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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am planning to reseed a portion of our lawn this spring. I am uncertain about which equipment to get to do this.

I have a 200' X 30' section that was an old road and has heavy overhead cover from large oak trees. In 25 years, I have never been able to seed it and keep the grass for a year. Last year, I found some seed that works well in heavy shade. I am hopeful that it can survive where my past efforts did not.

My question is what equipment to use to prepare the soil. It is a sand and clay mix and was broken in the past but is now packed down.

I have an x500 with a JP electric sleeve hitch and a Brinly box scrapper. As I see it, my choices are:

1) hire someone to till this for me.
2) buy a used or new 30" tiller for my x500
3) get a 10" plow and a set of disc harrows.

After I get the soil broken up, I can use my box scraper to smooth it and my roller after I seed.

I have no idea what it would cost to have someone till it. I have been looking for about three weeks for a used tiller and it seems they are very difficult to find, at least within a reasonable driving distance. A new tiller will likely cost about $1500. I can get a Brinly plow for $249 at HD and a set of Brinly discs for $189, also at HD. They have the Agri-Fab discs for $209.

So, for $438, I can get the plow and discs. If this is a workable solution and if it is within $200 of having someone till it, I will opt for this. I value my own time here at $0 since I enjoy doing the work.

Is the plow/disc combo a reasonable alternative? Any alternate suggestions?

Thanks very much.
 

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put an advert on craigs list, "tiller guys" are all over the place in spring! Got to believe it woudl be easier and cheaper if basically a one time thing... (not as much fun however!)

now a question for you. What is the seed that will grow in the dense shade? I have an area like that too and cannot find a real good seed some grow for a couple fo months but NONE can last the whole season...




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With sand and clay soil I would also throw in some top soil and other amendments and use the tiller lightly to mix it in. slkpk
 

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As to breaking the soil, I really prefer a tiller as it will do an excellent job of mixing any fertilizer or mulch you put down into the soil. A plow will turn this under and if you put top dressing on after plowing the disk will not mix them in very deep. This is fine for shallow roots but if you want the grass to root deeply not so good.

Soil testing will tell you what's needed to have the best chance of a good stand.

I've never seen good grass under large oak trees. Been told that oaks are toxic to most grasses much like pine trees. This may be a local thing but I'd sure check with the County Extension Agent to be sure. You may have to opt for some other landscape method.

Mike
 

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I would think it would be alot cheaper to have a someone to come in with a tiller and work it up. It would not take them long to do an area that small. Then seed some grass scratch it in abit and roll it. Most landscapers would have the seeder also.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Here is a picture of the seed I used. It is from Lowes. It performed noticeably better than others I have used in the past.

I do intend to add amendments, probably a layer of compost. It is free and I have access to literally tons of it. Overall the soil is slightly acidic but OK otherwise.

I am guessing that it will cost a fair amount to get someone to till it. I had assumed that my only option here would be a landscaping firm. I can't imagine a farmer being interested in a parcel so small. We also have advertisements in the local paper each spring to perform tilling of gardens. However, these are all done with a walk behind unit. I had assumed that it would be too time consuming for someone to want to do that.

Thanks for the comments. Additional ones are welcome.
 

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AKA Moses Lawnagan
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I have a 200' X 30' section that was an old road and has heavy overhead cover from large oak trees. In 25 years, I have never been able to seed it and keep the grass for a year. Last year, I found some seed that works well in heavy shade. I am hopeful that it can survive where my past efforts did not.
Another thing to consider other than the tree canopy blocking the sun, is how much water the trees suck out of the ground there. It's a double whammy under large trees, no sun, and too little water, especially if the soil drains well.
My question is what equipment to use to prepare the soil. It is a sand and clay mix and was broken in the past but is now packed down.
My recommendation would be to use the rippers on a box blade to tear up the ground. I think you may find some substantial roots if the trees limbs overhang the area. Typically, an large oak's root system will spread almost as far as its canopy does. Ripping the ground will do little more than stop you cold if you snag a root, running a tiller over same ground can screw up your driveline or run you broke changing shear pins. Even without roots, compacted ground doesn't till nearly as well as plowed or subsoiled ground does.

Your tractor may not have the weight necessary to tear up the ground as well as it needs, the box blade isn't heavy enough for its weight to make the rippers dig, and if they do get started, you probably won't have enough traction available to pull it. I'm talking about digging 6 inches or greater to break up the compacted earth. I've tried it with my X748 using a 5' box blade that weighs over 300 pounds, and in 4WD, it's all it will do to pull it with the rippers 6 inches deep.

If you can get it ripped up, use either a drag harrow or a tiller to smooth the ground, sow the seed, but don't roll the ground, as you'll just compact it again.
 

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Not clear where in Central PA you are located, but here in Northern Chester County there are plenty of contract plow and tiller folks who make a living of running their tractors for Spring garden and lawn prep. Of course they get busy, and have regular customers that will take presidence. An example locally is a 2 generation business who advertise "Tree And Tank Removal, Post Holes Dug, Pond's, Field's Mowed, Seed, New Lawns-Finish-Grade-Seed, New Lawns, In Business For Two Generations, Grade, Gardens Rototiller, Gardens Rototilled, Footings, Finish "
 

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First things first. I'd look into opening up the canopy a bit to let in some light. I did that and it was like magic. Poof! Grass and I didn't even have to seed it. No, the ground isn't rock hard, it's stinkin' mud.
Second I'd have several truckloads of topsoil with some mulch mixed in, delivered. Smear that around a bit. Spread over 30', you most likely wouldn't notice a wee bit of a mounding.
All this takes a bit of time so have a look and see what's happening as you go through the process. If you see grass moving into the center from the edges, you might want to consider your work done for the year and see how far it gets. A little bit of fertilizer wouldn't hurt. If the grass stops moving in from the edges then consider having it tilled in a bit (the bare areas)and seeded. Take a look around and see if any hydroseeding is going on nearby. See how much they'd charge you. The actual seeding wouldn't take much more than an hour or so. Thinking about it, you might be able to rent a small hydroseeder for not too much.
As an aside - You've got a big area there to do with a shovel or even a plow - I've seen a guy moving mulched topsoil with a small single stage snowblower. No rocks, small sticks smeared it around pretty good 50/50 mix I'd guess. Tidied it up with a spring rake. Oddest looking but got it done. Something to think about -
 

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I would suggest rent a tiller. I have 3 of them done a lot of tilling however In vergin ground that might have rocks/tree roots Hard ground. the commercial tillers that rental shops have will do a much better job. and in the long run be cheaper; (yes I like that. ) cheap is good . OOPS life is good
 
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