HELP please:need your input on areating this time of year

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by bad_chad48, Jun 26, 2003.

  1. bad_chad48

    bad_chad48 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 98

    Last year, I renovated a lawn which included bringing in several loads of topsoil. Well the lawn looked great that is up untill this week. It was the best looking lawn in the subdivision but now, It seems as if everywhere I placed soil, the grass has turned brown and looks like it has died. I think that the root system has not been able to penatrate the harder soil and now that the heat has hit, is killing out the grass. What can I do??? Can I areate the yard this time of year or will it make matters worse?
    i took a soil test and it is in perfect condition as far as needing anything.
    Please help thanks.
  2. tiedeman

    tiedeman LawnSite Fanatic
    from earth
    Messages: 8,745

    I would just keep on watering it and whoever mows it have the blade raised a little bit higher for the root system can grow deeper and take hold.
  3. bad_chad48

    bad_chad48 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 98

    that is just the thing, here in Kentucky, we have had all kinds of rain so, I do not think that is the problem. We have had 8+ inches on rain this month alone. And as far as mowing, I do the mowing on this property and I never mow lower than 3inches. Back to the origional post, I think that my problem is that the roots are not able to penatrate the harder clay soil therefore, can I areate to break through the harder layer or will areating this time of the year cause me more harm than good?
  4. tiedeman

    tiedeman LawnSite Fanatic
    from earth
    Messages: 8,745

    I know that the best times of year to aerate are spring and last summer, early fall.

    Perhaps you can get some pictures of what the lawn looks like. If you are getting too much rain down there is could be maybe getting a disease. Right now up here we are getting a bad case of summer patch.

    But If the whole yard is wasted, what I would do is start all over again. But this time try to add more black dirt to break up the soil concentration of just clay. Sure clay is great during drought times, but to work with it can be a pain.
  5. bad_chad48

    bad_chad48 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 98

    As far as the summer patch that you are talking about, what does it look like? and would it be spread out over the entire lawn or just in spots. I am no expert on this but I personally do not think that it is any disease because the only places that the grass is dying is the places that I have added soil. the area that I added soil was on a hillside that washed out really bad. I added the soil to fill in the ruts. But i did not use a tiller to break the existing layer. I will take a picture and post it asap.

    - for those who install lawns, do you work any added soil into the existing soil or just spread it over top the existing ground? By not mixing the soils can it create an problem that I have described above? If so, what can I do for it right now.
  6. CMerLand

    CMerLand LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 393


    How thick did you lay this topsoil onto the lawn, and more importantly did you remove the existing turf prior to installing the topsoil? Did you rotill the new soil into the existing soil or just dump, spread and seed? Did you do anything at all to correct whatever the problem was that caused this lawn to need renovation in the first place?

    If you didnt do any of the things above, then you probably have a case of soil layering, and the problem is exactly as you think. The turf roots cant penetrate the harder soil, and have been very happy growing in the couple of inches of nice easy topsoil you put down. Why would the roots continue to push down, when all the nice loose soil to grow in is right here on top??? And now that the heat is on, those roots are quick to dry out.

    On top of that, if you didnt remove the existing turf layer, you now have a dead mat of grass thatch and roots that are all trying to decay beneath the new grass. And that decaying material is going to need nitrogen to break down which means using up the fertilizer you put down, which is only going to stress the new grass you put in.

    Aerating isnt going to correct all these deficiencies that you should have taken care of in the initial install. Your treating the symptoms instead of providing the cure. Now you have two options:

    1. Treat the symptoms and hope that you can mask over your errors and that somehow this turf turns around.

    2. Admit to the client that you screwed up, and that you need to rototill to a depth of 6 or 10 inches to incorporate the new soil with the old. Then remove any of the old dead lawn that you manage to pull up with the rototiller, then regrade and re-seed the afflicted areas.

    Dont feel bad about your mistakes, there are countless posts on here from guys who think that somehow throwing an inch or two of new soil onto a lawn is the magic cure all for bad turf. Live and learn.

  7. Thanks for the posting.
    I was heading toward the same problem.

  8. bluemoon7

    bluemoon7 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 55

    I just wanted to add that areating this time of year is ok in my opinion as long as the grond is moist, but not to wet that the aerator will rip. if there is clay underneath than it needs something to help soften it up so the roots can grow in it. Gypsum is what I have found works best for this, applied after aerating and then watered in. I have seen many lawns that the soil underneath is rock hard and the sod (or seed) will not take. It will do great for a while, but after a year or so it will have slow growth, slow green up in the spring and may discolor like you describe. Hope this helps.
  9. bad_chad48

    bad_chad48 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 98

    Thanks for the replys!

    I worded this post wrong, it wasn't so much as a reno as an overseeding. All except for the front yard. Here, is where the origional contractors failure to watch the weather channel caused the front(hill) to wash and create 10" ruts over the whole area. I came in last fall and spread topsoil over the complete front yard filling in the ruts and feathering out the rest of the soil to maintain grade. The soil below was really hard and I just covered and seeded as stated. And as you stated and I feared, the roots are not penatrating the harder level and causing death to the grass. Now what would you suggest besides tilling and starting over can I do to resolve the problem.

    Any sugestions would be greatly appriciated.

  10. bad_chad48

    bad_chad48 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 98

    what is Gypsum? and what does it do to soften the clay? Is this somthing that lesco sells or another company.


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