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New Construction Lawn  RSS feed

 
Nick Palumbo
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Hello all,

I first want to say how much a I love this site and believe in organic lawn care for the cheap and lazy! My wife and I just purchased a new home in RI last June and unfortunately that is when they put loam down and seeded... it did not turn out too well. A year later I am trying to obtain a lawn. Before visiting this site I had the mindset to overseed... so I bought (2) bags of K31 because of what it could handle. After finding this site I now realize that overseeding was probably not my best move, and maybe K31 wasn't either. Long story short, I aerated in April and overseeded shortly after. Some areas I fully tilled and sowed seeds. At the tilled areas I was able to grow grass and at almost every hole from areating grass has grown... however no where else ( such as where I raked and seeded). Going into this operation I had some large dirt spots and some grass (not sure what kind). It is now almost June and most of my newly growing grass has not passed over 1 or 2 inches. And more frightening is that the grass that was already there as not grown at all. After all the rain and sunny days we have gotten all of my neighbors have been cutting grass however I have not had to yet! As my research progressed I stumbled upon the benefits of coffee grounds and have been stopping at Starbucks on my way home from work once a week, so far I have spread about eight 5 gallon bucks full. I have also sent in my soil to be tested and I am waiting for the results.

Anyways, I could use some advice. The dirt is pale when not wet, small rocks keep surfacing and it easily compacts after being wet (cement like)... I have a large amount of weeds but what I did not like seeing was black medic. The land was a forest and then they cleared for a housing development... so my yard is mostly filled with roughly 4 inches of what they called top soil (less in certain spots , depending on the grade). My goal is to add organic material, coffee is all I have done, but I started a compost pile in the back since I have so much resources with my house being surrounded by a forest. I wanted to go pick up Ringer tomorrow and put down to see if it will help the grass to grow...

Any other help would be greatly appreciated!
 
Casie Becker
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Location: Just northwest of Austin, TX
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Black medic is actually a sign of natural processes trying to balance themselves. It's a nitrogen fixing legume, so you're on the right track adding high nitrogen amendments like coffee grounds.

If you can give some information about your climate it might help people give more specific suggestions to help you. Just as an example, most of the turf grasses used in the south have a completely different growth pattern from those used in the north.
 
Nick Palumbo
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Thanks for the response... I live in Rhode Island, so we see winters below freezing and decently hot summers, definitely see all 4 seasons. This is why I chose K31, cold season grass and high drought tolerance.
 
Miles Flansburg
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Hey Nick, the nicest lawn that I ever had was at a home we bought in Wyoming. It had been sitting MT for a while so all vegetation was dead. I brought in truckloads of easy to get , local, aged horse manure and rototilled it in about 2 ft deep. Packed it down by rolling a fifty five gallon drum with some water in it, over the area. Then put in my sprinkler system and laid the sod over the top. ( At another house I did the same thing but seeded it.)
 
Nick Palumbo
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I could get my hands on some horse manure, but I was told it had too many seeds in it to put on my lawn as a top dressing...

Anyone have advice on the stunted growth?
 
Bryant RedHawk
garden master
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Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
255
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hau Nick, Welcome to permies.

Your description sounds like you are trying to grow in compacted conditions, construction typically compacts the soil all around the site.
If you can get the horse manure, spread it evenly then till that into the soil to de-compact it. At that point you can rake it out and seed and things will do ok.

To do even better takes a little longer for prep time and costs of good, quality compost. Or the option of composting more of the horse manure is also there.

IF this was my lawn space; I would get all the horse manure I could and spread and till then I would seed with a blend of clovers and hairy vetch, this would be tilled under just as seed heads appeared.
From that point I would rake and seed with my grass seeds. I would be seeding in four applications. Seed let grow to cutting height, cut, seed let grow to cutting height, repeat this until you have a nice thick carpet of grass plants.
That will give you a lawn that golf courses would love to have as fairway.

The cuttings from your mowing should go into a compost heap, great source of nitrogen and they will heat up quickly.
Once you get going you can create compost tea to use on your lawn and any gardens, the soil will thank you for this with even better growth.

Redhawk
 
Nick Palumbo
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Bryant RedHawk wrote:hau Nick, Welcome to permies.

Your description sounds like you are trying to grow in compacted conditions, construction typically compacts the soil all around the site.
If you can get the horse manure, spread it evenly then till that into the soil to de-compact it. At that point you can rake it out and seed and things will do ok.

