Rocky soil and grass

Discussion in 'Homeowner Assistance Forum' started by pra4snw, Jul 13, 2006.

  1. pra4snw

    pra4snw LawnSite Member
    from NH
    Messages: 3

    The builder of our new house seeded on really rocky fill - he did not lay down any topsoil first. He did not lay seed until May and I re-seeded in June after all the rainfall we got. I have some grass growing, but coverage in not impressive at all. I am going to overseed around Labor Day.

    My question concerns the soil. I have raked out thousands of stones of all sizes, yet after every rainfall there are thousands more to take their place.

    Should I be concerned about all of the rocks and the future growth and health of the lawn? Did the builder pull a "fast one" on me by not laying any good soil, or is this something that is usually done?

  2. lzrj

    lzrj LawnSite Member
    Messages: 245

    I'm not a lawn expert only giving personal opinion. How long did the builder what before putting down seed after the ground was smoothed out? We just got done building our house on 3 plus acres so there was a large area around the house that needed to be finished from construction. Our soil in this area is very rocky. They back filled with what they could of the original topsoil that they took off during ground breaking. Then he hauled in three more loads of soil (with no rocks). After the landscaper finished smoothing everything with his tractor, he finished the yard by hand raking every area and removing every rock in it. He then seeded and strawed. He did all at the same time (took him almost a week and a half to finish). After a two weeks of watering, the grass is really starting to grow nicely. We just had a major down pour which exposed a lot of small rocks in the yard but I'm sure thats common and wont be a problem. If you have a lot of large rocks then you might have problems with an even looking yard. You might have to lay more topsoil before reseeding. And by the way, that was the cheapest method to getting our yard finished just more work on our part to get it to grow better. Hydroseeding and sod were a lot more expensive.
  3. Rtom45

    Rtom45 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 456

    Builders increase their profit by stripping and selling topsoil before building. At best, what remains is a poor excuse for topsoil. If you do not have at least half decent topsoil on your lot, you will never have a good lawn. Spend the money and have topsoil hauled in, or buy a lot of organic material and rototill it into the dirt you have. Screen as many of the rocks as you can out of your dirt, whats left in the soil will continue to come to the surface (there's a scientific name for this, but I can't remember it). Stones under about an inch should not be too much of a concern.
  4. mazurrj

    mazurrj LawnSite Member
    Messages: 4

    I can see raking rocks once, then maybe picking up a few later after settled some more. As was said here I'd get top soil and get a couple inches of topsoil anyway over rocky dirt.
    Of course if you do not want to do that eventually you will get some grass to grow, may not be what you hoped for.
    either way, i'd maybe get soil test to see how much lime and fertilizer you may need too. Or just put some lime and 10-10-10 down. Expecially if you're going to stick with the rocky stuff.
    i use straw then for better germination. Then if possible , not sure how big area, keep watered while germinating.
    Maybe call the builder and make a deal, tell him to haul some topsoil in for you for free and you'll take care of everything else. Since really he should have left you with decent topsoil.
  5. pra4snw

    pra4snw LawnSite Member
    from NH
    Messages: 3

    The builder did everything in one day! He didn't even hire a landscaper, he did it himself! I got a lot less than I was expecting. I thought that I would get the same treatment as you did, lzrj.
    He smoothed it with a tractor, then had a worker rake as many rocks as he could. Then, the builder came back the next day, spread grass seed with a hand held spreader, and took off! No straw or specific instructions on treatment. I spread straw just before a huge rainstorm which helped only a little bit. As it stands, I still have water gullies flowing through the yard and puddling where the land was never levelled. All requests to the builder for assistance have gone unanswered.
    And this wasn't a cheap home!
    Off the subject a bit, but does anyone have suggestions on how I can remedy this with the builder? I wish this was the only issue I have, but unfortunately, it isn't. Or is that what builders do now?
  6. lzrj

    lzrj LawnSite Member
    Messages: 245

    Looks like they did the same for you as me but without the straw. But the straw would of made a world of difference. The grass is coming in very good where the straw is but where the straw got blow by the wind and left the soil exposed, it's still bare. It does sound like your builder did you wrong. I meet with a dozen builders before choosing one. My builder was a member of our local HBA. He was great and was there hand and foot for me. If you did not have any specifics written into your contact about the yard finishing you will probably be out options for recourse expect for a complaint to the better buisness bureau. Sorry to hear your builder problems but im sure everything will work out in the end. They always do don't they.
  7. pra4snw

    pra4snw LawnSite Member
    from NH
    Messages: 3

    Thanks for the reply, lzrj. Since I purchased in a development, I had no choice of builders, but this guy's rep. seemed pretty good, from the couple of people I've spoken with. I've now gotten a few more opinions from neighbors who have experienced the same sort of treatment that I have.

    Over the weekend, I took a walk around the neighboorhood, looking at lawns, and it appears that almost everyone got the rocky soil. I can see the rocks through the grass. The owners I spoke with told me that if I choose to work with what I got from the builder, it will just take longer and lot more work. However, there is a just completed house with rock-free loam installed. I spoke to the owner and he said that the builder laid that down!

    I re-visited my contract and of course there are no specifics in there about the type of loam that will be supplied. And the fact that I have some grass growing (well, 30% grass, 30% broadleaf weeds, and 40% bare patches) will not bode well for any complaints.

    Since the builder will not return any of my phone calls or email about several other issues, I will send him a letter every week via snail mail, copying the realtor. This is certainly the wrong forum for this type of question, but do I need to get a lawyer or the attorney general involved at some point?

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