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Old 09-07-2012, 11:12 AM   #1
mayday0017
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Default Fixing "Lumpy" yard

I know this isn't a garage discussion but it is general....

My back yard is what I would call "Lumpy and Bumpy" when I mow it the lawnmower bounces up and down and the yard doesn't look nice and smooth. Ideally I would order 2-3 loads of dirt have them dumped in the back yard and rent a bobcat and spread it all out. But I am to cheap to rent the bobcat & to lazy to spread that much dirt by hand.

Is there an more easy way to fix my problem? I was thinking over the winter while grass is dead/dormant anyways to just cut it super short so I could really see the ground. Then I could fill in the areas as needed and spread out some of the small "mounds" of dirt that are around as well.... I plan on installing a sprinkler system over the winter too so seems like maybe I do all of this at once and call it a day (week).

Another Problem I have is mixed grass types in my back yard, I have 1/2 St. Augustine and 1/2 Bermuda grass. I only mention this because if someone has a solution for getting rid of the Bermuda that would be great too!

Any input would be great!
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Old 09-07-2012, 11:23 AM   #2
Joe B.
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Default Re: Fixing "Lumpy" yard

http://www.sears.com/agri-fab-univer...-07124250000P?


If you don't have a tractor, just hitch up your wife.
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Old 09-07-2012, 11:31 AM   #3
malibu101
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Default Re: Fixing "Lumpy" yard

I am watching this thread to learn the answers too.

I have more or less "holes" in my yard versus "bumpy". I don't know what kind of grass I have but it grows well. I use a walk behind pushmower and the holes cause the mower to come close to scalping the grass in a few areas.

I've never done anything because I've wondered.......
Should the existing grass be removed before filling in with good soil and seed?
Should the ground (the yard) be loosened up a bit before filling?
Would doing small (2' diameter) sections play well with the existing?

I am not trying to hijack your thread but I think we both have similar questions.

Last edited by malibu101; 09-07-2012 at 11:36 AM.
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Old 09-07-2012, 11:32 AM   #4
Dale B
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Default Re: Fixing "Lumpy" yard

It's a bit of work , but rototill it to 2-3 inches , and rake it smooth with an aluminum landscape rake. They are about 3 ft wide, it goes fast. Reseed as needed..... If you have St. Agustine like me , it will come back on it own , just water !
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Old 09-07-2012, 11:38 AM   #5
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Default Re: Fixing "Lumpy" yard

Depends where your at, but there are a couple different ways to deal with your problem.

Easiest but not really the best is to fill the holes to 3" to the top then put on a layer of turf.

Honestly though Its not the best way. If you want to do it right, it is a 1 year fix really. I worked for many landscapers, and this is how we did it each time. In the end we'd go to the persons house an 2-3 times for 1 year.

First, you need to kill all the grass in the yard. Roundup or similar works good for this purpose, though you need to reapply about 2 weeks after to kill anything that reamerges.

After everything it dead we'd use one of these:




It would spin towards the front of the tractor, pulling off grass, rocks, etc. It would move all the dirt to the low spots from the high spots. 2 guys walk behind the machine with large rakes to smooth out the ground, pull any additional rocks out, etc.

Then after the yard is smooth, you do 1 of three things:

1. Seed and straw
2. Hydro seed
3. Lay down turf

Each of the 3 have different price tags, I listed them in cheapest to most expensive, which also happens to be listed in worst method to best. And less likely to most likely for the grass to take hold.

Keep in mind if you turf you need to keep it wet for the first 2 weeks, so if your on a well pump it isn't advised, you could burn out your pump if your not careful.

We would almost always hydroseed, especially if seeding on a hill.
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Old 09-07-2012, 11:47 AM   #6
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Default Re: Fixing "Lumpy" yard

Not sure where you are, but roll it. Here in Indiana, we normally do it in the spring when the ground is super wet. Then, take sand and fill in any depressions left. The sand will work it's way down into the dirt and push it up. While that's happening, the grass will go through it so your yard doesn't look like a sand trap.

There's a landscape company here that has a ride-on roller and I'm going to have them do mine in the spring-too many narrow areas for a pull behind.
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Old 09-07-2012, 11:49 AM   #7
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Default Re: Fixing "Lumpy" yard

My wife has been filling the low spots for years and now when I walk on it I need tall tight boots so I don't twist my ankles.
This would be my next test because with two labs reseeding is out.





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Old 09-07-2012, 12:01 PM   #8
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Default Re: Fixing "Lumpy" yard

band-aid fix?

