Author Topic: Backyard landscaping  (Read 1770 times)

legalstache

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Backyard landscaping
« on: April 25, 2019, 03:19:21 PM »
My backyard is currently covered with grass and weeds and has two large tree stumps on it. It's about 25' by 25' and on a fairly steep hill. Ideally I'd love to remove the grass and stumps and put down some bark and add some bushes. From what I've read, it sounds like this would be a pretty big project. I'd really rather not pay a contractor but I don't know if it's feasible for me to do this by myself.

Does anyone have a sense of whether I might be able to make a dent in this myself? If so, any tips on stump or grass removal? FWIW, it's not turf grass but more of a tall, reedy grass (don't know the exact name for it).

lthenderson

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Re: Backyard landscaping
« Reply #1 on: April 26, 2019, 07:13:01 AM »
It certainly can be done by yourself and doesn't require much more than a strong back and a wheelbarrow and shovel. You can rent sod cutters from places that will cut underneath the grass and weeds and make removing that a pretty easy job. I would reconsider replacing the grass with bark though. Organics decay with time and then as birds fly over crapping out seeds, you will have a very great place for them to grow and will be out there all the time spraying or pulling it out by hand. I would much rather put down river rock instead. It doesn't have that problem and lasts forever.

For stump removal, you have about three choices. 1. Dig it out. 2. Wait it out and let it naturally rot. 3. Rent a stump grinder and remove it yourself. I don't know how hard it is to rent a stump grinder but in our area anyway, there are several people that do it for a business and you can call them and hire it done.

couponvan

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Re: Backyard landscaping
« Reply #2 on: April 26, 2019, 07:26:02 AM »
For the stumps, there is a product you can use a drill and pour into the stump and it will rot it out over a course of a few weeks versus years.  Then you burn the stump and remove the remaining roots.  It's not super quick, but it does work.  If you are going to burn the stump, make sure to put a fire screen around it to catch embers - you don't want to start a forest fire or anything.  If you have a cedar stump, this product will not work as well - fair warning.  We had one of those, and it just didn't do the trick because cedar is so sturdy.
 That stump we had to drill holes in, add kerosene, and burn - a bit at a time.  But we saved $400 of stump removal costs, so we considered our time and efforts worthwhile.

https://www.amazon.com/BONIDE-PRODUCTS-INC-272-Stump/dp/B009YNVGNE/ref=asc_df_B009YNVGNE/?tag=bingshoppinga-20&linkCode=df0&hvadid={creative}&hvpos={adposition}&hvnetw=o&hvrand={random}&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=e&hvdev=c&hvdvcmdl={devicemodel}&hvlocint=&hvlocphy=&hvtargid=pla-4583795260403896&psc=1

Car Jack

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Re: Backyard landscaping
« Reply #3 on: April 26, 2019, 09:25:13 AM »
Do a search on youtube for burning stumps.  From memory, you drill some holes and pour in some oil then maybe a bit of gas on top to start the fire.  Once the oil gets burning, it'll be really hot and get the wood smoldering.  It pretty much gets rid of the stump for you.

25x25 is certainly a DIY project.  You'd want to get the "grass" cut down as low as possible, then covered with some kind of landscape fabric.  You can then just wheel barrow in bark.  If you want something that is easier to maintain, use 3/4" stone.  We've done this and while you could potentially get weeds (dirt still will accumulate above the fabric in the stones), you can use a hurricane level leave blower to get leaves, sticks and junk out of the stones.  We replaced all our bark beds with stone and are really happy we did.

MasterStache

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Re: Backyard landscaping
« Reply #4 on: April 27, 2019, 06:41:45 AM »
I removed quite a few stumps from my yard when we first moved in. Sure I could have hired someone and got it done a lot quicker, but I saw it as on opportunity to save some cash and get a good workout in, although my back may disagree ( :

All I used was a shovel and a pickaxe. Good luck

legalstache

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Re: Backyard landscaping
« Reply #5 on: April 28, 2019, 08:19:18 AM »
Thanks for the suggestions all. Just out of curiosity, I did ask a landscaper to look at it and he gave me a quote of $2,500 just to trim the stumps down to ground level (not even fully remove them), so I am definitely going to consider all DIY options first. May mean some hard manual labor, but I generally have the time and energy so might as well at least give it a shot.

couponvan

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Re: Backyard landscaping
« Reply #6 on: April 28, 2019, 12:53:43 PM »
We found that watering, then digging 3-4", then rinse and repeat works if you have enough time.  A pick axe and a saw were used to cut around exposed roots.  We also gave our stumps a year on their own to "soften"....mainly due to laziness.  Our widest stump was 12" though....so if yours are huge that could be a very different scenario.

RetiredAt63

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Re: Backyard landscaping
« Reply #7 on: April 29, 2019, 05:22:00 AM »
My backyard is currently covered with grass and weeds and has two large tree stumps on it. It's about 25' by 25' and on a fairly steep hill. Ideally I'd love to remove the grass and stumps and put down some bark and add some bushes. From what I've read, it sounds like this would be a pretty big project. I'd really rather not pay a contractor but I don't know if it's feasible for me to do this by myself.

Does anyone have a sense of whether I might be able to make a dent in this myself? If so, any tips on stump or grass removal? FWIW, it's not turf grass but more of a tall, reedy grass (don't know the exact name for it).


I know it is hard to mow grass on a hill, but bushes and mulch will mean your soil will erode fast.  If you don't want a ground cover that holds soil well, you are going to have to terrace your hillside.  Do you really want to go that route?

