Please evaluate my grass planting plan.

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I have an area behind my chicken coop where pine trees used to grow.
The area is in partial shade (eastern part of the house)
This is agricultural zone 5 (Northrn Illinois)
We cut those trees down and removed stumps, and planted 4 fruit trees.
We want to plant grass lawn in the area. Most of the area is barren, but there is some weed type growth on one side.
My plan is:
1. Kill weeds with ROUNDUP. Wait 2 days.
2. Rent a TILLER and TILL the area, and level it (it is uneven).
3. Sprinkle a layer of TOPSOIL
4. Spread high quality SEED
5. Sprinkle more TOPSOIL
6. WATER the area on a 3x Daily basis for 1 month
Is this sensible?
i
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Go for it. I dont think your an ignoramous. If theres no shade, then youll have to water the heck out of it though.
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<< My plan is: 1. Kill weeds with ROUNDUP. Wait 2 days. >>
Don't bother. Roundup is way too pricey for what you need to do. If you absolutely have to waste you money on chemicals, use 2,4,D.
<< 2. Rent a TILLER and TILL the area, and level it (it is uneven). >>
Most people would do this first and skip the chemicals entirely.
<< 3. Sprinkle a layer of TOPSOIL >>
Either get a lot of topsoil or skip this step. To be effective, you would probably need a 3" depth and using common numbers, a cubic yard is roughly a ton of soil which ought to cover maybe a 10' x 10' area. YMMV.
<< 4. Spread high quality SEED >>
Once you've got a decent topsoil bed, this could be an option. But consider using sod if the area isn't too large. Prices at our local box stores and nurseries are good this time of year and contractors are scarfing up the stuff for their develoments, so it must be cost effective.
<< 5. Sprinkle more TOPSOIL >>
See above.
<< 6. WATER the area on a 3x Daily basis for 1 month >>
Following the directions for sod installation will dramatically lessen your need for this step. Whatever, good luck.
Joe
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I already have roundup at home... So your comment, while possibly very wise, does not apply.

Okay, so at least that's a good idea to till.

No, I just want to add maybe 1/2" of topsoil for the seeds to start growing. The soil in the area is tolerable and I do not want to really build up, all I want is to provide nice environment for the baby seedlings, so to speak.

The area is about 20x45 feet, pretty large. I am however, very open to the idea of using sod, but it is a bit too much hard work, it seems.

Someone in the biz told me that if I use SOD, I have to "flood" it with water even more, according to him.
i
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Ignoramus,
You have a plan but have no basis for a plan. No one here knows what you soil conditions are so no one can give you good advice. Let's go through your questions:

The directions on the bottle should be followed.

After a soil test and the addition of any needed chemicals or fertilizers tilling and leveling is ok

This makes no sense unless the soil test suggests that you have no top soil

This is correct but when will you do this? Now may not be a good time for planting in your area

No, this doesn't make sense

This sounds like too much watering.
There should be a local office of your State's ag extension service. Call them and get expert advice suited to your soil and your climate. They'll probably test your soil for free but now is the busy season so don't expect your test results anytime soon.
Good luck, Dave M.
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wrote:

thanks.
Sounds like a huge hassle, the soil looks okay to me, why should Itest it? It looks like all other soil in my yard, and Iknow that grass grows there.

thanks, appreciate that.

What is a good time?
To be honest, I also suspect that it is not a good time, but will appreciate some more detail about what is a good time and why now is not a good time (need to explain this to WIFE).

Why, I need to hide the seeds from birds...

that's what the instructions on the seed say.

Thanks, will check it out... Is it by state or county?
i
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<snip>>

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I do not understand how it work. I plant in the fall, the seedlings grow, and then it all freezes? Or will it all simply wait for the spring? When do I plant in the fall? Late or early?
i

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Ignoramus32760 wrote:

Grass grows in cool weather goes dormant in heat of summer planting in fall is best the roots keep growing after the grass slows down and starts before the grass next spring early anytime after the heat of summer is gone
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["Followup-To:" header set to alt.home.repair.]

I don't know your area that well, but you might want to check the ph and put down lime, if necessary.
dv
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This won't kill the weed seeds. If it's legal where you are, you could rent a weed burner.

You could add a starter fertilizer at this point. Rent a "seeding?" rake to aid smoothing the ground. It's a very wide rake.

I'd probably skip this step.

Or, rake the seed in

Sprinkle 3x a day. Just enough to keep it wet. Deep watering probably won't help at this point. When the seed has sprouted, reduce the frequency and increase the amount.

Fall is the best time to plant.
Bob
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thanks!
i
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Ignoramus32760 wrote:

I would skip the herbicides. Rototilling will uproot the weeds and you can rake them out and toss them in a compost pile.

This may not be necessary, depending on your soil test, above. I do like to add organic matter, such as peat moss, during the rototilling.

Before seeding, you want to make sure the surface is smooth and somewhat compacted. Rake for smoothness, then rent a roller to compact it. If you don't get it fairly compacted at this stage, you will have to later deal with lumps and holes that develop. Don't ask me how I know this.

A lot of people use straw (not hay; hay has seeds in it) to cover the new seed and protect it from birds. The grass grows right through the straw. A smart bird won't let this stop him, though. A far better method is cheesecloth, or the plastic equivalent. The fabric has to let air and water and light through, so it can't be plastic sheeting. I staked mine down with stakes I made from old coat hangars. Take up the cheesecloth once you have seedlings.

This seems excessive. I would start out at twice a day, early morning and noon, and adjust as necessary. You want the soil damp, but not standing water.
Take your time on this. The growing season is the spring or fall. Its too late for spring. Seed in the early fall, say early September; the grass will grow even under snow, and you will have a pleasant surprise in the spring.

