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 08-30-2004, 12:01 Post: 94978
jonathanengr



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 Help with Box Scrape Seeding Yard

I purchased a new tractor a few months back, and purchased a few implements with it for a specific purpose. Essentially, my back field and back yard are overrun with weeds, and I want to plow them under and start anew. I've been told to spread lime and a little fertilizer, till the old grass under while mixing in these components, use my box blade to smooth any uneven areas, then drag a section of chain-linked fence behind my tractor to smooth the ground and then spread the seed. Does this sound like the best approach? I will be redoing about 3 acres, so killing the old grass seems impractical, and I was told that tilling the old very well will eliminate it. Also, how deep should I till? (I have a Kubota 72" LA723 FEL, Woods 72" tiller, Woods 72" Box Blade, Woods 72" Landscape Rake, Woods 72" Finishing Mower, And a 500-lb seeder/spreader).

Also, I need some tips on using the box blade. I was told it's the best thing to use for what I'm needing to do, but I've never used one. Thanks!






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 08-30-2004, 13:11 Post: 94981
Murf

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 Help with Box Scrape Seeding Yard

Jon, first off, as another who wears the steel ring, I know we are sometimes accused of designs that 'look good on paper' but are tough to execute in practice. This is one of those designs, Laughing out loud.

Seriously, based on more than a bit of experience at doing this type of stuff, I think you are designing an elephant when a mouse will do fine.

Unless your lawn is vastly more weeds than grass I would strongly advise against doing anything as drastic as that. The main problems with what you have in mind is that a) weeds are notorious for germinating faster than grass and growing more vigorously afterwards, and b) even if you have a poor lawn there, just below it is a broad network of rhizomes, the fibrous roots that are the food & water gatherers for the turf that we see above ground.

When you chew up an existing lawn you do two important things, you kill a good portion of the rhizomes, and you give the weeds and weed seeds a big head start.

When asked this sort of question my answer is always the same, add soil where needed, add whatever fertilizers, supplements or amendments are required or desired and then over-seed the area. If the rhizomes are healthy they will sprout up from beneath even pretty heavy top-dressing if you have low spots to fill.

Even in your much longer growing season, establishing a new lawn from scratch is a BIG undertaking as compared to merely making what you already have stronger, smoother and weed-free.

Best of luck.






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 08-30-2004, 15:22 Post: 94988
jonathanengr



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 Help with Box Scrape Seeding Yard

Murf--

As always, thanks for your input! However, I'm not sure I can achieve the desired results without "redoing" my yard. Essentially, buying my tractor to use as a lawn mower was a blessing not only due to speed, but also to save my back. In simpler terms, the soil underlying my yard is so uneven and bumpy that it's almost impossible to mow with an everyday lawn mower. The guy who built my house obviously left the ground bare too long and quite a bit of erosion took place. There's a hole here, a hole there, a long network of eroded areas over there, etc. To buy a few dump truck loads of dirt and deliver it to each spot would simply be impossible. A couple of years ago I had a few landscapers come out and look at my yard, and each one recommended starting from scratch. I did that exact thing in my front yard (which was already smooth and in best shape), and it turned out to be stunning. The back yard will require breaking up of the soil as I did in the front, but will also require some grading and smoothing of the different areas.

My main concern is ending up with a yard that is nice and smooth, and wondered if this would be the best way to go about it. If you have a better idea than what was told to me, please feel free to let me know (as you did above). Once again, I just don't think I can fill in all the ruts and holes on the entire 3 acres by carrying dirt to each one and filling them. Even worse, the existing grass/weeds covers them well, so the only way to "find" them is by driving over one.






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 08-30-2004, 15:36 Post: 94989
Murf

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 Help with Box Scrape Seeding Yard

Jon, bear in mind, I didn't say that you couldn't do it, I said "establishing a new lawn from scratch is a BIG undertaking as compared to merely making what you already have stronger, smoother and weed-free.".

I stand by that statement. There are also easier ways than carrying a bucket full of dirt around also.

We regularly use a box blade to do it. Basically you fill the box blade with topsoil, lift the lead edge until it JUST clears the existing grade and then drive forward. As the existing soil drops away from the blade's back edge the soil falls down into the depression filling it to the blade edge. If there is a high spot the blade slices it off as it goes by.

Your method will work too, no doubt about it, but to re-build 3 acres of turf for the sake of a small percentage of it that is bad is just a little overkill to me.

Best of luck.






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 08-30-2004, 15:57 Post: 94991
yooperpete



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 Help with Box Scrape Seeding Yard

There are always several ways to do anything. If you don't want to spray first with Roundup, I'd drop the tiller about 4" deep and till it twice in opposite directions(once each way in a cris-crossed manner). I normally use my pulvizer to level it but a box scraper can also do the job. You just want a slight buildup on the leading edge of the blade from skimming the high spots such that it unloads in low spots. If you take too much at a time, you will be making new potholes. Doing it in cris-crossed patterns will get the low spots filled quite evenly while it will reduce the edge buildup from each pass. If the valleys aren't too deep, I just drag an up-side-down pallet with my lawn tractor (less soil compaction) using a chain. I load the rear edge with a few concrete blocks. When dragging it along, the front lifts slightly and you get a build-up of soil that unloads in low spots. After doing that several times, I broadcast the grass seed(heavy) and then drag it one last time to work it in a little.

