Grass was planted on untilled dirt--will it last?

Discussion in 'Homeowner Assistance Forum' started by rebaths, Apr 24, 2008.

  1. rebaths

    rebaths LawnSite Member
    from None
    Posts: 35

    Hi there, I recently bought a home 2 weeks ago and the previous homeowners planted grass seed to make the yard look better. It was weird, since we were already under contract when they did it, maybe the did it just in case the deal fell through. Anyways, they planted about 3 weeks ago. I do not know the type of grass used.

    I have been watering every day since the grass is still new, and the front part is on the drainage ditch in front by the road and gets quite a bit of sun all day. Previously, there was nothing but bare clay with a few clumps of grass or weeds here and there. I was talking to a neighbor, who said he was watching the sellers when they had a tractor scrape the yard with a box scrape, but did not till or anything. They used metal rakes to scratch the surface, but that couldn't have gotten more than 1/2" deep or so, right?

    So here I am with baby grass that looks good so far, but I'm worried that the roots won't be able to go much deeper and I will be in trouble when the summer heat really starts to kick in.

    I live near Charlotte, NC.

    What should I do? Keep watering? Wait until fall and till it up... or aerate?
     
  2. Steve Swail

    Steve Swail LawnSite Member
    Posts: 53

    Hey....Nothing to worry about with the grass not having enough room for the roots to grow. I mean, grass will grow in the cracks of your sidewalk so I'm pretty sure it will grow in your soil, regardless of how tightly packed the clay is. Sounds like you've got a good stand of grass growing now. I live in the Charlotte area as well & am in the process of "reclaiming" a lawn that was very neglected. Here's the best advice I can give:

    1) DO NOT till the soil. It's a last ditch effort on dead or very uneven lawns & often increases the potential for weeds to come in.
    2) DO aerate thoroughly this fall. Aeration is essential to the health of the roots of the grass by making it easier for nutrients & moisture to get to them. It's also great to prevent compaction of the soild caused by walking on it & the weight of your mower. Make sure you (or whomever you hire to do it) makes multiple passes in different directions over the yard. Wait a few days or for a good rain before overseeding so the cores break up & the holes are filled in some or you can get a "corn row" look with tufts of grass poking thru the holes.
    3) DO Water, but deeply & infrequently to promote root development. I'm sure someone on here will include a watering schedule for you to follow.
    4) DO have a soil sample taken of the dirt in your lawn. It's definitely the most accurate & safest way to know exactly how much of different ammendments (lime,fertilizer, etc) need to be added for ideal growing conditions. A good rule of thumb is to fertilize when the grass can use the nutrients (i.e., not in the summer around here with Tall Fescue lawns).
    5) DO cut your grass on the highest setting on your mower. Keeping the grass tall is the best way to prevent weeds by "choking them out" & not giving them sunlight to germinate or grow.

    Of course, all this is based on the assumption you have a Turf Type Tall Fescue or Bluegrass mix lawn (cool weather grasses) & not a bermuda or zoyzia lawn (warm weather grasses). But, if it's already green now it's most likely Fescue. Taking care of your lawn is just as much about WHEN you do something as it is about WHAT you do to it. Check out this website for a lot of helpful info & best of luck to you. www.turffiles.ncsu.edu
     
  3. rebaths

    rebaths LawnSite Member
    from None
    Posts: 35

    Wow, don't till the soil! OK. I was freaking out.. see I was worried that the new grass grew great the first couple weeks but would hit into the hard pack white-yellow clay and shrivel up and die.

    I have so much more bare dirt which needs grass on it throughout the rest of my yard...It's not even summer and fall can't get here soon enough!
     
  4. rebaths

    rebaths LawnSite Member
    from None
    Posts: 35

    Oh yeah, another question. I know different grasses germinate at different rates... so how long should I water short & frequently to allow ALL seed to germinate, and when should I switch to deep waterings?
     
  5. Steve Swail

    Steve Swail LawnSite Member
    Posts: 53

    Damn, I know what you mean about fall not getting here soon enough :). I've got the same bare spots in my yard as well. As far as watering new growth, well, I kind of equate it to microwave popcorn. The germination window for tall fescue is 7-14 days. If you watered lightly for 3 weeks I would think what ever is going to grow is going to grow, period. After that I'd start doing the infrequent, deep watering to promote the root growth. Especially now with the heat of the summer coming on or it will never make it. But, I will say this from experience. It's never as bad as it looks....I thought I had lost most of my yard from the drought last summer but to my surprise a lot of it came back when we started to get some steady periods of rain early this spring. Have your plan ready for when the fall gets here....
     
  6. Marcos

    Marcos LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,720

    Steve, this is one of the best-written and delivered pieces of advice I've ever seen in this forum!
    :clapping:


    And after I finish reading it....I click on your name and see that you've labeled yourself a "homeowner"...
    so therefore you're NOT in the green industry for your livelihood, right ?!?

    Either way...Nice job!
     
  7. Steve Swail

    Steve Swail LawnSite Member
    Posts: 53

    Marcos....Thank you for the kind words. Indeed, I am just a homeowner :). I enjoy this site as a place to kind of "lurk" and pick up useful info that I can use to help improve my own lawn. I'll chime in with some info now & then, but I usually stick to just posting in the homeowner section. Too many of those "pros" who post in the other sections are too busy bitching about something or tooting their own horn to come here and answer questions. Thank you for being one of the few who will actually take the time to read and answer questions here in the homewner forum. Oh, and the spelling is kind of a pet peeve of mine. I know we can all get in a hurry & make mistakes when we're typing & trying to get our points across, but really, it doesn't make a very good impression when someone is butchering the English language....
     

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