#1
Old 11-15-2001, 09:12 AM
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My back lawn is very hard and bumpy. What should I do to try to even it out? I'm not looking for a quick fix. I core-aerated about 2 years ago. Figured I need to do it more often and will do it this weekend. But how do I even it out? Top dressing? Rolling?

(BTW - can you read that thread title without a Beatles tune coming to mind?)
#2
Old 11-15-2001, 09:29 AM
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Location: Netherfield Park
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Though I could ask you a dozen opening questions, here's my answer based on my experience: There are two general paths, glacial and overnight. (If you are truly discriminating, you will never be entirely satisfied with option A.) If I may say so, my lawn is probably one of the nicest I have ever seen--an emerald carpet that is soft as velvet. (Almost.)

For the slow approach, continue top dressing, aerating, and fertilizing. Over many years, you should notice a big improvement. The final results of course depend on soil type, drainage, slope, climate, how often you water, etc. From what you describe, it sounds like you live in a relatively new housing development where the developer/builder stripped off much of the top soil. If so, you really need to add a good 2-3 inches of prime topsoil for great turf.

Yes, some people use rollers to flatten the soil, but they actually defeat your intent of allowing the turf to breathe better.

The overnight method?If you want the bumps to completely disappear and you dream of a beautiful, soft lawn that can withstand scorching summers fairly well, I would kill off the existing grass, have a landscaper deliver 15-20 cubic yards of screened topsoil (depending on yard size), smooth it out real well, fertilize it, then cover it with a quality sod and water as needed.

Yes, this may be more money and effort than you want to expend, but the results will be incredible and you will have a 10-year jump start.
#3
Old 11-15-2001, 09:49 AM
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Location: The High Plains
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How bumpy is "bumpy"?

If nightcrawlers (large earthworms) are causing bumps then you are fighting a losing battle. As they make their holes and do their earthworm thing, they make bumps on the surface of the ground.
#4
Old 11-15-2001, 09:58 AM
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Hey squire, didn't want to burden folks w/ too much info up front, but ask any questions you want, and I'll do my best to respond.
Not a new development. House is approx 30 yrs old. West of Chicago.
Moreover, it was a fill-in between 2 substantially older homes. It has awesome soil (the envy of many of my gardening friends). I like to garden, but don't have much use for grass. Basically consider it a necessary evil for the dog and rugrats to run around on.
When we moved in 5 years ago, there were about 20 mature trees in the back yard, surrounding the central grass portion. Most were low quality - mulberries, silver maples, box elders. We have taken down a couple of trees, as well as adding a couple of species which we prefer.
But in short, the yard was full shade, now it is partial shade.
The grass was always on the thin side. It also has a green nylon net type fabric underlaying much of it.
We also had a swingset up until this past summer. So there are some depressions where the swings and slide were. There also are many shallow roots - some for trees that no longer exist..
Finally, we have an underground sump discharge which has some leaks and will need to be replaced. Where it leaks, water percolates up through the soil, and creates depressions.
As for your additional questions, lawn slopes away from the back of the house - tends to retain water way in the back following heavy storms. I try to avoid watering whenever possible - it costs an arm and a leg. I spend my effort (and my water dollars) on my trees and perennials.
I don't really care for a velvety lush lawn. I'd just like something that feels somewhat softer than concrete, and where I will not be in danger of turning my ankle crossing it.
How often should I core aerate? How often do I topdress? With what and how much?
#5
Old 11-15-2001, 10:00 AM
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Shoulda previewed Mr. D. Not earthworm bumpy. Twist your ankle bumpy. Ranging from small knobs to larger depressions. And we have tons of worms.
#6
Old 11-15-2001, 12:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by Dinsdale
It has awesome soil (the envy of many of my gardening friends). I like to garden, but don't have much use for grass...Basically consider it a necessary evil for the dog and rugrats to run around on...But in short, the yard was full shade, now it is partial shade...The grass was always on the thin side. It also has a green nylon net type fabric underlaying much of it...So there are some depressions where the swings and slide were. There also are many shallow roots - some for trees that no longer exist...I don't really care for a velvety lush lawn. I'd just like something that feels somewhat softer than concrete, and where I will not be in danger of turning my ankle crossing it.How often should I core aerate? How often do I topdress? With what and how much? [/B]
Okay, here's what I would do. First, visit the grounds of my house, next talk to my gardener...

Seriously, first I would buy two cases of beer. Second, have someone deliver 10-15 cubic yards of screened topsoil. Get it from an excavation company. Third, invite family/friends over and cover the entire lawn with a minimum five inches of soil, smoothing out any depressions. (Remember: the topsoil will compact over time. Don't skimp on the topsoil.) If you don't want to lay down, say, $500-$800 for quality sod, consider sowing seed in spring, though sod is definitely the way to go, as if avoids having to aerate which, by the way, is usually done annually and takes a few years to really turn things around.

Your lawn is old. It's been trampled flat. You need to aerate it--NOW. Rent a machine for $45. But Beware--it weighs about 150.

If you go the seed route, make sure the seed is suited for shady areas. Top dressing is usually done annually and then, only a 1/2 to 1 1/2-inches at a time. Again, this is the glacial route. If you aerate, aerate the hell out of the lawn. Go one way, then the other, then another till it looks like the surface of the Moon. Although this will hurt the existing grass, you can follow it up with seed and straw. (Yes, in some areas, you can actually overseed this late in the year. Remember to water and expect slow results. Repeat in spring.) In fact, if your lawn will tolerate it, you can skip the aerator and just rent a power seeder, which allows you to aerate (kinda) and broadcast seed at the same time.

