Dethatcher and spreader vs slit seeder? Classen v. Bluebird?

timil(IL - USDA 5)August 23, 2006

For a complete renovation when the existing lawn was already killed, and was very thin to begin with... The intent is to even out bumps and then reseed.

Is it better to use power rake (dethatcher) and broadcast spreader, or slit seeder?

In either case, I will also roll in the seed with a roller filled about half-way with water (more or less water?).

Also - Bluebird v. Classen?

Your thoughts?

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subywu(z5 neOH KBG)

I personally think you will get good results either way. Kudos for ensuring success with the roller. You kind of have to play it by ear to see how much water to fill but I don't think the hand powered rollers get very heavy. As long as the soil is somewhat damp, it should be easy for the roller to press the seeds in. I drove my riding mower in circles for over an hour as my rolling and the results were excellent.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2006 at 5:55PM
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wont the seed stick to the roller as you roll over it?

    Bookmark   August 23, 2006 at 7:58PM
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subywu(z5 neOH KBG)

Some will but not a whole lot. The seeds prefer the damp soil.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2006 at 8:13PM
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timil(IL - USDA 5)

Any other input? I'll be renting in 3 hours. As of now, it looks like I'll be using a Classen Power Rake w/ a broadcast spreader.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2006 at 1:18PM
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jcosgrove(z6a OH)

I rented a Bluebird power rake and it really smoothed out the bumps and loosened the top layer of soil. I think if you use a roller you'll be fine. I went ahead and did the slit seeder as well because last year the first grass to come up came out of the slits. If you haven't completely gotten rid of the old grass the power rake is going to leave lots of piles that you will have to get rid of before seeding where the slit seeder won't leave as much.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2006 at 1:29PM
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timil(IL - USDA 5)

Are you saying that the power rake pulls more up than the slit seeder (and is that a good thing)? Or, are you saying that the slit seeder buries more? Or, am I misunderstanding altogether?

    Bookmark   August 24, 2006 at 1:33PM
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Where are you renting the seeder from?

    Bookmark   August 24, 2006 at 1:34PM
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timil(IL - USDA 5)

The power rake would be from Home Depot, the Bluebird seeder would be from a rental place in town.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2006 at 1:42PM
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Why not the Classen from home Depot?

    Bookmark   August 24, 2006 at 1:44PM
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greenjeans_il(zone5 IL)

Forget the power rake if you are running the seeder. Just give the seeder a couple of dry runs. It will perform the same function. Mow it and bag it when you're done with the dry run. Then fill the seed hopper and plant away!!


    Bookmark   August 24, 2006 at 1:55PM
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timil(IL - USDA 5)

jolly, the power rake is a Classen power rake. Our HD doesn't rent any slit seeders. All the rental places only carry Bluebirds.

Greenjeans, in my other thread, I noted that "The grass I had wasn't great, but some areas were a bit thick. I'm concerned that not enough soil will be accessible in those spots." So, I'm still trying to figure out how to best get good soil contact.

I did mow the darn thing last night, bagging, and man did I get covered in dirt! I'll go over it with a seeder that pulls its own weight, but my mower kept bumping/stopping in small ruts - I will NOT mow again :).


    Bookmark   August 24, 2006 at 2:15PM
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jcosgrove(z6a OH)

Yes I am saying that the power rake pulls up more if you set it at the lowest level. I assume you are going to do that if you want to level your ground. It is a good thing because you expose and loosen a lot of soil, but it creates more grass to clean up afterwards. The slit seeder cuts better grooves for the seed to fall into and I believe they do better there beneath the surface. After last year I ran the slit seeder in 3 different directions rather than 2 since I had such good results in the slits.

I think if you are going to roller it the power rake generates enough loose soil everywhere that it should work just as well. My wife and I were paranoid without the slits in the ground that did so well the previous year and I did both.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2006 at 2:37PM
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greenjeans_il(zone5 IL)

A dethatcher is still a dethatcher, whether it's a power rake or a verticutter. They're both built to serve the same purpose: removing thatch and exposing the soil for the roots. What I'm pointing out is that a slit seeder is also a verticutter, but with a hopper to hold and dispense seed. I'm saying you can achieve the same results with one machine.
Run the seeder with no seed twice, or three times if needed, at its lowest setting. It'll remove the thatch and expose a lot of soil. Then you'll have to mow up all of the thatch that is left on the surface to clean the area. Then load the hopper and apply 1 1/2 times the recomended seeding application giving it three passes; horizontal, vertical and diagonal. It'll work!!!


    Bookmark   August 24, 2006 at 3:53PM
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jcosgrove(z6a OH)

I disagree that they are the same piece of equipment other than the seed dispenser. The Bluebird power rake that you can rent at Home Depot does not do the same thing the Bluebird slit seeder does to the ground. The power rake will expose all of the area underneath it while the slit seeder makes nice rows 1/8 of an inch deep.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2006 at 4:18PM
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timil(IL - USDA 5)

Thanks everyone! I will attempt to rent the Classen power rake today, and depending on what it does to the dirt, I may keep it and use my broadcast seeder. Otherwise, I will return it tomorrow and then rent the seeder to do that part of the job!

    Bookmark   August 24, 2006 at 4:33PM
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subywu(z5 neOH KBG)

Yeah, I just noticed on the bluebird website that the dethatcher is very close to the slit seeder and can use the same reels, but rental places most often have the flail blade reel on the dethatcher. I bet you that the dethatcher will kick up a lot more thatch than you bargained for. It may be wise to go over the turf with it a couple of times, bag the thatch, and then lower the blades for soil prepping.

Dethatcher blade reel (free-swinging flail blades)

Slit seeder blade reel

    Bookmark   August 24, 2006 at 4:46PM
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I've used a slit seeder several times. Blue Bird does not make a slit seeder. (they make a thing that flails at your lawn and dumps seed, but that is not a slit seeder.

Renting a true slit seeder is the absolute best way to overseed or reseed your lawn.

A slit seeder is a big machine that you walk behind and it comes with its own trailer and has about a 20hp engine on it. You wouldn't consider lifting it without at least 4 good sized guys. It is like a miniature farm implement, it slices rows in your soil (somewhat dethatching at the same time)discs splay the slices in the soil open, seed is dropped in and heavy steel rollers follow and seal the slit shut. Don't let the guys at HD tell you those 50lb Blue Birds are slit seeders.

There is only one rental place in our area that has one, so they are hard to come by. Here is a picture of one, I'm hoping websites aren't blocked.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2007 at 11:06PM
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This was discussed a lot before. The slit seeder you mentioned is very hard to control and it won't work well on an un-even lawn surface. You still have to cover the seeds.

Depends on your situation, people have success with most seeders, even with regular spreaders. The only thing you need to do is to make contact between the seeds and soil. Top dressing can add the success rate....

    Bookmark   May 22, 2007 at 11:17PM
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brian__c(Z5 NE IL)

How un-even are we talking to render a slit seeder problematic? I have slight bumpiness in my lawn, what I would say is average, and I was planning to do slit seeding this fall.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2007 at 12:51PM
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If the bumpness is more than 1/2", then you get problem. Although you can adjust the cutting depth, but the cut is unlikely go more than 1/2". So the low area won't get cut at all. But it still deposits seeds.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2007 at 1:02PM
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I am also in the process of Seeding my ugly old lawn, according to the Owners Manual of the Blue Bird, they have three types of blades, just rent the correct set, DELTA Blades, not the Flail or Spring type to achieve the thatcher one machine rental and it is a seeder i guess would do both.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2011 at 11:44AM
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