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Roachy
05-01-2011, 10:35 PM
I have 2 lawns that I just picked up that are in poor shape. Both houses are about 2-3 yrs old so the lawn is what the contractor originally put in. The problem is not bare spots, but the lawn seems like its all matted down and doesnt seem like its growing. Its a real light green or yellow color and maybe about %20 of the lawn seems like its growing straight up. It's kinda weird because theres a number of houses in this new neighborhood that seem to have the same problem. Just wondering if you guys see this a lot and what you normally do. I know sometimes new houses will have top soil put in if nothing can grow. I figured I would try and dethatch this guys lawn and then put fertilizer and hope that boosts the growth. Recommendations??

agrostis
05-02-2011, 12:11 AM
This is what happens to land when they build houses. They probably prepped all of those lots at the same time with a bulldozer. All the topsoil is now fill somewhere around there. Those yards might need all the help they can get.

Lawnut101
05-02-2011, 12:17 AM
Post a pic sometime. Were they seeded or sodded?

OrganicsMaine
05-02-2011, 12:22 AM
Pull a soil test ASAP, find out what is going on in there and then plan on topdressing w/compost if you can find a good supplier. You take these and make them showcase lawns, you'll have the neighborhood.

Smallaxe
05-02-2011, 12:30 AM
What is different here, than other lawns this time of year. I have been over a lot of turf in the past few weeks with a blower... I see the best and the worst of our common mix of KBG, Per Rye and Fescue...

The matted down stuff with the straight up 20% stuff is likely the KBG... In time it will look like we would like it to look... That is if La Nina ever let's us warm up enough for that to happen... Be patient...

Make your complaints and your judgements when the soil and the air are fit for life... :)

1993lx172
05-02-2011, 12:31 AM
In my opinion I don't think it will do much good. I have a yard like this and I feel that the issues are caused by the lack of top soil and compaction. When I get done with classes for summer break, and when I get the go ahead, I'm going to Harley rake the yard, bring in top soil, and re-seed it.

I don't know what you are dealing with in terms of conditions but I would try to aerate it (go over it three or four times) then fertilize it then go from there. I wouldn't suggest doing what I am going to do (the job is a 95% go at this point, just waiting on that last 5%) right off the bat, unless it's that bad. I've been trying for the last few years to get results but it's to the point where it's time to try Plan C.

Smallaxe
05-02-2011, 12:51 AM
... I have a yard like this and I feel that the issues are caused by the lack of top soil and compaction ...

So this is what you feel... Not much of a selling point to a client that is supposed to give you money to act on your feelings...

A simple plug or 2 will let you know EXACTLY the amount of topsoil and the range of compaction, without a lot of unknown feelings to sort out... So why bother with feelings at all?
BTW, What is topsoil? And please, spare me your feelings and just explain objectively and scientifically what topsoil is...
You know, a definition of topsoil... or... as you feel, an interpretation of topsoil... :)

Roachy
05-02-2011, 02:09 AM
Not sure whether they were seeded or sodded. Im sure I could bring in top soil and do a whole renovation, but not every home owner wants a bill for that much money. I would love to have these 2 lawns as showcase homes because their neighbors have terrible lawns also.

Do you guys think dethatching will help with this, or is aeration and dethatching going to be much better.

I dont have much experience with buying and spreading compost. Please educate me on this: how it is spread and typically price per yard.

I would rather not run this guys bill up and then have it not work, only to have to get topsoil. I will post pics when I get a chance. Still unclear as to the best possible solution for the problem right now.

Roachy
05-02-2011, 02:14 AM
What is different here, than other lawns this time of year. I have been over a lot of turf in the past few weeks with a blower... I see the best and the worst of our common mix of KBG, Per Rye and Fescue...

The matted down stuff with the straight up 20% stuff is likely the KBG... In time it will look like we would like it to look... That is if La Nina ever let's us warm up enough for that to happen... Be patient...

Make your complaints and your judgements when the soil and the air are fit for life... :)

I wish this were the case. It has been in the 70's around here. I asked both homeowners how their lawns were last year and they said awful, so I cant image the grass would just shoot up when its warmer out.

Smallaxe
05-02-2011, 02:49 AM
Depending on what the soil actually is, you may be very successful with a topdressing of compost... the only difference beteen dirt and topsoil is the amount of humus...

Having a showcase yard in a rundown neighborhood, becuz you threw a bunch of money at it, is not nearly as impressive as; creating the perfect lawn with a few simple ammenities and wise cultural practices...

Has anyone pulled a plug yet to determine what we are actually dealing with here?

topsites
05-02-2011, 02:58 AM
See it all the time, it's called the folks who moved in don't know how
to take care of the lawn, which is why they called you.

