Clear 1/2 acre of blackberry bushes....and then....plant ?

15 Replies

Hi All-

     I'm under contract on my first higher end flip, in Grass Valley CA.  Currently the majority of the 1/2 acre, the moderately sloping back yard, is covered in blackberry bushes, in some spots up to head height.  The backyard is about 1/4 acre.

    After I've cleared them, I'm trying to figure out what type of cost-effective ground cover or landscaping I can do, that will look good fast (45-60 days).  Is it realistic to think I can get grass from seed to look decent in that timeframe?

   Most of the homes in the area don't have larger proper lawns, but rather have a mix of tree and bushes with either planted grass or more often natural ground cover.  

   I'm just not sure what to do with what will likely be a very bare looking 1/4 acre of land after we rip all of the big thorny blackberry bushes out.

   We should close April 1 and thus would be cleared mid April.  In case you are curious, here's our local weather.  Slope is north-west so less then a full days sun.

JanFebMarAprMayJun
Average high in °F:535558637180
Average low in °F:333437404652
Av. precipitation in inch:8.99.028.074.022.360.63

Thoughts!??

You are in Grass Valley...how about grass!

I agree with Scott....  Plan grass if it's just the yard and not really a garden.  Till the dirt plant seed and then hay it.  even if the grass is only sprouting at the time of listing I would imagine home buyers would understand.  Although it's not ideal...

Any idea what that will look like in 45-60 days timeframe?  I'm pretty firm on being able to market and turn this one quickly.

I would use "landscaper's starter mix" and seed it well with that.  Then apply fertilizer which Does Not Contain weed killers.  No "weed & feed" type products!  If you have a decent feed / supply type place nearby you can also use a rye and fescue mix.  Either will provide ground cover fairly quickly.  With reasonable water it will be all green in two weeks or so.  Maybe a little longer if the temps are under 50º.

Have you given any thought to leaving the tops of the bushes and trimming away all the lower portions?  Or of leaving a dozen or so of the bushes randomly scattered about and then seeding all around them?

stephen
---------------




Originally posted by @John D. :

Hi All-

     I'm under contract on my first higher end flip, in Grass Valley CA.  Currently the majority of the 1/2 acre, the moderately sloping back yard, is covered in blackberry bushes, in some spots up to head height.  The backyard is about 1/4 acre.

    After I've cleared them, I'm trying to figure out what type of cost-effective ground cover or landscaping I can do, that will look good fast (45-60 days).  Is it realistic to think I can get grass from seed to look decent in that timeframe?

   Most of the homes in the area don't have larger proper lawns, but rather have a mix of tree and bushes with either planted grass or more often natural ground cover.  

   I'm just not sure what to do with what will likely be a very bare looking 1/4 acre of land after we rip all of the big thorny blackberry bushes out.

   We should close April 1 and thus would be cleared mid April.  In case you are curious, here's our local weather.  Slope is north-west so less then a full days sun.

JanFebMarAprMayJun
Average high in °F:535558637180
Average low in °F:333437404652
Av. precipitation in inch:8.99.028.074.022.360.63

Thoughts!??

@Stephen S.  thanks for the advice.  i will explore leaving some bushes, to break up the landscape a bit.  good to hear things should look decent quickly, and that I can reasonably expect to have some coverage.

Spray grass like commercial properties do.  It grows quickly with little effort.  

hydroseeding?  

I agree 100% with @Stephen S.  I did almost the same thing to a T in PA this past fall (later than ideal) and had very good coverage in less than three weeks.

Is there any type of irrigation already on site? If not a quarter acre of grass is a lot to hand water and very time consuming as new grass from seed must be watered a few times a day until it roots. You could also leave the black berry bushes around the perimeter as a natural fence and then spread wild flower seed and sod a small portion of the yard. This would give the yard some depth and not just be a patch of grass and sod is instantly green. Whatever you do proper irrigation for any type of landscaping is necessary to save time and water after planting/seeding and is a cost that should be recoverable by the value it ads to the home.

