New Lawn for new house - looking for input and advice

average_joe_1091

New member

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L3301
Dec 1, 2020
3
0
1
Canada
Hi,

We recently finished building a house and I'm getting ready to do the lawn this fall. Currently, the area where the lawn will be going is mostly backfill from the house that was rough graded by my excavation contractor and an area over the septic field.

I'm not putting in a big lawn. Total area is about 1/2 of an acre.

The backfill is more like gravel and not even weeds seem to grow on it. That's why I think I need a thick layer of topsoil. Weeds seem to grow fine on the septic field though...

My equipment is an L3301 with a FEL and a box blade. I also have access to a landscape rake if I need it. Big implements like a pto tiller aren't really in the budget right now so I'd like to try and complete this with what I have. I could buy or build a drag mat if need be though.

My planned approach right now is to:
1) Remove all the large rocks/roots/debris from the area
2) Loosen up the existing soil with the scarifiers on my box blade and remove any existing weeds
3) Spread a layer of topsoil to a min of 6" depth over the existing soil and smooth it out with the box blade and raking by hand
4) Fertilize, seed and water

Am I missing anything? Can I do this with just my box blade and FEL? Any input and advice would be appreciated.

Thank you!
 
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ayak

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L3301 HST
Feb 16, 2018
374
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WV
Check soil pH to see if you’re low and need to bring it up with some pellet lime. This in turn may cut down on the amount of fertilizer needed, which is really pricey right now.
 
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GreensvilleJay

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BX23-S
Apr 2, 2019
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2a) drag 'bar and chains' to level and contour the subsoil,several times
2b) pull large roller(4') over it all.....
2c) pull bar/chains 1 more time ..
4a) after seeding, pull empty roller over area to press seed into top soil

5) this fall overseed entire lawn
6) next spring overseed entire lawn

Lawns by seed require 3 applications to get 'sod like' grass

Might want to check prices of grass seed vs sod. Sod was cheaper for me 3 decades ago.
 
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Njtool

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Lx2610 HSDC. BH77 backhoe
Jan 1, 2021
216
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New jersey
I have experience with just this situation. I’ve added 100 yards of fill in order to flatten slopes areas and turn them into useable lawns. I’m using a slightly smaller tractor too.

The 2 things that are must have are a box blade and a York rake.

The box blade will get things mostly smooth and organized. Then the York rake will gather all the rocks and debris into wind rows so you can collect them easier. It will kick up and rocks that are just below the surface too. Leaving only little pebbles behind.
The York rake will also help with the final leveling too. And give you a nice texture

Here is a job I’m currently working on. See the difference between the 2 sides? The rocky side needs more fill added but the York rake will get rid of all those rocks if they are on the surface.
 

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B737

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Jun 9, 2019
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unless there is a need for 6" of soil, you really only need 1"-2" of topsoil to grow grass.
I agree with everything @Njtool said I've done similar putting in lawns and have had good results. Important to water.

This was ALL dense woods. Tree company removed trees and ground stumps. I Spread "free" fill to get rough grade somewhat gentle. Removed big rocks from free fill. Spread 2" of topsoil. Then added lots of water and seed. (not shown but this was about 2 acres)

Used a bit of the box blade, but most of the work was done with the rake, important to have gauge wheels.









 
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average_joe_1091

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L3301
Dec 1, 2020
3
0
1
Canada
The 2 things that are must have are a box blade and a York rake.
This is good news, as I have a box blade and my friend down the road will let me borrow his york rake.
I'll also do as GreensvilleJay recommended and look at getting a drag mat and a roller. Thank you both for the input. Also a great suggestion by ayak to get my topsoil pH checked, I hadn't thought of that.


This was ALL dense woods. Tree company removed trees and ground stumps. I Spread "free" fill to get rough grade somewhat gentle. Removed big rocks from free fill. Spread 2" of topsoil. Then added lots of water and seed. (not shown but this was about 2 acres)
This is basically the same situation I'm in and the approach I was looking to take. Did you just spread the topsoil right over the fill or did you till it in at all? Did you have any concerns with the topsoil washing away before the grass took hold?
 

jyoutz

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MX6000 HST open station, FEL, 6’ cutter, forks, 8’ rear blade, 7’ cultivator
Jan 14, 2019
1,257
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Edgewood, New Mexico
This is good news, as I have a box blade and my friend down the road will let me borrow his york rake.
I'll also do as GreensvilleJay recommended and look at getting a drag mat and a roller. Thank you both for the input. Also a great suggestion by ayak to get my topsoil pH checked, I hadn't thought of that.



