Dead Lawn Help

Discussion in 'Homeowner Assistance Forum' started by Boltzie, Mar 10, 2003.

  1. Boltzie

    Boltzie LawnSite Member
    Messages: 20

    I purchased my great uncle's property (1/3 acre) in November 2002. The lawn and my neighbor's lawn has been killed by the grub worms from last year. He used to have the lawn taken care of professionally, but got ill last summer and couldn't keep up with it. My lawn is about 60% dead and my neighbor's is about 90% dead.

    As spring is arriving, I have a few questions about what should be done to get my lawn back in good shape. I think I would enjoy doing the work myself to take pride in my yard. The questions are as follows:

    1. Should the turf be completely removed with a bobcat and re-seeded, covered with straw...the whole nine yards?

    2. Can I just re-seed over the dead lawn? What method should be used to get the seed down under the dead turf?

    I need a detailed step-by-step method to repair my yard. Also, a suggestion for a good brand of grass seed is appreciated. I have a child so the yard will need to have good durability.

  2. HarryD

    HarryD LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,068

    Well if you plan on doing this your self. rent a power rake and rip the heck out of it. rake up all the dead grass that you pulled up. then aerate it going over all the dead areas till its really tore up. I would use a good turf type fescue with some rye mixed in.
    then rake the seeds into the holes and loose soil. water daily. pretty simple really if you have the equipment.

    no need for the bobcat and straw. you wont be able to get all the dead grass up after the power raking so it will hold moisture for the seeds.
  3. MOW ED

    MOW ED LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,028

    I personally would get all of the dead stuff out of there and start from the top. It all depends on your budget.
    Was the grub problem taken care of last year?
    Seed to soil contact is what grows new lawn. If you want to do the work economically then you have to put in some of your back.
    You are talking roughly 15,000 sq ft of total lawn. (yours) of which aprox. 60% is gone leaving you with about 9000 sq ft of lawn to reseed as new. Round your numbers up to 10,000 unless that 40% of lawn is questionable.
    If that 40% is not in good shape I would rent a sod cutter (or save money and get a shovel) and cut it out starting new.

    Most grass seed grows from the top 1/4 to 1/2" of soil.
    So for 15000 sq ft of new grass you can aerate the lawn in a multiple pass double cross pattern or something similar to open up the holes and relieve compaction. I would leave the cores to dry for a couple of days. I would then drag them with a fence on a tractor to break the cores to give you some loose soil to work with. You could also bring in some new topsoil if you find that you don't have enough.
    Rough grade the soil with a landscape rake. I'd use a mix of high quality certified seed with a blend of 50% KY blue mixes, 25% redfescue and 25% perennial rye. I would buy 100lbs of seed as the new seed rate is 150-200lbs per acre. You really need about 75 but I always like to have more.
    Get your fertilizer spreader and then fill it up. It should be calibrated to give you about 5# per 1000sq ft. So mark off a 100ft x 10ft section, weigh out 5lbs of seed and put it in your hopper. See how close you are and adjust accordingly.
    Spread your seed then come back and add a 10-18-22 blend of starter type fertilizer. A slow release nitrogen is really preferred because you want root growth first and not a flush of top growth. A 50lb bag usually covers 10,000 sq ft or so but don't overdo the fert. Go back over the whole lawn with the landscape rake gently to mix the seed and fert into the soil. I personally cover lightly with straw, start with about 4 bails, this will hold moisture and deter some of the winged seed stealers. Keep it moist and let it grow to about 4 inches before you cut it with a walk behind mower. The initial cuts tend to be juicy so I always bag these because they are clumpy and don't break up well. After its established in early summer I then let em fly back.

    Its hard work and a little expensive to have done but its a good job to take on. Good Luck.
  4. get a soil test and correct any deficiencies
  5. YardMeister

    YardMeister LawnSite Member
    Messages: 56

    I concur with TimTurf.
  6. Boltzie

    Boltzie LawnSite Member
    Messages: 20

    Hi. I had a friend of mine take a look at the lawn. He has a B.S. in Turf Management and is the superintendant at a private golf club in Ohio. He also just replaced his father's lawn which is across the street from my house. He had one heck of a time trying to get the grass going because he worked in the Spring. Fall is always best, but I don't particularly want to have a mess of a yard all summer long.

    Apparently, my yard is a kentucky bluegrass/rye blend, as are most yards in this development. The problem is about 18" below the surface, the soil is primarily a gravel blend, hence denoting the name of this area as "Gravel Hill". Most of the yards here just bake in the summer because of the gravel beneath the topsoil.

    From my research, a fescue would perform better in this area. He told me to use an aerator and aerate the entire yard, fertilize the entire yard, and seed with bluegrass/rye blend to try and match what is existing in my yard. About 80% of the front yard is ok. The back yard is in bad shape. He also stated that I shouldn't remove the dead turf, just aerate it really good. I trust his opinion so I don't think he's going to give me bad advice.

    I forget what fertilizer he said to get so if you guys have any recommendations, I'd appreciate it. Can I fertilize early this week, and aerate and seed this weekend. Or should I wait and fertilize after I seed? It seems to me that fertilizer is conditioning the soil so it wouldn't matter when that was done.

  7. Don't worry about gravel 18 ' down, get a soil test and correct any nutrient problems!

    Unless you understand what is taking place agronomy wise, I WOULD FOLLOW ONE PERSON ADVICE!!!!

    Advice sounds resonsible, call and get specifics! I would ask about starter fert, generally 1 lbs/1000 of p is acceptable, and would consider espoma bulb tone 4-10-6, since its organic base, and fine particle size. P can be tied up in soil and also is very immobile.

    TALK TO HIM, FOLLOW HIS ADVICE! More than one way to skin a cat, and a lot of the time they don't combine too well


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