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Planting grass on gravelly soil -- what should I do?

Planting grass on gravelly soil -- what should I do?


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Old 08-01-08, 09:41 PM
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Question Planting grass on gravelly soil -- what should I do?

I'd like to plant grass in our backyard but the soil is very gravelly. There are lots of rocks mixed in with the dirt, ranging from pebbles all the way up to egg-sized rocks. The soil is otherwise very clay-like. Should I somehow try to remove the rocks? The only technique I can think of is to sift the dirt through a screen, which would be a huge task. Is there an easier way? Or should I just ignore the gravel, mix in some manure and/or lay down some top soil and plant the grass?
 
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Old 08-02-08, 08:17 AM
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Your best bet is to remove the rocks. Up to you to decide whether it's worth the work. Good grass requires good soil and what you're describing doesn't qualify. Around here we have nothing but rocks and sand. Takes a lot of work to have a good looking lawn in those conditions. I've been at it six years and it still doesn't look good.
 
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Old 08-02-08, 08:31 AM
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My yard is nothing but clay. I struggled with the thought of bringing in topsoil, but I chose not to. I just raked up the rocks that I could and used a wheelbarrow to get rid of them. I then used a mix of 10-10-10 fertilizer, seed (Kentucky 31), limestone pellets. I had never heard of using limestone pellets, but it has something to do with the acidity of the clay. I had a hillside of clay in November, and now I have a good start on a beautiful lawn. By the way, I still pick up some rocks every time that I mow, I guess that's just how it is. Good Luck!
 
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Old 08-04-08, 04:40 PM
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Wubbzy, you can use a power rake to pick up the debris and prep the soil for planting. Depending on the size of your yard you can rent a walk behind or a tractor mounted one.
http://www.woodsequipment.com/landsc....aspx?id=10261
http://www.power-trac.com/images/Att...power-rake.jpg
http://www.ryanturf.com/products/specialty/ren_o_thin/

You already have soil, so I agree that bringing in more isn't needed. Besides, you risk bringing in weed seeds with topsoil. I'd add 3" to 4" of compost and mix it in before planting. The prep for seed or sod is the same. If you maintain organically, it will be less expensive and better for you and the environment too.
http://www.ipm.ucdavis.edu/TOOLS/TURF/
http://www.organicgardening.com/feat...18-142,00.html
http://www.nwf.org/backyard/chemicalfreelawn.cfm

Newt
 
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Old 11-23-08, 06:57 PM
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Newt, great info! Thanks.

Originally Posted by Newt View Post
You can use a power rake to pick up the debris and prep the soil for planting.... I'd add 3" to 4" of compost and mix it in before planting.
I assume a power rake won't be damaged by big rocks in the soil?

What about roots? I'm trying to dig out most of them but there are some I may miss.

After the stumps were ground, I raked & shoveled up as much of the wood chips/shreds as I could but I couldn't pick up all of it, so some shredded wood remains. Should I scrape all of that up? I'd wind up having to scrape dirt along with it since it's impossible to separate the shredded bits from the dirt. Or should it just be tilled (or power-raked) into the soil? The shreds are from two Stone Pines and a Eucalyptus.

Our yard is about 30' x 30'.
 
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Old 11-23-08, 07:38 PM
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I don't think you need to be concerned about small bits of wood. Large chunks would be different as they would block the seed from ground contact.

I think it would depend on the size of the power rake as to how damaging large stones would be. I'd say to pick those up by hand if possible. Take a look here for a power rake that would be appropriate to pick up small debris from your yard or do a google and look at several sites to get an idea of what it will do for you.
Ren-O-Thin Power Rake and Dethatcher

Newt
 
  #7  
Old 11-24-08, 08:52 PM
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Call miss-dig before you do any of this. Cable TV (at least around here) is usually about 1-2" deep. You will shred that at the very least...
 
 

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