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Bumpy's an Understatement

Discussion in 'Turf Renovation' started by liter_of_cola, Apr 10, 2010.

  1. liter_of_cola

    liter_of_cola LawnSite Member
    Messages: 3

    We recently bought a three year old home and found that the previous owners in no way believed in landscaping or even basic lawn maintenance. My grass is essentially field grass, we have water issues around the house (being fixed by landscape pros next month), and HORRIBLE ruts and washouts.

    The landscape company is going to grade around the house, add dirt, cut a swail, and erect a retaining wall (Versa-Lok). Due to budget constraints we are left with the rest of the work. We were aiming for a fall planting of grass but first have the issues of the ruts and washouts. I didn't know if I could rent a harley style rake and hopefully smooth out the lawn area and rip out the existing "grass" with that or if i needed to have topsoil brought in first and then the rake. Or till, topsoil, and rake. Bottom line is I really just don't know what is best and I need the advice of the fine experts on this site.

    I am not looking for an award winning yard just something reasonably flat that looks good. I might add that I have pretty sandy soil for about the first inch or so so don't know if that has a ton to do with what I want to do. I hope that this is informative enough. If not let me know and I'll do my best to fill you all in.

  2. betmr

    betmr LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,663

    If the excavator is going to grade, add top soil, and all the work you described, and you still have ruts and stuff to deal with, then I say you wasted your money on them. When they leave you should be good to sow seed, or else they have not done their job in my opinion.
  3. liter_of_cola

    liter_of_cola LawnSite Member
    Messages: 3

    I should have specified, the excavator is only going around the base area of the house, not the open yard.
  4. mitchlanddesign

    mitchlanddesign LawnSite Member
    Messages: 1

    SOIL TEST. Its inexpensive, usually 10 bucks, and tells you everything you need to know to get what you want out of your landscape. Be sure to specify which type of grass you intent to seed or sod. You can research how to do it yourself or get your landscaper to do it.

    Without visiting your landscape it is hard to determine what should be done but think preventative measures rather than "Ill take care of it when it becomes a problem." Kill off the existing grass with chemicals or dig it with a sod cutter. If you plan on planting grass where heavy machinery has compacted the soil, I would recommend tilling now instead of having to aerate later. This would be a great time to add topsoil, lime, or other minerals, check your soil test analysis. I would also advise this for your ruts. Washed out areas generally indicate drainage issues but that should be taken care of by your landscaper. These areas may have been leached of nutrients by excessive drainage, till in your topsoil and minerals. If there is minimal compaction or washout, a layer of topsoil may be all that is needed. Again it is hard to tell without visiting your site.

    How deep is the sand? Whats under that? If you have a definate layer of sand over your whole planned grass area, till, till deep. A sand layer will interrupt drainage, surface water tension, cause black layer, etc. Bottom line, there will be more problems if this is not addressed.

    - All that said, I would research everything, get a soil test, price out big tillers/cultivators, and still get a reputable landscaper to consult. Dont skimp on the soil preparation!
  5. cgaengineer

    cgaengineer LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 15,777

    Depending on what you have to work with on the grades around your home to maintain 2-3 percent minimum slope for grassed areas, I would have the landscaper prepare the area with a harley rake prior to leaving because once they set grade it is possible to affect this grade with a harley rake to the point of allowing water to stand yet again. My home lot was graded by an idiot who I dont think ever heard of or ever touched a level. I have a 1% slope (after I re-graded) from the mid/high point of my back lawn to where it exits to the front...not even close to enough fall to allow water to drain in during fairly good rain shower so I have problems with standing water during those times.

    It was not possible for me to add soil to my lot to allow better drainage because it would have flooded my patio and possibly my home if we got a good storm. I would have also had to exit my swale so far into the front lawn that it would have made 2 areas that were difficult to mow and maintain, not to mention it would have looked stupid. I could have installed a french drain which would have helped, but even in a good rain storm it would not have been enough. My other option would have been lawn drains with piping and the downspouts tied in, but once again these would have been day-lighted way into my side lawn near the street.

    So my advice is to set grade while harley raking or you could cause drainage problems later.

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