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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey everyone, I'm looking to redo my lawn from scratch as it's in terrible shape and would appreciate any feedback (especially where I mark down //? in my plan.) (Zone 5a - Ottawa, Ontario, Canada).

Here's 3 pics of what I'm working with.

On the left is very patchy grass and clover and as you work more towards the right is weeds. That bald spot used to be a big Blue Spruce Tree which was removed 2 years ago + stump grinded 8" deep. Most big roots surfaced and I ripped them out last year.

Now, I've made a plan based on reading a bunch of other posts and videos so here's what I have:

//? Mow grass as low as possible with clippings catcher?
Rototill next day after heavy rain or deep watering.
Rake chunks/rocks out.
Roll to grade - 1" lower than walkway.
Water the ground and check for puddles, grade accordingly.
//? Test soil? - fertilize / add nutrients as needed.
Top Soil - to level walkway.
//? Do I need to Rototill again with the new top soil down to mix with the old sub soil for proper drainage?
Roll again until footprints are 1/2 an inch.
Water area to a depth of 5-6" 2 days before seeding.
//? Apply starter fertilizer (one with a nutrient ratio of 1:1:1 or 1:2:1).
Apply grass seed in two passes, 2nd pass in the other direction.
Rake lightly (plastic rake) to mix seeds with 1/8th of soil.
Roll with empty roller to improve germination rate.

Water 2x daily (early morning + late evening after sun).
Don't touch for 3 weeks.
Cut grass only after 3-4" tall.

Thanks!
 

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In my experience rototiling isn't needed. I tried a spot:
1. Mowing short
2. Spiking with tines
3. Adding seed and a bit of fertilizer
4. Adding light compost to cover and add a bit of nutrients.
After that I spot treated for weeds and in one season they were 99% gone.

On a different part I used a rototiller, and the results were simmilar minus the geometry of the growing surface.

I do not see rototilling as a neccesaary step.
 

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1) I wouldn't rototill - the problem with that is unless you are a pro you are more likely to have a lumpy lawn after than to have a smooth one. After it settles a few months/year later.

2) Well since all my peat moss is Canadian I'm assuming you get a deal on it?? Topdress with it. 1-2 bags per K. It makes a HUGE difference and you can see the difference in dry/wet to remind you to water more.

3) Your title says from scratch, but you aren't killing off with glyphosate. So technically this is more an extended "overseed". If you are doing all this you might want to kill it all off just so you have the same consistent grass seed everywhere. Unless you know the grass seed used for existing grass and are using the same.
 

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I would say instead of tilling go to local rental center and get a slice seeder (thatch) machine with delta reel blades like these in the top rack.

After the old grass is dead. Use that slice seeder (veritcutter)machine to rough up the ground nice and loose. Do this without the seed in the hopper. This will only cut into soil about .5 to 1 inch but will make a nice seed bed. Go over it several times in several directions. This can also be done with a thatch rake if you feel like working your guts out. Then spend day after day after day with some sort of drag mat leveler. A pallet will work or a 6 ft step ladder weighted down. Or even a homemade leveler made with 2x4s Drag this with some sort of motorized machine like a 4 wheeler or lawn tractor. You can do it by hand as well. DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP. This step will level your yard out and take the bumps out. Having a flat lawn even if it slopes will turn heads in the future. You will not regret all the hours you spend leveling before seed.

After that put seed down as outline above. Do not forget starter fert and peat moss or some sort of material to keep seed moist. Saw dust that is fine works for this if you have a source.

Then water water water. Multiple times a day. I would say more than 2 times. The golden rule to grass seeding..... "If it dries out..... it dies out"

Good luck. Please post pictures as you go along for us to see.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks for the posts guys.

I was going to rototill because I thought the lawn needed to be scrapped completely. It's completely uneven, very bumpy everywhere, really hard packed and I thought that rototilling was a good way to pretty much "kill" everything on top and loosen/mix the soil including all the wood chips on the right hand side of the lawn) then rolling everything back to grade.
With that being said, I should get a dethatcher instead of a rototiller?
Here's the site I'd be renting from: http://www.robertsonrentall.com/lawn-care

Yup, I can definitely get peat moss no problem.
Small bags; https://www.lowes.ca/peat-moss/greensmix-22-cu-ft-medium-bale-sphagnum-peat-moss_g1307194.html
If I need a lot of it I can get 1 yard for $35.
 

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Depending on how out of level you are the "overseeder" is the one I would get from Robertson. It will knock down/till up stuff up to like one half inch or a little more (sorry metric folks for the non commitment of conversion). Kind of like a mini tiller. If you went over it like several times over and over and over again you can loosen up soil and drag high spots into low spots with the drag mat of your choice.

Round up first. Then wait until dead. Then mow and bag on lowest setting. Then power rake over seeder. Then level with drag mat or equivalent.

You COULD..... Till it up. But if you do then VERY shallow. Not deep. Only like an inch or 1.5 inch. If you till make sure you roll.

The slice seeder will look like this underneath. Just don't put seed in the hopper. It's basically a vericutter.

You could also just use a thatch rake and save the rental cost depending on how big an area you have.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Update. - added more pics in
I remember why I went with the rototiller option... in Canada (at least in Ottawa anyways), glyphosate / round-up is banned for residential use so I went with what I thought was the best alternative at killing all the weeds and thistle and starting over.