I bought a house with a large back-portion of the property.  It was smallish pines and lost of scrubby brush.  The quote to clear it was too much so I rented a manual brush-hog  (like a giant industrial-strength mower looking thing)  and cleared the brush myself.  My original thought was to then cut down the small (4-5-6" trunks)  pine trees myself.  But clearing the brush was such a long job that attacking the trees didn't appeal to me as much.  So instead of cutting them down I removed all the lower branches up to about 5' from the ground and then cut off the pointed top - as high as I could reach from my available ladder - probably about 15-16'

The trees looked weird to me so after pondering for a while I started to trim them up with an electric hedge trimmer.  The first one ended up round and while I was pausing for 'admiration-time' a neighbor came home and asked what I was doing.  

Trimming my trees.

I never saw a tree that looked like That!

Really?  These are lollypop pines.  Somebody has just let them go too long.  They're Supposed to be round - that's where the name comes from.

Oh;  I didn't know that.

Well;  my grandfather was a tree expert.

It's does look kind of nice round like that.

Thanks.  Let me get back to work on the rest of them.

Over the next week I trimmed them all round.  And told the "lollypop pine" story  (entirely fictional - and my grandfather worked in an oil refinery <g>)  every time someone mentioned the trees.

I lived there for more than a year fixing the house and by that time everyone near there talked about "lollypop pines" like they had known about them their whole lives. <g>

stephen
--------------------


 Originally posted by @John D.:

@Stephen S. thanks for the advice.  i will explore leaving some bushes, to break up the landscape a bit.  good to hear things should look decent quickly, and that I can reasonably expect to have some coverage.

@Stephen S.  That's a great story.  I'll send over some pics when I get closer to closing on this one, and perhaps we can chat about whether lollipop trees, or a similar strategy, might work with my huge brush yard.

My brush is so tall/thick, I'm not sure a brush hog rental will do it, we might have to go with an excavator attachment.  

i'd avoid annual seed mixes, and go for a DWARF PERENNIAL seed mix. it will theoretically require less frequent cuts.

and im my semi arid coastal SoCal area,  only use mixes labeled 'drought tolerant'.

I think what to plant depends entirely on climate, and mine is very different from yours.

I just wanted to share a tip on greening up an area while the grass seed takes hold.  Something that works in my area, at least.

Before seeding the lawn, I put down a thin seeding of oats.  Yes, oats.  Like Wilfred Brimley thinks you should eat for breakfast.  It is available at Agway or Tractor Supply in the Northeast, it can't be all that hard to find elsewhere.

Oats are a couple inches tall about 10 days after planting, if they get enough water.  Makes things look semi-presentable until the actual turf grass takes hold.  Then you mow the oats, which kills it (they're annuals anyway, so they'll die soon regardless.)

If blackberry bushes are anything like raspberry bushes, keep in mind that they will likely regrow in this area. You may be able to make it look nice, but if grass is sprouting, I imagine the blackberries will sprout too. They shoot up from rhizomes and can be difficult to defeat.

yep u definitely need to physically get all the roots out first, and/or use a herbicide to kill them 

make sure u wash down all the herbicide enuf after some weeks, so that the herbicide doesnt keep killin ur new groundcover.

Free eBook from BiggerPockets!

Ultimate Beginner's Guide Book Cover

Join BiggerPockets and get The Ultimate Beginner's Guide to Real Estate Investing for FREE - read by more than 100,000 people - AND get exclusive real estate investing tips, tricks and techniques delivered straight to your inbox twice weekly!

  • Actionable advice for getting started,
  • Discover the 10 Most Lucrative Real Estate Niches,
  • Learn how to get started with or without money,
  • Explore Real-Life Strategies for Building Wealth,
  • And a LOT more.

Lock We hate spam just as much as you

Get the Ultimate Beginner's Guide

Sign up today to receive the popular eBook for free!