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Customer wants lawn sprayed but no topsoil

Discussion in 'Organic Lawn Care' started by newleaflandscape, Mar 12, 2008.

  1. newleaflandscape

    newleaflandscape LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 348

    We do organic spraying. Just want to get anybody elses ideas on this. He built his house by an old gravel pit, and when he seeded his lawn he put down like a 1/4 inch of topsoil. He does have grass, but it is spotty weeding and nasty. He wants me to spray fertilizer to make the grass grow in thicker. But his major problem is that the darn grass roots just are not going to grow into gravel. I think my suggestion to him, is going to be to do 4 or 5 topdressings of compost. I figure as the grass grows, that organic matter should settle down in, and he should be a little better off. But I am curious if anybody has any other ideas. What really needs to be done, is we should just torch his lawn and bring in 60 yards off topsoil and start from scratch, but he will not do it, so. Any suggestions.
  2. lawncuttinfoo

    lawncuttinfoo LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,010

    I would say overhaul or nothing.
    No way I would just spray for him, if you know it will not work you are just asking for trouble.
  3. Kiril

    Kiril LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 18,308

    Convince him to bail on the lawn and plant something that will actually grow in the soil.
  4. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 10,081

    I have a lawn with lots of trees on a sandy hill (like most of my lawns in that area). I pulled a couple of plugs last year and realized it had less than a 1/2" of topsoil. It has been that way for years and the previous owner was watering all sumer long and it seemed to be ok. The new people spend a few weeks there all summer long. (holidays)

    I continued overseeding and tossing compost by hand , cutting high , very little fertilizer and mulching in the clippings. It is doing better all the time. In fact I rescued it from a, "6 app. program of synthetics", company. No irrigation, so it was dying back for several years after the previous owner moved away.

    Basically I believe, that you can keep his expectations low and that a bit of compost and sufficient water may work. Synthetic fert tend to burn on those types of soils or leach too quickly anyways. Organic ferts may hang in there better.

    I always enjoy a new challenge - even more when I am being paid for it. Don't promise anything and it sounds like he doesn't really care that much anyways. Collect the money and see how it goes.
  5. ICT Bill

    ICT Bill LawnSite Platinum Member
    Posts: 4,115

    You should try some of Tech-Terra's worm gold, great product great results

    I am going to see if I can barter with him next time I'm up his way

    Whadda think Barry a little 1 2 3 for a little worm gold:D:D:D:D:D
  6. muddstopper

    muddstopper LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,342

    Personally, I think most of you guys are lucky in that you can get lawns with topsoil. I dont have that problem, topsoil is hard to get here and most all my sites are on subsoils and fresh grade. If I turned down everybody that didnt want to pay for top soil, I would be out of business in a week. Grass will grow very well in gravel as long as there is a little soil there and it aint so compacted it cant get the roots down. Grass roots, and most every plant root, will stop growing downwards when it encounters about 300 lbs psi of resistance. At that point the roots will just shoot off in a different direction. Correcting the soil chemistry will help and a soil test is needed to do that. Topdressing with compost will help relieve compaction issues. Microbial innocculataions will help establish good nutrient transfer and help with watering issues. If it was my site, I would start with a chemical application to bring the nutrient levels into balance and some serious areation to breakup the hard surface. Then overseed and topdress with the compost and microbial innocculants. Then i would look at converting over to a totaly organic program if thats what the customer wants. The chemical apps dont have to be traditional fertilizers, you just need to know the nutrient content of the organic fertilizers you choose to use.
  7. phasthound

    phasthound LawnSite Platinum Member
    Posts: 4,583

    You've got a deal. :clapping:
  8. Will need adequate moisture.
    Get soil chemistry correct, apply quality fert, organic and or sythetic with very high soil release

    Always had turfgrass growing on gravel paths around greens and tees, never real aerified the paths...but it always got water and fert
  9. PSUturf

    PSUturf LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 663

    Try seeding some fine fescue into the existing grass. They do well on droughty infertile soils.
  10. treegal1

    treegal1 LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,911

    PLEASE poor soil, we just got a yard that had had only 2%organic mater, the rest was quarts sand and sea shells with a pinch of salt, first step is identify what is there, step two add what is missing, step three maintain what is lost.

    people grow food in an inert media, its called hydroponics.
    there is a publication that had a great story

    this was it, good low level info for consumers. we get there magazine at our office.

    and native plants wont need all this anyway

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