Prep school

Making the bed. It may be a chore you don't like to do with your own bed, but when it comes to your seedbed, it's a chore that you can't opt out of. Whether you are planning a complete renovation of turf or just want to establish turf in an area where there is none, you have to commit to some preparation time. In fact, preparing a good foundation for your seed is perhaps the most important part of the process. How well you prepare your seedbed will determine the health of your turfgrass stand. Poor site preparation can result in poor drainage or an unlevel seedbed, which can hurt turf's chances for rapid establishment.

Making the bed

Your method of seedbed preparation will vary greatly from project to project, and which type of specific seedbed-preparation equipment you will use depends on the scale and complexity of the job. No matter what surface you're working on, a properly formed seedbed will have adequate surface and subsoil moisture and be uniformly firm to allow planting of the seed.If you're planting seed on an athletic field, golf course or other area where optimum turf is expected, your preparation of the seedbed will be intense. You'll begin the process by testing your site's soils for texture and pH so that you can determine what soil amendments are needed. You'll plan your irrigation system ahead of time as well, and evaluate grading and drainage implications. This is the prep work you have to do before you even begin the real prep work, which includes removing any existing vegetation and large rocks, doing a rough grade, adding topsoil and amending soil, if necessary. The equipment you'll need for this kind of preparation will also be extensive. You could use several implements before you get the job done, including a rock picker, tractor rake, box scraper and drag or harrow. It's a lot of work, but the results will be a quickly established stand of healthy turf.


However, if you're simply wanting to establish turf in an area that does not require the aforementioned preparation, or if you're generally satisfied with soil conditions and just want to renovate existing turf, preparing the seedbed can be a little less intense, thanks to all-in-one equipment. Instead of combining several pieces of equipment to get the job done, you can choose one implement designed to till and smooth soil in one swipe.

Pre-seeder

Tiller/smoother equipment can be used in a wide range of soil conditions and is suitable for working in organic material or even grassland clearing. These attachments are available in various sizes that you can match to large or small jobs. Generally, they fall into two categories: tow-behinds that can be attached to a drawbar and bolted to a tractor frame; and hitch-mounted systems, which use the tractor's hydraulic 3-point-hitch system. Be sure to consider tiller depth, and make sure that the depth can be easily adjusted. Some equipment gives you the option of controlling the tilling depth and leveling action right from the tractor seat. Most tiller/smoothers will perform well under the right circumstances, so it is important to do a complete evaluation of both the requirements of the site and of the design of the machine.

Crumbling rollers, or smoothers, that roll along behind the tiller may have scarifier teeth, leveling bars or drag chains to help smooth the surface. Check with your supplier to discuss which is best for your needs, and what options are available for a unit that you're considering.

A lot of elements go into growing healthy turf. Some of them you can't control. But you can dictate under what conditions you plant the seed. So make the most out of you effort by performing proper seedbed preparation.

Who: Finn Corp.

What: Ground-Hog

Description: The Ground-Hog creates a seedbed instantly by tilling, leveling and raking in one operation. It is designed for both residential and commercial work. One operator can turn a rough grade into a finished seedbed without any additional equipment and nearly all hand labor is eliminated. It's aggressive tilling action pulverizes soil like a rotary tiller, only much faster. Fresh soil is tilled in front of the rotor creating a uniform seedbed as deep as 4 inches.
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Who: First Products, Inc.

What: SEEDA-vator

Description: This unit has vibrating tines that allow extensive fracture of the soil to create a productive seedbed. The 5-foot seeder has a patented swivel hitch, allowing the unit to maneuver around plant beds and other obstacles. You can also customize the SEEDA-vator by pinning the cleated roller to control the tine depth for primary and overseeding.
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