Thinking of planting a new lawn!

nancyjane_gardener(Zone 8ish North of San Francisco in the "real" wine country)November 8, 2013

I had a lovely lawn that was planted under a majestic Chinese elm that, unfortunately contracted Dutch elm disease about 5 years ago and had to be taken down (I almost sold my house that week!)
When the tree was taken down, they assured us that we could still have a lawn or plant whatever we wanted where the tree had been. NOT! Nothing has grown there since! Except gophers!
I'm thinking of bringing a few truckloads of soil to the area to try another lawn. Why, you might ask?
Cause I mowed the neighbor's lawn (they don't care much about taking care of their yard), sucked up a ton of their leaves and watched my compost pile steam and reduce about 8 inches in a couple of days! And OH the decomposing is making me all twittery! LOL
Makes me smile! Nancy

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Kimmsr(4a/5b-MI)

Before bringing any truckloads of soil take a good look at what you have because what you have might need just a good dose of organic matter. Most turf grasses need a soil that is as good as any vegetable or flower garden, a pH in the 6.0 to 7.0 range and balanced nutrient levels. The soil you go out and spend money on may not be any better than what is already there.

    Bookmark   November 9, 2013 at 6:42AM
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ericwi

I am guessing here, but it could be that the old Chinese elm stump was not ground out, so the soil layer is too thin to support grass or flowers. We had a Norway maple that was cut down after damage from a wind storm, and the stump was ground down a bit. Even so, the soil is only two or three inches deep in places, and so the grass I have planted there is spotty. However, we often see mushrooms over this spot in the warmer months, after heavy rains. So I know the remains of the tree stump are decomposing underground. Last month I had to add a wheelbarrow load of fresh dirt to the site, because the ground is slowly subsiding as the stump decays. I think that if you water the site of your elm stump periodically, you can accelerate the rate of decay.

    Bookmark   November 9, 2013 at 11:09AM
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nancyjane_gardener(Zone 8ish North of San Francisco in the "real" wine country)

ericwi- exactly! They ground it down, but only a few inches down!
kimmsr- I have hard clay. I wish I could remember the kind of grass seed I tossed out there before! It required very litle water and thrived in sun or shade! Nancy

    Bookmark   November 10, 2013 at 11:59AM
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Kimmsr(4a/5b-MI)

What that clay needs is organic matter, vegetative waste not more minerals. Whatever soil you buy, even really good "topsoil" will be mostly the mineral portion of soil. If you do find something like a mix of 45 percent sand, 25 percent clay, 25 percent silt, and 5 percent organic matter it is 95 percent mineral and you already have a lot of the clay minerals.

Here is a link that might be useful: About topsoil

    Bookmark   November 12, 2013 at 6:56AM
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nancyjane_gardener(Zone 8ish North of San Francisco in the "real" wine country)

The main thing kim, is that I really can't til in the area due to huge roots left by the old tree.
I'm not looking for a Sunset back yard, but just a nice small grassy area (maybe 25x50') in my non-landscaped back yard.
I would love to even out the yard (many gophers), plant a drought tolerant lawn (like I used to have before the tree went down) and just chill! Nancy

    Bookmark   November 12, 2013 at 9:38PM
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wertach zone 7-B SC

If it's been 5 years since the tree was cut down the left over stump and roots should be dry enough to burn.

I had a maple that I cut down. After 2 years I lit some charcoal and put it on top of the stump. It burned the stump and most of the roots. It smoked for days!

    Bookmark   November 14, 2013 at 2:36PM
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Kimmsr(4a/5b-MI)

Many places, today, ban the burning of tree stumps and roots because of the air pollution created. Fines around here start at $150.00 for doing that and you cannot get a permit anyway.

    Bookmark   November 15, 2013 at 6:19AM
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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

To plant grass, you do not need to do deep tilling. Grass roots are very shallow and requires just a few inches of loosened up soil. Then fertilize and water it as needed.

    Bookmark   November 16, 2013 at 6:30AM
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nancyjane_gardener(Zone 8ish North of San Francisco in the "real" wine country)

No can do on the burning! I don't have a tiller. I can get soil from the dump for cheap. Nancy

    Bookmark   November 16, 2013 at 11:36AM
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