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View Full Version : Need Help with Dry Lawn - add dirt?


loweride
06-08-2006, 11:02 AM
I don't know what to do with my sandy lawn that we laid sod over. We can't afford to water it everyday and heard that watering during dry spells is not good for the grass unless you are really persistant with it.

So I'm wondering if there are other options that may help - like putting some black dirt on top of the grass so it holds moisture better........?

http://www.midwestattachment.com/images/gabe/backyard.jpg

http://www.midwestattachment.com/images/gabe/sideyard.jpg

Our yard was nothing but sand and weeds. So two years ago, we talked to the local landscaper and tore up our old weeds (and some grass), put a thin layer of black dirt down (as much as we could afford at the time), and then sod. I'm thinking this sod was not made for sandy soils, but I no nothing about this stuff.

Last year we watered like crazy, but didn't have enough sprinklers and time to get every area covered sufficiently. Then I heard that it is best to just let your lawn hibernate during hot dry periods and wait for it to come back when it is ready to grow.

So I'm wondering if this is true? I'm also wondering if there is anything that can be done to have it hold moisture longer. The above pictures were just taken and we've had rain a couple times a week - at minimum.

We are having a wedding reception in our yard in a month and don't want people walking around on dried out straw. Can someone give us advice - PLEASE...... :confused:

Splicer
06-08-2006, 11:21 AM
IMHO I would bite the bullet and water in the morning at least 15 minutes per area and I would also fertilize it NOW (since you are on a time limit) and water to activate the fert...Sandy soils do NOT hold moisture/nutrients very well...Good Luck:drinkup: :usflag:

Brendan Smith
06-08-2006, 11:30 AM
IMHO I would bite the bullet and water in the morning at least 15 minutes per area and I would also fertilize it NOW (since you are on a time limit) and water to activate the fert...Sandy soils do NOT hold moisture/nutrients very well...Good Luck:drinkup: :usflag:
agreed, 30 minutes would be better if possible.

dcgreenspro
06-08-2006, 11:30 AM
a couple of questions:what mowing height are you mowing at? what kind of soil was the sod grown in? did you aerify the lawn last year?spring? what kind of fertility do you maintain?

loweride
06-08-2006, 11:40 AM
a couple of questions:what mowing height are you mowing at?

I'd say 3"-3.25". It's usually a little taller than what the neighbors do and the wife keeps asking if it's set too high.

what kind of soil was the sod grown in?

Don't know. It was dirt - not sand - though.

did you aerify the lawn last year?spring?

Never done that

what kind of fertility do you maintain?

We are using the Scott's 4 Step System

dcgreenspro
06-08-2006, 12:32 PM
if you are having a party out there in a month you have to have a game plan. first off, i'd bump the height to 4.0-4.5 inches. I would also try waiting to cut say a ten to two week cycle with the higher cut.
I would then contact one of the fine people on this website to give you a liquid shot of fertility and before the big event, something with a 2-1-2 ratio w/ iron for color.
As for watering, if you want that stuff to green up, you need to force those roots to go down. what i mean is "deep and infrequent". I would divide your yard up into sections and based on that, water sections for a half hour at a time and then let it go until you start to see it begin to dry out a little. this way you might find that certain areas need more water more often/frequently than others. good luck

loweride
06-08-2006, 04:07 PM
Thanks for your help, everyone.

Can I put black dirt on TOP of the grass (obviously not cover it totally) and slowly build it up so it isn't all sand? Maybe like an inch a year?

Also - what does airating it do? Is this something I should be doing in the spring?

dcgreenspro
06-08-2006, 04:32 PM
adding topsoil and organic matter are two different things. you are talking about topdressing your lawn to increase water retention and resiliancy. i would wait till fall to aerify, topdress and overseed. i wouldn't add anything right now becaiuse you need to be concerned with layering. i wouldn't add anything till the ground is opened up. basically, you want to keep the same soil profile that you have now so it can function without problems. the drying out or yellowing that you are seeing is the cause of many small factors. i can tell you that with the little plan i laid out and the suggestions from the other guys on here have you going in the right direction.

loweride
06-08-2006, 04:57 PM
So aerify and topdress in the fall.... If I tell a landscaper that, they'll know what I'm talking about? Is this with "organic matter"? Is that some sort of compost or something?

Thanks again for all your help :)

dcgreenspro
06-08-2006, 06:09 PM
yes. it is compost, peat, etc. should work just fine.

ed2hess
06-08-2006, 06:23 PM
This is off subject but I am a little curious what is the purpose of having these big yards? Don't see much of that in Texas, is land cheap or of no use for farming or cattle?

loweride
06-09-2006, 12:32 PM
This is off subject but I am a little curious what is the purpose of having these big yards? Don't see much of that in Texas, is land cheap or of no use for farming or cattle?

Hmmmm. I never thought of our yard being large before. It is only about 15,000 square feet.

We live in a city of 8,000 people and it is one of the largest in a 60 mile radius. Once you leave the city limits, you see multiple acre yards. Even the farms have much larger yards than us - that they do not use for their cattle. The barns are away from the house and they probably don't want cow manure and trampled down ground for a yard.

My mother lives in Houston and has a very small yard. Land is not cheap there, though. Land used to be cheap here, but now it's over $3,000 an acre for non-city land. I don't know how that compares to other places. I know it's about $300,000 an acre by the golf course.

Some of my other relatives who live in the country have 5-8 acre yards. There is no way I'd mow that. But mowing is all they do to it and they have large tractors to do it with. Some use mowing as an excuse to get away from the nagging wife/husband and the to-do list that they don't want to tackle. ;)

Also - there are a LOT of small farms that have gone out of business. So there are more profitable things to do with your land here - than farm it. Actually the government will pay you to do nothing with it. ;)

jread
06-14-2006, 03:14 PM
This is off subject but I am a little curious what is the purpose of having these big yards? Don't see much of that in Texas, is land cheap or of no use for farming or cattle?

Agreed. Our .25 acre lot within the city limits of Austin is considered "big" :laugh:

loweride
06-14-2006, 03:26 PM
Agreed. Our .25 acre lot within the city limits of Austin is considered "big" :laugh:

I think that has a lot to do with the fact that Austin is over 65 times larger than our town (city). We have enough land, so we don't even need any buildings that are over 2 stories. ;)