To do even better takes a little longer for prep time and costs of good, quality compost. Or the option of composting more of the horse manure is also there.

IF this was my lawn space; I would get all the horse manure I could and spread and till then I would seed with a blend of clovers and hairy vetch, this would be tilled under just as seed heads appeared.
From that point I would rake and seed with my grass seeds. I would be seeding in four applications. Seed let grow to cutting height, cut, seed let grow to cutting height, repeat this until you have a nice thick carpet of grass plants.
That will give you a lawn that golf courses would love to have as fairway.

The cuttings from your mowing should go into a compost heap, great source of nitrogen and they will heat up quickly.
Once you get going you can create compost tea to use on your lawn and any gardens, the soil will thank you for this with even better growth.

Redhawk


Hey and thank you!

I really want to start over but I want to show you what I'm working with and see if you think I need to restart...

Hope the pictures work but from far it looks good but then close up not so much.
IMG_8069.JPG
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IMG_8068.JPG
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Heinrich Kegeldank
Posts: 15
Location: Southeast US Zone 8b
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I work on new construction jobsites. The builders here will just throw sod on top of compacted clay with all the paint, broken concrete, and other trash still sitting on the ground. Even the best builders I've seen have barren wasteland around a house being built. You can't avoid it when hiring contractors and building a house to code these days. Laying sod down just doesn't fix these problems. Chances are, your lawn will not be healthy for a couple years because of this.

Yet even on the nastiest jobsites there are thistles growing in cracks, or patches of clover on the edges of gravel. There are plants that will grow in the worst conditions, and they will pave the way for prettier and more delicate plants. You have to let them grow though. Sure, you can till buckets of manure into the soil and your grass will probably grow, but in my opinion it's just easier (and cheaper) to let nature do its thing. There's a thread on this lawn forum about alternatives to grass lawns, and there are a few low-maintenance, mow-friendly suggestions. I can't recall them off the top of my head but if you aren't attached to the idea of a uniform grass lawn, you should go searching. I'm not a big lawn guy so I just let the clover and dandelion grow. If you're into lawns maybe you'd be more interested in creeping thyme?
images-(3).jpg
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Creeping thyme in a lawn
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A clover lawn
 
Walt Chase
Posts: 119
Location: ALASKA
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I'm going to suggest that you wait until you get your results back from the soil sample.  See what it says and then amend as needed.  Aerate and overseed again in the fall.  Scratch up with a rake or lightly till the barest spots.  Looks to me like you have a good start, just some nutrient deficiencies. 
 
Bryant RedHawk
garden master
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Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
255
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hau Nick, Walt just posted the method I would recommend.

About the only time to do a start over is if there is a lot of junk coming up like glass, tar paper, etc., normally the grass plants that have made it are good and sturdy.

Redhawk
 
Nick Palumbo
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Thank you all for your responses... I was waiting for the soil test results and I am slightly confused with their recommendations, so I attached a photo with hopes someone can better explain their findings.

Prior to receiving the results I went and applied a bag of Ringers lawn restore... I haven't really seen any response, does this mean it was not needed or it takes time. It's been a week an a half since I applied it.
Filename: analysis.pdf
Description: Soil Analysis
File size: 191 Kbytes
 
Glenn Herbert
gardener
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Location: Upstate NY, zone 5
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Posting the images for easier advising...
lawnanalysis1.PNG
[Thumbnail for lawnanalysis1.PNG]
lawnanalysis2.PNG
[Thumbnail for lawnanalysis2.PNG]
 
Nick Palumbo
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Glenn Herbert wrote:Posting the images for easier advising...


Thanks Glenn!
 
David Livingston
master steward
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Location: Anjou ,France
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I take a longer view of lawns . I just cut . and cut   and cut a little and often no mulching no fertilizer no toxic gick nothing . Thats all I do eventually grass is the only thing that survives. Instant lawns dont work nor any instant solution 
 
Glenn Herbert
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Most of my lawn is simply a patch of the old hayfield where I built my house that I mowed for years. It still has a wide variety of plants in it, but mostly ones that don't tend to grow very tall, and lots of little flowers in different seasons.
 
Bryant RedHawk
garden master
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Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
255
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Thank you all for your responses... I was waiting for the soil test results and I am slightly confused with their recommendations, so I attached a photo with hopes someone can better explain their findings.