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Just some musings from my 30 years of trying to grow a lawn in Woodstock, IL. 1) Use the Round up, allow 7 days before seeding(per instructions). What you want to do is kill off the weed grasses. Quack grass is next to impossible to root out by hand. Broad leaf weeds are very easy to kill with 24D (Ortho weedbgone, Spectracide, others) but won't touch the weed grasses.
2) Get the soil tested and the amendments added while rototilling. You can skip the amendments but when you end up with a scraggly lawn, you'll never know what went wrong. Now having said that, I should practise what I preach. I have never done it. Why was the area barren? Good soil should be sprouting green things all over the place.
3) I prefer a good turf type tall fesque seed. Pro's: deeper root system to withstand our summers better, requires less fertilizer. Con's: browns out a bit more than bluegrass in our winters. But readily turns green in the spring, grows a bit faster than kentucky blue. . Grasses come in various widths. Decide if you want a course, medium or fine bladed lawn. Fine blades (original kentucky blue) matt down easily, course blades are like walking on razor blades (Kentucky 31 fesque). THere are numerous medium bladed cultivars in both fesque and bluegrass. Also don't forget pereninial rye glass. Some people mix all three. If you have a slope consider mixing in some annual ryegrass. It sprouts in 3 days and will hold the dirt untill the good seeds can sprout (called quick and thick). It will die off over the winter leaving just the good seed. Buy a cultivar for partial shade
4) Spring and fall are the desireable times to grow grass in the chicago area. The sun is less direct and the soil stays moist longer. Also there is less competition from weed seeds. I prefer the week before labor day to do my work. The warm days and cool nights are ideal for germination.
5) Grass needs sunlight to germinate. Covering it with topsoil will just cause it to rot. Spread your seed over the rototilled dirt and then gently r ake it in. You want the seed in contact with the soil but not buried in it.
6) Covering with straw is good. Keeps the rain from washing your dirt and seed away. Does nothing for the birds. Mice also like to eat grass seed. If your up for an experiment, cover a patch of seed with a newspaper page(weighted down with rocks in the corners). You'll find it sprouts about twice as fast as uncovered seed.
7) I usually water twice a day (in the evening and morning). With the less direct sun , that shouild be suffiecient for germination.
8) Put the correct amount of seed down. If you put down too much seed, it will suck the nutrients out of the soil and die. Newly sprouted seed doesn't have the root system to get nutrients elsewhere. (thats really the reason you should do the amendments to the soil when you start.) Follow up with a good starter fertilizer shortly after germination if you skip the amendments. IF your newly sprouted seed starts to yellow, get out the starter fertilizer ASAP.
9) I dislike sod. I find that sodded lawns are more prone to drought damage and thatch. I have never had to detatch a seed lawn
Good luck to you. I hope my comments made sense.

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thanks, great post, I filed it for reference.
i

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Ignoramus32760 wrote:

Roundup is supposed to stick around for up to a year. If you really want to plant here, it may not be the best choice. Unless you have a huge stand of dandelions (and they're past their prime season already), say, or something nasty and kill-resistant, I wouldn't bother. Roundup is better used those places you don't want to plant, or won't at least until fall.

Decent idea. The weeds will become mulch for your new lawn, even if you don't zap them, and you can spot-treat wherever it manages to survive. Most won't.

Optional. What is there is probably fine, it just needs breaking up, after being weedy and tamped down for so long.
You may also want to consider a "starter" type of fertilizer at this step.
Some people swear by the pH testing step, but I don't think it's strictly necessary. Look around you; if the adjacent soil is growing a decent lawn, you probably have nothing to worry about.

Make sure it's a shade-resistant variety that will thrive once the fruit trees grow up.

Optional, again. The usual is to gently use a garden rake to till the seeds into the topmost layer of soil.

A bit excessive. Don't overwater, but don't let the soil dry out, either. Even though it's summer you'll get some grass, and the yard will look a little nicer by then. You'll want to overseed in the fall and you can expect second-year growth to be much more robust.

Sure. It isn't rocket science; mainly growing grass requires attention, timing, patience, and diligence. When you're done, you feel a real sense of ownership -- that grass is YOURS, damnit.
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I think you have roundup confused with something else.
Bob
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On 4 Jun 2004 14:01:42 GMT, Ignoramus32760

Wait at least 10 days after the RoundUp application. Remove rocks and stones. Spread chicken manure over the area before tilling it. Wait one week after tilling to allow the soil "to rest." After seeding, use a bow rake and *lightly* rake the seed. Apply a Starter fertilizer--this won't burn the seedling's like regular fertilizers. Cover the area with straw (not hay!) to protect the seed (from birds and drying out). Water every other day, being careful not to let the area wash, particularly if it is not flat land. Mow high and often after the grass is 3" high.
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"Ignoramus32760" wrote in message

No need for round-up, once you have grass growing, a thick yard will choke the weeds out. Till the ground, seed, lightly rake seed in, straw to keep birds out & more important the straw holds moisture. Do not water 3x a day, you will rot the seed. As another poster suggested, water every other day. Do not rake the straw out, it will compost or the birds will take some of it for nesting. Wait till the grass has rooted b/4 mowing, otherwise you will tear the grass out. I suggest looking into a 50/50 mix for seed.
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This is Turtle.
When ever a bunch of pine Trees have been growing in a area. The ground will become very high level of acid in the ground. Very few plants or grass will grow under a pine tree because of the high acid level of the dirty. To get the high level of acid down. You can put burnt ashes of fire wood or lime down and then till it up to kill the acid level. Get the acid level down and things will start to grow there or wait about 20 years and the acid will dissovle by it'self. Very rarely will you see a lot of brush or green grass under a bunch of pine trees.
TURTLE
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