Seed over sod?

Discussion in 'Landscape Maintenance' started by spencer087, Jul 14, 2009.

  1. spencer087

    spencer087 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 73

    OK heres the deal. I do all of the landscape and lawn maintainence for a subdivision. A few of the houses were leased out and the people there never did water there lawn. It has been dry for well over a month and very very hot and the sod has completely died on a lawn that the people just moved out of. Heres the question... Can i just seed over that lawn and fertilize to get it to grow? Or do i need to rip all of the sod out and re install sod. Thankyou!
  2. White Gardens

    White Gardens LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,776

    Ripping it out and re-doing it would look better.

    Yes you can seed, but you might have patchy results. It would be one of the things where you would have to time it correctly with growing conditions, (such as seeding in the fall) and would probably need to be over-seeded again in the spring.

    You could also go rent a slit-seeder and go over it about 4 different directions to help it fill in good.
  3. LawnSolutionsCP

    LawnSolutionsCP Sponsor
    Messages: 907

    I used to to this all the can remove the sod (did it once and won't ever do it again), spray with roundup, mow very short and collect the clippings, let it set for 2 week and spray again if there is anything green at all.

    The Round up will kill everything, including the root zone which is that you really want. Get a very powerful seeder (ours) and set the blades to 1" deep and do 2-3 passes over the sod. This will create a great seed bed and pretty much grind up everything into fine topsoil and make the lawn as smooth as a pool table. Once it it ground up, put seed in the hopper and set the blades to 1/8" to 1/4" deep, just enough to barely touch the dirt. Set the blades too deep and you will bury the seed too deep and get spotty germination. Seed 2 passes, do all the edges and and around the mail boxes etc... by hand.

    Water using electronic timers.

    In 2-week, it will look like you rolled our green carpet.

    This is about 5% of the work than removing the sod and would get much better results.

    There is a video on our website that we use for rental store that shows the process except for killing off everything first. The key it to kill the sod, roots, ect so the seeder can grind everything up so you don't have thatch sitting on top.

    As for seeders that are powerful enough to do this, Our 9-hp Turf Revitalizer and the Olathe Seeder are the only 2 with enough power and depth to till 1"- 1.5" deep. Lesco's Renovator and Ryan's Mataway would be my 2nd choice but don't expect more than 1/2" and have some broad shoulders.

    Send me a PM if you have specific questions.

  4. LawnSolutionsCP

    LawnSolutionsCP Sponsor
    Messages: 907

    A lot of builders put in blue grass in your area which is great for landscapers. Looks good for 1-2 years than starts to burn up.

    Use Turf Type Tall fescus with 10% blue grass. Visit you local commercial seed store and ask what they recommend. They will know the best for the area because they will base their purchasing on results from state universitites who test for the best based on your region. You will get better seed from them for your region than from any chain store....this seed may cost 10% more but worth the extra expense.

    This will be where all your local golf courses and large landscapers purchase thier grass seed.
  5. LawnSolutionsCP

    LawnSolutionsCP Sponsor
    Messages: 907

    If you take my advise, please take picture of the entire process and email them to me as well as post on LawnSite for all to learn.

    I started Lawn Solutions from just 2 summers part time doing this exact process. I would do 6-8 a day at 1,200 - 1,500 each and make more money in 6 week than working for G.E. doing R&D the entire year.

    We used the Lesco Renovators and a Ryan Mataway and once I started making this kind of money I just had to have something easier, more powerful and faster so I could do more in less time which = much more $$$.

    The result was the Turf Revitalizer which is the fastest, most powerful, and most productive seeder on the market. It is basically a seeder on steroids with enough power to break ground 1" deep at 3 mph even while pulling a sulky.

  6. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 21,653

    WTF kind of advice is this, ripping out the sod, what the hell kind of landscaper are you folks anyhow,
    y'all just out to make a fast buck off of unsuspecting customers, I suggest you boys watch your step
    every which way you go, don't forget to look behind yourself, too.

    About the only thing I can figure is this is some kind of a joke, and somehow I'm missing the humor.

    But this is just the kind of thing, once customers catch on to what just happened, they in turn start up
    ripping every last one of us off in return, that much I understand, oh and don't think they can't because
    they can and WILL, now this is not the kind of attitude I want to foster in this world.
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2009
  7. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 21,653

    Now to answer the question...

    MOST contractors do not install sod properly, they might prep the area but much beyond that thin little layer
    of top soil the sod comes with, most, if I'm not mistaken, completely FAIL to treat and take care of what dirt
    lies underneath, they don't give a damn, just like everyone else all they care about is their money.

    And without first taking care of the underlying foundation, it is going to be very difficult to
    establish a lawn long-term on what you have, about an inch of fertile soil, if that.
    The good news is, we at least do have that 1/2 inch or so of good dirt over top already.

    Now to do it the right way you still have to treat the dirt underneath, but you don't want to rip out that topsoil
    that's already there, instead we simply treat THROUGH the topsoil, however a good understanding of your state's
    soil is necessary, its composition, and of course, how to treat it.
    In most of these new neighborhoods, the existing soil is clearly visible anywhere the sod didn't get applied as well.

    For example, in Virginia we have clay-based soils, if I wanted to treat the underlying layer I simply apply the
    appropriate treatment over top of the existing soil and wait until it filters on through, and filter through it will.
    Granted, might take 6-12 months...

    But at a fraction of the cost these guys are proposing.
    And yes, you can seed over sod anytime, the only problem is the roots will face the same predicament once they
    get through that thin layer, they can't take hold anymore and once agan we're right back to square one, but at
    the same rate it never hurts to throw some seed down just to get it to green up for the time being.
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2009
  8. LawnSolutionsCP

    LawnSolutionsCP Sponsor
    Messages: 907


    Not sure I'm understanding your reply...are you saying my advice to do renovation (killl it off, power seed) was incorrect? I do agree that removing the sod is totally a waist of time unless you suspect all kinds of building debris to include concrete. I have seen contractors unload the excess concrete from a drive way in a yard and then lay sod over the top.

    Below is a link to the results from a similar questions about seeding. In the below post it was a homeowner and I basically gave him the same recommendation. He rented one of our machines from Sunbelt and the results speak for them selves. He didn't spray round up all over or it would have looked even better.

    The entire process assuming you have already sprayed the lawn should only take 1.5-2 hours which is pretty quick to completely redo a lawn.

    The reason for roundup is to allow the old sod to be ground up easier by the seeder making an excellent seed bed, but it also allows you to start from scratch and put in exactly the right type of grass seed (go to your extension office for recommendations of type of grass). I prefer turf type tall fescue with 10% blue grass. The round up also allows you to smooth out places where were gaps were in the sod due to a poor install. The seeder just levels it out by moving the dirt around. You can see this in the below post. Killing the old sold also creates all type of organic matter that will feed the new lawn instead of hinder (croud) it from getting established.

    Using the best type of grass for your area can save hundreds of dollars a year in water expense if you have a good heat and drought tollerant variety. It can also be the difference between doing this again in a few years or establishing a beautiful lawn that takes little work to maintain. When I used to do this, I would give homeowners the same advice if they wanted to do it them selves.

    Often times the neighbors would stop and ask what type of grass is I put down not because the lawn looks so great but because they never water their lawn in the summer and it still looks better than theirs which they are alwasy watering.

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