Noob need lawn reno help

Discussion in 'Landscape Maintenance' started by lude-de, Aug 30, 2009.

  1. lude-de

    lude-de LawnSite Member
    Messages: 8

    Hi everyone. I've been on the site for a few days now, reading and reading and reading. I've still got a ways to go to get up to speed though. I've got some pictures and a whole lot of questions. Here's some background:

    I'm getting hired as a custodian for a church in Delaware and one of the items I'll be taking care of is the grounds. I worked for a landscaping/mowing company when I was a teenager, but that was years ago and I've taken care of my own lawns with varying success.

    The lawn is a couple of acres, no sure how big but I think 2.5 or more. I'm mowing the lawn with a Zero Turn Husgvarna IZ5223 with the 23hp Kawasaki engine. It's got about 320 hours on it and is in pretty good shape. I've found from the boards here that I'm going to need to take it in for service because it doesn't track as straight as it should, but other than that, it seems to be a good machine. I'm not sure of the deck size. Here's a picture:

    The first thing I noticed on my first cut of the lawn was that the deck was set at 2.5 inches. The grass was long that day and boy did I generate some clippings. We don't have a bagger (I don't know if they make one for this mower or not.) The next day I found out that we had a lawn sweeper (craftsman) that I could drag behind the mower and I got all the clipping cleaned up (that was another 4 hours or so.)

    I have since moved the mowing height up to 4.5 inches, and have mowed four times since then over the last two weeks. The lawn is looking much better that the moment.

    The second thing I noticed was that this lawn is going to make me cough up a kidney. It is so rough that I can only travel at half speed or less. There are some huge ruts, a bunch of wholes and a few very large depressions in the lawn.

    Here's an overview of the property. This picture is from sometime last year (it's from one of those map sites.)

    The big brown patch in the lower right hand is grown in now, mostly with weeds. The trench running from the church to the sign is also grown in. Here's a picture of that area taken today.

    In the upper right of the picture, you'll see one very small tree, and a larger tree below it close to Red Lion Road. Inbetween those two tree and just to the left there is a large depression, probably 4 feet deep at it's deepest. I'm told there used to be a stream that ran along the driveway that meets Red Lion Road and it was filled in back in the 70's. That area is very most, and sometimes holds standing water. Here's a picture looking from that corner towards the church. The depression is hard to see, it's about half way up the picture.

    I did some asking around about the uneven turn and a friend I work with said to go out and rent a bobcat with a Harley Rake quick detachment and get the bucket as well. Then go to town getting it all leveled out. I have a feeling I'm going to need some topsoil as well. I'll post the questions in a minute.
  2. lude-de

    lude-de LawnSite Member
    Messages: 8

    Ok, so the questions...

    You can see I've got a whole lot of weeds and various types, I know there clovers and crabgrass, some with little yellow flowers. There are some dry spots under the trees.

    So... what first? Level the lawn? Weed and feed? Airate? Overseed?

    How much topsoil should I get to fill in these holes?

    Any suggestions and comments are welcome. I look forward to making this a beautiful lawn, but I'm still in the learning stages and don't want to waste time or resources (ie. money).

    Thanks every in advance.
  3. ponyboy

    ponyboy LawnSite Bronze Member
    from ny
    Messages: 1,576

    thats a big job for 1 guy wow
    if it was me i would spray all the weeds wait 2 weeks gets top soil fill the bare spots and ruts in then i would get a over seeder or a laen renavator then aerate and broad cast seed on top of all that then where ever there is bare dirt showing throw down some penn mulch Also around here some churches have there members give a hand and help out the topsoil and rahing the thatch from the over seeder will be the hardest jobs so see if u can get some help and go from there or that looks like it could be a 3 or 4 day job by your self good luck
  4. lude-de

    lude-de LawnSite Member
    Messages: 8

    No thoughts on the Harley rake?

    So, spray weeds, fill bare spots with topsoil, over seed, aerate, and then broadcast seed (I assume this means use a spreader?) Then throw down penn mulch. What is penn mulch?