Some of the professional guys here may have better techniques but this works for me. Pray to the rain god for a nice soft rain and you are all set.






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 08-30-2004, 16:14 Post: 94992
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 Help with Box Scrape Seeding Yard

Pete--

I had planned to smooth out the very rough spots with a box blade, and then drag a piece of chain-linked fence behind the tractor as opposed to a pallet as you suggested so it would be wide enough to cover my tire tracks. Do you think that would work fine, or should I join two pallets to get the desired width?

As for the box blade, I'll start tinkering with it in the lowest field. That way, if I make a mess for the time being my wife won't be too upset with me! Any other tips on box blade use would be appreciated, as well. Someone told me to tilt it one way, anmd someone else said to tilt it another, etc., etc. As you say, there are many ways to do something, but I trust the judgement of everyone on here better thamn just about anything else!






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 08-31-2004, 06:16 Post: 95032
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 Help with Box Scrape Seeding Yard

Jon; I don't like to disagree with Murf and the others, they've been there and done that too. I'll just relate my personal experience with such a situation as you have. About the only way I learned much about landscaping was by doing it wrong and the hard way enough times to begin to see the light on how to do it better and easier. I'm a long way from knowing it all, and never will, but here goes. Your idea on tearing it up and starting over is really the only truly successful way I've found of getting the "Front Yard" quality lawn. Before doing anything get a soil test so that any lime or fertilizer will be what you really need rather than the shotgun aproach. Call your county extension service, they'll line you up on soil testing. Save yourself the misery of dealing with clumps of sod, old root balls, etc., by doing the following. First mow it with a bush hog or similar machine to grind up as much top growth as you can, give the clippings a few days to dry away then spray it with Roundup, give the roundup enough time to fully kill the root systems (three weeks or so). By that time you will have your soil test back, apply the fetilizer and lime, roto till it as deep as your tiller will go, but do it a step at a time working deeper in about three passes. Unless you have really deep gullies or holes to level out a landscape rake will work better than a box blade. One important tning I forgot to mention is don't do any of the tillage when the soil is too wet, you'll just make a mess and compact the soil. You can rent a seeder, but the best way to seed is to hire someone with a rear mount seeder drill, they do a great job of evenly spreading the seed, getting the depth just right. the little spinner seeders are fine for a small job, but not one of your size. yes you will have weeds come up in the new seeding, but there are ways to control them. Enough said, best of luck. Frank.






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 08-31-2004, 06:24 Post: 95033
TomG

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 Help with Box Scrape Seeding Yard

Lengthening the top-link on a scraper reduces the cut to where it drags rather than cuts. Lengthening it more spreads material in the box. A scraper will that's spreading will tend to follow a dip that's wider than the scraper. I sometimes take a pass at 90-degrees to fill wide dips or use the rear cutter to cut high spots into low ones before spreading. If you don't have a hydraulic link, you'll spend more time hopping on and off the tractor to make link adjustments than doing tractor work. You'll also spend time removing and disposing of the old sod unless it's cut up very fine with a tiller, which also takes time.

Buying or renting a landscape rake with gauge wheels would be my tool of choice for finish work. I don't have one and can't rent one either. A dozer spread top-soil over our new septic system since the dozer was already there. I dragged the area with chain-link fencing wrapped around a 10x10 timber--first with the weight of several cement blocks and then very lightly after spreading seed. It's better to roll the seed in but I don't have a roller either nor could I count on enough rain during germination. The results are OK but a bit uneven and some is still emerging two weeks later.

It's handy to be able to lift a drag off the ground for transport and for turning around. Drags don't work too well if the chains are short enough so the 3ph can lift the drag, and then more weight on the drag is needed. That was no problem for me since I have a 3ph forklift.






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 08-31-2004, 08:08 Post: 95047
yooperpete



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 Help with Box Scrape Seeding Yard

As you can see there are lots of ways to do the job. Many of us use MacGyver techniques depending on what is laying around. If you combine what most of us have said in part, the following would be a good guide: Round-up like Hardwood has said would be the first step. If you run the tiller through one time and loosen the soil, your next step could be the box scraper to fill in the low spots. Till it a second time in an opposite direction. Drag chainlink fence, timbers, pallets or whatever to smooth it out more. Broadcast in fertilizer and any other soil treatment and till it again. Drag it again and broadcast the seed. I always put down lots more seed than normal to get a real full lawn right from the start. One final light drag(with less weight) will work in the seed. Water is important. If this is done in the fall, maybe rain is enough but a little intervention can't hurt.

New weeds will germinate from disturbing the soil. Let the grass grow to a nice height and full thickness before putting on weed killers or mowing. The weeds quite often look disturbing the first year or until they are under control. Next year fewer weeds will germinate if your lawn is thick and kept slightly long.






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 08-31-2004, 13:09 Post: 95082
jonathanengr



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 Help with Box Scrape Seeding Yard

Good question--time of year! I live in North Carolina, so is it too late to get started? If I spray round-up right now it would take 2-3 weeks to fully kill the existing weeds and grass putting me into late September. By the time I till, grade, till, spread, smooth, spread and finally smooth (cover seed) again, will it be too late in the year?






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