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Tilling or Aerating Prior to Seeding?

Discussion in 'Turf Renovation' started by doesgo, Aug 11, 2006.

  1. doesgo

    doesgo LawnSite Member
    Messages: 5

    I haven't seen this property yet so I'm not exactly sure how bad it really is, but I'm new to this industry and I'll be doing an extimate in a few days for a potential customer who had a septic system installed this past spring and the disturbed area was topsoiled and seeded, but a storm came up shortly thereafter and washed away the seed. Now, naturally, the area is rather weed-infested (not sure what type). The area is approximately 4000 square feet.

    The thinking is to chemically kill all the vegetation in the affected area, break up the soil (is has become quite firm over the summer), and then seed it.

    The questions I have are:

    1) Does this plan of attack seem reasonable? If not, please make suggestions!

    2) In my experience, roto-tilling leaves the soil VERY loose. Great for gardens, not so great for lawns. I know the top inch or so should be loose for the seed to penetrate and take hold, but if I've got six inches of very loose soil after tilling, anyone who walks on the area (like me when seeding and fertilizing) will leave deep footprints. What can I do to firm it up somewhat after tilling? Or do I try to only till to a certain depth (not sure that's possible with my lawn tractor-mounted rear tiller)?

    3) Would plug aeration be a better option than tilling in this case?

    Thanks in advance for any advice you can offer!
  2. Groomer

    Groomer LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,614

    Tilling will work, doesn't have to be deep. Rake yourself backwards from center to smooth your tracks after you seed. I sometimes seed lightly twice, instead of a heavy 1 dose. Don't put too much seed down, and a good starter fertilizer raked in doesn't hurt.
  3. TurfProSTL

    TurfProSTL LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 693

    Broadleaf weed control now. Leaving any grass that did come up.

    Wait 3 weeks or so. Aerate the area in several directions and overseed.
  4. Ric3077

    Ric3077 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,113

    Well said Art!
  5. prostriper

    prostriper LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 336

    is there any trenches or anything to fill up? if there is tilling would be sugested,if not just lightly loosten the surface with a landscape rake and use the the broadleaf control as sugested by TurfProSTL and seed it using a starter mulch along with a starter fertilizer.
  6. doesgo

    doesgo LawnSite Member
    Messages: 5

    Thanks for the advice, everyone! I'll be seeing the property tonight and will give an estimate based on your suggestions and what I find when I get there. From the owner's description, however, it sounds like the soil is quite hard, and for an area that size, I'll probably be firing up the aerator or tiller.

    For work like this, do you typically ask for a portion of the total bill up front before work begins?
  7. Brendan Smith

    Brendan Smith LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,195

    depending on the job, i either get $ for materials up front as non-refundable deposit and/or 50% of the labor up front as non-refundable deposit. also, draw up a contract so that both parties agree on what is or is not to be done and what you will and will not be held responsible for (for example - no guarantee on germination unless homeowner waters x amount/day with doccumentation, etc.)
  8. doesgo

    doesgo LawnSite Member
    Messages: 5

    Thanks a lot for the additional advice!

    I went to the site yesterday and the condition wasn't as bad or as large as expected. There was a decent amount of good grass growing, so I took TurfProSTL's advice and suggested broadleaf weed control, multiple-pass aeration, and overseeding and gave him an estimate. Thanks again!
  9. prn068

    prn068 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 20

    sidewinder power rake and hydroseed...
  10. lawnpro724

    lawnpro724 LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,201

    Use a broad spectrum herbicide and kill everything, wait 30 day's for it to break down and apply starter fertilizer and a little lime, till up ground, level off, re- seed and roll the seed into the ground for good contact. In a few weeks you will have a nice new lawn for your customer. Oh and as far a payment 50/50 half now, half later.

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