Try to find the low spots and spot-fill them with some (good) dirt. May or may not work, may or may not involve having to spot reseed (depending on just how low the spots were and just how much dirt you had to put in).

Really want it all flat and smooth?

Kill all the existing vegetation, wait till all is dead, rototill it all (remove rocks and sticks and 'chunks' at that time) and also add and till-in soil amendments (organic matter such as compost, peat moss, etc), rake smooth with (several) landscape rakes, then reseed or apply sod.

Like usual, Good, cheap, fast. Pick any two. Good and cheap = not fast. Good and fast = not cheap. Cheap and fast = not good.
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Old 09-07-2012, 01:14 PM   #9
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Default Re: Fixing "Lumpy" yard

Power Rake...Only way.
Not cheap...but most certianly the ONLY way to make golf course quality yards. I know because I've got one I built myself...works AWESOME.
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Old 09-07-2012, 01:18 PM   #10
mayday0017
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Default Re: Fixing "Lumpy" yard

Hm... think I might do a "mix" of things....

1. Cut grass on shortest possible setting during winter, this will allow me to identify low spots and high spots and just make less grass to mess with during sprinkler install and moving soil.

2. Identify how bad the yard really is, if it is only slight lumps and hole (fairly low qty) then shovel the high spots and fill the low. If it is worse then that rent a tiller and till the whole yard prior to sprinkler install, rake smooth, install sprinkler system, rake smooth again.

3. Rent/Borrow/Buy a roller and roll the yard once or twice during the winter months using new sprinkler system to get ground soft before rolling and avoid damaging sprinkler heads with roller.

4. Use arrator attachment on the entire yard around first part of spring and checker sod the yard with St Augustine and water well.


Oh and I forgot the 1st thing dream about steps 1 through 4 because after typing all of that I realized I will most likely install the sprinkler system and toss some dirt in the holes and hope for the best!
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Old 09-07-2012, 01:46 PM   #11
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Default Re: Fixing "Lumpy" yard

Quote:
Originally Posted by malibu101 View Post
I am watching this thread to learn the answers too.

I have more or less "holes" in my yard versus "bumpy". I don't know what kind of grass I have but it grows well. I use a walk behind pushmower and the holes cause the mower to come close to scalping the grass in a few areas.

I've never done anything because I've wondered.......
Should the existing grass be removed before filling in with good soil and seed?
Should the ground (the yard) be loosened up a bit before filling?
Would doing small (2' diameter) sections play well with the existing?

I am not trying to hijack your thread but I think we both have similar questions.
I had this problem and I just filled in the holes with the cheapest dirt from a big box store. I put a little fertilizer and grass seed on top and it was good. I had to water this year on account of the drought but any other year I would have been done. My holes were a result of trees that have been gone for decades and the stumps had long ago rotted away.
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Old 09-07-2012, 03:40 PM   #12
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Default Re: Fixing "Lumpy" yard

If you want it done fast, strip the sod, rototill, rake, roll and lay sod. You will have to re-roll every second or third spring

Quote:
Originally Posted by kartracer23 View Post
Not sure where you are, but roll it. Here in Indiana, we normally do it in the spring when the ground is super wet.
Simple and it works !! Unless you have large depressions you should not need any fill of any kind. Throw some seed down when you are done to help fill in where you have killed the grass.

Quote:
There's a landscape company here that has a ride-on roller and I'm going to have them do mine in the spring-too many narrow areas for a pull behind.
WOW I wonder if you could rent something like that !

Last edited by theoldwizard1; 09-07-2012 at 04:26 PM.
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Old 09-07-2012, 03:57 PM   #13
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Default Re: Fixing "Lumpy" yard

I had the same problem. I attacked the grass with a hoe taking it all off. Then borrowed a roto tiller and went over it a few times. Raked it level and re-seeded. Was a lot better for a few years then it started getting lumpy again. Time to send the wife out this time.
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Old 09-07-2012, 05:17 PM   #14
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Default Re: Fixing "Lumpy" yard

Good luck o getting rid of the Bermuda grass. It come back from the roots ans from seed. I don't know how long the seed remains viable in the soil.

Spray Roundup now and again in 2-3 weeks to get the spots you missed. Roto till the yard, or at least the rough spots(probably whole yard from what you say) Rake smooth, filling in low spots. Keep traffic off the yard, this includes big dogs that might mire down when it is wet and muddy. To keep dogs off, put up a low electric fence, if possible.

Not familar with St Augustine grass. If it is established by seeding in the spring, seed next spring. During the growing season spot spray Bermuda grass. Maybe all the seedling Bermuda will be killed but I wouldn't bet on it. Good luck.

