Return to the Lawn Care Forum | Post a Follow-Up

 o
Level a VERY lumpy yard

Posted by desert-lawn 7 (My Page) on
Thu, Feb 19, 09 at 9:56

My yard is approx. 20' X 65' and very lumpy. A typical top dressing schedule will take years to correct the lumps and there are too many spots to scrape off the grass, and fill in the whole, then replace the grass.

My seed, Princess 77, didn't take too well in the back yard since I didn't move into the house until late summer and didn't have time for the yard to establish. So I don't mind re-seeding this year.

I can't really use a box scraper because there are lots of small rocks just under the surface that will wind up coming up.

I was wondering if there is anything I can rent that has a whole for dirt to come out, but a scraper on the back too so I can fill it with dirt and let it come out as much as it needs to, then the blade scoop up the excess so I can make it perfectly level, with a slight drainage grade of course.

Any suggestions?


Follow-Up Postings:

 o
RE: Level a VERY lumpy yard

instead of using a drag box to level what you currently have, order a few loads of topsoil and drag that out over it.


 o
RE: Level a VERY lumpy yard

There are lawn rollers out there too.


 o
RE: Level a VERY lumpy yard

Where do you live? West Texas is a big place. Suggestions for a lawn in Dumas might be different than for a lawn in Presidio. What kind of soil do you have?

Did you prepare the soil or did you just seed it? If you prepared it, what did you do?

You can make a drag out of a 6-foot square of chain link fence. Wire it to a 2x4 about 6 feet long (max), tie a 12-foot rope to both ends of the 2x4 to pull the drag, and put some weight on it. Pull that around the yard until the tops of the lumps are scraped off and fill in the bottoms. Then water it to settle the soft dirt you just scraped off. Let it dry and drag again followed by more water. Continue dragging and watering until you are happy with the level.

I would not bother reseeding. The bermuda should spread and fill in.


 o
RE: Level a VERY lumpy yard

Thank you all for your responses. I think I will try a hybrid of all your responses.

To answer Dchall, I live in Odessa, TX. I sent off a soil sample to Texas A&M University and told them I would be using Princess 77. They made recommendations about exactly what to use and how much. This way I could prepare my soil to have the optimum nutrition for princess 77. I had, by far, the best looking grass in the neighborhood. Just the lawn was lumpy and some areas, due to washout from the freak monsoon we had, that were patchy.

I want a really dense yard, so I think I will top dress the yard with new soil from the same place my original soil came from. I will fertilize it the same way I fertilized my soil the first time, then I will use the chain link fence drag. Then, when it is level, I will do some extra seeding and use a lawn roller to cover the seen and give the lawn a good smooth finish.

Should do this late April/early May. I will post before, during, and after pics.


 o
RE: Level a VERY lumpy yard

Won't be sand be easier to smooth out? You could just get a load of shard sand (masonry sand) and smooth it out with chain link that dchall suggested? I would think it'd be a lot faster.

Also, are you aware that 77 bermuda is not exactly that cold hardy? You may get winter kill so if you want to fix that issue, look at Yukon and Rivera. Same quality with better cold tolerance.


 o
RE: Level a VERY lumpy yard

My grass seems to have done fine this winter. I'll keep a close eye on it though. Thanks for the tip.

Do you think Shard Sand will really work for me? I've heard mixed reviews on what to top dress with. I just figured the same dirt that I had in the first place would at least be a sure bet. But if sand is doable, I'd rather do that.

I also plan on putting a net in my back yard and hitting golf balls into it. I was hopping I could fill the divets with sand like I do at the range. What do you think about that, just top dress with sand and get a little extra for my practice area?


 o
RE: Level a VERY lumpy yard

Someone had done that but with regular sand like beach sand. The idea behind shard sand is that they stay in place better than beach sand. You would have to do a search for it in this forum to see what he had done.


 o
RE: Level a VERY lumpy yard

Ok, I'll look for it. Thanks you.


 o
RE: Level a VERY lumpy yard

Found it but unfortunately, pictures were removed.

Here is a link that might be useful: smoothing out lawn


 o
RE: Level a VERY lumpy yard

Thanks for the link, that is an awesome thread. I will be referring to that a lot until this project is done.

I noticed though that there is still a little bit of debate about the type of sand to use. What if I try to buy some from a local golf course? I'll ask their groundsman what his opinion of that is.

thanks for yalls help.


 o
RE: Level a VERY lumpy yard

To tell you the truth, I don't really know. Maybe if it's only half inch, one inch, it probably doesn't matter. Whatever is the cheapest for you.


 o
RE: Level a VERY lumpy yard

Debate about sand? What could be simpler than sand??? Bwahahahahaha!

