Seeking advice for ground prep (grass seed planting)

Arlian

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Sep 10, 2017
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I recently removed several trees from an area (about 1/3 acre) on my property which left it bumpy with lots of divots and depressions. I have a landscape rake and have used it to remove the top layer of grass/weeds and smooth out some of the areas needing attention, but the soil is hard-packed and even though I removed the stumps of the trees, there are still lots of buried roots. Which approach would be best to loosen the soil and give additional smoothing/proper soil condition for planting the seed? Harley rake? Tilling/leveling? Box blade with shanks? Some photos of the area are attached. BTW, I have an L3901.
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Njtool

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Jan 1, 2021
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It depends on what you have available. What attachments do you have?
A box blade with the ripper shanks down will break up the soil.
Or you can try planting a small area and see if the grass takes.
or you can bring in topsoil and put 1-2” down
 
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Arlian

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Sep 10, 2017
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I plan to rent the tool. I was thinking the Harley rake would do a nice job, but I wanted to get some input. This is not a primary lawn, but I do want the $1000 of seed/penn mulch to be effective, so spending a little more money to prep the soil properly is a better option than wasting the materials I have purchased. Adding topsoil brings another level of cost/difficulty in the even distribution of it without the right tools. I can rent a Harley rake locally for about $300 per day (or weekend).
 

GreensvilleJay

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You'll need to break up at least 6" of dirt,then grade/level,smooth and roll before tossing $$$ grass seed down, then roll that as well.
The problem with 'discing shallow' , is that water (aka rain drops..so many raindrops..) can't get DOWN into the soil and will pool. This 'trains' the grass to NOT have deep roots,so middle of summer green grass turn brown.
 
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B737

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You'll need to break up at least 6" of dirt,then grade/level,smooth and roll before tossing $$$ grass seed down, then roll that as well.
The problem with 'discing shallow' , is that water (aka rain drops..so many raindrops..) can't get DOWN into the soil and will pool. This 'trains' the grass to NOT have deep roots,so middle of summer green grass turn brown.
Totally disagree, break up 6" over what used to be trees, stumps, roots?? :ROFLMAO: yeah good luck!

@Arlian That area is going to come out nice. However, a harley rake is not going to be happy when it mashes into roots and stumps, so I'm not sure that is the ideal attachment.

We cant tell the grade from the photos but if its pretty good grade, put down 2" of topsoil, seed, and water, and done. I agree with what @Njtool said. Box blade and rake with gauge wheels is all you need.
 
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ayak

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And check your soil pH too.
 
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dirtydeed

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It looks good to go to me.

If you're not looking for a golf course, I'd simply cut the roots off with some lops and rake it a few more times in different directions when conditions are right (like slightly moist soil). That should loosen the soil a bit. If not, as posted above some light passes with a Box blade would be all that is needed.

seed, starter fert and straw for 1/3 acre would be under $200. I've been having great luck with (ground works?) perennial rye from TSC.
 
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Hue

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May 17, 2019
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I use a box blade to grab big rocks and roots, flatten everything, then mow the smaller roots. Takes a year or two for the exposed parts of the small roots to rot, but I'm in no hurry.
 

rc51stierhoff

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I think it depends on the result you want. As is from photo it will grow grass if you throw some seed down and drag a fence over just to get a little ground contact with soil and seed. However since you are asking so I suspect you have maybe different idea on a finished quality…if you want smooth level and no roots, everyone knows the answer…time and money. One way or another if you want smooth…then you either need some fill or you need to grade to suit. To me filling and leveling off the high spots is easier then regrading…just my thought. As far as the roots depends on how big…if you rip them I think then you will have to regrade to some extent. The need to remove I think depends on the finish quality desired.
 

JimmyJazz

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B2601
Aug 8, 2020
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That already looks better better than my yard smoothness wise. I bought a yard of top soil to patch some holes recently and was offered the choice for the same $40 of either topsoil or a topsoil and mushroom mulch mixture. Might be a local thing. I am in Pittsburgh. I would perhaps opt for the mix given your circumstances. Good luck. Let us know how it works out.
 

GreensvilleJay

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The better you 'prep' the better the lawn. so you have to decide what kind of 'lawn' you want. 'golf green' lawn needs a LOT of prep including removal of old stumps, roots, etc. Also requires QUALITY 'top soil'. and the correct 'grass seed' for your area and what it'll be used for. If you use the right equipment, removing stumps and roots isn't hard,just takes seat time and diesel fuel.
if you've ever landed on a few grass strips you KNOW which ones WERE properly prepped.
 
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imnukensc

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Pretty sure he's not landing any planes there.

I'd lop off/chop off the few roots sticking up that I see in the pics, sow my seed, and start watering. My yard isn't a golf course or a landing strip and the dirt is pretty crappy, but centipede grows well in it.
 
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