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There it is, a big, messy, overgrown field of weeds, grass, tree stumps, rocks and who knows what else, just begging for some loving. It’s an eyesore that you (and your neighbors) have been wanting to tackle for a long time, but you weren’t sure exactly how to go about it.
Before you run down to the hardware store to buy a string mower or call the local fire department to do a prescribed burn, the yard care experts at Toro offer 10 tips on how to turn an overgrown field into a usable green space for years of enjoyment.
1. Start with a game plan
Is the goal to extend the green turf area of your existing lawn into this field area? Do you want to create an area where your kids and the kids in the neighborhood could play soccer or kickball? Or how about turning this spot into an area where your horses, llamas, goats or other livestock could graze. Knowing what you want to do with your new green space will help you determine how much effort you want to put into it.
2. Consider the previous use of the field
Was your overgrown field previously used as pasture for cows or horses? If so, large animals can cause quite a bit of soil compaction. Do you have gopher holes everywhere? That means your land will be quite lumpy after you mow it down. Understanding how your field was used before will help determine soil conditions and what you’ll be working with after you clear the weeds away.
3. Walk the field
Before you run a lawn mower through a field of tall weeds, make sure you walk it to identify any potential hazards that may not be readily visible. Look for rocks, stumps and logs, equipment parts and junk, potholes, nests and more. Bring some utility flags to mark any spots that you’ll need to avoid while you’re mowing the field.
4. Remove rocks, branches and junk
Grab your chainsaw, throw in a shovel and pull up the pick-up truck and trailer. It’s time to remove rocks, branches and any junk you find in your field. There also may be things you want to keep – maybe tree saplings, a patch of wild growing raspberries or a brush pile along the edge of some woods that would make for a nice habitat. If there may be replanting, bring some large 5-gallon buckets to save plants.
5. Mow efficiently
To efficiently mow an overgrown field, consider mowing it at least twice, initially. In your first pass, raise the blades on your Toro zero-turn mower to their highest level. This will allow you to avoid hitting any objects such as small boulders or large mounds of dirt that you may have missed in your walk through as your zero-turn mower slices through the weeds. Then, lower the blade level and go back through it again to achieve a finer cut.
6. Half swath
For truly imposing fields, you may want to mow a half swath at a time. Simply make a pass of untouched long weeds using only half the width of the mowing deck with the other half passing previously cut grass. This will ensure your mower blade has the power and momentum to cut through the tough stuff and ensure the grass gets cut down to the proper size.
7. Get ready for a bumpy ride
If your overgrown field hasn’t been touched for years, get ready for a bumpy ride due to potholes, dirt clumps, gopher holes, roots, decaying branches, ant hills … you name it, that is, unless you have a Toro zero-turn mower with MyRIDE suspension system, an exclusive technology that cushions the ride for the mower regardless of variations in terrain.
8. Leveling the field
After you’ve cleared your field of the long weeds, you’ll want to consider leveling your new green space. This may mean bringing in soil to fill in holes and renting a compact utility loader from your nearest landscape or rental equipment dealer to knock down large bumps of dirt and remove larger boulders.
9. You’ve got options
By clearing your field of the long weeds, scrub brush and tree saplings, you’ve created more options for your yard. Do you want to remove all weeds, or do you want to overseed with grasses and native, low-growth ground covers such as clover? Maybe you’d like to turn a portion of this new green space into a large garden – for which you may want to till that area.
10. Regular mowing
Once you’ve done the hard part, you can go as fast or as slow as you want in terms of turning it into a usable space. If you plan to transform the field over time, consider aerating the soil in the fall and begin the process of overseeding (versus sodding). The key is regular mowing to prevent weeds from growing back and reclaiming your new green space.