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Old 09-07-2012, 06:00 PM   #15
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Default Re: Fixing "Lumpy" yard

We get lumpy yard from worms mounding up dirt then it gets packed down by mowing. One thing is to aireate or core the yard, then roll with a big water drum like above post. Bermuda grass needs to be killed and kept that way for a year, you can spot kill but it's hard. There are some products out there that claim to work but takes 3 to 4 applications throughout the year. I bought some "eraser" but have yet to try it cost was $50 for a 16oz, not sure what coverage is. 16 oz makes 25 gallons at 1% solution, the fricken instructions are so small i need cheaters for my cheaters to read it.
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Old 09-07-2012, 06:22 PM   #16
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Default Re: Fixing "Lumpy" yard

Bermuda is a tough job to eliminate, and spraying it once or even twice won't get it.

Spray the round up now and do the follow up as suggested, and yes, keep watering the dead lawn, and spray again. Next spring wait for the Bermuda to reappear, (it will) and spray it again. Once you are sure none of it is left, you can rototill and plant or re-sod. anything less and you can count on the Bermuda coming back again next spring everywhere is was. (And if you have lazy neighbors that don't keep theirs mowed so the seed heads are gone it will get blown in tracked in and re-establish itself again, and again, and again...)

I'm on my 4th attempt to get it gone from a section of my yard in 25 years; when we moved in it was ALL Bermuda, and I mean nearly every square inch of dirt on my 1/4" acre lot, PLUS the Parkways for my corner lot, near 200 ft long hell it was growing the in cracks between my front door walk and the foundation...
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Old 09-07-2012, 06:55 PM   #17
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Default Re: Fixing "Lumpy" yard

Quote:
Originally Posted by mayday0017 View Post
Hm... think I might do a "mix" of things....

1. Cut grass on shortest possible setting during winter, this will allow me to identify low spots and high spots and just make less grass to mess with during sprinkler install and moving soil.

2. Identify how bad the yard really is, if it is only slight lumps and hole (fairly low qty) then shovel the high spots and fill the low. If it is worse then that rent a tiller and till the whole yard prior to sprinkler install, rake smooth, install sprinkler system, rake smooth again.

3. Rent/Borrow/Buy a roller and roll the yard once or twice during the winter months using new sprinkler system to get ground soft before rolling and avoid damaging sprinkler heads with roller.

4. Use arrator attachment on the entire yard around first part of spring and checker sod the yard with St Augustine and water well.


Oh and I forgot the 1st thing dream about steps 1 through 4 because after typing all of that I realized I will most likely install the sprinkler system and toss some dirt in the holes and hope for the best!
You'll do all that and end up with a product that you'll be unhappy with. Trust me, I've seen people that have tried to do short cuts in this area. You'll end up doing it over again in the next 5 years, do it once and do it right, you'll be happier afterwards.
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Old 09-07-2012, 07:42 PM   #18
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Default Re: Fixing "Lumpy" yard

Bermuda grass is some interesting stuff. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cynodon_dactylon

I've heard that "fall" is a good time to plant grass because there are less weed seeds blowing around in the air than in the spring. True?

Like my location says, I live in PA.
What do you think would happen if I were to scratch the grass out of my holes, dig up the ground (yard) a few inches, fill level with good ground, and plant grass seed this weekend?
Well, maybe a little less than even to allow for the thickness of the grass.
On that note- What about filling up the holes with ground and buying sod? I saw a local construction project where they just laid sod a week ago. Instant lawn but I see they have sprinklers running every time I go by.

The following question I'm sure is a whole 'nother discussion, but,---
Since Bermuda Grass is so "bad".
What type of grass would you recommend for my climate?

I am not looking for a golf course. I just don't want holes/depressions anymore.

EDIT- toomanytools?- You metioned aireating. I've seen aireating and overseeding help very well but that won't help my holes. Great advice!

Last edited by malibu101; 09-07-2012 at 08:00 PM.
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Old 09-07-2012, 08:06 PM   #19
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Default Re: Fixing "Lumpy" yard

I love my bermuda. I mow it short - one inch, spray for weeds and fertilize twice a year. Spot spray anything that the storms blow in. The heat cant kill it, the kids cant trample it. I say its perfect for me.
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Old 09-07-2012, 09:00 PM   #20
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Default Re: Fixing "Lumpy" yard

My yard is a mix of former cow pasture and forest. Every other year for the past 8 years I have been tilling the grass 3 or 4 times over the summer rather than mowing. My lawn has steadily but very slowly improved. The tilling has helped even it out but if I was really serious I would run a York rake over it.
I have access to a 3 point tiller so that is why I do it.