Prior to receiving the results I went and applied a bag of Ringers lawn restore... I haven't really seen any response, does this mean it was not needed or it takes time. It's been a week an a half since I applied it. 


First off, the Ringers will take around a month for visible results to start showing up.

About the soil test, a pH of 6.6 is acceptable and it will self adjust over time, if you really want to speed that up and raise it to 6.8 (optimum) Then use the lime.

The biggest issue I see is Mn, get some Epsom salts and spread it over the lawn is the easy and inexpensive way to raise the Mn.

For right now planting, you have some choices; Dutch white clover, creeping thyme, annual rye grass will all help with covering the bare spots.
The clover and thyme will also do some mineral mining and nitrogen fixing that will become available when cut.
These will fill in and do well for the soil so that later on everything improves, good lawns are not quick to build, they take time.
A good lawn is a microenvironment, the more grass plants per sq. ft. the more like carpet it becomes and the fewer "weeds" it will have.

Your photos show a fair base starting point, many people don't have that. I'd get the bare spots covered with either clover and thyme then you can wait and see if you really do need to make other adjustments besides the Mn. That mineral is necessary for healthy plants.
 
David Livingston
master steward
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My own personal view is that grasses are tough and grow in the thinest soils . Why pamper them you only feed the weeds ? The best lawn I ever saw was cut twice a day by geese when the tide came in l
 
Nick Palumbo
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Bryant RedHawk wrote:
Thank you all for your responses... I was waiting for the soil test results and I am slightly confused with their recommendations, so I attached a photo with hopes someone can better explain their findings.

Prior to receiving the results I went and applied a bag of Ringers lawn restore... I haven't really seen any response, does this mean it was not needed or it takes time. It's been a week an a half since I applied it. 


First off, the Ringers will take around a month for visible results to start showing up.

About the soil test, a pH of 6.6 is acceptable and it will self adjust over time, if you really want to speed that up and raise it to 6.8 (optimum) Then use the lime.

The biggest issue I see is Mn, get some Epsom salts and spread it over the lawn is the easy and inexpensive way to raise the Mn.

For right now planting, you have some choices; Dutch white clover, creeping thyme, annual rye grass will all help with covering the bare spots.
The clover and thyme will also do some mineral mining and nitrogen fixing that will become available when cut.
These will fill in and do well for the soil so that later on everything improves, good lawns are not quick to build, they take time.
A good lawn is a microenvironment, the more grass plants per sq. ft. the more like carpet it becomes and the fewer "weeds" it will have.

Your photos show a fair base starting point, many people don't have that. I'd get the bare spots covered with either clover and thyme then you can wait and see if you really do need to make other adjustments besides the Mn. That mineral is necessary for healthy plants.


Thank you for your response... I completely understand this will be a long process and I am up for the challenge, I just want to help and do anything I can to get the lawn going in the right direction. So looking over the analysis, I don't understand how I am deficient in Mn... if you could explain quickly that would be greatly appreciated (the soluble salts / magnesium?). As for applying Epsom salt, about how much would be necessary for a 6000 sqft lawn? I like the idea of clover and rye grass in the bare spots. And I may add some lime, but again, I do not know the correct amount for my property size.
 
Bryant RedHawk
garden master
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Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
255
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Mn is manganese, your soil tests shows it as not measurable so that should come up so the bacteria can process the other minerals (it is a necessary mineral for human health too).
The best way to add this mineral is kelp or a compost tea that contains kelp. I like to mix powdered kelp with other amendments for ease of spreading and keeping it where I want it as I spread it.
If you are making compost, that would be a wonderful carrier for powdered kelp amendments.

Using Epsom salts Figure around a cup per 100 sq. ft. for application. I recommend this rate so you don't waste money or have a set back from too much too soon, you can always do more applications if needed.
Currently you seem to have a fair amount from your soil test results but a small boost will be handy for interaction with the Kelp amendment minerals to keep your microbiome healthy.

For adding lime your soil tests shows that an initial application of 10 lbs. per 100 sq. ft., I would reduce that by half since you can do harm if you put too much down at once.

Making amendments to established lawns should be done in small steps, the grass plants will adjust both their roots and the microbiome surrounding them if you give them time to do so.


It is very easy to burn grass plants, slow improvement is better than what most soil tests suggest, they are giving a "quick fix" recommendation because that is what they are taught, give the desired end result improvements, not how to keep your plants going strong.

Redhawk
 
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