    Yes, I'm sure I can get help from Church members. The biggest problem is that some of these ruts are rather large. There are three ruts in particular that a 12-18 inches wide and probably 30 feet long. There are at least 15 sizable holes, by sizable I mean wider than 12 inches, and maybe 6-8 inches deep.

    The biggest depression is the one that bothers me the most. I was saying in the original post... it seems there was a creek bed there at some point years ago. It was filled, but there appears to be an unground stream of sorts that is erroding the soil from below. None of that is really visible at ground level.
  5. White Gardens

    White Gardens LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,776

    There is probably a natural spring in the area of the depression.

    I'd plant some water loving trees like a river birch or a big willow tree.

    No need to harley rake an already establish lawn. Aerate the lawn a couple of times to break up the weed cover some, fill in the big holes with dirt, seed heavily those spots, and over seed the whole lawn.

    Herbicide application might be hit and miss now that the weather seems to be more on a fall schedule. You might get mixed results if the weather doesn't cooperate. It's also getting close to crunch time on fall seedings.

    In the spring, after the thaw and the ground is a little soft (not to soft), then rent a small ride-on asphalt roller and roll the lawn to smooth it out. I don't normally suggest compacting a lawn, but it would help smooth the ride out, and hopefully it would take more than a couple of years before it became rough again. If you use a roller, do not use the vibrator as that can break water pipes and utilities on top of the fact that it would be too much compaction.

    Even the act of aerating helps a little to smooth the lawn out. It would take a few years to accomplish this though.
  6. lude-de

    lude-de LawnSite Member
    Messages: 8

    I've been doing more reading, here and other sites. I think I've come up with a new game plan, very similar to what you are suggesting. Here it is:

    • Send out a soil sample
    • Mow the lawn down to 2 inches (half the height I'm currently cutting it)
    • Thatch lawn with power rake
    • Fill depressions with top soil, dig under grass to remove any high spots
    • Aerate the lawn, remove/clean up plugs
    • overseed with a slit seeder
    • water early morning and late evening for 2 weeks (this will be a b****)

    I've guestimated the square footage to be 65,000 sq ft on the main area, about 70,000 total.

    Now, here's a question for you. I saw an aerator at Lowes. Here's the link: We currently have a small eyehook on the back of the Husky Zero Turn. I've towed the sweeper behind it, and a small bucket.

    Do you think towing it with the Zero turn will be an issue?
  7. lude-de

    lude-de LawnSite Member
    Messages: 8

    Oh, and I love the idea of a water loving tree in the wet area. It probably is a spring. There are several wells on the property and the water table is not far down at all. Especially when it rains a lot.

    Will a water loving tree absorb some of the water? Or will it just thrive it in?

    Thanks for all the info!
  8. White Gardens

    White Gardens LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,776

    The Birch and the Weeping Willow will definitively help. Willow trees are kinda dirty once mature, but in a wide open area such as that it should be O.K. People around here plant them in low wet areas and love the results. They really help to soak up the water.

    Basically you could do a rain garden in that area, and I wouldn't add any dirt. No reason to spend the money.

    Here's a link to a thread where Andy'slawncare posted a great diagram on rain gardens.
  9. starry night

    starry night LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,230

    That one area looks really wet. Usually I am in agreement with White Gardens but I say there is no tree that likes it THAT wet. Yes, Yes, to the water garden idea. As for the lawn work, it sounds like you are using a shotgun approach by trying to incorporate every technique ever invented. Roller bad IMHO.
    Core aeration good and leave the plugs.
  10. White Gardens

    White Gardens LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,776

    Ya, I don't really care for rollers, but every once in a blue moon, they have their place. This might be one of them being such a wide area.

    Weeping Willows will take the water, you would be surprised as to how well they dry up an area. River birches like the water too.

    Something needs to be done though, and I don't feel any amount of dirt in the low spot will solve the problem.

Share This Page