Re the tall reedy grass,  if you keep it cut short and sow regular lawn seed (including clover) into it, you should eventually end up with a fairly decent lawn. Not golf course quality, but decent.

Come to think of it, steep slopes are actually a good place to use the wifi lawn mower everyone is bitching about in another thread.   ;-)

Re the stumps, if you chop out some wood in the middle to make a depression, so it can hold a bit of water (not enough to encourage mosquitoes to lay eggs in it), that will encourage rot and make the stump easier to remove later.

brute

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Re: Backyard landscaping
« Reply #8 on: April 29, 2019, 06:47:45 AM »
Do you like organic gourmet mushrooms? Get some maitake spawn, drill out your stumps, and pack it with the spawn. You'll have legendary mushrooms in a couple years.

Fishindude

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Re: Backyard landscaping
« Reply #9 on: April 29, 2019, 07:45:33 AM »
Either leave the stumps there and work around them, or bring in a professional with a stump grinder to grind them down.   You can rent stump grinders but they are not as good as the pros use, and running one of these machines is not for a rookie, could be very dangerous.

Papa bear

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Re: Backyard landscaping
« Reply #10 on: April 29, 2019, 09:36:17 PM »
How steep of a slope are you talking?  You probably want ground cover to prevent erosion.  Look at a ground ivy or something if you want low maintenance.

For the stumps - you could probably find someone on Craigslist to grind out the stump for a couple hundred bucks.

This is mostly labor.  And 25 x 25 would be a nice small place to get a workout.


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soccerluvof4

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Re: Backyard landscaping
« Reply #11 on: April 30, 2019, 04:40:09 AM »
I'll just add instead of the putting black fabric down if you don't want weeds ever put down a heavier plastic. The plastic will deaden the soil/suffocate the chance of any growth as opposed to over time weeds find there way through fabric.

SunnyDays

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Re: Backyard landscaping
« Reply #12 on: April 30, 2019, 08:53:27 PM »
The tall reedy grass you mention might actually be best left as is, since it might be a native grass that has tons of roots and functions to keep the soil from eroding.  If you want that part of the yard to be usable, terracing may be a better option.

Mtngrl

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Re: Backyard landscaping
« Reply #13 on: May 06, 2019, 05:03:43 PM »
Your back yard sounds like mine! (Except we don't have the stumps.) The reedy grass we have is rye we mistakenly planted the winter the house was built, to keep that slope (which was bare dirt at the time) from eroding. Big mistake, as the stuff is ugly and tough to mow.

We are DIYing a transformation, 1/3 at a time -- dig out old grass and weeds (work, but doable) lay down a thick layer of mulch, plant ground cover (creeping thyme, and some other native plants.) Terracing with rock where necessary. At this rate it will take a couple of years, but we're okay with that. The only cost so far has been for the thyme -- the other plants I am getting from neighbors (I put the word out I was looking for stuff and have had several offers). The mulch is from trees we cut down and had chipped (as part of fire mitigation efforts). The rock is from other places in the yard.

kenmoremmm

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Re: Backyard landscaping
« Reply #14 on: May 07, 2019, 12:17:12 AM »
i rented a heavy duty full hydraulic driveable stump grinder (see bottom one here: https://www.sunbeltrentals.com/equipment/items/1370/stump-grinders/). ground down about 8 stumps in a day. think it was $350 or so. a little learning curve, but not bad. biggest stump was a combo of 3 trees, each about 30" diameter and probably 2ft high.

couponvan

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Re: Backyard landscaping
« Reply #15 on: May 07, 2019, 05:31:55 AM »
i rented a heavy duty full hydraulic driveable stump grinder (see bottom one here: https://www.sunbeltrentals.com/equipment/items/1370/stump-grinders/). ground down about 8 stumps in a day. think it was $350 or so. a little learning curve, but not bad. biggest stump was a combo of 3 trees, each about 30" diameter and probably 2ft high.

Which of the three shown did you rent?

kenmoremmm

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Re: Backyard landscaping
« Reply #16 on: May 07, 2019, 01:26:02 PM »
the biggest one. you stand on it and drive it. just make sure you have access for something that wide (mine was 37" - slightly diff model)

FoundPeace

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Re: Backyard landscaping
« Reply #17 on: May 09, 2019, 08:08:55 AM »
The tall reedy grass you mention might actually be best left as is, since it might be a native grass that has tons of roots and functions to keep the soil from eroding.  If you want that part of the yard to be usable, terracing may be a better option.

+1 be careful removing these plants as it could erode your slope and terracing would probably be the way to go.

If you are going to remove the grass, then I would recommend just laying cardboard across the grass. It is easier and cheaper (I'm sure you could find some cardboard for free somewhere) than any other option and will turn your grass into compost for whatever you replace it with.

legalstache

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Re: Backyard landscaping
« Reply #18 on: May 13, 2019, 11:05:37 AM »
I really appreciate all the input. I'm going to try the rotting/digging out method first. I was told by the contractor who looked at them that the backyard is too steep for a stump grinder so I don't think that option is available. Burning them out also seems risky as there is a lot of vegetation nearby.

jpdx

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Re: Backyard landscaping
« Reply #19 on: May 13, 2019, 03:35:52 PM »
Let's see some before and after pics!

Maybe add some raised beds to grow food or an herb garden?

Roots&Wings

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Re: Backyard landscaping
« Reply #20 on: May 15, 2019, 05:49:43 AM »
If your plan is to plant bushes in the backyard, the stumps potentially can be an integrated feature. I covered over a large stump with dirt (from sod removal) and top planted with ferns. As part of a larger landscape bed, it's now a nice feature.