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Labor Day – literally!

September 22, 2010 Family, Fitness 3 Comments

Greg and I have been fixing things up at the ol’ homestead. Our back yard has been an eyesore for about 18 months, partially because my thumb is the color-wheel-opposite of green and partially because our soil is toxic. After spending many hundreds of dollars replacing plants, shrubs, and sod, we made the decision to put in a synthetic lawn. Two years ago, we put in a perimeter garden and a flagstone path, leaving about 250 square feet of actual grass in our small back yard. Professional turf installation companies charge upwards of $10K for a job like this (depending on the size), so we opted to do it ourselves over Labor Day weekend. It also didn’t hurt that a friend in the biz got us the high quality turf… Greg made me Project Leader!

Here is what we were working with:

I began the project on Friday morning with a rented tiller, a shovel, and a wheelbarrow. The first step was to remove the existing sod (much of it was thatch in our case) and approximately 4 inches of dirt.

I was working by myself and rented the tiller for four hours, believing I could knock this out and get a big head start on the project for the weekend. Luckily, our neighbor wanted all the dirt we were excavating, so my process was to till a layer of dirt, then shovel it into a wheelbarrow, then haul it over to his yard. At the end of four hours, I had barely made a dent. So defeating! The soil was rock-hard and the blades on the tiller would barely even scrape the surface. I toiled with that damn thing for two more hours before taking a break to walk Argus. This was not quite the accomplishment I had hoped to show off when Greg got home from work…┬áHe took over on the tiller and found it as difficult as I did. We were both exhausted when we finally quit at sundown.

I woke up ridiculously sore on Saturday morning, but there was nothing to do but head back out there. The four hour rental on the tiller ended up being 27 hours by the time we hauled out roughly 3.5 tons of soil.

Steps 2 and 3 of the project were to install bender board around the perimeter and fill the yard back in with a mixture of gravel and sand that would provide the base and allow for proper drainage. We made our first trip to Lyngso and filled the back of the truck with Class 2 Base Rock. It took three trips between Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning to haul 3.5 tons back into the yard. We rented a vibraplate compactor and got to work tamping the wet sand/gravel into a cement-like base. This step was fun!

Greg put down a weed barrier (Step 4) and then we were ready to roll out the carpet-like turf (Step 5). We were lucky that our area was 15 feet on one side because the rolls of carpet come in 15-foot rolls. No seams! We got it situated and began nailing it down with 6-inch nails to hold it in place. Greg spent the next couple of hours with a carpet knife, wonderbar and hammer, tucking the edges into the bender board. (As Project Lead, I delegated this job to him. Not one to shirk responsibility, I washed the outsides of our windows while he was working on this.) It looked great!

The final step (Step 6) was to add a sand filler on top of the grass. This filler acts to hold each “blade” of grass upright and to create cushion on the grass.

We spent approximately 3 days and $1200 on this project, which will be recouped in no time between not having to water and mow and not spending money on additional seed and fertilizer. It was hard work, but worth it!

Can you believe the transformation??


Currently there are "3 comments" on this Article:

  1. Deva Bolinger says:

    You guys need to send this to the DIY Network, you could become famous do it yourselfers! Looks Great!

  2. Jeff says:

    Excellent job! Looks great! You’re hired!!!

  3. […] was three short years ago that Greg and I turned our eyesore of a backyard into something beautiful and sustainable. Remember […]

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