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Old 06-26-2009, 09:58 PM
zanemoseley zanemoseley is offline
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Help with a TN clay nightmare..

We got good deal on 2 acres in Cookeville Tn and have built a house. My contractor's brother has a landscaping service (doesn't specialize in mowing ect) and did the our yard. He used a Harley rake to prep the soil although it is very much clay comprised, there was some top soil but we had to do so much grading and land work it all but disappeared. It has been about 3 1/2 months since seeding fescue and our yard is pretty much horrible, the back is a slope so in heavy rains water runs around the house and has created bad erosion. The seeds sprouted after about 2-3 weeks and had some initial growth but quickly stalled. It hasn't provided enough ground cover and now my yard is extremely pitted/channeled as you can see in the pictures. I'm afraid its to the point where fertilizing and overseeding this Fall would only help at growing a bumpy mess of a yard.

I have spoken with the contractor and explained that I didn't feel that the effort they put forth and their approach has produced a sufficient "base" for my yard. We have a 1 yr warranty and I believe he is going to work with us to make it right. He is coming over next week with more of a lawn specialist to discuss options. I would like to get everyone's input here to see what I should expect as well as to avoid being led down the wrong path.

What I plan to propose to him is that he provide all the labor and materials that have already been paid by myself in the first attempt. I will offer to pay any additional expenses not encountered initially such as fertilizer, top soil ect... Their initial try was basically raking, seeding and blowing hay.

So what are your thoughts. The front yard has more of a gentle slope where the back is pretty severe in spots. The pictures only show parts of the yard but give an idea of what I have to work with. The one picture was right before seeding.

THANKS!





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Old 06-26-2009, 10:29 PM
ICT Bill ICT Bill is offline
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You will have to put up with it until it gets cooler for sure, any seed or sod this time of year will be difficult to keep alive
Find a local hydroseeder that has a good source of compost, ask him to use 1/8 inch minus screened compost, 1 yard per 750 gallons with the mix

that clay will be rock in a few weeks as it dries up. It gets too complicated to explain on here you can call if you like. We work around these things all of time and I can give you some very simple and inexpensive ways to help with success

Bill: 410-997-5450
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Old 06-26-2009, 10:43 PM
zanemoseley zanemoseley is offline
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I forgot to mention, we're just kind of throwing ideas around now. I hope to get them out late September or so to do the work.

Never heard of hydroseeding, looks interesting though.

Thanks for the offer to chat, I may call you next week.
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Old 06-27-2009, 12:11 AM
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Think Green Think Green is offline
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Zane,
That is quite a large property and a steep sloping lawn to seed in the beginning.
There are professional hydroseeding products and applicator's out there, but I can't help but wonder why you didn't want to sod the lawn and be done with the whole thing.
I didn't see how far over into Tennessee you are, but here sod isn't that expensive to purchase, it is the labor that is expensive.
I agree with ICT on the fact that the clayic soils will turn into brickette's after the heat sets in, and those natural water channels are going to get worse. There isn't much you can do other than to terrace the lawn into sections to slow that water down. As a matter of fact, I would look into terracing that lawn give a real nice curb appeal to it.
In our golf course communities, large lots like this are sodded and terraced because of the watering and drainage issues.
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Old 06-27-2009, 09:27 AM
zanemoseley zanemoseley is offline
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I will check out sod, I guess I always just thought is was too expensive for so much land. Honestly I could probably have them do the labor and me just pay for the sod. Honestly I feel that if I could get some grass to come up fairly quickly to provide cover there is only 1 trouble spot that I will have to battle over time and I may end up having to put a decorative water channel in for that.
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Old 06-27-2009, 10:55 AM
zanemoseley zanemoseley is offline
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My contractor said that he gets sod for $65/450ft which even if I only counted on 1.5 acres due to the house and non grass sections is like $9,000 assuming he'll cover labor and grading which to say the least is more than I want to spend. I may consider some long rolls of sod to go on the slope in the back yard to control erosion.
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Old 06-27-2009, 05:05 PM
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Think Green Think Green is offline
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Zane,
After my brain cooled down from a week long of trimming.
Consider using Bermuda sod and reverting back to the old time of sprigging that acreage.
Use 3 pieces of bermuda per square foot leaving spaces between the sprigs. Fertilize with 13/13/13 and roll it down afterwareds. Water daily until established.
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Old 06-27-2009, 05:42 PM
zanemoseley zanemoseley is offline
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Sprigging also looks interesting. Are you recommending machine or hand sprigging, the hand method seems like it would take forever. Is machine sprigging common in most areas? How much square footage of sod is used to sprig? Can I assume that sprigging provides erosion control quicker than seeding at a reduced price compared to sod? I appreciate the help. I'm also going to get a soil test done soon.
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Old 06-27-2009, 08:38 PM
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Think Green Think Green is offline
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Zane,
Years ago, stolonizing was done around my area, as the cost of sod was astronomical. The turfgrass had to be ordered and brought in from afar. Now the Bermuda and Zoysia's are grown within 25 miles of our city. We would take a piece of sod and break it into small 3 inch squares and store them into a wheelbarrow. Then we would take the pieces and walk to the designated spots and just drop them into place. The site was prepared and or graded with top soil--sandy loam--silt loam material for quicker rooting for our clayic soils. The top soil had to be 3+ inches for the sprigs to take root. We did not insert plug the bermuda nor did we have to insert the stolons into the soil as you would for the Zoysia species. All we do is break the sod into squares and throw it onto the ground, fertilize and roll it. Water daily until new growth starts to show. Mow after the sprigs are 4-5 inches tall. Bermuda is vigorous and will spread quicker than zoysia-- 10 fold.
The cost for sprigging is far less compared to an instant lawn. Seeding isn't a bad thing if done correctly. We seed lawns occassionally here as sod is a quicker way to go. The seed is fertilized and covered with straw afterwards. The straw will give you unwanted weeds but the erosion effects are reduced as well as seed loss from drying and birds.
I don't want to mislead you in your figures, but after you achieve your total square footage, then divide that by 9 of course to get your square yards needed. The number of square yards of sod then can be reduced by 40%. Bermuda will last a couple weeks on the pallet unlike zoysia. Otherwise, you will have to get the stuff off quickly. Keep the pallets in a shaded area until ripping them into pieces. Do not water the pallets or it will cause quicker death of the sod. The farther into the pallet you go, usually the sod will get thinner and not as nice looking.
The soil test will tell you what is lacking as far as the nutrients or the pH.......I am not sure if Tennessee uses the Melich 3 process. IF that lawn needs liming........as it probably does, you can do it at any time, just do it in stages of twice per season at half rates each time.
You need to see what you have privey to in the field of plastic meshing to hold down the erosion on those intense slopes. Seeding and straw will keep in place better, but an added mesh fabric will help immensely. The fabric is similar to the material used in orchard's to keep the birds off the trees. The square shaped web helps hold the seed-soil-straw in place. Steep slopes will be hard to deal with otherwise, unless some terracing is done to slow down the sediment in the event of what I call---TURD FLOATING rains.
I wish you all the best of luck............Dont give up!
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Old 06-28-2009, 04:37 AM
greendoctor greendoctor is offline
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If irrigation is available, another way to establish this kind of area is by broadcasting stolons of bermuda or zoysia, then shooting hydromulch over them. Soil prep prior to doing this and the aftercare is critical. Once the stolons are down and hydromulched, you are looking at 4 10 minute waterings per day until the grass takes root and starts growing from the stolons.
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