weird situation

Discussion in 'Turf Renovation' started by GrazerZ, Nov 3, 2009.

  1. GrazerZ

    GrazerZ LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 670

    Heres the deal,
    we have a customer that built an amazing house on the coast of Maine. He had a local stone mason received the bid to do the landscaping install which mostly included stone work, but also included the turf installation. Big mistake. the loam for the lawn is terrible and has been reseeded already once. Currently the lawn looks pretty good because we were called in to make it better. We so far have fertilized it twice, high cal lime and core aerated and overseeded. Also my guys have been mowing it. The problem I have is that its all a fake. T%he soil has an organic content of 4.2% Bad ph, Full of gravel and a cation exchange that's not to pretty. My delema is this. The GC knows that something has to be done and wants me to quote the repair. For me I would just assume start over, but that may be very hard for some to take considering that I have made it look pretty good for now. Its not going to look so hot next year though or long term for that matter. How would you deal with a situation like this?
    As mentioned, my first thought is to kill it and start over. (14k lawn)
    My second thought is to put it on a schedule of three core aeration/seeding and compost topdressings. One this year and two next year.
    What do you think?
  2. gunsnroses

    gunsnroses LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 266

    Sounds like you have it figured out. I would reword what you just wrote a bit and tell the homeowner. I think you just have to use your data from tests etc, and present the facts as well as educate him on what he needs. Was the stone mason your friend?
  3. RigglePLC

    RigglePLC LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 13,176

    How bad is pH? How bad is cation exchange capacity? Organic matter percent is not out of line for a new lawn--build it up. Use plenty of slow release fert or compost to improve the soil fertility and porosity. Add top-quality disease resistant seed. Midnight II or Northstar, or Limousine.
  4. Stillwater

    Stillwater LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,854

    What is the depth of the top soil
  5. GrazerZ

    GrazerZ LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 670

    The mason was not my friend. I'm working for the GC. the loam depth is about 3 or so inches.
    You really think 4.2% is an acceptable organic matter content for a soil? I try to get it up to 20% if I'm doing the install.
    I was a bit tired when I wrote it last night, sorry for that.
    My question was, which way would you go? Clearly, the topdressing way would be most appealing to the GC. Just not sure if I'm comfortable with it.
  6. Stillwater

    Stillwater LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,854

    You have a good plan, do it and address the ph
  7. foreplease

    foreplease LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,038

    I think you (they) almost need a colossal failure before a complete tear out and rebuild can be justified. Hard to say without seeing the site but I think my approach would be to discuss concerns with contractor and homeowner, tell them what you would like to try and that an evaluation needs to be made next September when some tough decisions may need to be made.

    Some gravel in the soil mix isn't going to hurt anything and may even help. If there is a good mix of particle size and distribution it would not scare me. If it was construction garbage dumped here and there across the site that is another matter.

    Turf can grow well in a wide pH range. Like Riggle, I don't think the OM percentage is a problem, especially if what you have is loam. What is the native soil like beneath the approx. 3" layer? If anything, that transition area is what would concern me. If the site drains well I think I could grow it in and maintain it well without completely tearing it out. If the customer's standards and budget are aligned you should be fine. Very few sites are without problems of some kind.
  8. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,082

    You can't really 'fake' good turf. Once you establish it it means it is living in an acceptable environment. Core aeration followed by topdressing will always be helpful, and in this case continue to improve what you have already got. It looks good now... keep it that way.
  9. GrazerZ

    GrazerZ LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 670

    I know you can't fake good turf. But you can temporarily make bad turf look better through fert, lime etc. Long term is a different story. If the loam does not have the capacity to retain nutrients for any length of time, all you will get is a cycle of OK and bad, without ever reaching what we like to see in our turf. This is not a question of how to make grass look good. its a question of which route would you take, given that it currently looks decent but knowing that it will not sustain that look for any given period of time. Example: I have some lawns that look amazing with 3 ferts and minimal effort because of the quality of the soil, whereas I have lawns that look what I would consider only decent with 4 ferts, Aeration etc.
  10. Tom3982s

    Tom3982s LawnSite Member
    Messages: 40

    To me I agree with some, you have to look at this long term. To me a redo seems in order.

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