You can have a good lawn from seed if you have good soil. Unless you do sod your lawn will only be as good as your soil.

In your case I would vote for renting the bobcat. Machinery is fun to play with. I still enjoy most of the time I spend on my tractor.
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Old 09-07-2012, 09:52 PM   #21
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Default Re: Fixing "Lumpy" yard

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In your case I would vote for renting the bobcat. Machinery is fun to play with. I still enjoy most of the time I spend on my tractor.
Okay Tom Sawyer, how much would you charge for a day of "mowing" your yard !

Us "suburbanites" never get a chance to handle anything more than a walk behind mower !!
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Old 09-07-2012, 11:14 PM   #22
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Default Re: Fixing "Lumpy" yard

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Okay Tom Sawyer, how much would you charge for a day of "mowing" your yard !

Us "suburbanites" never get a chance to handle anything more than a walk behind mower !!
The tiller is not mine so I stick my neck out for $2000 everytime I till the church garden.

my C3500 GMC gets about 7-8 MPG towing the tractor and trailer. just to bring my tractor down to you would be $150-$200 in gas for the truck
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Old 09-07-2012, 11:27 PM   #23
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Default Re: Fixing "Lumpy" yard

What square footage are we talking about?

A roller is good for frost heave but i think thats about it. it can cause compaction which isnt good for grass/soil (opposite of aeration).

i would rent a small skid steer or tractor for a day with a box rake or harley rake +/- having some topsoil delivered. I have a box rake for my graden tractor.

look at aroundtheyard.com
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Old 09-08-2012, 03:04 AM   #24
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Default Re: Fixing "Lumpy" yard

I built a skid out of landscape timbers and put some cinder blocks on it for weight distribution on the rear. It had a edge out of 2x2x1/4" angle iron on the rear. I pulled it with my JD lawn tractor over my acre and did a good job. It was cheap to build. We got a few loads of fill dirt to add to the low spots. I didn't have any grass or anything at the time it was to get it ready for sod.
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Old 09-08-2012, 10:03 AM   #25
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Default Re: Fixing "Lumpy" yard

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The tiller is not mine so I stick my neck out for $2000 everytime I till the church garden.

my C3500 GMC gets about 7-8 MPG towing the tractor and trailer. just to bring my tractor down to you would be $150-$200 in gas for the truck
2 or 3 passes and my lawn would be done !

I meant me coming up to your spread !

Got any other "construction equipment" to play with ?
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Old 09-08-2012, 10:09 AM   #26
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Default Re: Fixing "Lumpy" yard

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What square footage are we talking about?

A roller is good for frost heave but i think thats about it. it can cause compaction which isnt good for grass/soil (opposite of aeration).
Where I live, most Humps/lumps/bumps and shallow areas are caused by frost heaves or roots !

Roll (compact) early in spring, after last frost. Aerate in early summer, once most of the moisture is out of the topsoil.

Anyone who lives in an area that gets heavy freeze and a lot of freeze/thaw cycles will have issues if they want a really flat, level lawn. Rolling and aeration every couple of years is your only solution.
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Old 09-08-2012, 12:30 PM   #27
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Default Re: Fixing "Lumpy" yard

a very cheap and effective drag can be made out of an old box spring. Easiest is to burn the foam off and then throw some cement blocks on it for weigh and drag it around. If you canít get away with burning it just cut the foam and leave the wood. A twin size is good to tow behind a riding lawn tractor.

a box spring can be had for free in the dumpsters behind goodwill or in large apartment complexes.
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Old 09-08-2012, 02:32 PM   #28
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Default Re: Fixing "Lumpy" yard

I didn't read through everything, but a lot of the lumpiness is coming from worms. I don't know how the heck they can dig through that hard dirt but they can. This Fall when we get into more normal of weather, then roll it. Next Spring when the weather gets decent, roll it. Other than that, tear it out, rockhound it, and start from brand new.

Me....I have a roller ready to go.
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Old 09-13-2012, 11:18 PM   #29
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Default Re: Fixing "Lumpy" yard

Sand. It will work its way into the ground just smooth it out and wait.
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Old 09-15-2012, 02:59 PM   #30
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Default Re: Fixing "Lumpy" yard

Quote:
Originally Posted by Spudland_Dave View Post
Power Rake...Only way.
Not cheap...but most certianly the ONLY way to make golf course quality yards. I know because I've got one I built myself...works AWESOME.
What is the HP of the tractor you are using? Any plans for the power rake you wouldn't mind sharing or letting me know where you got them?
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