Ugly Yard? How About a Makeover?

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Ever have a yard like this?

Want it to look like this?

In this instructable I will be teaching you the steps on how to transform your yard

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Step 1: The Drain

This particular yard had a mud puddle on the bottom of the hill, so I decided to install a drain with 2 catch basins.

This drain measured 100 feet and connected 3 downspouts and 2 catch basins.

To install the drain use markers paint to mark where you are putting the drain. Dig at least 6 inches into the ground and as wide as the drain. As you are digging take a piece of the drain and make sure it is gradually going downhill to the spill off point. Use a level to consult to the angle.

Total Cost for Drain: $100

Step 2: Pea Gravel

The next step is pea gravel. These clients preferred pea gravel but you could do play sand or just mulch.

In this project I used 2.25 tons of gravel, which was 3 inches thick. Use the chart below from Soil Supply, the company I used, to see how much rock you need for the square footage you are covering.

Laying the pea gravel is not hard and requires no special skill, just muscle, a wheelbarrow, a hard rake, and about a day of time. Fortunate for me, I had to move the gravel uphill to the location.

Total Cost of Gravel: $295

Step 3: Preparing the Sod

This is probably the most important part of the job, as the live of the grass depends on it.

If there is already grass in the location, cut it on the lowest setting your mower can go and then till up the remaining grass/weeds ( if it were my yard it would just be weeds). The next step I did was add some nice nutrient top soil to this North Carolina clay. To add the top soil, till up the clay, add topsoil into the clay, and then till it up again.

I used 1/2 yard of topsoil that only cost $9 at my local dirt farm

TIP: Don't buy the bags of soil at Lowes, go find your local dirt farm and buy it by the yard, it is cheaper and better quality

The next step is to grade all the dirt so it is nice and flat. You can use your hard rake or a grade rake. This is also an important step because if there is bumps in the dirt, there will be bumps in the sod.

Step 4: Laying the Sod

This is the last big step of the project. S-s-s-so-sod

Scary, huh? Expensive and hard to do. Better hire a "pro". Well guess what? I have the best sod installer that I would highly recommend... You

Installing sod is easier than you think, that is, if you know what you are doing.

First, buy your sod, each pallet covers around 450 sq. ft. I used Tall Fescue on this project.

Second, take a roll off the pallet.

Third, place the roll on the dirt and unroll it.

Ta Da! You laid sod the "professional" way!

When laying sod, stagger the rows. this decreases the ugly gaps when the grass grows in.

When laying sod make sure there are no gaps, it is ok the overlap it. Over time the sod will shrink and if you did not lay the rolls snugly, the ugly gaps will appear.

Total Cost of Sod: $300

Step 5: Maintaining Sod

Maintaining the sod is easy

For 2 weeks, water the grass for 10-15 min in the morning and evenings if it is hot and the grass is dry. If you can still lift the sod off the dirt, the roots are not developed in the dirt and continue to water for another week or so.

Step 6: Mulch

I laid some mulch around the tree since sod would not grow there pretty well.

It is relatively easy, open the bag, dump, and spread evenly

Total Cost of Mulch: $60

Step 7: Conclusion

So, redoing your yard is easier than you thought huh? It took me a month to complete with a couple hours here in there, driving to get the supplies, etc. I could probably do it in less than a week if I was working everyday, all day.

Total Cost: $755

Remember, this is how I did this project, you may have done it differently or you may want something different in your yard. I was just giving you an example of a project that I did so you can see the flow of how to do it

I hope you liked this 'ible! Please vote for me in the Before and After Contest!

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    10 Discussions

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    Jimmy Fett

    4 years ago

    Nice one. Your sod laying encouragement reminds me of the detailed instructions my dad gave me as I began my first day laying did for him many years ago. He put his hand on my shoulder, looked me straight in my eyes, and said, "Green side up." He then hopped in his van to get some coffee from 7-11. An hour later he wished he had mentioned staggering. Thanks for the memory and the awesome instructable.

    1 reply

    Haha. I remember when I first laid sod, my boss was patient to teach me over and over again how to stagger, and took the time to tell me how to prepare the soil and to maintain the grass. Thanks Quentin!

    Don't forget to vote for me in the Before and After Contest!