1. Can’t make it to the GIE+EXPO 2017?
    LawnSite brings the trade show floor to your fingertips with our new GIE+EXPO 2017 Sneak Peek video series debuting now in the Lawn Mowing forum.

    Dismiss Notice

Request critique of impending lawn renovation.

Discussion in 'Homeowner Assistance Forum' started by golem, Mar 22, 2011.

  1. golem

    golem LawnSite Member
    Messages: 17

    I understand it's the wrong season and/or getting late but I really need to attempt a renovation. If you could critique my game-plan and maybe help with a few questions it could help immensely.

    The lawn is 11k sq ft in zone-7 (MD). She's 50/50 sun/shade due to 3 45 year old maples and 1 oak. Because of this and the fact the lawn was never really cared for it is 30% grass, 67% weeds and 3% moss. The soil is likely moderately compacted, not by traffic but due to a lack of aeration, grass root systems, and worms.

    My plan is:
    1. Apply Speedzone (or Roundup) and wait two weeks.
    2. Rake lawn of all moss and dead plant material (scalp if needed).
    3. Distribute a few yards of top soil to fill in low spots and add a little cover to the mature tree roots which are now exposed in some spots by as much as 3".
    4. Slit seed the lawn in two directions with a blend of Fescue.
    5. Broadcast a starter fertilizer with Tupersan.
    6. Topcover the yard with 1/4"-3/8" of Leaf-Gro.
    7. Water regularly and monitor growth. In a month, if required, apply a second round of starter fert w/tupresan.

    Currently we are on average still in the 45-55 degree range for highs although we have seen the odd 65 and 70 degree day in the last few weeks. I'm told two or more 60+ days are required for Speedzone to be effective so if that is the case it looks like the 1st step will not take place until early next week.

    A question I have (if the above plan is not shot down) is should I include an aeration prior to seeding? Also, should slit seeding be performed while the soil is dry or moist. The more bare spots of the lawn tend to get very hard and crusty after just a day or two without water.

    Any suggestions or info you might offer would be greatly appreciated.
  2. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,082

    One thing you will want to clarify in your thinking, in order to plan a good strategy, is that soils do not compact from "lack of Aeration". Worms are the best aerators and fertilizer on the planet... and fiberous roots of the grasses do not compact the soil as much as they fill in the spaces of the soil.

    Once you kill the plants the roots decay into air spaces and moisture holding elements within the soil...

    The plan is as good as any, and yes, follow label direction for the killing of the weeds... Rushing the weed killer before the plants are actively growing will cost you more time... As long as you're using Tupersan give it enuf time, You want the kill before you add the topsoil and rake smooth... [be careful around the crowns of the trees with new dirt]

    The soil shouldn't be dusty when you slit-seed but it has to crumble back over the seed when disturbed... Then soak it in good...

    Aerating would be useful in this scenrio in order to get good topsoil into the holes, but can also damage the tree roots, so be careful... what kind of soil do you actually have, anyways?
  3. golem

    golem LawnSite Member
    Messages: 17

    Much appreciate your reply!

    I probably shouldn't describe it as compacted, more like not as "airy" as it could be. Also, what I meant to say was the lack of all three (aeration, grass root systems and worms). Funny, I know as a kid I put a hurtin' on the nightcrawler population in this yard on rainy nights, had to fill my bait can for the next days fishing. :)

    Thanks for the cautions. The trees are being nice to me in that the roots have surfaced between 2' and 8' away from the trunk allowing me to keep my usual 1' buffer ring (no smothering or rot promotion).

    The soil composition is definitely not topsoil quality but is typical for the area. Quite light in color, a bit sandy/granular and somewhat stony. This layer is anywhere from 2" to 4" then it's pure clay. To do this restoration 100% proper the soil probably should be tilled and amended but that becomes very difficult due to the vast network of tree roots and, as you noted, care should be taken not to damage them.

    As for aerating - The reason I hadn't considered doing it pre-seeding was that I didn't intend to broadcast topsoil to the entire yard (just the low and rooty areas) and was worried that the seeds falling into those holes would be wasted as their planted depth would be too deep.

