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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
We bought a 2 acre building lot in a development that used to be a cow pasture. There are some houses already up & their yards look kinda 'scrappy' (not meaning to be unkind). The soil in our lot seems to be pretty well compacted by the cattle.

What's the best way to loosen up the soil & get it ready to 'turn' into a nice lawn? Should I wait to start on it until after all the construction is done? We won't start building until sometime after the start of the year. Could I get away with working on the parts of the lot we're not building on?

Any advice (or warnings) welcome, and greatly appreciated.

TIA!
Angel
 

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Angel,

If you think the cows compacted the soil, wait till you see what the construction equipment does to it.
:eek: You might be able to work on the non-building area and get that ready, but you will have a more uniform look if all is done at the same time.

My own lawn used to be a pasture and all we did was to keep mowing it. It will take a little time but the grass seems to get a bit stronger with successive mowings.

Actually, a number of houses in the neighborhood that were built on land that we used to farm did nothing more than fertilize and lime their lot and then mow. Of course, the immediate area around the house is disturbed from the construction and must be reseeded. Most of the time I see a landscaper that was hired by the contractor use harley rakes and other lawn preperation equipment to ready the seedbed. But they rarely do anything more that what the dozer dug up.

If you really want to do the whole lot yourself, best bet is a 3pt rototiller followed by a York rake.

Hope this was of some help.

waynl
 

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CatDaddy,
You have a challenge because of the property size. Before you rototill or plant once new blade of grass I suggest you sketch out some type of landscape design such as an flower beds or garden you might want. Also, do you want to keep your grass nice and green throughout the summer? If so, then you will need an irrigation system installed, best before the seed is planted since new seed or sod should be watered every day for the first week or so and weekly after that time. Rototilling should be done before the irrigation system is installed or you risk tearing up the piping and heads with the equipment. As far as soil compaction, does the property have a pretty good grass cover now or is it mostly weeds and anemic grass? If it's the latter, rototilling would probably be the best way to go while core aeration would be better for the former. I assume since you are a member of this forum that you have a good sized farm or garden tractor. You can always use a core aerator but will you have future use for a 3pt rear rototiller attachment for your tractor after the initial site preparation? If not, hiring someone to rototill the property would be the better way to go if the cost is less than the $3K it would cost you for the attachment. The final piece of advice is to double or triple seed the areas initially to get a good thick growth. It is much easier to spot seed sparse areas afterwords than overseed the entire property. Don't use hay as a cover since it doesn't break down very well. Oat Straw or the commercial seed blanket material is a better alternative as long as it doesn't have plastic webbing that doesn't breakdown over time. Waynl is right is suggesting you wait until after construction is completed to do your lawn.
 

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There is a local nursery here that will come out (for $50) and make up a drawing of your property and suggest plants etc for you to plant, this includes drawing out the beds and plant locations. Like it was said before don't do anything until the house is done!!!

Is your contractor doing anything with the yard for you or is anything included in the price of the house???

Just some thoughts for you!:money:
 

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The cheapest course of action to take would be to run a core aerator (rent one) over the area a few times this season and keep the area well cut and trimmed. It is too late in the season to do much with it now as the heat and decreased rain won't support much growth. Next Spring, core aerate the area again and spread a good does of weed and feed as well as seeding any sparse areas (be sure to prep the seeded areas first by scarifying or adding some good top soil). All of this is best done as the weeds are sprouting for the season. Keep the area well cut and trimmed. Grass likes to be cut (but not too short, 3 inches is a good height) and weed don't) Later in the season as the weeds try to continue sprouting, I touch up spray the areas and just keep on cutting. Eventually the grass will establish itself well. You may want to also take a soil sample to your local ag extension service to have the soil anylized. The soil may or may not need lime.
 

