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Options for leveling topsoil?

Post in 'DIY and General non-hearth advice' started by dave11, Aug 10, 2011.

  1. dave11

    dave11 Minister of Fire

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    I just tilled about 1000 SF of lawn, due to bad compaction. Is the only option for mechanically leveling that area a box blade? I was wondering if I could rig up some type of blade out of aluminum or galvanized, and tow it behind my tractor. I guess I could buy a box blade, but I can't foresee ever needing it again. Plus, the area is pretty fluffy right now, and seems like it'd be easy to level with just a straight, heavy surface.

    I guess I could level it by hand, but it'd be nice to find another way. Any suggestions?

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  2. gpcollen1

    gpcollen1 Minister of Fire

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    With a fresh till, a landscaping rake shouldn't really be that bad. Other than that, you can just drag something heavy behind your lawn tractor...

    i think that no matter what you use, you will probably have to rake it out anyway...
  3. jimbom

    jimbom Combustion Analyzer

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    2"x12" x length with cables attached to the top of the leading edge should move loose soil in the direction of pull. Then flip it forward onto the cable to reposition. Works if no rocks, roots or wet material. Any length or width will work. May need a little weight on the top. This is very site and soil specific. Longer board for more smooth surface. Short board for tight spaces. Good luck.
  4. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    Dave, you might try some 2 x 8, or 2 x 10 or larger or whatever you have handy. Bolt them together so that each one overlaps the other. Three of them work nicely. Width depends upon what you pull it with. A lawn mower you would probably not want over 3' width. Want something cheaper? An old set of bed springs works great but I'm not sure a lawn mower would pull them as they can pull a bit hard. Other than that, a couple young boys with garden rakes can work quite well if you can keep them working.
  5. nate379

    nate379 Guest

    Rent a tractor with FEL?
    That is what I did, cost me about $200 for the weekend. Did my whole yard, about 40,000sq ft.
  6. fishingpol

    fishingpol Minister of Fire

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    Almost like Dennis said, how about a small section of chain link fence with a 2 x 10 laid flat as a leading edge. You could fix the edge of fence to the 2 by. Add cinderblocks for extra weight if needed. The chain link will smooth out the loam as you go.
  7. semipro

    semipro Minister of Fire

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    Old metal box springs that go under mattresses work well too if you can find them. You have to add some weight to them.

    edit: yeah, like Backwoods Savage already said.
  8. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    So you have a tractor maybe even a loader on that tractor. Box blades are great for knocking dirt off of high spots and depositing it in low spots. Is that what you need to do? The box blade can then be rolled back by lengthening your top link so that only the rear blade is touching the earth. You then drag the box blade and schmear the dirt flat and somehqat compated this way. So yes, a boxblade can level and compact tilled soil.

    If you don't compact the soil somehow then you will have nasty settlement, mud, ruts, and maybe even poor germination. The tiller has overfluffed the soil. The proper tool to compact a fluffed seedbed to the proper compaction is a round roller type tow behind deal that looks like a roll of quarters with pennies between each quarter. It compacts little grooves. I just forget the official name.

    You can also use a landscape rake pulled backwards. The teeth will be pushing the soil down and leave little grooves.

    1000 SF? Just drop your loader bucket and drive backwards using the loader to schmear it out. The angle of the bucket (curl) makes a big difference here.
  9. ironpony

    ironpony Minister of Fire

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    for 1000 sq ft I would use a landscape rake
    wouldnt even bother starting the tractor
    but then again I do alot of things the hard way
  10. Cowboy Billy

    Cowboy Billy Minister of Fire

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    Know anyone with a farmall cub and snow blade? The blade can be mounted in the center of the tractor and used as a grader blade. Which is the best way to level a yard. I've never had much luck with a back or box blade. Yes it will smooth it out some but you don't have much control as it just floats back there. I've had better luck pulling a long 6x6 from several different directions.


    I disk up and leveled my yard with my cub.

    [​IMG]

    Billy
  11. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    You just don't know how to run the equipment. The box blade certainly doesn't have to just float out there. Most tractors have position control on the 3pH, meaning you can adjust the height of the box scraper to whatever you want. The 3PH has no down pressure so if you just "ask" for full drop then the box will float as you describe. A box scraper is just like a little bulldozer, you can scrape off the high spots and fill in the low spots in one continuous sweep. It is definitely an acquired skill but once you learn how to run it you can level and smooth an area out very well.

    In all cases, finishing by dragging around a log, some tires, some fence, or an official harrow will make it very smooth.

    To plant grass you want the soil just firm enough that you can dent the soil about 1/2" with your heel. I usually just broadcast the seed with no effort to cover it up or rake in the seed.
  12. nate379

    nate379 Guest

    When I did my yard 2 years ago I rented a tractor with a landscape rake and FEL loader. After I got the slope good with the FEL, I went over it several times with the rake.

    After that I built a drag with some chainlink fence and put 4 or 5 40lb tractor weighs over 2x6s that were across the fencing. Towed that around many passes with my little 20hp garden tractor.

    All in all yard came out nice minus 2 sinkholes that have developed this last winter. Brought in 10 yards of topsoil this spring to fill them and they are still sinking now.
  13. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    Was there a stump there? Maybe a grave? I wonder if you were to overfill that area if that would prevent water from ponding there and maybe limit the settlement in the future. Stump holes are notorious for getting wet and turning into sinkholes in my part of the country.
  14. Cowboy Billy

    Cowboy Billy Minister of Fire

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    I guess I am just fussy about grade. And a back blade is not going to do it for me. To many years building landfill cells were everything has to be within 1.5 inches over ten acres.

    Billy
  15. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    That is a tight tolerance. Especially when working with material that is large. You make a good point though, lawn grading isn't a swiss watch or a putting green, your main goal is to be able to mow at high speed and not bounce or scalp the lawn.
  16. btuser

    btuser Minister of Fire

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    A thousand square feet? What kind of tiller did you use? If you got the good one it pounded the grass into powder but if you got the small one you've got lots of clumps that are going to be hard to level out. For that small of an area I would use a landscaping rake.
  17. nate379

    nate379 Guest

    I think when they cleared the lot 4 years ago they dug a hole and stuffed all teh branches, stumps, and other junk into the hole and that is what is sinking.

    I know the house another contractor build 2 years ago had a sinkhole this spring that was probably 10ft across and 8ft deep!

  18. thewoodlands

    thewoodlands Minister of Fire

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    After our house was built it was my job to do the yard, after getting tired of hauling the topsoil around with the yard tractor with a small wagon I put the snowplow on the truck and the rest is history.

    I finished in time for hurricane season which in New York State means heavy rain with strong winds, had some grass growing but loss some topsoil.


    zap

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