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Please...Need seeding help ASAP! Thanks!

Discussion in 'Turf Renovation' started by sinkholed, May 27, 2007.

  1. sinkholed

    sinkholed LawnSite Member
    Messages: 2

    Background: Northern NJ rear lawn about 7,000 sq ft. Grade is similar to a "V V".

    The first "V" is a swale that effectively funnels runoff at my back property line.

    The second "V" begins as the descent from the berm of that swale -- a 4 foot drop over a 25 foot run (rough guess is a 20 degree slope). From there it's another 30 foot run back "up" to my house over "level" land (it does have an effective slope that keeps water away from foundation).

    Wife had lawn service kill weeds last year. That left maybe 25% sparse lawn, the rest just clay topsoil. Then they tried/failed/claimed they couldn't get grass growing due to tree canopy, so we thinned out substantially.

    Then a sinkhole opened, so in addition to fixing THAT, we took down ALL trees. What I was left with was grass on the swale at the back, but nothing on the slope down to the house (2500 sq ft), and nothing in the 30 foot "level" portion of yard (3000 sq ft).

    Rather than rototill I rented a small backhoe and used the teeth on the inverted bucket to tear up the top 4" inches of this barren soil. But there were SO many tree roots and rocks and hardened clumpy clay balls, that it just was going to take way too long to hand rake it all smooth.

    So I rented a skidsteer with Rockaway attachment. I did about 2 hours of rockawaying the yard yesterday. Which brings me to today, and what to do next.


    In addition to all the rocks & roots I removed, the Rockaway removed most of the loose topsoil. My yard is now rock- & root-free, but I'm worried the ground -- though wonderfully level -- may be too hard to plant seed in.

    I may be able to take off the Rockaway and use the skidsteer's dozer blade to roughen/scrape up some loose soil. I could -- now that the yard is graded -- use the dozer to return some topsoil on top of the whole yard. Or I could do both. Or neither.


    I really want/need to get this project done today and tom'w (I'm off, I've got the wife & son to help, and the skidsteer w/Rockaway at my disposal until Monday night.)

    But in addition to the concern about the seedbed's condition I've already mentioned, I'm worried about rain. We're due for some thunderstorms tonight and tom'w.

    I don't want to wait (given that thunderstorms/rain are likely to occur regularly even if I do cancel the seeding today/tom'w). But I'm worried that whatever seed I plant might wash away down my 25 foot/20 degree grade. I planned on using straw to mulch it, but should I -- if I decide to proceed regardless of weather forecast -- invest in some of those 4'x50' mulch mats I can (hopefully) buy at the local garden center? Maybe use those on the slope, and then use straw on the "level" portion?


    I need this lawn IN PLACE in exactly 10 weeks. Previously I'd been advised here to use Perennial Rye and a slit seeder. I've been getting alot of resistance to using 100% Rye with everyone local telling me to use a mix (bluegrass/fescue/rye). The local Agway has such a mix that everyone uses (they also have 10% rye). Given my time constraint (tents on a lawn for a graduation party on August 5), would it wise or foolish to goo 100% rye? If the best bet IS 100% rye, can't I overseed in fall to incorporate other grasses?


    If you've read this far, I commend and thank you, Thank You, THANK YOU!!!! Last but not least are the particulars regarding starter fertilizer (w/ or w/o siduron in it to control crabgrass?) When should I do this, before or after seeding?

    Without a soil test, would I be foolish to spread phosphate (I read somewhere that 0-46-0 would help)?

    Is it worth the slit seeder rental? It'd be another $100 in rental expense, and the rental store is only open between 9am-1pm, today or tom'w, but I'll go for it if it's recommended. Otherwise (or in addition to) I've been told to lightly rake the seed, spread the straw (at about 25% coverage; not too thick), and then water.

    Lastly, I've also read that at this time of year my chances are increased if I go heavy on the seed. Some places say this makes the seedlings compete, but others have said it increases chances of getting good growth. Should I double the 4 lbs/1000 sq ft recommendation?

    Thanks in advance for anybody/everybody that can help me get thru this!!!
  2. sjj14

    sjj14 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 97

    Wow, your in it neck deep! Lets take it one at a time. If your dealing with bare soil a slit seeder is not going to help much. A slit seeded is ideal for getting soil to seed contact in an established lawn, you have dirt so thats not an issue. You will need to get the soil "fine & firm" a little loose on top but not too loose. Use whatever means at your disposal to do so. and then do the following.

    1. spread seed before final grading
    2. lightly rake seed into loose soil (i use a leaf rake)
    3. spread another light coat of seed on top of that
    4. Get the mulch matt for the slopes, its worth the time and $
    5. any starter fert with pre emergent will hinder germination rates but given the time of year you are risking crab grass if dont put a pre emergent down. be carefull some pre emergents are stronger than others and will block most or all of your seed from germinating.
    6. I would use the Rye, blue & fescue mix and may even add some annual rye just to stabilize the soil. It will come up fast and keep any erosion from screwing up all the work you have done.
    7. Water daily, in the am if possible
    8. in the fall you can evaluate and re seed any areas that didnt take and there will be some!

    I am just north west of philly and got wacked hard last night with T storms but you have to go for it regardless.

    Hope this helps.
  3. Grn Mtn

    Grn Mtn LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 863

    curious, why not sod it?

    you can use a product called PennMulch. It is a paper pellet with starter fert mixed right in. I had a customer that needed lawn in 6 weeks for his daughters birthday party - and he did. If the weather is good 70*+ temps and you LIGHTLY water once or twice a day you'll have germination in 4 days and good amount of green in two weeks, and by the time six weeks rolls around you'll be pleased with the results.

    here is a picture I posted before: http://www.lawnsite.com/attachment.php?attachmentid=62523&d=1155829353

    The RockHound attachment should not have taken the dirt away, sorry to say this but that was error on your part.

    To help the turf in the future make sure to get the most amount of light to it as possible, and keep the grubs away, MOW no shorter that 3" but taking no more than 1/3rd off at a time with a SHARP blade. Taller healthy grass can really fight the weeds.

    Using a pre-emergent now will only prevent your seed from germinating.

    I would try to get some soil under the seed if possible, and lastly the small investment of hoses sprinklers and water timers to water often and short will pay off big time. Good luck and let us know how it went.
  4. Focal Point Landscapes

    Focal Point Landscapes LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 401

    Good info in the answers above , but if you seed you will be assuming a lot of risks - heavy rain , weeds , germination issues , etc . I would strongly suggest sod , at least for the main areas that you plan to use for the party.

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