Soil test advice for my first major renovation

Discussion in 'Turf Renovation' started by LawnForceOne, Jul 29, 2013.

  1. LawnForceOne

    LawnForceOne LawnSite Member
    Messages: 82

    Hi everyone. Ive got a pretty major lawn renovation on the schedule and I need a little advice. The lawn is very compacted clay on a newer constructed home. There was hardly any prep done on the soil except for with a very large dozer that really packed down the soil. Im thinking this is the majority of the problem BUT im not very familiar with soil tests so i could be missing something :confused:

    The soil test results are as follows...
    Soil ph 7.7
    Pounds per acre of P 27, K 221, Ca 7687, Mg 590
    C.E.C 22.0
    % base saturation K 1.3, Ca 87, Mg 11

    Here is my plan of attack. Please let me know if im on target and if im missing something obvious in the results. I planned on tilling (using a toro dingo soil conditioner) compost into the soil to help loosen the clay. Ive heard an inch over the yard and then tilled in is enough? Is that correct? Once the yard has been tilled and leveled I planned on spreading starter fert and then seeding, rolling the yard with an unfilled lawn roller, and then spreading a seeding mulch. Would it be possible to use pelletized compost such as Easy Flow pellets to cover the seed? Also the ph seems a little high? Is there something that I could till into the soil to lower the ph? The intended turf is KBG. Also what are some long term inputs that will help with the clay over time? Ive heard aeration and topdressing each fall helps over time. Is that a good idea.

    Any advice or tips will be greatly appreciated. This is my first major lawn renovation and I just want to make sure that I do it right. As I said im not really familiar with soil tests so if I'm missing something major in the results please let me know.
    Thanks for the help
  2. foreplease

    foreplease LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,062

    This is your best and maybe only chance to amend the soil via tilling anything in. I would use much more than an inch, though some is better than none. Sounds like a big job. A little more information might help.

    Is there irrigation in the existing lawn?
    How many square feet, approximately, will you be replanting?

    You pretty much have to respect and work off existing elevations of things you cannot change such as top of foundation wall, street or curb elevation, sidewalks, driveway, bottom edge of existing fences, etc. Determining what you can fit within those figures will give you an idea of what you can do without removing any existing soil - which may not be a bad idea. You will need to have good surface drainage. If there are low spots or changes in slope you cannot change, now is the time to provide for the removal of water from those areas via drain tile or French drains. If you proceed without providing a way for excess water to leave the lawn it will always haunt you, especially with heavy soils.

    Straight KBG is going to be tough to establish and maintain. It can be done. Most people are not patient enough to wait as long as it takes. It sounds like you are generally on the right track. Be careful pricing it.
  3. RodneyK

    RodneyK LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 784

    The inch of compost tilling with that piece of equipment is going to be a drop in the bucket. Like some one else said something is better than nothing. KBG? Love it but be ready for a battle. PM me your number if you want to discuss this more.
  4. LawnForceOne

    LawnForceOne LawnSite Member
    Messages: 82

    The lawn is about 9500 sq ft. Its very open and the house is almost setting kind if high on the lawn so not too worried about bringing in material (it almost needs it) there is no irrigation system but this customer is very patient and meticulous about watering. Any tips for getting the seed to eatablish well? As far as compost how much is too much or is that possible? Im kinda at a loss as far as pricing simce ive never done a job this scale before. I can get compost for around $23 per yard. I believe an inch over 9500 sq ft was about 26 yds so at 2 inches thats 52 yds. What would you use to move that amount? Im thinking the scoop on the dingo just isnt gonna cut it. What would you charge (ballpark) to move that amount of material and till it in?
  5. LawnForceOne

    LawnForceOne LawnSite Member
    Messages: 82

    Hey rodneyk i cant send a pm but my number is three one seven 3625464. Call anytime tonight. Thanks
  6. LawnForceOne

    LawnForceOne LawnSite Member
    Messages: 82

    If kbg is going to be too much work/effort what kind of seed do you reccomend? Maybe a TTTF/KBG blend like jdl's tuff turf?
  7. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,082

    Tilling in one inch of compost will be OK, if that is what is cost effective...I would plan on topdressing the seed and topdressing the grass over time... I would not aerate for the first 12 months of the grass' life and with all that compost I'd go easy on the starter fertilizer... I've found that compost gets the grass growing to it's maximum potential pretty quick and there is no improvement with a fertilizer...

    Your main concern will be preventing the clay from becoming platy and hydrophobic again... once that happens all your current efforts will be destroyed...
    If the client is looking at this as an investment in the future in which a great lawn is virtually guaranteed, then there will be huge disappointments ahead,,, w/out cultural practices to prevent root decline in the turf...
  8. foreplease

    foreplease LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,062

    I like JDL's Premium Athletic Field Mix, which is 70/30 KBG/PRG, I believe. You are far enough south of me that another mix may be better. Talk to JDL then look at NTEP ratings for the varieties in the mix they recommend.

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