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Forums > Active Threads > Home and Garden > Garden and Landscape

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Spring Lawn Project

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Iowafun
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 955 Central Iowa
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2005-01-03          103364


Ok guys! I've got 3-4 months to think and prepare for my grass/lawn fixing project. Here's the basics:

Home was built 4-5 years ago buy a guy who dug out the basement himself. Looks like he just spread the subsoil on top of the previous top soil. (I watched him do this exact activity in leveling a new place this fall) Then he chucked down some grass seed and voila!

So of course, the grass doesn't like to grow. Much clay, very rutted due to erosion (hill slope) and looks crappy. Obviously mowing sucks due to the bumps and the dust that is kicked up.

Some areas will allow me to just add top soil to a depth of at least 3-4 inches. Much of it won't handle that. So for the majority (probably about 1/2 to 1 acre worth), I was thinking of adding top soil and some manure. Then going over it with a tiller (excuse to purchase one for the tractor) to mix it all in with the clay. The go over it with a roller and add grass seed.

I'd like to hear thoughts from guys with experience in this arena. I tried adding seed to the current soil and it did poorly. Some areas I worked (just tilled and leveled the soil) turned out worse than the original. So I'm thinking the soil has little to no nutrients and won't sustain the need grass. Hence, the addition of good soil and manure.

There is a horse farm less than a mile away that I was going to go ask about getting manure from them.

Thoughts? suggestions? Am I crazy?

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lucerne
Join Date: Sep 2003
Posts: 192 Lucerne Maine
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2005-01-03          103367


Hate to see people cover good top soil, it takes so long for nature to produce and once covered, it's gone. I just stripped an old garden spot for a foundation and driveway. We hauled off 200 yards of beautiful black loam. It's stockpiled for screening and selling this spring. The gravel 6"- that came out of the frost wall hole was used for a base for the driveway. Do you think the loam that is covered is deep,worth saving? How deep is the clay on top? Can it be removed to get to the loam? If so, strip the clay, remove and pile the top soil, buy gravel to grade the lot to a level minus the thickness of top soil you want to spread or have. When they haul the gravel in have them haul the clay out, save money hauling two ways.Just a thought, I don't know if you built in the woods and the soil isn't much and full of stumps or in one of those incredible Iowa fields. ....

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hardwood
Join Date: Dec 2002
Posts: 3583 iowa
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2005-01-03          103387


Iowafun; When we built the house we now live in about 8-10 yrs. ago, I acted as my own general contractor, at that time you saved a hefty 10% on materials and cost of sub contractors by hiring and paying them yourself, BUT you learn a lot real fast. I knew the reputation of the man who dug the basement, the cement people, carpenter crew, sheet rockers, plumbers, etc.. They all did a fine job. The landscaper that I hired I really did'nt know and did'nt take the time to check him out. The man who dug the basement piled the topsoil and the clay seperately like I expected, then this disreputable landscaper made a total mess just mixing it back together, spreading a little seed, straw, sending me the bill and left the country. I finally just paid him to get rid of him, we've been working on it every since to make a decent yard. My point in all this rambling is that you were an indirect victum of a person like I dealt with. Far as how to correct it, we've just been patching in with topsoil where the worst spots were and after several summers and lots of bluegrass seed it's shaping up pretty well. Lots of luck. Frank. ....

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Iowafun
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 955 Central Iowa
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2005-01-04          103434


Lucerne, I don't know how deep the topsoil is. I'm not in a woods. I'm on an open field on top of a hill. Great view, absolutely zero protection from the wind (the roof coming off is a topic for another time, same issue with the builder).

The soil on the place that was not covered up is wonderful. My garden does wonderful. The alfalfa field has great looking soil. The crap in the front yard looks horrible in comparison.

I'll just do what Hardwood did and pick a section and start the patch work. Oh well, gets me outside and gives me something to do. My wife will be about 8 months or so pregnant when I start so I expect I'll want to outside with the tractor running so I can't hear the complaints about how uncomfortable she is. ....

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lucerne
Join Date: Sep 2003
Posts: 192 Lucerne Maine
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2005-01-04          103444


I'll bet the soil that is burried is just like the soil that is out in the fields. You had better give the wife a bucket of rocks to get your attention when the time comes, second thought, tennis balls, wouldn't want to dent the tractor. ....

