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Smoothing out a bumpy yard

Living the Country Life Radio Program with Betsy Freese
Rough ride

Listen to this radio show (MP3 download) or read below.

Radio interview source: Dave Minner, turf specialist, Iowa State University

We need to grade and smooth our lawn in the front of our property. It's extremely rough, and I don't like the way my teeth rattle while I'm mowing.

Older, established lawns like ours become rough and uneven over time, because the turfgrass compacts and thins. Freezing and thawing of the ground from season to season lifts up or "heaves" the soil, also making the surface bumpy. Animals digging through the lawn can also cause problems.

Turf specialist Dave Minner says the re-establishment of a healthy, thick grass will help alleviate this problem. But if the thought of ripping up the yard and planting a new lawn sounds daunting, you can build it up gradually by spreading a half-inch of top dressing each year.

"You could go out and top dress with compost, with sand and soil, with sand and compost, any of that combination, and you just basically keep filling it," Minner says. "Don't bury the grass completely, but about a half-inch is about the most you'd want to put on at a single time and the grass will grow right up through it."

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