BTW--and you cannot believe how some folks don't realize this--nothing adds pizzazz to a ho-hum lawn quite like strategically placed berms or raised beds--edged with stacked stones/stone blocks--in which you place your perennials/shrubs. Elevate your showpieces and you will dazzle your guests. Sound difficult? Isn't. Just dump about 16 inches of tamped, contoured topsoil into nicely shaped piles (at least 10 feet in diameter) and then outline them with stone or stone blocks and finally dress the bed with a nice edge.

The time to aerate is this weekend. And get a good microbrew, fer cryin' out loud.
#7
Old 11-15-2001, 12:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by Dinsdale
My back lawn is very hard and bumpy. What should I do to try to even it out? But how do I even it out? Top dressing? Rolling?
To connect the dots in my post above, you cannot "even out" a seriously bumpy lawn without resorting to (A) bringing in new topsoil--and lots of it or (B) by having an oaf with a skid loader (Bobcat) tear it up and then you clean up the damage with lots of follow-up shovel work.

Top dressing is not the solution to your problem. To fill in cavities and cover up tree roots, go with the top soil option I outlined. Think deep. If you do it right, aerating is unnecessary. Afterward, you will either have to re-seed your lawn or get sod. It's getting late in the year for either in Chicago.
#8
Old 11-15-2001, 12:59 PM
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Man, I hope someone else chimes in so I have another option than the one you present squire (except for the brew - I'll pick up a couple of growlers at the local brewery in town!)

I was at a lawn care site and they suggested cutting the sod and adding soil to raise depressions, and removing soil to lower bumps. Why do I suspect that that way I'd just end up with a really uneven corrugated effect? More littler bumps.

Another site also said this might be too late for aeration - said it should be done only when the grass was vigorously growing. I'm not sure why it would hurt when the grass is close to going dormant, especially given my needs.

Back to the beer - many folk also recommended applying suds to the lawn through a hose-end sprayer. Sounds like a wast of perfectly good beer to me. I can just imagine the wife. "Dinsdale - you sure seem to be going through a lot of beer. But doesn't the lawn look good!"

I don't mind the glacial route. I'm not moving anywhere soon, and I don't need to used the lawn for a putting green. Meanwhile, I have 3 kids and a dog tearing up whatever I do to it.

Thanks for the feedback, tho.
#9
Old 11-15-2001, 01:25 PM
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Uneven bumpy soil resolution:

Lots of top soil, then some hard work and lots of top soil.

Ain't no magical way to do it. Small dozers can be rented for the do-it-yourselfers, and soil can be delivered.

You are better off grading over the existing ground and grass (alot will find it's way through the new layer and will sprout).

Talk to the folks that sell the soil to determine the amount you need to grade over the average depth of the depressions in your lawn with your lawn size.

This is NOT the time to do it. You fall window of opportunity passed. Early to mid-fall was your best time, follwed closely by earkly spring. You will shock the lawn and you will need to overseed.

Pick a quality turf type tall fescue blend and use a starter fertilizer. Then, only fertilize in spring and fall.

Red flag anyone who pops in and disagrees with me. We can grind them up for fertilizer. I'm not "guessing" about this fix.
#10
Old 11-15-2001, 06:50 PM
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What I would do is get a sod cutter. Its a big machine, slice off a couple inches deep or more of sod. Make the resulting soil even & re-sod..
#11
Old 11-15-2001, 10:50 PM
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What I would do is save my money and forget about the lawn. You are not going to have a beautiful lawn if you've got 3 kids and a dog running around on it. Just forget it until you retire, the kids are gone, the dog is lame, and you have plenty of time.

The most I would do is aerate regularly once or twice a year and toss some top soil and seed (or some sod) on the low spots. But as long as you've got kids and a dog tearing up the grass and, more importantly, compacting the soil, you are not going to have a beautiful lawn.

If you decide you really need a beautiful lawn, I'd go with the topsoil and seed but, remember, you can't let your kids or the dog run on the freshly seeded, thick layer of topsoil until the lawn is really well established which, given your lack of sun, will be when you retire, the kids are gone, the dog is lame, etc.
#12
Old 11-16-2001, 09:04 AM
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Yeah - a man after my own heart. I consider the pursuit of a perfect lawn (espoecially with kids and dog) to be a major waste of time, labor, money, and chemicals.

For the topdressing, I figure I'll probably have to have a couple of yards of topsoil delivered. Those 40# bags seem heavy hauling them in and out of your car, but their contents disappear pretty quickly when you start to spread it.

I figure the topdressing should pretty much be an all growing-season project next spring and summer. Apply a little at a time. Maybe a beavier layer with some seed added in the spring.

See, I knew if I waited long enough someone would come along with the answer I wanted to hear. Who needs information when they can have affirmation?!
#13
Old 11-16-2001, 09:10 AM
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Now I have a tune going through my head.

The hard and bump-y lawn
Tha-a-at leads to your door


Thanks.
__________________
Did you see that ludicrous display last night?
#14
Old 11-16-2001, 10:17 AM
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Location: Pacific Grove, Calif
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Ah, lawns. Whats going to happen to it in the winter? How about getting a bunch of cows & have them eat it up? Why do people have lawns?
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