Build turf on this!

Discussion in 'Turf Renovation' started by cmdobrndo, Mar 13, 2013.

  1. cmdobrndo

    cmdobrndo LawnSite Member
    Messages: 2

    The situation.

    2011 built home Seattle lots of shade.

    Very clay heavy soil with plasticy landslide retention netting over the top throughout the property. Sod seems to just have been laid over the top.

    Pretty patchy grass where it has survived. Established grass have shallow rooting. Property on a slight slope, water drains off through top few inches of soil creating nasty sloppy clay conditions.

    How do we create better soil conditions to establish better rooting? Do we worry about adding top and having it simply slide away do to semi impermiable layer underneath?
  2. GreenUtah

    GreenUtah LawnSite Senior Member
    from SLC, UT
    Messages: 866

    clay bulked with organic should still be pretty "sticky" and stay in place. But by adding organic material, you would help water penetration and air in the soil for plant rooting. The trick is that netting, but if it's still pliable you should be able to aerate and topdress without ripping it up too much (depending on how much of it is exposed). worst case scenario, you use a step down aerator or hydraulic plugger (instead of a wheeled) to keep from pulling the netting or very worst case, a pitchfork. If you can open it, you can get an organic topdress started.

    That's the slow solution. The quick(and expensive) solution is to rip it up and do it right from the beginning.

    When you reseed, be sure to choose the most shade and fungus resistant species of grass that you can find in your area.
  3. Toro 455

    Toro 455 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 238

    Yup, what Green said.
  4. RigglePLC

    RigglePLC LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 13,794

    I am sure the law requires some means of stabilizing the soil. And I am not an engineer, nor have I experience in landslide prone areas. I think you should prepare for whatever drainage will happen and channel the water where you want it to go when heavy rains happen. They will. If you can grow weeds, you can grow grass. Clay or not, (Provided you have enough sunlight). Since you mention shade. It is likely, grass will not survive long in the shade. You need a locally adapted ground cover like myrtle, ivy, euonymous, aguga, lamium, goutweed.
    Sod does not do well in shade, not suited. Reseed the sunny bare spots and this year keep it moist during dry spells. Irrigation may be needed. Have a soil test and fertilize according to expert recommendations. More fert the first year so you can improve the thickness of the grass. Show us your soil test report, lot of experts will tell you what to do. Then the only question is telling the real experts from the pretenders, and worse yet from the educated fools that don't ever leave their office.
  5. GreenUtah

    GreenUtah LawnSite Senior Member
    from SLC, UT
    Messages: 866

    A couple of weeds growing in the soil does not equate to dense turf growing conditions.Nor is it impossible to grow dense turf in shady areas IF you select the right turf.(bluegrass and rye are not the right grasses). He states that he's got "lots of shade" and water penetration issues..I'm guessing he doesn't know the details of what else may have lead to the turf decline (like soil fertility, fungus, improper irrigation during sod establishment, etc.) but he needs to start with improving the soils ability to retain, not runoff, or fertilization will just run off as well.

    Since he didn't state what turf type he has either, but that it was sod, we can assume it's a blue/rye/fescue general grow based on his area. There aren't many sod farms in full shade, so you can bet it's not a shade type grass selection.
  6. cmdobrndo

    cmdobrndo LawnSite Member
    Messages: 2

    You got it right. I guess the question is how to add organic matter to the soil in such away that it doesn't just run off the top in our rain. Think dumping top soil soil on concrete then letting a sprinkler on it. So you would think aerate the hell out of it. Then add soil But then we have the problem of that erosion control netting and would that plug up the machine? If not could I just rake away the plugs and netting that come up in the process.... Good replies everyone!
  7. Patriot Services

    Patriot Services LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 14,482

    What do you hope to grow in "lots of shade"? Sounds like a groundcover opportunity to me.
    Posted via Mobile Device
  8. RigglePLC

    RigglePLC LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 13,794

    Clarify "slight slope"; if its a slight slope why does it need plasticy landslide retention netting?
    Is this slight slope mowable? Why would the topsoil just "run off the top in our rain."?

    Is this retention netting really just the net used to support the sod at the sod farm?
  9. GreenUtah

    GreenUtah LawnSite Senior Member
    from SLC, UT
    Messages: 866

    Let me say that I agree that turf is far overused in the most uncreative ways ever and that if it's not a play area or something that is bound to take a lot of foot traffic,these guys are right in bringing groundcovers into the equation.

    Riggle is also asking a question I have about the netting and the slope. I too am wondering about its actual purpose.

    That being said, I wouldn't add dirt to dirt and expect any kind of change unless it was 8 inches or more deep. Amend the clay to improve it. That means organic materials like fine grade mulch/manure/etc. and possibly even some pelletized gypsum to help break the clay up. As I said before, aeration may be the quickest, but a pitchfork or any other hole opener can do the job to the point where you can apply a fine layer of amendments, not enough to bury the grass, just topdress it, and get it working in.

    You may have to do this multiple times during the year to make a difference (and perhaps season after season, depending on the soil and compaction factors).

    If you want fast, rip it up, till in the proper amount of amendments and resod/reseed/rechoose plant material.
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2013

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