If there are any farms near you, there will be a farm supply with spreader trucks. You'd be surpised how cheap lime is to have spread. Normally, they wouldn't want to bother with a couple of acres, but if they have the truck going anywhere near you, they'd do it at the same time. It's the right time of year.
Central Ill. didn't give me enough information to find anything to help.
Normally, I don't respond at all to someone who doesn't list their location on such questions, but since you at least listed the state, I gave it a try.
If you are in Central Illinois look up Growmark FS (as an ag supply store for bulk lime and fertilizer. They may deliver it to the farm and dump it for you to spread on your own. I doubt they will want to spread 2 acres in the busy spring season).
I'm going off memory so my prices are approx. Lime should run you around or less than $20/ton for bulk. Quality grass seed will be around $100 50# bag. Good old Ky-31 fescue should be around $50 a bag.
I'm sure you can understand why I'm not going to post my exact location on the internet. There be crazies that I don't want to know where I live!!! LOL!
Originally Posted by Tom King
Good to know! Thanks for the info. :)
Originally Posted by SouthernYankee
Lime will run you minimally $3 and closer to $4 per bag because of buying it in bags from a home improvement store, so that's at least $300. If you can find it cheaper than that, it's worth it. 4 bags of grass seed at even $60/bag is $240.
Southern States' pelleted lime is $4/40lb bag.
I agree with Tom, as I already said, that someone spreading lime from a big truck is infinitely cheaper. Getting someone to do 2 acres is going to be very difficult, even if you do a full 2T/acre. But it IS worth a try, and if you can find someone and time it with ground dry enough, it's SO SO worth the effort of looking, from both a labor and cost perspective.
If you get the soil tested the report will tell you exactly what your soil needs and how much to apply per acre. The ones I get have a graph line for each necessary nutrient. From low to high. Unless something is particularly low or something very high that might prevent a good germination and or promote too rapid a growth where you get a lot of leaf but poor root development I wouldn’t worry too much about amending the soil. You have to break up the ground to get any bang for the buck. If it is hard pack and you can only scratch the top up enough to get a bit of dirt to cover the seeds you will not get good root development. One hot dry spell and the grass will be fried. Unless you can set up a sprinkler system. It is only 2 acres so a hose with good water pressure and a pulsating sprinkler on a tripod, around $40 that can be moved around may save it.
To prepare the ground it is best and easiest for it to be moist but not muddy. You are only working 2 acres so you don’t need big equipment. A simple pull type lawn aerator that you weigh down with cinder blocks will do an adequate job. But if it is hard pack it will most likely just bounce around on the top with little to no penetration. If you can’t step a spade shovel in with relative ease you most likely will be out of luck. A drag of some type, chain with some old fence post tied to it weight will work. You should be able to rent both of these for not much money. Or borrow. If you can’t get a hold of a proper chain drag a piece of chain link fencing which is sold by the foot will work. Strap a 2X4 along the leading edge, a rope of sufficient strength at each end to tow with. Strap a couple old fence posts or something of the like to keep it flat and weigh it down. All of the above could be towed with a garden mower, car, truck, horse, etc around the paddock. Or do the whole thing by hand with the proper hand implements. A fair bit of manual labor.
If you have to apply fertilizer and or lime 2 acres can be done with an inexpensive lawn applicator that you just push around. The seed can be tossed/broadcasted by hand just try and be consistent then drag or hand rake to cover as best as possible. For good germination it really should be rolled so as to get good seed to ground contact and to get the best results from you efforts and seed dollars. If you don’t roll you will still get decent results but not nearly as good. I have done it both ways and have found that rolling gives a much bigger bang for the buck. A roller that you fill with water for weight should be rentable or borrowed.
Where you live isn’t much different then here so for seed I think I would just go with Kentucky 31 tall fescue a very hardy grass. Around $70 per 50lbs. Though I have seen it on sale for around $30. A good pasture mix is going to cost $100+ per 50 lbs. Fescue shouldn’t be used if the paddock will be used for pregnant mares.
The above is the long version. In short unless you give the paddock at least several months if not longer to establish IMO you will have no shot of all your work lasting. Until the grass develops deep roots your horses will just pull it up roots and all. The foot traffic will compact the sold and kill the new tender roots. Any time it gets real wet and or muddy they will just tear out the grass, roots and all when they run around. With 2 acres of well established grass you should divide it in half with single strand of electric pollyrope and step in posts. Move the horses every couple of weeks depending on growing conditions. Let the other side rest until it grows back to around 5-8 inches. It is very important to pick up the “piles” on a regular bases. 2 acres is just too small to let it self compost IMO. You will end up with clumps of grass growing out of or around the piles and everything around them grazed to dirt. If you rotate and drag depending on weather and rain it takes at least a month but more like 2 before the manure breaks down enough for horses to graze evenly through out the paddock.
As other have said the best time of the year in our neck of the woods is to do all of this in mid August and not turn anything out on it until around June. Remember the more you mow the more it grows and establishes a good root system. Small paddocks should be aerated at least once a year. Better if once in spring, mid summer and early fall for better root growth and moisture absorption.
OP, if you want to try cheap and easy just go out and buy a couple hundred pounds of KY-31 and toss it around. The rainy season should work it into the ground enough to get decent results. Some sort of drag will help. KY-31, orchard, bluegrass etc doesn’t start germinating and growing until the soil temp reaches around 75-80 degrees. Be satisfied with what you get for the effort and hope it last long enough to get some sort of satisfaction.
Sorry to be long winded but my posts are not always directed just to the OP but also to others that may read and apply to their own situation.
The best way to over seed any pasture that has some established grasses is with a no-till grass seed drill. It can be rented along with the tractor needed.
Wow, thank you gumtree for the very detailed suggestions! I have 2 acres to work with as well (rented property so am not going to invest a lot of time or money into it) and was wondering what to do. I am in Virginia where it is currently muddy and we have clay soil, it is very dry in the summers.
OP, I'd try a craigslist post looking to hire someone with an ATV-pulled seeder and/or drag. Sometimes the easy and cheap thing to do is to just spend a little money. :) Pennywise pound foolish and all that. LOL
You can totally macguyver a drag: I've used all manner of crap :) Got a section of chain link fence or cattle panel? (if not, <$25 at your farm store). Use bolt cutters to cut some of the welded wires, like every third row, and bend them down a little to make tines. Bungee cord several cinderblocks to it to give it some weight, and pull it behind your car. (No hitch? No problem. Your car surely has rear attachment points for towing chains, and using that to pull something like this is not going to hurt anything). Go slow, you dont' want it just bouncing around behind you.
I don't think I saw this mentioned: if you can, get a solar charger and temp electric fence with step-in posts. Use that to cut the pasture in quarters and rotate them around ion for the first year. Otherwise, you're not giving that expensive seed much of a chance. I know you want cheap/fast, but it's worth going to a little trouble to get as much seed actually in the dirt and in a position to germinate.
TSC is running a sale through this weekend - $2.99/40lb bag
Originally Posted by JB