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Aeration, Topdressing , Oversdeeding, etc.

Discussion in 'Homeowner Assistance Forum' started by TGNY, Mar 20, 2005.

  1. TGNY

    TGNY LawnSite Member
    Messages: 5

    Just finished construction on my house and need to fix the lawn. Actually, the lawn needed fixing long before. I imagine most of these issues have been asked, but since mine are site specific, here I go.
    Property is .43 acre , aprox. 15,000 sf of lawn (try rye or shady mix). Sandy loam, many oak trees, acidic pH. In the past I lime every spring, lightly overseed and have switched to organic ferts. I am planning on aerating, topdressing with compost (available free at town transfer center), overseed and possibly drag or roll into soil. I would like to level out the lawn a little too. All this will be done by hand since I don't own any landscaping machines (ie. tractor). I don't have a sprinkler system, though am considering putting one in sometime down the road. How much compost is recommended (in height or cy/k) and in genreal is this a viable plan, or would someone suggest other methods. Any comments appreciated. Thanks in advance.

    P.S. I also have had a really bad mole problem the last couple of years. I don't if that would affect any suggestions here or if that is a topic for a separate posting.
  2. SOMM

    SOMM LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 425

    We've ferried all over Shelter Island, Rams's Head, and the Hampton's. Love it and will be going back after a family member finishes their Masters here in MO.
    Very similar climate and cultivars to our business' locale here.

    Manage shade: limit trees populations and you realize maximized lawn proliferation. Raise limbs to first 20% of trees overall height. Prune 20% of trees upper leaders and main branches every 3-5 years to allow in more sunlight and rain to your lawn. Consult Davey Tree April-May or September-October for an annual deep-root fertilization of trees to prevent them from tapping into your lawn's fertilizer reserves. Consider irrigation or a watering program to also include a gentle but sufficient misting of treetrunks on trees over 15 feet -at 10 minutes per day (even twice per day morning and afternoon) to prevent their responsibility in parching your summer lawn by drawing hundreds of gallons or water from the good earth, of their own accord.

    You've got the right ideas on the lawn.
    Lawn Organics like Nature Safe (about 75 lbs worth, every other month during your growing season) combined with good cultural practices and quality recommended seed blend for your area go farther than treating "symptoms" with chemicals.

    Twice annual (spring & fall) core aeration is recommended for impacted, construction recovery for the first 3 years thereafter to better the exchange of air, water, and nutrients, after which you can scale-back to once annual in the Fall for year 4 and thereafter. No need for bagging clippings that will return 80% water and nutrients back to your topsoil. Try to keep the nitrogen to less than 15 to control established lawn topgrowth, the phosphate at about the same to less for root network benefit, and k-potassium can be high for drought stress tolerance. The best rule of thumb for propagating new overseeding is shade to mostly shade areas need low (5) to zero nitrogen, and mostly sunny to full sun areas will benefit with higher nitrogen levels. Mow at 2.5 to 3.5 inches for better lawn water conservation and root network density. Lime works well composting acidic oak leaves and helps reduce turf weed and fungus populations by also benefitting lawns which have a necessary calcium requirement - we wouldn't apply more than 80 lbs per season (blended into your fertilizer is best) for your sq ft. Steer clear of watering 7pm-4am as night lawn watering brings with it fungus, water-weeds, and poor lawn respiration. No need to water lawns more than 10 minutes per zone daily unless rainfall is dreadfully insufficient, then 'up' your zones another 5 minutes.

    http://www.areamulchandsoils.com/product_calculator.html is a site with onboard server to help calculate compost amounts by using the drop-down menu for "soil mixes" (has amounts for other materials too). It figures in cubic yards which are approximately two single Bobcat scoops, and tons which are approx one scoop. Because compost takes a few months to break down properly, its best to apply in Fall, after a core aeration, at not more than 1-1.5 inches uniform thickness.

    The best technology for worm-eating Moles: http://www.talpirid.com/
    Some moles like grubs, but GRUBS can also kill off wholesale areas of your lawn, which is why we place Bayer's Merit in a 0-0-7 granular fertilizer combination just prior a good rain in mid-May. When grub damage becomes visible in dead turf areas that simply "lift-up" when pulled by hand in late May to June is when the damage is already done. Sure you can use Merit, but you're still back to overseeding in the fall again.

    Best Regards.

    BTW- if you need a good aerator company there was a Shelter Isl. Hgts. cop a few years back that was doing great work for alot of happy customers.
  3. TGNY

    TGNY LawnSite Member
    Messages: 5

    SOMM, thanks alot for the extremely thorough and informative response. Much obliged. BTW I spoke to a lawn maintenance individual last week who also echoed your recommendations on pruning and raising the canopy (which was last done 4 years ago), so I will definately heed that advice. He didn't seem to think aeration was necessary, but I figured it can't hurt. I will checkout those links. If you are in the area again, drop me a line and hopefully I will have a lawn to show you. Gotta spring for that sprinkler system, unfortunately the construction has tapped me out. Thanks again.
  4. TGNY

    TGNY LawnSite Member
    Messages: 5

    BTW, how does one tell if the moles are grub or worm eating?
  5. SOMM

    SOMM LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 425


    Many lawn contractors make erroneous casual observations this time of year if they have not seen the previous state of your grounds in which your builders and remodellers were operating upon. All they see is that the ground under their feet is seemingly sticky/moist and healthy in appearance ("after all, isn't some of the turf starting to look green?"-they'll say). Underneath - the newly establishing turfgrass seed or sod that are being grown for the first time since the new construction- is the situation anyting but healthy:

    The resulting soil (although any evidence is predominanty unseen) underneath the turfgrasses in and within proximity to the new house construction or remodelling has been usually 95% physically-compressed and compacted by the previous combination of: big equipment and foot traffic, repeated stormwater runoff upon the resulting previous barren turf areas, and the biggest culprit of all: the damnable practice of builders mindlessly bulldozing their rough graded or excavated piles of leftover high-clay content fill-dirt, gravels, brick, stone, and (God-forbid) caustic mortars and cement mixes into the actual topography of the landscape (they'll tell you to your face this never occurred ). This notorious practice among most of their constituents is completed solely to their satisfaction without any regard of the sterile-clay's top 6 inches needing to be physically-cultivated with fertile topsoil and compost mixes to ensure any ongoing success of re-seeding or the laying of sod upon the areas stressed by their work or traffic at their "previous jobsite".

    Frequent Core Aerations with topdressings are especially designed to recover new-construction sites mismanaged per above, especially areas with pre-existing "needs of fixing" -such as yours. To not core aerate frequently - especially under massive trees with massive shade - is to slowly suffocate, dehydrate, and starve turf areas already stressed by the massive draw of tree root networks underneath them.

    Best Regards

    BTW- all moles prefer worms as their primary food, blended with a few grubs now and then. The Talpirid worm-style bait gets placed into their tunnels, they eat -they die.
  6. TGNY

    TGNY LawnSite Member
    Messages: 5

    Somm, I checked out the Talpirid website. It appears you have to be a professional to obtain it. Do you know if it is sold retail?
  7. SOMM

    SOMM LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 425

    Perhaps a Farmer's seed & supply would sell limited quantities ( if gov's did in fact clear it for general public's over the counter use).

    Raw cost for the Pro's out here for the smallest, for-sale unit is 'the good chunk' of $100 (tax incl.)for 20 of the Talpirid "worms". Next price break comes at 100 "worms" are obtainable to us for near $300 (tax. incl).

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