Use the sand your local guy suggests. (it's going to be sharp sand, I know)

And read and reread and reread that post as often as you can. That guy really did a great job. I want to write up an article on his technique but he's a busy guy. If you are willing to take a lot of pictures I would like to collaborate on an article. Take a lot more pictures than you think you need.


 o
RE: Level a VERY lumpy yard

I wish that one thread still had pictures to see how a covered lawn recovered and was able tio be leveled. All the pictures are dead links.


 o
RE: Level a VERY lumpy yard

Agreed. I can tell you it looked like sand. He scalped the bermuda very low. When you apply sand over top of that it looks like sand.

I think the key to his success was fertilizing the grass first and gradually lowering the height so it wasn't such an abusive clip to lower it that last time. Otherwise I've seen even bermuda smothered with too much topdressing. But his was so short that any growth at all had to penetrate the sand.

After that it was just the back breaking labor to spread, level, water, and repeat until he got it level.


 o
RE: Level a VERY lumpy yard

" * Posted by pkapeckopickldpepprz z9 a/b FL (My Page) on
Sun, Mar 1, 09 at 18:47

I wish that one thread still had pictures to see how a covered lawn recovered and was able tio be leveled. All the pictures are dead links."

You can copy and paste the links, it works just fine.


 o
RE: Level a VERY lumpy yard

Thanks for going the extra step, gaterinfla. Yup! Those are the pix.

You can see his low spots in the center of the yard and at the edges. Out by the street the soil and grass were down an inch below the curb. You can see how he used a long, straight, 2x4 to level the sand against the curb. I'd like to reemphasize that you have to water the sand to settle it, add more sand, relevel, and rewater until the surface is as smooth as you want it. Otherwise the sand will settle later on and give you a contour that you didn't want.

In the after pictures, elsewhere in his photo journal, you can see the excellent results after a few months and again after a year.

One more thing I forgot to mention above, he did this job in the summer when the bermuda, a warm season grass, was growing well. It is important that the underlying grass be as healthy as possible and thriving if you are going to cover it up and smother it with sand.


 o
RE: Level a VERY lumpy yard

In ProudX's photo gallery it is odd the last 2 pics show one at October 10th and there are noticeable bare spots and then less than a week later they are covered? I have had plugs of Celebration Bermuda planted about 2 months already and while a nice green color they haven't spread all that much if at all. When do they start actively spreading?


 o
RE: Level a VERY lumpy yard cc

Here is a picture of his lawn on 10-05-07


Here is a picture of his lawn on 10-10-07 a mere 5 days later


How is this type of coverage possible in only 5 days? I don't buy it.


 o
RE: Level a VERY lumpy yard

I have had plugs of Celebration Bermuda planted about 2 months already and while a nice green color they haven't spread all that much if at all. When do they start actively spreading?

July. Bermuda REALLY is a hot weather grass. When your night time temps and soil get up to the high 70s, then it takes off. Proud did his renovation in August when the grass was peaking. You should have a pretty good lawn by Memorial Day.


 o
I forgot

I forgot to agree with you, pkapeckopickldpepprz. Something is wrong with those photo dates. Clearly they are before and after pix, though. His results are fantastic despite my fairly severe criticism of his methods up front. He knew the tricks and I didn't. But I do now!! And you do too.


 o
RE: Level a VERY lumpy yard

One question though, is builder's sand the same thing as masons sand? I found one bag of sand a few years ago that was yellow in color and was quite coarse which I used in my potting mixes. Wouldn't this be preferable to the sand that is native here which is the kind that shifts underfoot, especially when dry.


 o
RE: Level a VERY lumpy yard

Wow. The link to proudx's thread is just what I was looking for. If I can find the time, money, and motivation, I might actually go about trying that this summer once the bermuda kicks in. Wait, that should be next week...

One question I have though - we overseed with Ryegrass ever fall. WOuld amending with sand like proudx did hurt the changes of the rye germinating?


 o
RE: Level a VERY lumpy yard

The two distinctions in kinds of sand are rounded (like you see at the ocean or river) and faceted, for lack of a better word. Rounded sand is like tiny round pea gravel. It slips all over itself and never locks into place. The faceted sand is like chipped rocks. When the flat faces line up, the particles lock into place and do not shift around. I've seen chipped pea gravel parking lots that were tamped down with a vibrator into a very firm surface.

Whether using one or the other makes a difference is what the sand discussions are about. Sand used in all construction is usually faceted and childrens' play sand is usually rounded particles.

Rye grass should germinate in sand just as well as anything else. The question then would be why do you overseed with rye? I know the answer is you want to continue watering, mowing, and fertilizing all winter. One issue with rye is that the tall rye provides enough shade to delay the spring growth of bermuda. Some people have more of a problem with that than others.


 o
RE: Level a VERY lumpy yard

I haven't logged on in a few days. This thread is really growing. To respond to dchall, I will take lots of photos and we can collaborate to help you with an article. My wife is a professional digital photographer so I can have her shoot my progress.

