Ghosts of Sidewalks Past - What Causes It?

Discussion in 'General Industry Discussions' started by OakNut, Jun 9, 2013.

  1. OakNut

    OakNut LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,106

    About 15 years ago, we had a sidewalk that went across the lawn to the front corner out at the end of the driveway. For convenience, we had the sidewalk removed and had a walk installed that ran directly to the driveway to the side instead of all the way out near the street.
    We watched the walkway being broken up and removed. A load of topsoil was delivered and the whole front (only about 35' square) was covered to smooth it out and new seed was planted.

    All is well - grass is green. UNTIL we get a dry spell.
    Any time we get a dry spell you will note that the area where the original sidewalk was will begin to turn brown and the "ghost" of the old sidewalk can be seen.

    I assume it has something to do with whatever leeches out of concrete that stays in the ground is causing this, but I don't know exactly what.

    Anyone know?
  2. macgyver_GA

    macgyver_GA LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 826

    Could also buy that the new topsoil drains better than the surrounding soil causing the turf to dry out faster which would in turn show drought stress sooner.
  3. weeze

    weeze LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 11,012

    we have that problem where the septic tank is and fill lines or something during the hot/dry months like july and august. it's like there will be a brown rectangle and then these shapes in the yard like this ))). it's really weird. :laugh:
  4. herler

    herler LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,141

    It's going to take extensive work to solve it, not so much money but I am thinking you first wait until fall, then bring in another cubic yard of dirt and AFTER YOU CALL MISS UTILITY because it is the law, what you do once they are done marking the lines, with a tiller you work the entire sidewalk area and about 6-8 feet to either side you want to till up all of that and go deep and blend in old soil and sidewalk soil and the dirt you just brought in, thoroughly work all of that in and through and back and forth and up and down and left to right too, old, existing, and new maybe even go diagonals for all I care but make sure it is thorough.

    Probably take a few hours, I think you can get away with renting a rear-tine tiller for half a day cost you $25 to $40 or so but maybe check out the whole day's rental then you have time...

    Once that is done, seed heavily and do what you normally do.

    Oh yeah...
    And if you find a power main and shock yourself to death because you were sure or someone else was sure there was absolutely nothing in ways of power lines or gas or water or cable in that area?
    That's your fault, good luck dealing with that.
    So call Miss Utility before you dig, it is the law.
    Yes, it really is.
  5. OakNut

    OakNut LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,106

    Sounds like having a facelift to get rid of a pimple. ;)

    Meh. It looks good more than it looks bad. It's not worth that much trouble.
    The ghost can stay.

    I wonder if one of those paranormal shows would want to do a show on this phenomenon? :D
  6. Richard Martin

    Richard Martin LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 14,700

    Concrete leeches alkalines. If you check the pH you'll probably find the soil is well above 7.0. The easiest way to lower the pH is to water the area with Miracid.
  7. Richard Martin

    Richard Martin LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 14,700

    This is a completely different problem. Actually 2.

    The brown rectangle is from the tank top or the distribution box. The soil on top of them is simply not thick enough to retain water for very long.

    The other lines are probably related to the leech field and lines. The leech field is designed to get rid of fluids into the surrounding soil as fast as possible. Some of those fluids come out of the tank and distribution box and some of the fluids fall out of clouds. Those areas where the grass dries up is actually a good thing. It means your expensive drain field is still working.
  8. kawakx125

    kawakx125 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,130

    limestone is a key ingredient in concrete, as stated above take 2 soil samples one from good part and one from ghost and compare
  9. TriCityLawnCareLLC

    TriCityLawnCareLLC LawnSite Bronze Member
    from Ohio
    Messages: 1,025

    I was told that the grass isn't able to get enough root zone. I see this with drain lines that run parallel with the street. An expert i ran into said that when they bury the drain they backfill but it isn't enough to allow the grass to get good roots.
  10. OakNut

    OakNut LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,106

    I wonder if changing the PH where the walk used to be would change the appearance of the grass there when it's not dry.

    Would the area THEN look different (greener?) when we are having normal weather, now giving a "ghost" when it's NOT dry? LOL

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