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Turning a cow pasture into lawn in 10 easy steps:

1. Remove all cows
2. Remove barbed wire fence
3. Build house and driveway
4. Grade and till soil and rake smooth
5. Fertilize (old cow exhaust tilled in is good)
6. Lay sod or plant grass seed suitable for climate
7. Water
8. Plant trees and shrubs
9. Fertilize trees and shrubs
10. Buy tractor!
 

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You got me Stewart! What was I thinking? Meds must be wearing off:D or kicking in, I forget which:dazed:
 

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We are now mowing a former pasture. Just filling in the low spots and knocking down the high sopts from time to time. Being a former pasture, it is very fertile and will grow just about anything well. As the weeds are mowed, most die and grass replaces it, There is still a lot of clover though.
 

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i would think, if its not too full of brush and is mostly grass and flat..


till it or id get a machine to level it off assuming you could skip tilling it...

then put a skim coat of loam 2-4" (again assuming its a clear & fairly level field)

plant and seed




but definetly wait till after the construction is done before doing the finish work...

id wait till most of the work is done.. no sense getting it to look pretty only to have trucks run it and rut it all up...


to do it cheap (no heavy equipment) a pull behind tiller and then a york rake might help




**********************


The lazy way

heres a link to some pics of a pond i did a while back.. the side of the pond was brush & clay.. i excavator & a dozer can do wonders... But if yours is already clear and level you may not need this..

the lazy way
 

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Lots of good advice given......at least you did not buy land that used to be row cropped. They turned some row cropped land into a developement not too far from here, and its fun watching those new home owners out on their MTD's and even JD's bouncing up and down while cutting their yards, over what used to be rows. Most of them never had the place disked and leveled out, just planted grass or filled in between the rows, and now its settle down and its still basically row cropped land with just a bit more shallow areas between the rows than before.
 

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I rototilled up a car once while doing a customer's garden. The previous land owner had buried it for whatever reason and didn't tell anyone when the place was sold. I've discovered all sorts of stuff underground on what was supposed to be empty land while tilling. Make it clear to your contractor that construction debris is to be hauled away and not buried on site.
 

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Joe there wasnt a dead body in it was it:D Like in that movie Used cars where they buried the owner in his car when he died to make people think he left town for a while.
 

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Nope, no body, no money, no jewels, just a rusted out car.
 

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Originally posted by jbetts13
set fire to it just don't let it get to big
To the car??? just kidding... :furious: :furious:

the guy burried his car? what possible reason could he have? to save the 40$ tow fee? sound fishy...
 

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I just went through this myself. If its going to be awile before building, just keep mowing it. After a wile the grasses will take over. Also this will point out to you all the good and bad places that need attention when construction is done, and the real lawn goes in.

But wait till there done before you go and real work on it. They WILL chew up all your hard work. Before building my house, I had two years to get my field in order. Looked great just from mowing. They came in and probably dammaged 2 1/2 acres of it:eek: :mad:

Worse thing with me, they went belly up, and I was stuck with rocks,mud, and weeds for a year.

So just keep it mowed for now, that will keep the weeds down, and after you see what they butcher up on you, you can decide wether to do the whole thing, or just part. I did just part of mine, what they ripped up, but after a few moths its starting to blend in a bit with the rest. We will see how next year goes.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Thanks guys!

I'll just keep mowing it until after construction is done. I'll also make sure that they clean up thoroughly after the work is done.

I guess I'll look for a core aerator (maybe good used) to open the soil up a bit in the meantime. (Not where the house will go tho'.)

I will check around and see what my options are to borrow or rent a 3 pt. tiller to do the yard closest to & in front of the house. I will have to 'borrow' my MF back from my dad - LOL! At least that way I can even out the yard at the same time. Don't really want to buy one since I'll probably never use it for more than that single purpose.

We're planning on putting in fruit trees on the sides of the property (between us & future neighbors), so I guess I won't worry too much about that part of the lot. The lot has 400' of road frontage & is 245' deep (well, 212' less my 'part' of the roadbed).

Angel
 
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