Preparing Soil For Nice Lawn

Discussion in 'Homeowner Assistance Forum' started by snmhanson, May 26, 2004.

  1. snmhanson

    snmhanson LawnSite Member
    Posts: 59

    We are getting ready to hydro-seed a new lawn of about 25,000 square feet. We had three hundred yards soil brought in to fill in a few thousand square feet and put a thin layer of maybe two inches over everywhere else. I plan on tilling everything together with our tractor to get a mixture of the soil that was there and the new soil except in a few places where I had to fill up to about two feet which will just be the new soil. What else should I do to get it ready? I was thinking of speading two or three inches of compost over everything and tilling that in as well but after computing the cost of that (over $3000) I am having second thoughts. Do I need compost or are there other ways to insure a lush lawn? I'm not sure how fertile our soil is but it sure grows weeds well. We will have a sprinkler system with fertigation that covers the whole area but we will probably only water full force on the zones closest to the house and less and less as we move farther away. I guess we can increase the rate of fertigation on the outer areas to compensate for less watering. However, can fertigation be a substitute for ammending soil with compost or by other means? Maybe we should get some soil tests of our old and new soil to see what the requirements are? I am just looking for the cheapest route I can take while still insuring a nice lawn. Thanks for ANY help with this.

  2. blaze347

    blaze347 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 101

    Sounds like you have a handle on the whole process. I would buy a soil testing kit and find out the ph level and what levels of N,K etc..Armed with the information you find out from the tests, adjust you soil as needed.

    A lot of people waste money by loading up on fertilizer or other ammendments that their yard may not need.
  3. snmhanson

    snmhanson LawnSite Member
    Posts: 59

    Thanks for the response. I am going to get a few soil samples tested this week and hopefully be able to do any required ammendments the following week. Hopefully I will have enough time to get the sprinkler system in and have it hydroseeded by mid-june.

    Another question, can sod be effectively blended with an adjacent seeded area? I am thinking we may want to sod the zones closest to the house and then hydroseed the outer areas. If I make sure the same type of seeds are being used and adjust my topsoil depth for soil included with the sod can I get a nice transition between the two or will it be obvious? I'm just thinking it is going to be tough to keep my kid off the lawn area for two weeks while the seed germinates and it would be nice to have an immediate grassy area close to the house.


  4. dfor

    dfor LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 821

    Like you said, use the same combination of seed as the sod is. It may take 2 growing seasons for the hydroseed to thicken up as much as the sod. I've seen it done on plenty of lawns that I mow where the contractor has done the same.
  5. Lombardi

    Lombardi LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 538

    Do yourself a favor and spend the extra money on sod. Hydroseeding is one of the biggest scams going on in lawn installations. It will look good at first, but when the heat of summer hits, you will lose about 75% of what was hydroseeded.
    Good luck to you and please post pics of your hydroseeded lawn in August.
  6. neal-wolbertsinc

    neal-wolbertsinc LawnSite Member
    Posts: 59

    Matt, I'm not sure where Underwood is but I live and service the Olympia area. I'm a believer in testing first but with a lab, not on your own. I would have your native soil tested first to see what you have as far as nutrients and pH go. Then consider amending based on that finding. If you really intend on tilling you are among the few who follow through with that step. Way to go! Whether you amend or not, it would be good to till to make sure you are ahead of any compaction issues. If you decide to amend, about 1/3 compost tilled in to 2/3 native soil is about right, 3" compost in 9" soil is perfect. Compost takes on many forms so you may want to study some on which to use. If you contact Ribeiro Plant Lab on Bainbridge Is. (206-842-1157) they can help steer you on the right path to a successful beginning with testing and advice. Also, if there are any grasses growing on the site, have them treated by a pro who is licensed to make sure you don't end up with weed grasses in your new lawn, don't just cover them up, they may come back to haunt you later. You don't need worry too much about weeds like dandelions & clover because they can be selectively treated without hurting your lawn. Weed grasses, however, are not that easy to deal with. The biggest mistake I see made when planting new lawn is folks not making sure old grass is dead before seeding or sodding. Even (maybe especially) if you till you should treat with Roundup first, maybe twice, once before tilling then once before seeding or sodding if anything shows up that looks like grass. The very best plan would be to send samples for testing, have the area sprayed, install your irrigation, spread amendments if necessary according to soil test, till, wait 3-4 weeks for weeds to grow, spray again, wait to see if everything is dying, prep the surface and seed or sod. I know this sounds like it may take too long, but believe me it will pay off in the long run. It sounds like you are willing to do it right, so why hurry? There are treatments to prevent weed seed germination available from a turf pro in your area or I can help you choose the right products if you want to DIY. Neal

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