I've got a lawn, about 50' x 70'. It's more than half weeds, despite
several years of half-hearted spraying and picking. The grade is
wrong; it slopes to the middle of the yard.
So basically I want to start anew. My intended course of action is to
flip over the lawn (after the fall) by shovel to a depth of 8" (so
that no weeds return). Then bring in topsoil and grade. Leave over the
winter for further settling. In the spring, fix any holes caused by
settling and then seed.
This is a major project, so I would really appreciate any suggestions.
I wouldn't leave it all winter without planting something, and that
something may as well be grass. You risk erosion if you leave it bare and I
can't think of any positive things that will come from a bare lawn. No
matter what you do, you will end up with some weeds. I'm not sure you need
to go down 8 inches, but its your lawn. I would kill off the grass with
Roundup, correct the grade, cultivate the surface slightly, seed, cover, and
keep moist. Fall is a good time in most areas, so you can start the prep in
late summer. Next spring, be sure to apply some pre-emergent herbicide
because there will be weed seeds that will germinate otherwise.
Roundup has to be applied to growing, green parts of plants to kill them.
If you spray the leaves of the hedge, it will probably kill the leaves and
MIGHT kill the hedge. Therefore, you have to be careful not to spray on
windy days and you have to be careful. I would shield the hedge with some
cardboard if there is a question. I won't kill things by from soil contact.
Always read the directions before using garden chemicals I would till the
entire area and rake to remove large clumps and stones. Then I would add
soil and level. You can LIGHTLY roll the area and then seed. As someone
mentioned, you can rent a sod cutter to removed the existing lawn and that
will eliminate the need for chemicals.
It might be a lot easier to remove the existing grass with a sod
cutter. This will remove the grass and any unsprouted weed seeds
on the surface, so you will end up with less weeds in the end.
Then prepare as you say, and plant in the fall so that the new
grass can build its roots over the winter.
You may be surprised at the amount of soil you'll need, and the amount of
work this is. A contractor with a bobcat and a dumptruck can probably do
the job in a couple of days and do it right, whereas if you are not 100%
sure of how to accomplish what you want, you risk damage to your home and
lawsuits for damages from neighbors because of incorrectly channeled runoff.
And, unless you are very young and fit, hand shoveling several cubic yards
of soil is an injury waiting to happen. It would be best to get a contractor
to come in and do the grade work, leaving the seeding to you.
First of all, you are talking about shoveling about 86 cubic yards of
soil. A monumental task. Even more so since the existing sod will resist
You don't want to leave the soil bare over the winter. I assume you're
in a place where there is a real winter and the soil will freeze,
otherwise you could just start a new grass crop in the winter. If the
ground freezes, you will eventually encounter mud season, where the top
layer of soil thaws but the bottom layer is still frozen. This leaves
water no place to go but horizontally, and it will take the soil with
it. You will lose your topsoil to the spring rains, or at least your
yard will be a classic exhibit of serious erosion.
The natural time to seed grass is in the fall. After all, the grasses
produce seed over the summer, so it drops to the ground in the fall.
Since grass likes fairly cool weather to get started, fall is the best
time to do it.
Don't expect a new lawn to be weed free. You have weeds now. They have
produced seeds. Just turning the soil over doesn't get rid of the seeds.
They are there, just waiting for good conditions to produce new weeds.
Turning over the top 8" of soil will not change the grade. If you want
to do that, you are talking about moving much more than 86 cubic yards
of soil (depending on just how bad the existing grade is).
Given the size of this project, I would seriously consider hiring
someone with (1) lawn starting experience and (2) the necessary
equipment. You won't save any money, but you will save your back.
Wow. Turning over 3500 square feet with a shovel sounds like an awful
lot of work just to make sure that weeds are gone. You could just as easily
use the chemical of your choice to kill everything, water for a week to see
if any seeds come up, then take care of that. Then add the topsoil,
prepare, and plant.
Don't get me wrong, if you want your yard tilled, by all means, till it -
but if it were me, I'd at least rent a tiller, I wouldn't do it with the
I think you'll be badly disappointed in the results. Depending on your
feeling about glyphosate vs. organic solutions, what I'd do is nuke the
current lawn, either with a Roundup clone or by solarizing. The solarization,
if done properly, will reduce the number of viable weed seeds in the soil,
while the Roundup or similar won't.
ST_Solar.asp?poe=homestore (mind the wrap) or http://tinyurl.com/5oyv3
Hire someone with the proper equipment to till and regrade this fall, then
reseed promptly. You don't want to leave the soil uncovered for the winter,
and fall is the best time to replant grass in most of North America. By late
spring, you should have a fairly thick lawn, ready for first mowing.
Some information on soil seed banks (which is what you're dealing with):
ycle/seedbank.html#Seedbank%20Size%20and%20Quality (mind the wrap)
or http://tinyurl.com/3zfsw and:
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