Failed Lawn Renovation Refund?

Discussion in 'Turf Renovation' started by Darryl G, Nov 28, 2010.

  1. Darryl G

    Darryl G Inactive
    Messages: 9,500

    Hi guys. I've never had this happen before. This is the second season that I've been doing basic lawn maintenance for a customer at their summer home...spring and fall cleanups and mowing. Mowing is bi-weekly except during peak growth. Easy customer to deal with, pay on time, happy with my work but also not a big account...pretty much bare bones maintenance.

    The front lawn burned out pretty badly over the summer (full sun and zero irrigation) and they asked if I could repair it for them. I slit seeded the front lawn with a turf-type tall fescue blend. One area near the driveway that they walk on on a regular basis was particularly bad. I did a double pass on it with the seeder but it didn't penetrate really well as the tines were pretty worn on the rental unit I had (Bluebird). A couple of weeks later I went to check on germination and that area had little to no germination. I had my Grass Stitcher ( handheld tool with me so I spend an hour running the tool over it and re-seeding. It was a bit late to do so (October 14th - our first frost was Oct 31st) but I thought I'd give it a try.

    Well I recently did the fall cleanup and that area looks like crap. Really no germination. I didn't charge this customer a lot for this renovation to begin with and already have an extra hour in, but I feel that it's ultimately my fault for showing up with a crappy rental unit with worn out tines. It worked fine on the other 3 lawns I did that day but this was the last one and the area was pretty compacted and had a dense mat of dead grass that's still there in fact. I'm pretty sure that if I give it another try in the spring it's not going to make it through the summer because I know they won't water it.

    So what would you guys do? Try again in the spring? Give the customer a credit? Or just say hey, I tried...if you want me to try again it's extra. I feel they got their money's worth ($166.75 for overseeding and fertilizing the front yard) but I'm really not satistfied with that bare/dead area. BTW, the extreme foreground in the second picture is the stone driveway, not lawn.

    Here's some pics of the lawn.

    Thanks in advance.

    MiscWorkNov2010 002.jpg

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    MiscWorkNov2010 001.jpg
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2010
  2. fatboynormmie

    fatboynormmie LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,294

    Hey Darryl do you know if they even watered the lawn after your seeding.I'm in Maryland and seeded around that same time and the seed popped up nicely even with some frosts.I always give the cust. instructions in writing about watering before leaving the install that day.If they don't follow through after giving them instructions, the fault is theres no redo .If they did water then I would reseed it next year while your doing your other seeding's .Its to late for this year.My .02
  3. MarcSmith

    MarcSmith LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 7,157

    I applaud you for wanting to "do the right thing"

    Is the customer driving this" or are you driving this.

    I consider a spring seeding with some rye for summer green...

    try to sell a fall aeration/overseed next year..
  4. Darryl G

    Darryl G Inactive
    Messages: 9,500

    I'm sure they didn't water. I've never even seen a hose there and the spigot is buried somewhere in that mess of Rhodies, lol. These customers are elderly...and I don't just mean senior citizens. The woman is in her mid 80s and the husband is in his 90s. I probably should have put down some straw too but it wasn't really a planned thing. I was there for routine mowing. Some straw and water probably would have helped but I was in a hurry trying to get to the rest of my mowing was kind of half assed repair but I thought it would take.

    I'm the one driving this. I talked to the woman when I attempted the repair and told her I wasn't satisfied with that spot and was going to try to fix it. The first seeding was Sept. 26th BTW, right before essentially a week of rain. I did 4 lawns that weekend and they all came in nicely...except this one spot and a little spot on another that I entirely missed with the seeder.

    Hmmmm...I just realized they won't even see this until probably June of next year since they're down in Florida for the winter. I think I'll just hit it again in the spring and try to do it right this time.
  5. MarcSmith

    MarcSmith LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 7,157

    maybe just jet them a note with you plans for the spring.... they'll appreciate you honesty.
  6. Darryl G

    Darryl G Inactive
    Messages: 9,500

    Good advice Marc. I just invoiced them for the fall cleanup and put a note on the invoice saying that the front lawn area I attempted to fix didn't come in very well and I'll give it another try in the spring.

    BTW guys it's cut a bit short....2.5 inches I believe. Usually i'm up in the 3 to 3.5 range on that lawn but I like to leave them shorter for winter so they don't get snow mold (not a huge problem around here), any leaves tend to blow clear and it bags leaves better too.
  7. Barefoot James

    Barefoot James LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 984

    Slit seed or stich it in, again in Feb. Look at the dormant seed thread. This is perfect for folks who don't water.

    Maybe even (I would) cover this bad area with a thin layers or compost - should not need more than a yard to cover the area plus any other bad spots - do this when you dormant seed and this will help with the germination, protection of the seed, nutrients and maybe they will see the compost and not want to stop on it and go around it. Also consider selling them a stepping stone path if it is a high traffic area.

    I ALWAYS set up hoses timers and sprinklers for fall seedings this insures it will come up.
  8. Barefoot James

    Barefoot James LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 984

    duplicate - sorry
  9. Darryl G

    Darryl G Inactive
    Messages: 9,500

    Yeah they have a path (front walk) but don't use it,'s quicker to cut across the lawn. I couldn't even get them to let me weed the beds and trim the shrubs so I'm not going to try to upsell too much. But thanks for the advice on the dormant seeding etc. I have a nice fine compost I make from ground up leaves and grass clippings. I think the key is to try to break through that mat of dead grass/thatch.
  10. RigglePLC

    RigglePLC LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 13,813

    Why is there dead grass there? I thought it was burned out completely. Or is it really zoysia grass? Maybe that "dead grass" will come back from the roots. If not, yes you need to get the seed down into the soil for a good take. Warm soil temp works best. Wait until about the date of your first mowing. Maybe aeration will loosen it up.

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