Lawn needs some help

Discussion in 'Turf Renovation' started by cj7jeep81, Mar 12, 2008.

  1. cj7jeep81

    cj7jeep81 LawnSite Member
    from Indiana
    Posts: 6

    I'm a homeowner in south eastern Indiana wanting to fix up my lawn, but I've got a few different problems. We built our house 2.5 years ago, and since then the lawn hasn't really done much. We also had a bad drought last year that didn't help The part of the yard is question is about an acre, maybe an acre and a half.

    Prior to building, it was a field. The grass grows up pretty spotty (it looks very similar to DWhite's yard in this pic http://www.lawnsite.com/showpost.php?p=2180208&postcount=13). I know the soil isn't very good (a lot of clay).

    I'm thinking about just going out this weekend with a seed spreader and going over the yard as much as I can. Our property is also very flat (kind of depressed in some areas), so right now it is really soggy. I know ideally I'd bring in some good top soil and compost, but with this much yard, its just not feasible, or in the budget.

    Would I just be wasting my time/money by doing this? I'm going to use a spreader that you wear over your shoulder, as a push type would just bog down in the mud and get stuck (and put little ruts all through the yard). I'm thinking about using some Kentucky 31 Tall Fescue that Tractor Supply sells. I should add, I'm not looking for a beautiful manicured lawn. Just one that is more grass than dirt would be a good start.

    Thanks for any help/advice!
     
  2. CreativeEdge

    CreativeEdge LawnSite Member
    Posts: 65

    I would check your local LESCO dealer, if you have one near by. If you get a commercial grade spreader you shouldnt have the problem of sticking in the mud, but i also dont know how muddy the yard is. You will get the best prices on seed and they will be able to inform you on the proper starter fertilizer for the yard, you will probably have about $100 in seed and fert. i would aerate the piss out of your yard first, rent or borrow and aerator and tear the yard up. I would also cover the bare areas w/ wheat straw after seeding to ensure the seed stay in place. When all is said and done you might have put about $250 in getting your yard looking good. In about 4-6 weeks you should have a beautiful yard, and any bare spots just throw out some more seed. Just make sure you talk to a professional, tsc employees know what products they sell but may not know how to get your grass to grow.
     
  3. cj7jeep81

    cj7jeep81 LawnSite Member
    from Indiana
    Posts: 6

    muddy as in step in it and sink a bit, and a bit of standing water in a few places. and we might be getting some more rain yet this week. what kind of application rate would i be looking at? for the stuff at tsc, it said it would cover 5k square feet, but i read on here a lot of people said 50 lbs covers 10k square feet. if i do an acre (on the low side), that's roughly 4 bags of seed. tsc is $70 a bag, so there I'm looking at closer to $300 for seed alone, no fertilizer. would the lesco seed be cheaper? or can i spread the seed a lot thinner?

    as for the aerator, i see a local rental store has a gas powered one and a tow behind. is one better than the other?
     
  4. CreativeEdge

    CreativeEdge LawnSite Member
    Posts: 65

    i am not sure what your seed prices at lesco are, but if you are overseed you cannot skimp on product, especially w/ fescue b/c it does not spread...you will have to look at the bags and get your recommendations from there. remember your first application you get about 70% of the seeds to germinate, so you dont want to spread it thin
    Tow behind in your case b/c of the size of the yard, you dont want to fight w/ the walk behind to get the job done.
     
  5. cj7jeep81

    cj7jeep81 LawnSite Member
    from Indiana
    Posts: 6

    i'll look into getting the aerator first then. might have to delay a weekend or so in hopes of the yard drying out. right now the lawn tractor would make some nice ruts.

    if the lesco site ever opens up, i'll see how close a dealer is.

    thanks for the help!
     
  6. cj7jeep81

    cj7jeep81 LawnSite Member
    from Indiana
    Posts: 6

    looks like the closest dealer is about 45 minutes away, but right by the nearest home depot. might have to go check them out, i was needing to go to home depot anyway. i read on here that you want to wait until the lows are consistently in the 50's to seed, so i should probably wait a bit anyway (lows are in the 30's and 40's now).
     
  7. Lawncop26

    Lawncop26 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 90

    I think you may have another problem besides the clay soil, that may be a drainage problem of some sort. How is the grade pitched from your house ? The contractor may of did a halfa$$ed grade job when they spread the soil and left depressions or low spots. If most of your soil is clay, the water will pool in the low spots and slowly drain,meanwhile, the water headed towards the depressions has no where to go except to sit and wait. You stated the ideal way is to bring in topsoil and compost, I agree with you, but I would also think about some grading work also, which is not in the budget. The next best step I guess would to be to fill in the low spots and adjust your grade as best you can and let it dry out before you aerate, otherwise, weather you use a towable or walkbehind aerator, a muddy mess would most likely result. As for seed, Per.rye would germinate the quickest, and it most likely would be the cheapest seed.
    So your options are:
    1.Remove the existing soil and being in at least 6 inches of new soil and properly grade it,but will be $$$, so....
    2.Bring in enough soil to fill in low spots, let it dry, aerate couple of passes, and use per.rye with starter fert.
    Doing it this weekend with a spreader and those conditions, you'll of not only wasted your time and money,but will of added aggravation and be saying to yourself " I knew I should of waited". I'm far from an expert, just my opinion. Good luck!
     
  8. cj7jeep81

    cj7jeep81 LawnSite Member
    from Indiana
    Posts: 6

    yeah, there's definately issues with the drainage. the excavator i used that did the grading just used what was pulled out of the ground for the basement. the house sits a couple of feet out of the ground, so it took a lot of dirt. the grading slopes away from the house, but there it is a bit lower than the road, so it is lower.

    i've been working on adding dirt to what i have. i put in 10 or 15 tons shortly after we moved in, and got another 20 tons last year. i thought i had pretty well taken care of all the low spots, but due to the drought, was off a bit. i've still got a bit of that dirt left, so once it dries up i'll try to fill in those areas. its not nearly as bad as it used to be, and once i spread out the remaining dirt, it shouldn't be bad at all. another part of the problem is we've had a really wet winter (thunderstorms in january, and lately a decent bit of snow).

    i want to get the grading done right, but don't want to pay for all the dirt. i had one contractor out to look at it, and he recommended putting a pond in elsewhere on the property and using that dirt to fix my drainage issues right. i really want to do this, but can't swing the money right now.

    after doing more reading, it looks like the best time to do this might be in the fall. is that correct? if so, i can go another year of a crappy lawn, and use the spring/summer to finish spreading out the dirt i have, and tilling up some rough areas to smooth out. then this fall, areate the lawn and seed/fert.
     
  9. Lawncop26

    Lawncop26 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 90

    You got it, thats a great idea!, Fall is the best time to seed, with spring coming in second, but your only one person and can only fill and spread soo much, so forget about a spring seeding,and continue doing what your doing and seed in the fall, my only other suggestion would to be to add some compost to the dirt while your spreading it and turn it into the soil as best as you can. Hope we helped you!
     
  10. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 10,082

    As long as you're tilling go ahead and till in sand and compost.

    Why did your lawn die rather than just go dormant? Will K31 fescue survive a similar drought? Creeping red may be a beter choice. Is the clay too compacted to absorb water deeply enough to establish a stand of grass?

    Can you keep an acre plus watered enough for seedlings to establish? Fall is better but we have had seedlings die off once the water gets shut off for the winter.
     

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