Ask a Question forum: Tiller advice for a lawn replacement project?

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Name: Ryan Baskett
Bellevue Washington, USA
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RyanGreenThumb
Jul 11, 2017 12:27 PM CST
I am working on completely replacing our lawn in our yard, but the soil is try and rocky and full of now dead moss after spreading a lot of moss killer. It has some pretty thick roots that I need to power through and I am here trying to find a recommendation for the best tiller that I can find for such a task: something with really high horse power and preferably electric but to be honest if you know something that works very well specifically for these symptoms that is powered by some other means please suggest it.

Sypmptoms:
Thick moss
Rocky dry soil
Lots of thin but long/strong roots
Minnesota (Zone 3b)
RpR
Jul 11, 2017 2:12 PM CST
How large is your lawn?
By electric I assume you mean battery powered, forget it, as waste of time. To get it to the point of putting down grass without it looking like a moon scape, will take many passes, and a long time.
If it is large enough, look for some one with a large garden tractor and plough it before tilling it.
Name: Ryan Baskett
Bellevue Washington, USA
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RyanGreenThumb
Jul 11, 2017 3:09 PM CST
It's a fairly large yard although I don't know the square footage, but it may be hard to locate someone in the city with a bobcat or a tractor of some kind that would allow us to use it for such a purpose, but I can check around. I've been looking at the highest horsepower electric corded tillers that I can find on Amazon.com so far. Do you have an example of such a garden tractor? How much does something like that cost to buy? Perhaps I might be able to pick one up myself? I live in a house with 7 other roommates so we might be able to perhaps all pitch in towards getting one depending on price.
[Last edited by RyanGreenThumb - Jul 11, 2017 3:11 PM (+)]
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Name: Mac
Soon to be MidCoast, ME (Zone 6a)
Ex zones 4b, 8b, 9a, 9b
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McCannon
Jul 11, 2017 3:46 PM CST
@RyanGreenThumb, How big are your "pretty thick roots" and what are or were they attached to? And how big are the rocks? I have a tractor-driven tiller and wouldn't consider running it over any roots more than a couple inches in diameter, unless they were rotted and don't till rocky soil unless it contains small crushed stone. You might look at renting a walk-behind tiller if the roots are just from small plants and the rocks are small.
The aboriginal people of the world and many other cultures share a common respect for nature and the universe, and all of the life that it holds. We should learn from them!
Name: Ryan Baskett
Bellevue Washington, USA
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RyanGreenThumb
Jul 11, 2017 4:04 PM CST
The biggest rocks are smaller than a baseball and the roots aren't that thick maybe the thickest we've encountered so far being about a centimeter in diameter or less, but they're just small dirt roots I'm not sure what from because it's all just grass and moss.
Name: greene
Savannah, GA (Sunset 28) (Zone 8b)
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greene
Jul 11, 2017 4:08 PM CST
Check out the tool rental at your Belleview Home Depot. If you time it correctly you should be able to do the work in just one day. Crossing Fingers!
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Name: Ryan Baskett
Bellevue Washington, USA
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RyanGreenThumb
Jul 11, 2017 4:19 PM CST
I do have a full time job and even with the electric tiller I have now this has taken me weeks so far to do and I've spent a lot of money on rakes and shovels and hoses and seed spreaders and other equipment, as much as I would love it if the whole thing were to only take 1 day. But I don't mind hard work and the project taking a long time if the work that's getting done is quality work and if I have the right equipment to get the job done.
Name: Mac
Soon to be MidCoast, ME (Zone 6a)
Ex zones 4b, 8b, 9a, 9b
Cat Lover Birds Hummingbirder Butterflies Frogs and Toads Vermiculture
Critters Allowed Vegetable Grower Canning and food preservation Annuals Morning Glories Sedums
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McCannon
Jul 11, 2017 4:36 PM CST
How is your current tiller handling the rocks? Hand tilling is time consuming work and requires several passes as you probably already know. If you're planting grass you don't need to till very deep unless the soil id compacted. As @greene mentioned, renting a gas-powered tiller is probably the way to go. You might get a weekend rate on rental, pick up on Friday, return on Monday if you could complete the tilling in that time frame.
The aboriginal people of the world and many other cultures share a common respect for nature and the universe, and all of the life that it holds. We should learn from them!
Name: Ryan Baskett
Bellevue Washington, USA
Image
RyanGreenThumb
Jul 11, 2017 4:56 PM CST
The tiller I have handles the rocks fine but the roots are another thing. It doesn't seem to inhibit the performance of the tiller too much but if you try and till for about 20-30 minutes you'll spend an hour or more having to cut the roots out of the rotors afterwards which gets pretty old quickly. If it were only tilling we could probably get the job done in a weekend. The thing that is taking up all the time is having to till a bit and then rake up all of the moss it ripped up and dispose of that and then till some more and basically repeat that process until the yard is completely free of anything but a soft layer of dirt. Once all the remaining roots/moss/grass is clear, we can consider starting to spread grass seed.
Minnesota (Zone 3b)
RpR
Jul 11, 2017 6:02 PM CST
Give these people a call, they are in your area, kinda sorta.

http://www.brimtractor.com
http://www.410rentals.com

If they cannot rent you what you need they may know some one who can.
[Last edited by RpR - Jul 11, 2017 6:12 PM (+)]
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Name: Ryan Baskett
Bellevue Washington, USA
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RyanGreenThumb
Jul 12, 2017 9:27 AM CST
Thanks! I'll check this out.

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