My Princess is coming up nicely already, hopefully we continue this warm weather here in Odessa and I can maybe start on this project in mid to late May.

A few thoughts I'd like yalls opinion on:
1. I planted my seed last season, is it strong enough to handle more than a half inch of top dressing?

2. I'm planning on over seeding anyway. Should I level the yard, then plant my seed in the sand? Seems like it might not take in the sand. I will fertilize but don't know if that's enough.

3. I have some big lumps (2 inches lower than rest of yard. I was thinking about filling those in with top soil and reseeding as soon as soil temps average 70 degrees. Then wait until July or August to level off the yard with the sand. If I can level it all with sand, in late May, and grow some extra seed too, that would be best.

What do yall think is the best plan of attack?


 o
RE:dchall_san_antonio

Do you pull the drag around manually or do you need a tractor? My hard isn't that big. It's Bermuda


 o
RE: Level a VERY lumpy yard

Manually.


 o
RE: Level a VERY lumpy yard

A few thoughts I'd like yalls opinion on:
1. I planted my seed last season, is it strong enough to handle more than a half inch of top dressing?

With good care, yes.

2. I'm planning on over seeding anyway. Should I level the yard, then plant my seed in the sand? Seems like it might not take in the sand. I will fertilize but don't know if that's enough.

If your bermuda is alive, there should be no question that more seed is not needed. Is there a reason to think it might need more seed?

3. I have some big lumps (2 inches lower than rest of yard. I was thinking about filling those in with top soil and reseeding as soon as soil temps average 70 degrees. Then wait until July or August to level off the yard with the sand. If I can level it all with sand, in late May, and grow some extra seed too, that would be best.

For the deep holes you could start filling them now. By July you should have dense grass on top.

Regarding David Proud's photos that seem to show the grass growing extraordinarily fast in one week, those pictures were taken two weeks apart, not one. The first picture shows a couple runners growing across the sand. The second one shows a very uniform looking lawn. What I've seen happen to make such a remarkable change is a lot of grass was right under the sand waiting to 'pop.' I had an area where I planted zoysia that did the exact same thing. In two weeks it went from mulch to turf. Another aspect that makes a difference is photographing down at the grass versus looking across the grass.


 o
RE: Level a VERY lumpy yard

  • Posted by jangell Zone 8 Seattle WA (My Page) on
    Sat, Apr 11, 09 at 17:31

Can anyone give me there thoughts on doing this type of project in Se3attle, WA. I have a nice lawn but the lumps are klling me.

My lawn is a mix of:
39% Fescue
19% ryegrass
19% red Fescue
10% KBG
9% Ryegrass

I'd also like a reccomendaiton on what I might use seed wise in a couple of shady area. Any help would be great.


 o
RE: Level a VERY lumpy yard

I live west of Seattle im curious on this information as well.
Jangell anywhere local that you get your seed, as i have a lot of planting to do.
Thanks


 o
RE: Level a VERY lumpy yard

Regarding doing this in Seattle: your grass will be growing the fastest in a day or two, more or less. If you plan like crazy tonight and put out some fertilizer, you might be able to do it in the spring exactly like proudx did it in bermuda in the summer. Mow it very short while the grass is growing fast and it should grow out of the sand. The trick is to do it when the grass is sure to grow out of the sand without smothering. Of course while you have the sand down, you could put seed in too if you were antsy about the grass not pulling through the process.


 o
RE: Level a VERY lumpy yard

I'm going to bump this article since I'm planning on making my first move this weekend. Temps are supposed to be in the hundreds next week with lows in the upper 60's low 70's.

I'm not going to do the entire yard yet. Just some areas that are really low, I'm going to try to bring those up a little bit until mid to late July so I don't have to dump 2 inches of sand on the really low spots all at once. I'll build it up a quarter inch at a time.


 o Post a Follow-Up

Please Note: Only registered members are able to post messages to this forum.

    If you are a member, please log in.

    If you aren't yet a member, join now!


Return to the Lawn Care Forum

Information about Posting

  • You must be logged in to post a message. Once you are logged in, a posting window will appear at the bottom of the messages. If you are not a member, please register for an account.
  • Posting is a two-step process. Once you have composed your message, you will be taken to the preview page. You will then have a chance to review your post, make changes and upload photos.
  • After posting your message, you may need to refresh the forum page in order to see it.
  • Before posting copyrighted material, please read about Copyright and Fair Use.
  • We have a strict no-advertising policy!
  • If you would like to practice posting or uploading photos, please visit our Test forum.
  • If you need assistance, please Contact Us and we will be happy to help.


Learn more about in-text links on this page here