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Bad soil? Trying to grow grass

Discussion in 'Turf Renovation' started by 1toomanyhobbies, Sep 27, 2012.

  1. 1toomanyhobbies

    1toomanyhobbies LawnSite Member
    Messages: 94

    I lady contacted me today about having many bare spots and trying to grow grass in her pasture for her horses. I know this isn't lawn care but any help is appreciated. I took a picture of the bare spot


    In some areas the ground is bare and in other it is hard baked. I have a skid steer and thinking of using a soil conditioner to loosen the soil but I am wondering if normal fertilizer will be enough or if we need to bring in compost etc. Any thoughts? Also, I owner is talking about planting tall fescue but I have heard the contractors blend grass is more durable/grows better in varying conditions. any thoughts?

    Thanks for the help!

    poor soil.jpg
  2. greenstar lawn

    greenstar lawn LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 648

    The farm next to my house I believe uses fescue from Tsc. Also they don't use fertilizers bc the horses eat up the grass. I would just bring in some compost
    Posted via Mobile Device
  3. ProStreetCamaro

    ProStreetCamaro LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,270

    I would try some pasture seed like this.


  4. 1toomanyhobbies

    1toomanyhobbies LawnSite Member
    Messages: 94

    It sounds like there is consensus of using compost and a soil conditioner to mix it in? Question, where would most people look to get a large amount of compost? The local city sells compost but it is $23 a yard. I have seen a local horse farm that is selling aged manure/compost but Ill have to see the cost for a tandem load. Any other ideas?
  5. greenstar lawn

    greenstar lawn LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 648

    How many horses does she have on the farm and what does she do with all the manure? The farm next to me has a manure spreader that works well
    Posted via Mobile Device
  6. 1toomanyhobbies

    1toomanyhobbies LawnSite Member
    Messages: 94

    I think it is either 3 or 4 horses but they don't stay in a barn so the manure isn't in a central location so it can be spread on the bare spots. I wouldn't really call it a farm, more of a house with a pasture.
  7. Think Green

    Think Green LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,746

    I have two acres with 3 paints. The soils often will become compacted from over graze and trample. Horses will eat that bermuda grass down to the nub if they aren't moved periodically for the forage to recover. The other problem is OM and fertilizing with irrigation.
    I know this person isn't unlike most, they hold the horses in this pin. The horses just trample the soil and compact it under their own girth. With constant standing and pack animal grazing, I wouldn't hesitate to tell this customer one thing. I would advise them to move the horses often and not allow them to stay in this area for prolonged periods of time or this same thing will continue to evolve.
    Fescue grasses is okay for the most part, but you need to consider the endophyte free varieties. If any of these horses is lactating or bearing foal, then this isn't a good choice of forage. Since endophytes is a natural part of these cool season grasses, it can be fed in moderation and not an entire forage crop for permanent graze.
    To correct this area, the customer needs to rotate those horses more often. I have this same problem around the barn gate and the watering trough. If these horses don't have enough room to roam, the problem will only compound no matter how much money you invest and the work you try to do.
    Do not guarantee anything with this job as it will bite you in the butt.
  8. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,082

    The pix you took is of the barnyard not the pasture... you are up against the same situation as growing grass in a 2500 k dog exercise yard for 2-3 medium sized dogs... this is not something you or the owner knows anything about,,, because horse pasture is not comprised of turf grasses... :)

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