Lawn renovation help needed

Discussion in 'Turf Renovation' started by f50lvr2, Apr 5, 2011.

  1. f50lvr2

    f50lvr2 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 277

    I have a new customer that is wanting to totally start over with her yard. It was a rental property for several years and was severely neglected.

    She said that they have tried overseeding, aerating, the whole nine and can never get anything to grow. I'm familiar with that type of work but have never taken a yard down to bare soil and started over and need some advice.

    My initial thought was to roundup the yard then use a mini skid steer with a soil cultivator attachment then spread seed and starter fertilizer. Am I even on the right track?
  2. RigglePLC

    RigglePLC LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 13,794

    Not on the right track if you plan to do the job in spring. Stripping the old sod with a sod cutter is better than skid steer cultivation, (which leaves clumps of dead sod). Fall is better. And if it was neglected before--it will be again--unless something has changed. Get payment in advance--just in case she doesn't water enough or it is not irrigated. What type of grass is not growing there? This is a good spot for installing a temporary battery operated sprinkler system. Use tall fescue and seed in fall when temp comes down to 85. Kill it and till it two weeks in advance. Take a big deposit--refundable--but only if she waters every single day. And what if crabgrass comes up? What about weeds like summer annuals? Sod may be a better bet if you want to avoid expensive call-backs.

    Stop by every week. Take photos. Take a sample of her soil. Sealed in a glass jar. You may need to have the percent moisture determined by an outside lab. After she sues you-at least you will have proof of the soil moisture content. (Or lack of moisture).
  3. Patriot Services

    Patriot Services LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 14,491

    You might want to start with a soil analysis. Just to make sure you don't need amendments or PH correction. People don't realize the need for proper irrigation when establishing and maintaining turf.
    Posted via Mobile Device
    ericg likes this.
  4. f50lvr2

    f50lvr2 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 277

    Forgot to mention this is planning for a fall renovation. We use mostly a tall fescue blend here. You're right too, I'm a little concerned that since it's been so neglected in the past I might be opening myself up to future headaches when they don't water or neglect it in the fall.

    The yard isn't really very weedy. The back area is pretty shaded and it looks like they had several dogs that really tore it up.

    I'm already getting one of those gut feelings that it might not be worth the hassle. But would still like some insight as to the proper methods to do this just to further my education.
  5. RigglePLC

    RigglePLC LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 13,794

    Shade is an important problem. Grass might come up--but--you need about 4 hours of direct sun per day to grow grass (6 hours for Bermuda). Heat and shade will kill grass during August hot spells.
  6. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,082

    I agree that in this situation you may be better off to just overseed and put her off till fall... Rent a slit-seeder(or use yours) and mow high, until the summer heat is done, then get started doing it right...
  7. Dr.NewEarth

    Dr.NewEarth LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,476

    Will she go for turf in the front?
    Establish proper pH, and what macro nutrients are deficient. A test kit is about 20 bucks.

    What I have done alot in the past is cut/scalp as low as I can cut, you can aerate,
    top dress and even out the area, then broadcast a starter fertilizer
    and lay the turf right over the old grass.

    I have never had a problem with this method. The old grass decomposes and helps nicely. It is less work this way. Quick job in and out, put money in your pocket faster.

    You have to specify in your written contract what you are doing and suggest a watering schedule that they are responsible for in the document.

    I wouldn't do a cost breakdown for them of each section. Give a nice looking written estimate with a package price.

    Oh ya, lay the sod like bricks so the seams don't meet. Cut some half pieces for this.
    I find a roofers knife works well.
    And don't stretch the sod into place. You will end up with gaps when it shrinks back to its original size.

    Prepping for sod or seed is basically the same thing.

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