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The Nuclear Option

12296 Views 100 Replies 18 Participants Last post by  OnyxsLawn
Hello all!

First time here. My wife and I moved into our first house last fall and all of the landscaping had been severely neglected.
I tried to spread some soil and reseed in the fall but didn't have much luck. So, I've decided to start fresh and write it up.

A few before pics:

Planning all winter I decided to till everything under, level it out, spread some compost, and reseed.

Now that the ground thawed its time to get to work.

Bit of starter fluid and an almost 50 year old tiller started up

...and this is as far as I got before the engine exploded

but not before managing to cut my cable. <1" below the surface

More to come once the Tiller is repaired
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g-man said:
Welcome to TLF. Are you in south bend Indiana?

You side yard looks fairly bad. Normally we recommend against a spring Reno. The summer heat and the weeds make it tough for the lawn to establish. You do have a smallish lawn at 2500sqft. Come up with a plan to keep it watered thru the summer.

We also don't recommend tillering, it just doesn't help. It also makes the lawn bumpy if you don't roll it flaten It. Round up for a few weeks is best. It really makes sure you kill all the weeds at the root.

Do you have seed selected?

Edit: also, call 811. It is free and could save you some headaches.
Yup! South Bend, Indiana

i have a sprinkler system on a timer that should keep the lawn well watered. It also doesn't really get warm here until July most years. I thought of waiting till fall but got excited when it got warm for a couple days so i decided to do something about it.

I can see where that recommendation comes Its gonna take quite a few passes and a lot of raking. luckily its a small yard.

Picked up a TTTF mix and plan on trying that out.

811 came out and marked before I started. Apparently Comcast doesn't bother to report where they have lines buried.
Got the engine off the old tiller

I borrowed a friend's front tine tiller and only really managed to dig holes. Doesn't have the power and leveling ability of the rear tine tiller and I find it to be way harder to control.

LawnNerd said:
I've got the exact same tiller. Those things are a hoss, and would drive through a building if i lost control (which isn't that hard with these...) Reverse on it with the tines going scares me to death!
Luckily my reverse doesn't work so I don't have to worry about that.

In the meantime I picked up everything else I need for spring lawn care:

truck load of compost from the city, peat moss, 2 bags milorganite, starter fert with preemergent, grub-ex, and some tall fescue seed.

Also got the cable reburied at a reasonable depth, only after half a dozen calls (and some whiskey and cards) to Comcast to convince them the ground wasn't frozen... It's not thats how the cable got cut :evil: .

New tiller engine and more leveling work to come...
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Colonel K0rn said:
BXMurphy said:
OnyxsLawn said:
but not before managing to cut my cable. <1" below the surface.
This will be a fun thread to follow. Time to start drinking. Heavily. :lol:
:lol: Not holding back on the new guy, are you @BXMurphy.

@OnyxsLawn If you can procure a drag mat, or a pallet to drag around before you seed, and try to get as smooth a bed as you can before you put the seed down, you'll have a much easier time on down the road. Renting a roller will help out too. It would also be prudent to spray down the area with RoundUp, since it only kills plants via foliar contact. You're ok to seed after spraying. It'll just hedge your bets on making sure that the new seedlings don't have to compete with as many weeds during germination. If it was me, I'd be spraying everything you plan to till, and then wait for whatever pops up a week later, and spray again.

FWIW, most spring seedings see about a 30% success rate. Plan on doing another overseeding come fall. You'll be in fine shape this time next year!
I've got a drag mat I made to for leveling and preparing the surface that i'm going to give a shot.
I don't think i want to roll it right now as thats just going to compact everything back down.
I was trying to avoid roundup but after seeing whats left from a couple tilling passes i think i will.
Green said:
BXMurphy said:
OnyxsLawn said:
but not before managing to cut my cable. <1" below the surface.
This will be a fun thread to follow. Time to start drinking. Heavily. :lol:
That happened to us during sprinkler installation. You'd think they would bury those things deeper than a few inches.
You'd think! it was like pulling teeth to get them to bury it even down to 6-8". I was pretty sure the guys they sent out were gonna murder me for bugging them constantly.
social port said:
1. Your thread title is absolutely awesome.
2. I trust you've heard Colonel K0rn's and g-man's precautions about spring seeding. It looks like you are a man with a plan and are just looking to get things rockin' this spring. I would just mind your expectations and hope for the best.
3. That truckload of compost is beautful.
4. Any idea what went wrong with the fall reseed?
1. Thanks! try to keep things interesting
2. Yeah im hoping for the best but if everything goes to hell i may just end up getting some sod so the dogs are happy again.
3. Not too bad for $4! The city gives it away for free if you shovel it yourself. or for $4 they'll dump a full bucket (~6 yds) on the back of whatever you show up in and whatever sticks, you take(~2 yards)
4. not overly confident but im pretty sure it was a lack of prep on my part (poor seed to soil contact) and not cutting the existing grass short enough (lawn was so bumpy i kept hitting dirt with the blade so i just raised it). the areas where I threw down compost came up very well but didn't fill in much any where else.
@g-man they say this on their website:
"South Bend Community Kompost is currently enrolled in the U. S. Composting Council Seal of Testing Assurance Program (STA)." and that they test it frequently. sounds good enough for me
Bought a new 6.5hp engine at harbor freight for $120. turns out it bolts right up and only needed a new crank bolt and some spacers.