    Seems weather is not cooperating. Forcast shows 40-53 degree highs for the next week and a half. Grrrrrrr!
  4. betmr

    betmr LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,663

    If you are putting down top soil, I would suggest broadcasting the seed. Not slit seed. I believe slit seeding is best for over-seeding an existing lawn. When slit seeding a barren patch, you are going to have windrows of grass that will take time to fill in.
  5. ChiTownAmateur

    ChiTownAmateur LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 386

    50/50 sun, fescues will work fine. But you have the option to include some bluegrass in the mix also, which is great for the sunny areas.

    Benefits: Sunny areas, the bluegrass will naturally "win" over the fescues and vice versa for the shady areas. Over time, this "survival of the fittest" will give you a thriving lawn. Additionally, by having a mix of types you lessen the chances of disease overwhelming the entire stand or large sections.

    Either way you go, buy quality seed. Not mixes from Scott's at the superstore. Ask around here if necessary but get seed from either a quality distributor or online if you are more of a homeowner.
  6. golem

    golem LawnSite Member
    Messages: 17

    Appreciate the replies!

    That does sound like the best option but at this time I'm only expecting to distribute topsoil to about 10% of the yard, strictly to cover roots and fill a couple low spots. One of my biggest fears is seed washing away which is why I envision slit seeding followed by top-covering with Leaf-Gro to be a way of locking in the seed.

    I like that option. If an "in-family" blend is good a "type" blend could be even more effective. At that point I guess something to research would be growth rate, color and appearance between the types, would most likely be accentuated after zone dominance has taken place.

    I'm definitely open for suggestions as to quality e-tailers and/or seed brands. Not sure what brands my local nursery stocks.
  7. ChiTownAmateur

    ChiTownAmateur LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 386

  8. golem

    golem LawnSite Member
    Messages: 17

    Thanks ChiTownAmateur!

    Great links. I've been using that first link as a reference for some time but the second one is new to me and looks to offer valuable region specific info. Will put it to good use. :)
  9. rlitman

    rlitman LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,732

    1) Moss, like clover isn't the enemy. Fix the underlying problem, and the moss goes away.
    Moss is a sign of poor drainage. I've had good luck on my house, by diluting Dawn (yes, the dish soap) in hot water until it was thin enough to work in my hose-end sprayer, and spraying the moss until some bubbles are apparent. Re-treat until the soil drains like it's surroundings. Now, I live on Long Island, with very sandy soil, so the soil naturally drains well, but surface tension can keep the surface wet, causing moss. This answer might not apply if you're on clay.

    2) WAIT until September to do this. That's the time to seed. I've seeded in the spring, and what happens is that the annuals in your seed take over, and by the next spring, you've got just a few clumps left, with lots of weeds that did fine in the winter.

    3) Do NOT add cover to tree roots. You're going to kill the tree.

    Getting a quality seed is VERY important. Rebel has a very good seed that some of the box stores carry in my area BTW.

    If you're in such a hurry, get sod. Otherwise I would seed and aerate now (it can't hurt), possibly use 2,4D on the weeds, and slit seed in September. Skip the roundup.
  10. golem

    golem LawnSite Member
    Messages: 17

    Thanks for the reply rlitman!

    You could be right about the moss. It is mainly located towards the flatter portion of the yard, add to that the fact of the underlying clay and we can see good reasoning for moss propagation.

    I'd love to wait until early fall to tackle this project but feel compelled to get a start. My highly possibly skewed thinking is, if I complete the steps already outlined (taking into account suggestions) I could follow-up through the summer with an appropriate weed and feed (Turf-Trust, Dimension) leaving the yard well prepared for another seeding (over or slit) come early fall. I'm hoping the summer growth would provide some protective cover for the second seeding.

    You've thrown me for a loop with your caution of "Do NOT add cover to the tree roots". From all my research I can't recall ever reading that as being something not to do whereas it does seem universal not to add anything in a manner which would cover the trunk.

    Sod was always an outside runner but various factors dull any shine it might have.

Share This Page