sand oh sand, what kind of sand... Austin area help

kerig01February 11, 2013

Backstory: I'm 12 months into a new home in the Austin area. Builder laid Bermuda 419, did an okay job and it has filled in well. Mid summer I bought a reel mower off craigslist. (Tru-Cut 20" / 7 blade for $350 + $150 in tune up sharpening. A decent deal if I say so myself). Cut lawn at probably 1" to 1.5" through late last summer with minimal to no fertilizing. The yard looks quite nice but I'm ready for the next level... One interesting note is bermuda in the back is already quite green, I mowed it last weekend. Bermuda in the front is still dormant, very little green. I've sent soil samples to A&M so I'm curious to see if soil is the main factor in that.

In comes 2013 plans and the Bermuda Bible and the fact that I want to take the yard to the next level. The yard is "okay" but does have small (1" to probably 3" bumps / ankle breakers ) all over the place. Corner lot, estimate about 6000 sqft of bermuda front and back. Similar to other folks on the boards I've had 2 landscape companies come quote leveling and most of them have no idea what I'm talking about. If anyone in the Austin / Cedar Park area know of a good company that can level bermuda please send me their info. Assuming I get no responses here are my questions:

Sand - I've read the boards and "builder" or "sharp" seem to be the recommendation but no one in the area calls it that.

I found "builder" but its "washed" which is apparently not good. I can also find "bank sand - unprocessed" and "masonry sand". The pictures all look quite similar and appear to be the heavier or more desnse sand. Suggestions, comments, ideas?

I'm nervous to tackle quite a large job myself but the lack of knowledge or fear of spending a couple thousand to have it done wrong are pushing me to do it myself. Any tips, tricks, etc. will help. With current rain and warm weather I'm guessing end of February / early March I'll tackle it. I'll post progress and pictures to the board when I start.

Thanks!

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texas-weed(7A)

First relax because it is too early to try to level your existing yard. You need to wait until the grass is growing vigorously.

The type of sand you are looking for will be a coarse grain sand with irregular sized grains. You do not want to use river bed or fine grained sand.

First question before I make any suggestions is do you have access to a riding lawn mower or lawn tractor.

First thing I will throw out there is to start simple. And you can do this now before the grass starts growing fast. Soak your yard until it is good and soft. Then use a lawn roller filled with water and make a few passes.

The rest I will save until you tell me if you have access to a riding lawn mower or not.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2013 at 10:50PM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

Did you read this link about one person's experience with leveling hybrid bermuda?

    Bookmark   February 12, 2013 at 12:58AM
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tiemco

Another great thread can be found by googling "Bermuda lawn leveling with pics!!!". It's the first entry, and has the whole process with many pics.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2013 at 9:19PM
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kerig01

TW, no I don't have access to a riding mower. Just one reel and one rotary push mowers. I suppose what has me thinking I can do it sooner than later is that my backyard is already greening and requiring mowing.

I thought I could use the "scalping" recommended at the beginning of the season to do the leveling at the same time. Sounds like a bad idea? If I do it later should I still scalp when it starts to green up and then again before leveling in say April or May?

    Bookmark   February 13, 2013 at 8:06AM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

Did you do the reading suggested above?

The reason for a riding mower is to pull a bigger drag.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2013 at 10:15PM
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kerig01

I did yes, geat write up. I "might" be able to borrow a riding mower but not 100% sure. If not this is going to be a serious undertaking seeing how much leveling needs to be done. I might just spot level the really bad areas with a pick up truck load of sand rather than 8 to 10 yards worth.

My biggest question is can I level at the same time I do the first scalping of the year or do I need to wait until may or June? I've already mowed the backyard twice and the front yard is just starting to show signs of greening up. My scalping to start the season cant be more than a few weeks away. I'll post some pictures so you can see what I'm talking about.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2013 at 10:43AM
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kerig01

pictures... I'm having an issue posting multiple pictures here so sorry for the multiple posts. This is the backyard.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2013 at 11:03AM
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kerig01

backyard 2

    Bookmark   February 17, 2013 at 11:04AM
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kerig01

backyard 3

    Bookmark   February 17, 2013 at 11:05AM
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kerig01
    Bookmark   February 17, 2013 at 11:06AM
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kerig01

frontyard 2

    Bookmark   February 17, 2013 at 11:07AM
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kerig01

frontyard 3

    Bookmark   February 17, 2013 at 11:08AM
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kerig01

last one... frontyard 4.

Looking forward to hearing back about 1st scalp + leveling or needing to wait for later in the year to level. Also, timing for first scalp with the backyard already greening up and the front yard much more dormant. Is this normal?

    Bookmark   February 17, 2013 at 11:10AM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

An alternative to bulk sand is bagged sand. You can return unused bags.

Texas-weed has mentioned leveling dormant bermuda. I don't remember if the approach was different than what you have read or not. I have seen bermuda smothered early in the spring by applying too much compost. It was covered to the point where even bermuda did not recover until the following season.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2013 at 1:28AM
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rager_w

I googled lawn leveling in Austin:
http://www.austinsmarthomeservices.com/lawn_leveling_top_dressing_dillo_dirt.htm

The service that did mine last year used a much higher sand mix.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2013 at 5:14PM
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kerig01

rager ... I got quite excited and emailed that company. Here is their extremely thorough response: "we Dillo dirt only. we only level st Augustine grass ". lovely. Seems like there is money to be made in the area as no one either A - knows how to do it or B - wants to do it.

Out of curiosity do you remember who you used and what they charged? The picture looks like they did a great job.

I'm leaning towards doing it myself and renting some equipment. I've convinced a neighbor to do it with me and rent a bobcat for loading the dirt into the back of a dump trailer pulled by a riding mower than drag it using a homemade drag. Can anyone comment on time of year and if I can do it soon with my backyard already greening up? It would be great to do it at the same time I scalp the yard at the beginning of the season.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2013 at 12:17PM
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rager_w

Yes, of course. They sell just the sand/compost mix too for us in ATL. I used Level Lawn http://www.levellawns.com/beforeafter_list.aspx

They charged me a little over $800 (2 years ago every one was quoting $1200).

    Bookmark   February 19, 2013 at 6:05PM
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kerig01

So here is a place that seems to best know whats going on. Does "fill sand" look or sound right? It looks really chunky. They also have masonry sand. Advice appreciated?

http://www.989rock.com/products/sands.html

Here is a link that might be useful: sand options locally

    Bookmark   February 22, 2013 at 4:00PM
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rager_w

I have used bagged masonry sand when I'm patching in places. As long as it isn't chemically treated like play sand. If you can find pete (not pete moss) to mix with it, that'd be great. Hard to find in GA.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2013 at 11:13AM
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apundt-tx(8 SW Austin)

Look up geo growers turf topper. They are way down south but at least the pictures will give you an idea what to look for. Mr. George is sometimes on klru gardening naturally with skip.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2013 at 2:07AM
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BriansZ

Kerig01,

Did you find a place to purchase the sand? I was also considering whittlesey, I have a similar lawn, about 6,000 sf of one year old tif bermuda. I can't even drop my rotary mower too low without bottoming right now. I'm following the guidelines in the bermuda bible and the lawn has done very well since it was installed, but I need to work on leveling this spring.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2013 at 12:27PM
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