but it is not the best time. The best time is early fall, but if you don't want to have to wait then do it now. Right now. This weekend. And it can all be done at once.

2. Don't worry about weeds so much. Competition with weeds is another major problem with spring seeding, so you are going to get them anyway, and lots of them. Some that you get will die out in the fall, and just wait until the end of the year to deal with the others. Then, you can practice weed control next year, but that cannot be done while trying to establish a new lawn.

3. So you make informed decisions on soil/loam selections and to help you calculate and balance loam and organic matter (compost), here is an article on [url=https://www.ladybug.uconn.edu/PUrchasingTopsoil.htm]purchasing topsoil[/url]

4. Seems to me the bobcat will do the job of mixing them up pretty well. I really don't think you need to rototill anymore. But that might be my bias speaking (I hate the thought of rototilling LOL). After you get it all down and graded, take a sample to be tested.

5. Soil compaction is not a good thing. You will spend the rest of your years reversing that condition for the sake of the grass because it naturally happens to some degree. So, you see doing it deliberately is not what you want.

6. If you roll after seeding, do it with an empty barrel. All you need is to ensure the seed has good contact with the soil. Pressing them deep is not necessary. Be sure to press them no deeper in the soil than 1/4 inch.

7. Yes, do remove rocks and other debris.

8. Straw is usually cleaner than hay. Hay is most often full of weeds seeds.

a. Omit Step 2 because you don't have a lawn off first. If you decide to spray existing weeds, you do it early as 3 days before seeding. You have to be sure to use the herbicide that contains glyphosate ONLY. There are some products on the market that contain glyphosate (Rounup) and other herbicide ingredients, but those other ones will prevent the grass from growing. Or, you can do this with an organic agriculture vinegar (which is 20% strength).

b. Omit Step 3. If the weeds are high when they die, just mow them down. You don't have to dig them up. You can if you want but don't have to. The dead plants will decompose by themselves (just like your straw will do) and serve as good organic matter for the soil.

c. Omit Step 5 because you are working with newly grade soil that cannot possibly be compacted already. (Don't compact the soil, remember?)

10. Here is a great Kentucky Bluegrass blend for Massachusetts.
I call this the Regalia Blend
[url=https://sroseed.com/find/showproduct.php?id=41]Kingfisher[/url]
[url=https://www.proseeds.net/KBG_P-105.html]Princeton[/url]
[url=https://www.turf-seed.com/product.php?product_id=59]Midnight[/url]

For purchasing all three from the same location, the only supplier I have right now is
Arkansas Valley Seed [url=https://www.avseeds.com/]avseeds.com[/url] 970-535-4481 (720-810-1666 for Brian)

Please let me know the price they quote. If I think it seems a little high, I have another supplier working on getting Kingfisher, so you'd be able to purchase all three from him if he gets it in very soon.

Please inquire again for yearly maintenance schedule once you get your new lawn planted.

activia
Newly Registered
Posts: 5
Joined: Mon Apr 20, 2009 5:26 pm
Location: Mansfield, MA

Help - Installing New Lawn

Do I even need additional soil(compost or loam)?

The only thing is if I don't rotatille after I add the soil...then I could get drainage problems correct?

activia
Newly Registered
Posts: 5
Joined: Mon Apr 20, 2009 5:26 pm
Location: Mansfield, MA

Help - Installing New Lawn

I read through that website and..
...I guess this is what I should do then?

Two or three inches of organic matter tilled to a depth of 6 to 8 inches is a typical recommendation for topsoils low in organic matter.

Bestlawn
Cool Member
Posts: 94
Joined: Wed Feb 18, 2009 6:28 am

I like the way [url=https://www.lawnfertilizers.com/info/soiltests.html]this article[/url] explains it too. It might help you to calculate how much better. I'm not really sure what you're asking but if you think of it in terms of 2-3 inches, then how will you know how much compost to purchase? I can tell you that 1 inch per 1000 square feet equates to about 4 cu. yards/1000/sf. You have to calculate based on the area you are trying to cover and so the compost amounts to between 2% and 10% of the total land mass of soil.

So a good soil structure (loam) is comprised of (an estimate) 40% Sand, 40% Silt and 20% Clay as the article states, with the addition of compost at less than 10%.

One of my problems with rototilling in organic matter is that it really isn't necessary. It has a way of working itself through the soil because the soil organisms (especially earth worms) will do that for you. The main thing that makes it unnecessary is that compost decomposes in about 1.5 years and needs yearly replenishing. So, if you till it in, then what do you have? A false tilth. To think of it as 2 or 3 inches of compost could easily be way too much. Your topsoil depth isn't much more than that, yet the organic matter should be less than 10 percent of the total.

It's possible you may want to consult your local extension service (that I linked above for soil testing) to ask about zones of soil in your area. They should be able to tell you how deep the subsoil and topsoil should be. That way, you know how much compost to purchase because you will know how much loam to purchase.

activia
Newly Registered
Posts: 5
Joined: Mon Apr 20, 2009 5:26 pm
Location: Mansfield, MA

"That way, you know how much compost to purchase because you will know how much loam to purchase."

How will I know how much loam to purchase? Do I even need to purchase loam? I'm thinking I should just purchase some organic matter to increase the fertility. There seems to be plenty of top soil.

Bestlawn
Cool Member
Posts: 94
Joined: Wed Feb 18, 2009 6:28 am

You know, I must be reading to much about grass and soil LOL. I sure thought you said you were going to purchase some loam, but you only said compost. Sorry about that.

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