Not sure whether they were seeded or sodded. Im sure I could bring in top soil and do a whole renovation, but not every home owner wants a bill for that much money. I would love to have these 2 lawns as showcase homes because their neighbors have terrible lawns also.

Wanting and having are two different things, it seems to me that you got into this business and you advertised various
services but now that the phone is ringing and folks are asking you to take care of things, you don't know what to do?

Roachy
05-02-2011, 03:31 AM
See it all the time, it's called the folks who moved in don't know how
to take care of the lawn, which is why they called you.



Wanting and having are two different things, it seems to me that you got into this business and you advertised various
services but now that the phone is ringing and folks are asking you to take care of things, you don't know what to do?

Everyone has to start somewhere and this forum is the best place to learn. This guy called me to give him a quote on cutting and then asked me about his lawn. Maybe some people would walk away and say I cant help you instead of asking and researching the best solutions to the problem themself. How hard can it be to put topdressing or preform any of the jobs people are saying. Im in this business because I love it and find that I do neat quality work, even though I have my college degree in business. I just need to educate myself on the best approach.

Sounds like a soil sample is the first step at this point.

OrganicsMaine
05-02-2011, 07:07 AM
Soil test today! Get that test sent out ASAP. You are looking at at least 2 weeks before you will see the results.

Explain to the homeowner that to do it right, it will take the rest of this year. You are already getting to the point of it being too late this spring for new seed going down. So pull the test, and begin getting the existing soil in shape for the fall over seeding that you will need to do.

But, it all starts with the soil test.

Good luck

topsites
05-02-2011, 09:29 AM
Everyone has to start somewhere and this forum is the best place to learn. This guy called me to give him a quote on cutting and then asked me about his lawn. Maybe some people would walk away and say I cant help you instead of asking and researching the best solutions to the problem themself. How hard can it be to put topdressing or preform any of the jobs people are saying. Im in this business because I love it and find that I do neat quality work, even though I have my college degree in business. I just need to educate myself on the best approach.

Sounds like a soil sample is the first step at this point.

I'm not arguing about that but at least you're starting to see the light, because college degree or not you need a plan.
Now a soil sample isn't what I would do, but to each their own because it's as good a start as any.

ALC-GregH
05-02-2011, 09:43 AM
I have a few customers that I started with when the lawn was virgin. I cut it the very first time. After that, it started dying off some. I've since aerated, power seeded it as well as a few other things to help it get going. It took 3 years to get it to come around. It's still not full and has bare spots. In my case, it's a matter of bringing in a good 30 yards of compost/pete/sand mix if he wants it any better then it is now. Chances are, the builders that did the final grade on the property didn't use enough top soil. It's hard to get grass to grow well in clay dirt.

Creative Cuts
05-02-2011, 10:19 AM
i would aerate 2 times, topdress with some good compost then fertilize, wait for a couple good rains and aerate again you should start seeing results

Roachy
05-02-2011, 10:40 AM
After thinking about it long and hard im pretty sure I know the main factor in some of these lawns. When they built these houses they probably took a buldozer and used it to scrap the lot and this would compact the dirt immensely. They probably had someone come in and just lay sod down and now 2 yrs later you have a thick lawn that cant grow because of compaction. The one guy showed me an area on the side of his house where they dug it up and then when put the dirt back over top and threw seed down, the grass has come in very thick. This probably loosened the dirt so it was able to grow. The soil could still be lacking in some things though, but this has to be the main issue.

Now, do you guys find it best to aerate and then dethatch, just aerate and then fertilize, aerate, seed, and starter fert, or a combination of all this with a topdressing. I will try and take pics of the lawn today. I appreciate the responses.

TPS
05-02-2011, 10:20 PM
Have the same problem at my house, ripped out the old sod, raked the top layer of soil and seeded. Have a lawn now, but not a great one. I do believe aerating and top dressing would help. Let us know how you make out.

Greyst1
05-03-2011, 08:36 PM
Aerate, drop seed & starter fert or slit seed. I have a couple of rentals that practically have gravel for soil. Last year i did a lawn reno/yard install, brought in 37 yards of screened topsoil. Graded it, fert, seeded, straw and now i have grass. However there are some spots in the back that are thin because lack of shade so i will be aerating and dropping seed to thicken it up.

You will be surprised what an aerator can do.

As for the soil test, geez dig up the soil and take a look at it your self. Doesn't take a MIT grad to figure out compaction or disease.

OrganicsMaine
05-03-2011, 10:11 PM
Can you tell pH by looking at it? Or % organic matter, or amount of N, P, K, or any other micro/macro nutrients? If so, you need to go into that side of the business because you are talented!