This is basically the same situation I'm in and the approach I was looking to take. Did you just spread the topsoil right over the fill or did you till it in at all? Did you have any concerns with the topsoil washing away before the grass took hold?
You can make a serviceable drag with a wide chain link fence gate.
 

Njtool

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Lx2610 HSDC. BH77 backhoe
Jan 1, 2021
216
269
63
New jersey
Before you make a drag. Try the York rake. For me, the York rake works perfectly for dirt. I use a drag on pebble driveways

When using the rake, don’t go slow
 
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ctfjr

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L3800HST
Dec 7, 2009
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central ct
fwiw average_joe_1091. . .

Last year I had almost the exact same project. We have lived here for over 30 years and the from lawn was just a mass of weeds. It never bothered me before but since covid I work from home and it looke d like a good project for my spare time.

You have received a lot of really good advice above. I would only add that my 1st step was to contact our local Agricultural Experiment Station. I provided them with soil samples and they not only gave me back the results and suggested additives but also great advice.

My 'lawn' was filled with rocks and tree roots.



In a nutshell - I 'glyphosated' it all, waited 2 weeks and gave a 2nd app to whatever survived/ was missed.
Used my box blade to initially rip the hard pack and remove a load of rocks. Added about 1600lbs of limestone (spread with box blade). Used a tiller to really smooth out the dirt. 200lbs of fertilizer. Almost 100lbs of seed and then used a drag harrow to turn the seed under.

Here are some pics of my project

20210907_114842_resized.jpg


20210911_114547_resized_1.jpg


drag_harrow_20210913_145941_resized.jpg


The results - not bad for a hacker
first_cut_1_20211013_130314_resized.jpg


It was a fun project. I learned a lot. Hope you enjoy doing it!
 
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North Idaho Wolfman

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My planned approach right now is to:
1) Remove all the large rocks/roots/debris from the area
2) Loosen up the existing soil with the scarifiers on my box blade and remove any existing weeds
3) Spread a layer of topsoil to a min of 6" depth over the existing soil and smooth it out with the box blade and raking by hand
4) Fertilize, seed and water

Am I missing anything? Can I do this with just my box blade and FEL? Any input and advice would be appreciated.

Thank you!
Sounds like you have a good plan, I would just add after you level it scratch it up with one of these suggestions (below) and then after seeding run over it again.
Look on craigslist or a local sale page and see if you can find a Spike or chain harrow for cheap, or an old wire box spring or a section of chain link or chain link gate will work well too.

DO NOT FERTILIZE, this is a huge mistake that most make.
Fertilizer will burn grass seed, wait until it's sprouted and about an inch tall then fertilize.
 

fried1765

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Kubota L48 TLB, Ford 1920 FEL, Ford 8N, SCAG Liberty Z, Gravely Pro.
Nov 14, 2019
1,445
1,047
113
Eastham, Ma
Hi,

We recently finished building a house and I'm getting ready to do the lawn this fall. Currently, the area where the lawn will be going is mostly backfill from the house that was rough graded by my excavation contractor and an area over the septic field.

I'm not putting in a big lawn. Total area is about 1/2 of an acre.

The backfill is more like gravel and not even weeds seem to grow on it. That's why I think I need a thick layer of topsoil. Weeds seem to grow fine on the septic field though...

My equipment is an L3301 with a FEL and a box blade. I also have access to a landscape rake if I need it. Big implements like a pto tiller aren't really in the budget right now so I'd like to try and complete this with what I have. I could buy or build a drag mat if need be though.

My planned approach right now is to:
1) Remove all the large rocks/roots/debris from the area
2) Loosen up the existing soil with the scarifiers on my box blade and remove any existing weeds
3) Spread a layer of topsoil to a min of 6" depth over the existing soil and smooth it out with the box blade and raking by hand
4) Fertilize, seed and water

Am I missing anything? Can I do this with just my box blade and FEL? Any input and advice would be appreciated.

Thank you!
Grass planted in the late Spring will be full of weeds or totally dead by August, unless you have irrigation.
 

Millsertime

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LX2610
Nov 5, 2021
14
11
3
Poconos, PA
6" of topsoil can get real expensive depending on where you live. In NE PA, it costs around $650 a triaxle of topsoil. I laid 3" on my lawn and it turned into a decent lawn that has clay/rock below the 3" topsoil.
 
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