- Rototilled, raked to grade, raked a bunch of debris.
- Tested my soil pH and it's neutral which is perfect!
- Bought grass seed = https://www.costco.ca/Scotts®-Supreme-Grass-Seed.product.10368042.html

It started raining and will continue for the next couple days now so it will compact the soil and it's done a good job already as of this morning so I will go back out and re-grade certain areas and roll.

//? What kind of fertilizer should I be dropping with my seed?
From what I read, people recommend getting a 1:1:1 or 1:2:1 mix but ultimately focusing on getting a bag with more Phosphate.
This is the only thing I can find: https://www.homedepot.ca/en/home/p....tarter-fertilzer-24-24-4-59kg.1000109273.html will it do the trick?

//? When to feed and seed? Can I still feed and seed in this cold or should I wait for ideal soil temperatures of 10-18 Celsius = 50-65 Fahrenheit = ?
Current 14 days temperature forecast: 3-14C = 37.4 - 57.2F.

Next steps when it stops raining (or should I try to do it while it's raining?);
- Grade and roll
- Fertilize + Seed
- Cover with peat moss / top soil
- Water
 

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I would do it now if it was me. Others might say otherwise. Some people are adamant about fall seeding but as long as you keep it cool during hot months with water you will be fine. I seeded my 20k lawn in June and a another section around April 1st. Its nice and full and super thick 2 years later.

-Underground irrigation if any (highly recommended if you can afford it)
-Grade and roll
-Grade and roll again
-Drag mat
-Drag mat more
-Drag mat more again and roll (dont skip the dragging leveling step)
-Seed down
-Fert down. Go with that "starter" fert if that is what you can find. Try to get one with mesotrione
-Peat moss light layer
-Water water water. "If it dries out, it dies out"
-Fert about 6 weeks later lightly
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Not much of an update unfortunately. It's been raining every day for the last week, it even snowed Monday. There was no rain yesterday so I went out and raked the compacted soil... apparently I missed a huge chunk of roots so I dug around it and will take an axe to it soon.

Lessons learned; It's best to level the dirt ASAP with the homemade 2x4 leveler when the dirt is dry and fluffy BEFORE the rain gets to it. Otherwise you need to re-rake the whole surface and even then the 2x4's don't do a good job with the clumps.

8 new pics uploaded.
 

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Tifgrand—7,500 sq/ft—Baroness LM56
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Love the progression of the pics, you can really see where you started from to where it is now. Looks like you will have a good base to start from and I can't emphasize enough how important it is to get everything smooth and level before you start. I would definitely take a lawn roller to it like WC recommended as it will help settle all that loose dirt and give you a good firm surface to start with.
 

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I totally agree with MQ. Your looking good. Next good stretch of weather go for it. Level/drag/roll it good and throw that seed, fert and peat, down.
Please take pictures and update us. Its nice to see your progress.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Thanks, I'll definitely keep you guys updated and taking progress pics.
I plan on leveling and rolling today and tomorrow and hopefully having my fertilizer and seeds down Friday, then adding peat moss.

That being said, question time for peat moss vs top soil mix.

- I'm currently planning on getting the peat moss as you guys suggested, HOWEVER, what if I know I'm on a lot of clay (about 4" under my soil)? Would you still get the peat or go with a peat/sand blend?

I'll be ordering from here:
http://www.manotickgardens.com/default.action?itemid=33
So either Black Peat Loam(No Sand or Fillers) or Top Soil(Black Peat Loam & Sand) or Top Dressing (Black Peat Loam & Peat Moss)

- I'm working with about 1800 sq ft so I was thinking of ordering 4 cubic yards. Does that sound about right? (If I have too much, it's ok, I'll use it on the side of my house and backyard to fill in low spots.)
 

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I have straight clay pretty much. The lawn grows just fine in it. The wizard would get mad at me for saying that but its true. I top dress with sand and my lawn has not turned to concrete yet. Imagine that. :lol:

I would get the black peat loam if it were me. Only a ever so light layer on top of the seeds. like 1/8th inch or slightly more. Only enough to cover the seeds and keep them from drying out. If you put too much down you will smother the seeds and they will not grow up through. I put seed down and rake with a feather like touch just to mix them into soil a tiny bit.

Its really quite easy. You will have bare spots when it comes up and you will have to work on it as you go along but in 1 year from now it will look great. (I like to tell people 24 months until its totally full,)
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Awesome thanks, I REALLY appreciate all the fast feedback.
I have lots of patience so I don't mind waiting that long to see how nice my lawn will be.

If I see the bare spots, I'm assuming I just mix peat moss and seeds and lay it down there + water right?
 

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The peat moss is just to cover the seed and enhance germination. I don't think sand has any germination benefits. But you can always topdress with that once the grass is in and thriving. You could always do what golf courses do and aerate / topdress with sand, the sand fills the holes and then it enhances the drainage.
 

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Yeah what @grassdaddy said.

If you have bare spots in about 2 months from seed down, or anytime for that matter, and want to re seed, just rough up the dirt with a thatch rake and throw down the seed then cover with peat. Add a little fert before you cover.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Update from yesterdays work - Added 5 pics.

Picked up a bag of Starter Fertilizer, couldn't find any with Mesotrione, couldn't find a 1:2:1 ratio so I got the one with the most amount of Phosphate @ 20-27-5
https://www.homedepot.ca/en/home/p.vigoro-starter-fertilizer-400m2.1000820328.html

Chopped out the stump with an axe.
Raked high spots.
Dragged a pallet to level many times.
Rolled.

Hopefully I'll have it leveled out, seeded + peat on top today before the rain on the weekend.
 
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