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Lawn Maintenance / Lawn Renovation
A great way to talk about all things lawn care related. Grass, turf, shrubs, trees, aeration, fertilization, reseeding, hydro-seeding, mowing, grub control, chemicals and pesticides. Ask questions, give answers. Grow!

Help requested with growing a lawn from dirt

Lawn Maintenance / Lawn Renovation

A great way to talk about all things lawn care related. Grass, turf, shrubs, trees, aeration, fertilization, reseeding, hydro-seeding, mowing, grub control, chemicals and pesticides. Ask questions, give answers. Grow!
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Old 04-24-2008, 12:31 AM
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I have taken on a job that consists of a nice front yard to manicure and a rear yard about 30feet deep and 45feet wide that is covered in pine needles. I priced the cleanup at 120 to include the edging, front mowing, back raking/blowing and the gutters. I will be taking a broom to knock out the buildup in the gutters then a blower to polish them up. I firgure I'll spend 20-30 minutes on the gutters, 20 minutes mowing, 10-20 edging, and hopefully the blower I picked up will make the needle cleanup take 1-1.5 hours. If my timing it accurate it will take about 2.5 hours to knowck it out. My estimates have been horrible so it might take me more like 3-4 hours but I'll know for next time!

When I walked the yard I was looking for other things they would use. It turns out no one has lived in the place for a year prior to my client getting there. The rear yard has not been raked in that time. I looked under spots all over the backyard and it is nothing but dirt. Loose dirt in most places, but hard near the house. I offered to seed and get a lwn going for the kids to play in since they have two. This brought up a need for a birthday party in the backyard on june 15th. I will have about 5-6 weeks to get this rolling. I am dealing with heavy shade from pine trees and I can assume a bad pH due to the needles.

Can I get it going in 6 weeks? I already informed them that they will need to water twice daily to start. In virginia, it there a good seed for this heavy shade? I would say moderate to heavy. I will need to break the ground up near the house since it is compacted dirt but alot of the rear yard will just need a light raking after the cleanup and prior to seeding.

Anyways, can you get a lawn to grow in that time frame or is it best to recommend sodding since they have a deadline?

If I can get it to grow are there any recommendations? Seed and feed? VA does not require a specific license to fertilize but pesticides do. Is there a particular seed that will just grow with constant water?

Since the entire rear lwn is DIRT I plan to lay hay/straw after seeding to keep the soil moist and try to keep the seed from washing away from rain. That is of course, IF I seed vs sod. Any advice is appreciated.

Aside from the seeding and cleanup they have agreed to a $40/week maintenance for the lawn. For a while it will just be the front and sides since the back has nothing and I will want to stay off of it until it reaches mowing height.

Thanks for reading.
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Old 04-24-2008, 01:22 PM
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Sodding would be a lot easier, using a sand-based sod for shady areas. If you were doing it from seed, I would suggest adding some organic material, probably compost, to the soil in order to increase its ability to hold moisture. You'd probably need to lime the soil first too, to get the pH back near neutral. With a six week timeframe, I think seeding would be possible, but because of the shade you might need to overseed once or twice, since growth will be slow.
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Old 04-25-2008, 09:39 PM
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I am a bit hasty in responding but I am going to anyway then do some reseach at the same time. When you indicate to drop lime first, how long before seeding should this be done?
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Old 04-26-2008, 03:01 AM
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Hmmmm...I'm not gonna pretend to be an expert on this, so anyone else have any ideas? I just think that you will want to sort out the soil pH before attempting to seed a new lawn. I'll look at my book
from the "Lawn Geek" and see if I can find anything.
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Old 04-26-2008, 07:45 AM
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Dave anything you know about this is more than me and it's much appreciated.
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Old 04-26-2008, 10:04 AM
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Seeding a lawn

I came across that, but it doesn't say anything about timing. I figure it would need a few days at least to actually work into the soil and do its thing, rather than just sitting on the soil. I guess if the yard is pretty compact now, you could drop the lime, then till it all together to loosen up the soil a bit.
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Old 04-26-2008, 12:24 PM
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This is what I came up with after reviewing several sources.
Lime, manure and starter fertilizer tilled into the ground. Tamp the ground or use a roller half filled with water then seed and lightly rake.

The soil is moist under those pine needles so I might be able to get away without the manure. I figure lime and starter fertilizer are going to be necessary to get it moving. I plan to use a blend of ryegrass and kentucky bluegrass since we need the lawn up ASAP.

Thanks for all the feedback guys.
I intend to give them a couplel prices depending on their budget.
One for breaking the ground and seeding.
One for tilling with lime and fertilizer then tamping and seeding.

I will be emphasizing the importance of adding the lime and fertilizer. Without it their lawn may be a bit fragile dfor the June 15th birthday BBQ in the backyard.

I have 2700 sq feet of yard that needs a total new lawn and 2500sq feet that will just be over seeded. About 1000 sq feet needs to be tilled due to hard earth. I'll be pricing the seed, lime, and fert this weekend to give a quote by monday evening. I will be totally guessing on the labor since I'm really not sure how long it's going to take to get all that done.

I'm also guessing I need to call Ms Utility to get the grounds marked. I don't want to come thru and till up and cable or phone not to mention power or gas. Power and gas should be well below my depth but the phone and cable may not be. Hopefully there is nothing even in the rear yard but I'm not taking chances.
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Old 04-26-2008, 05:43 PM
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Ya...I doubt you'll hit utilities, but always good to call before you dig. I'd reckon that job would take you at least a day to pull off.
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Old 05-01-2008, 11:27 PM
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I decided to go with 2 quotes. Awaiting the response. It's pretty solid that I'll get the job just a matter of whether they want to spring for the extra bucks. I may have underbid on labor but at this time its just me and I don't have a full schedule. Taking it will allow me to get a better idea of what it takes to complete the job in the future.

So about 2700 square feet in the rear that needs a newlawn. Soil is soft in most of the areas. About a 30x4 footarea needs to be broken up then regraded. I can pull this off with a shovel and bow rake.

Also, 2500 sq feet needs overseeding. I was told I need 10-12# of seed per 1000 sq feet when doing a new lawn and 5# per 1000 sq feet when overseeding. Lets say 32.4# for the new lawn and 7.5 for the reseeding. Great 40 will do it. I'm going to get a 50# bag for about $98. It has a blend of 3 different ryegrass breeds, kentucky bluegrass, and 2 different types of tall fescue. I choose this because they need gra fast and ryegrass will germinate in 5-7 days.

First quote. I'm doing a 50% markup on the materials. So about 150 for the seed and I just bid 35 for the labor. The markup will take care of labor as well. 185 for just seeding and breaking the ground.

The second quote: Same seed, add a bottle of spray on lime that covers 2500 sq feet. Thats about 15 bucks. Also, a bag of starter fertilizer that will cover 5000 sq feet. Same cost. Bid is 235 on that one. Same markup on the materials. I am looking at about 130 in materials I need to get. Profit of 105. It doesn't take long to walk out seed and fertilizer or use a hose to spread the lime. The labor of breaking the ground will maybe take 1 hour. I will already have a bit of it broken up from the late spring cleanup I am doing for them.

Any tips for next bid or thoughts on what I have above?
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Old 05-01-2008, 11:58 PM
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Seems a little low to might not take too long, but I doubt that they will be hugely price sensitive since I get the impression that no one else is bidding against you. I'd factor in a higher labour cost.
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