Fired right up now time to get back to work in the yard.

Made 5 passes with the tiller and got the soil nicely pulverized. Tried to use my drag but didnt get very good results other than smashing down the dirt under the tractor wheels.

I decided to do a section by hand and see how hard it was and how its turned out.

I got it nice and level and pretty evenly packed down so hopefully it stays level. not sure if i want to leave the compost as a top soil layer of till it in.

Unfortunately we got more snow this week so not getting a lot done right now.

Hopefully the weather clears up a bit so I can get some more work done this weekend.
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Sinclair said:
OnyxsLawn said:
@g-man they say this on their website:
"South Bend Community Kompost is currently enrolled in the U. S. Composting Council Seal of Testing Assurance Program (STA)." and that they test it frequently. sounds good enough for me
I googled, and found the testing information on their website. The analysis is chemical only, with no mention of seeds.
It looks like they test for pathogens (specifically salmonella) which is typically killed off safely around 150F which should be more than enough to sterilize weed seeds
Should be done with the leveling and smoothing today. Here's the question:
we're supposed to get a bit of snow overnight but then temps will be up in the 60s-70 by later in the week. Should I throw seed down tonight and let the snow press it down or will the cold damage the seed and delay germination?
Also should grub-ex go down with the seed? i've seen quite a few come up while tilling.
Temps were at least above freezing this weekend so I got a lot done

first task was to spread compost and level and smooth everything.
got everything pretty level but it was still pretty bumpy from all the small chunks of sod that didn't get cut up completely.
the only way i could find to get it smooth was to rake the whole yard and pick up the bits of grass by hand. classic case of working harder not smarter.

if anyone is thinking of tilling their yard up. Don't unless you've got a pto driven tiller its really hard to get a smooth finish. learn from my mistakes... or just listen to those here with more experience.

regardless i got it smooth enough and threw down the seed, tamped it in with the head of a rake, and covered it in peat moss and starter fert.

Now all I have to do is set up the sprinklers after the snow tonight.

Time to sit back and drink some whiskey.
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Colonel K0rn said:
Nice job! I bet you were surprised at how many shades of skin tone darker you got when you were spreading that peat moss, and how much you found in your shoes after you were done.
I can handle the it on the skin and clothes. Its how much I blew out of my nose that really got me.
@Colonel K0rn

Well there is the silver lining of yard work when its 35 out... no problems with bundling up.
Had some left over seed so i decided to throw down some extra in a box to grow some patches to fill the bare spots.

looks like we're going to get rain everyday for the next couple but I decided to break out my sprinkler-system-in-a-box anyways for when it does dry out.

Now that there is nothing left to do in the back yard, I moved on to the front

Broke out for the mower for the first time this year. Sharpened the blade. Also an impact driver is a great tool to have to remove blades. much better than using a wrench and grabbing the blade with your hand.

Not much growth to mow but it did work to get the leaves up.

Starting to green up a bit but some spots look pretty bad and will need attention this fall

Going to do a bit of leveling tomorrow and spray some broadleaf weeds that are coming up.
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I noticed this morning after the rain that there are some areas that aren't very well covered in peat moss. Is the seed fine exposed (its pressed into the soil) or should I add a little more peat moss over those areas?
@kolbasz :lol: if it was anymore than the cheapest system I could put together, maybe. It gets the job done anyways.
now that 4th winter is finally over I was able to get back into the yard to fix some problems. soil temp is almost high enough to germinate!

I spot brushed some grass and a couple weeds that came up with glyphosate. I figured that any seedlings that came up in the 2 days of warmth we had would've died in the snow anyways.

Spread some seed in the patches that needed some more and covered some other patches up with compost.
Now time to sit back and pray for some warm weather finally. The dogs would really like some grass again
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Jconnelly6b said:
Be patient. I seeded an area where I had a tree removed and the stump grounded (grinded??) and it took 4 weeks to germinate. Then last week it finally popped up.

Keep the soil moist but don't over water, and those little babies will be up before you know it.
yard work is easy. patience is hard.

After reading some other posts on spring seeding it seems like watering will be a balancing act. trying to keep the roots wet and growing without having the leaves wet all the time. my plan is to keep fungicide on hand in case of an outbreak, maintain morning waterings throughout the summer, and break out the blower to dry up the leaves if necessary to keep the seedlings happy and healthy.

I've read some contradictory info on using N to push growth into summer (late May into June for us) for seedlings. anyone here have experience or thoughts on heavy spring nitrogen causing fungus problems down the line?
where do most people buy the green expanding mulch stuff? despite raking it in and covering with peat moss i'm seeing more and more seed come to the surface. its also a challenge keeping the sandy soil moist. i've upped my watering frequency as well, but I don't want to water at night.

@Hyna32 sounds like you've got your hands full with a larger reno and slower germinating KBG
@Hyna32 what times do you water at? Do you water through the night or just in the morning and day? Unfortunately my timer will only space time intervals evenly so I've got it set to every 8 hours right now starting at 3:30am to avoid watering in the middle of the night.
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