Water, water, everywhere...now what?

Discussion in 'Irrigation' started by Squirter, Sep 6, 2007.

  1. Squirter

    Squirter LawnSite Member
    from Zone 5
    Messages: 172

    Well, y'all convinced me to install an irrigation system. My contractor just finished the job using all RB 1806's w/MP Rotators. Hopefully, I'll be happy with the results and will be happy to share with the forum. Time will tell. Now comes the real problem. Yeah, I know, I'll probably get some replies telling me this post belongs elsewhere...and you'd likely be correct. However, who better to know what I'm faced with than you PROS who install irrigation systems. So....here goes.

    Prior to installing my irrigation system, my yard was perfectly graded and very smooth. I achieved this perfection by adding 16 yards of top soil to level the depressions (low areas). Mind you, the new soil was only spread over approx. 40 % of the entire yard. The remaining area was healthy bluegrass not needing to be re-graded. So, what I had was "patchy" dirt areas throughout. I was all ready to re-seed (overseed) my entire yard...until I got this bright idea to install an irrigation system. (I know, I got the cart before the horse.)

    Now....here comes my friendly irrigation contractor with his trencher (Vermeer???) and shovels. Upon completing the installation, his crew did the best they could to hand-rake and repair the damage to my yard. They even ran their machine over the trench's to smooth things out...and it helped a bunch. However, that once beautifully graded/smooth yard...ready for a slit-seeder...is NOW filled with chunks of grass/sod. I'm sure y'all can relate!!!

    The bare dirt areas are still pretty smooth...but the existing grassy areas are particularly lumpy/un-even such that using a slit-seeder would be ineffective. Using an aerator doesn't seem like it would help prepare the ground for seed since I have a large % of loose dirt along with the chunks of grass that have yet to settle.

    Given the described conditions...what would y'all suggest I do to prepare the yard for sowing grass seed this weekend??? Secondly, do you have a good suggestion for a watering schedule to promote the growth of new grass seed? (I live in central Indiana and temps have been...and are expected to be 85+ degrees over the next few weeks.)
  2. Kiril

    Kiril LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 18,335

    !!!!!!!!!!! DON'T DO IT !!!!!!!!!!! :nono:

    Darn too late :cry: :cry: :cry:

    Level the area off and wait until spring, you will end up thanking me after you see those trenches subside after a good amount of rain.
  3. jeffinsgf

    jeffinsgf LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 641

    Agreed. My trenches settled a couple of inches, even after mounding them up and running the tractor up and down the path several times. I know you don't want to live with mud all winter, so you might throw some annual rye on it for now, and then let the trenches settle over the winter and regrade again in Spring.
  4. londonrain

    londonrain LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,129

    I would leave the trenches alone for two weeks and allow for natural setting of the soil. Watering every day to help the soil settle. If you have a riding mower don't run over the trenches for a few weeks all this will do is push the soil away from the trench and this will leave you with ruts in your yard. After 2 weeks level out the trenches with your rake, knocking down the high spots and filling in the low spots, then after that you can spread your new seed. Seed will germinate in 10-14 days and I suggest you water for short durations at 10am, 12pm and 2pm for two weeks or until the seed germinates, after germination start watering early in the morning for longer duration. This is the technique we use with great results.
  5. Kiril

    Kiril LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 18,335

    2 weeks may or may not work, depends on the soil. The higher the clay content, the longer you need to wait.
  6. JimLewis

    JimLewis LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,876

    First of all, I hope you don't blame the contractor for this - as if he did a bad job or something. The fact is, when you have some major construction work like this, there is always going to be disturbance and if it took years to get it that nice before, you might have to spend a little time getting it back that perfect again. But at least now you'll have a professionally designed irrigation system to help you out and you will never have to do it again. Anyway, I hope you haven't given him too much grief. It's the small percentage of homeowners who expect the impossible who always make our lives as contractors very difficult. There are some shoddy contractors out there. And if he was just sloppy or negligent, then he deserves to get some grief. But from what you described, this guy tried his best to restore things and I think that's all you can ask for.

    As for what to do now, what about running a power rake over it? That will tear up the turf a little. But it would probably help even out the soil.

    You could also add a 1/2" or 1" of new soil on top and rake and roll it.
  7. londonrain

    londonrain LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,129

    We have nothing but red hard pan clay and 2 weeks is a good rule of thumb.
  8. Squirter

    Squirter LawnSite Member
    from Zone 5
    Messages: 172

    I am absolutely thrilled with the job done by the contractor. He did a very nice job of repair the damage caused to lawn due to trenching/shoveling. I'm sure I'm a bit sensitive about the disturbance to my yard given the amount of hard work I put into leveling.

    I also know that, in time, things will settle back to where it was before installation. It's just that I was ALL ready to seed this weekend and the trenching activities have set me back...a bit. After a closer look, it isn't as bad as I first thought and seeding can be successfully accomplished with by using a slit-seeder...even over the trenched areas. The bare dirt areas will still be a piece of cake as they were hand-raked back to perfection. (I can't live with the mud any longer.)

    I would not discourage ANYONE from having an irrigation system installed because of any slight disturbance to an existing lawn. It will fix itself and the benefits far outweigh the alternative.
  9. PurpHaze

    PurpHaze LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,496

    In reality... if the trenches and leveling isn't too bad then go ahead and reseed. Trenched areas tend to come back quickly because the soil has been "tilled" up so nicely.

    As far as a watering schedule goes you need to keep the seeded areas moist throughout the day... moist, NOT deluged. Problem is that you need to balance the amount of water you're putting on for the reseeded areas with your existing turf or you could cause problems such as fungus, etc. to your existing turfgrass. We usually set a 3X per day watering program with enough water to keep the area moist between waterings. The use of a good humus in the trenched areas will also help retain moisture without overwatering. How much water to apply will depend on type of sprinklers, weather, soil and other factors. You'll just have to set a watering time and then adjust from there.
  10. Kiril

    Kiril LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 18,335

    Quite possible, different type of clay than what I see. Two weeks is not enough around these parts. More times than not, after winter rains, regardless of how much water is put on the trench, I will observe some subsidence of trenches. If you get your mounding exactly right, along with watering it down, you might get lucky and not have a depression the following year.

    I might note, as long as the depression is not excessive, it is pretty easy to level it off the following growing season without killing the turf, especially for a homeowner.

    Yes, along with the weeds!!

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