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grinder
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 677 central Maine
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2005-01-04          103446


Soil that has clay in it under the top soil is not a bad thing. It will allow your new top soil to retain the moisture, especially on a slope. ....

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Iowafun
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 955 Central Iowa
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2005-01-05          103519


Thanks for that pleasant thought Lucerne! A friend of mine in Indiana would throw rocks at his wife when bailing hay. He'd be on the wagon and she'd drive the tractor. She was really happy when I would help him cause he didn't throw rocks at me. ....

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Spring Lawn Project

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denwood
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 542 Quarryville PA
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2005-01-05          103572


Soil is just a combination of particle sizes, Sand, Silt , and Clay. Depending on where you are the % of each changes. Certainly you don't really want just sand or just clay, which you probably don't have even if you think you do. Top soil has the addition of organic matter. Think of topsoil as chocolate milk and subsoil as white milk, organic matter as chocolate syrup. You don't make chocolate milk by taking white milk(subsoil) and adding chocolate milk(topsoil), you add the syrup(organic matter). So don't add topsoil (good just as it is) and dilute it in subsoil. Add organic matter of any sort you have cheap. Manure, peat, compost, mushroom soil(aged) etc. and till that in. People also mistakingly add sand to clay thinking it will make the soil better. It does not untill you hit a threshold that is huge on the sand part. Think of clay as a glass of water, very small bits. Now add marbles(sand). The porosity and drainage doesn't change untill the marbles fill the water and touch each other creating pore space. The sand would have to be added until it touched and there was not enough clay to fill all the space around it. Also sand is inert. it has no Cation Exchange Capacity(abiltity to provide important elements to plant roots) and clay has a large C.E.C. ....

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lucerne
Join Date: Sep 2003
Posts: 192 Lucerne Maine
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2005-01-05          103594


Denwood you'd make a good teacher. Iowafun I hope you realize I was jusk kidding with ya about the rocks. I lived in Iowa, Haysville, for a few months, great country,incredible farms, and some of the most sincere,honest kindest people on the planet. ....

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Chief
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 4285 Southwest MiddleTennessee
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2005-01-05          103605


The first thing I would suggest would be to take some soil samples to your county extension agent to have analyized. This should tell you exactly with nutrients are missing from the soil and you can add what is needed. Then you can work on the seed bed and type grass. ....

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Iowafun
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 955 Central Iowa
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2005-01-06          103654


Denwood, that's why I was heavily into adding manure as it has nutrients and will decompose and add to the soil over time. I may not be able to get enough so I was looking to blend with some top soil. I need to go talk to that farmer about the manure. He's close by so if we can come to terms, it we be a huge help to me.

But first, to get rid of that snake in the house... ....

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brokenarrow
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 1288 Wisconsin
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2005-01-24          104859


Iowafun
I think you should ask youself what you really want.
Sounds like you want a nice lawn? Right? I have played the game that has been mentioned adding subtracting piecing in etc. Life is too short! If you can afford it, I vote for stripping that clay crap out, get back down to the natural base that was there before. Now strip that out and make a nice pile. Lay the clay back down and roll and pack and level. Now go back to your top soil (which will be mixed a bit with the clay anyway you look at it) Lay that back down and level. Then if you want to haul in the new top soil you may need go for it. I have the exact same problem at my second home. My ground level is too high for the grade of my house. (after I added top soil) My plan is to remove the new top soil and pile it. I am planning to build on to this house this year so I will start fresh and this time do it myself the way I would want my yard.
Hey I dont envy you, it is alot of work even on a machine. I vote for you to get it done in one year and enjoy it's looks the rest of your summers there?
Just my opinion (which ain't worth alot) LOL ....

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Iowafun
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 955 Central Iowa
TractorPoint Premium Member -- 5 Tractors = Very Frequent Poster  View my Photos  Pics

2005-01-25          104892


Brokenarrow, my problem is I don't know how deep the good soil is burried. There is also a lot of trees planted there now that I don't want to risk damaging their root systems. I can carefully work my way around the trees, but a wholesale soil removal is not much of an option. Besides, if I go my route, I get a tiller for the tractor. If I don't, then I am stuck using the equipment I already own. I do want a tiller pretty bad.
....

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