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Help with fixing a lawn that looks like a beach.

Posted by Chubavis NY (My Page) on
Thu, Jan 24, 13 at 12:04

This is my first time ever posting to a forum but I am stumped with how to fix my lawn issue and I hope someone can point me in the right direction.
I am a new homeowner and purchased a property that had a ton of trees, plants, bushes and random flowerbeds all over...After cleaning up a lot of the yard getting rid of trees and all the extra bushes and such just to get to a nice open lawn, we finally had grass growing. Unfortunately, our cesspool was damaged and we had to get a whole new system put in, resulting in what you see in the picture...A Beach Lawn.

We were out of money so we couldnt do anything last year, so we did our best, picking the weeds out and mainly focusing on the rest of our property. It has not changed much, some grass grew, especially around the edges of the sand, with some patches in the middle, but for the most part its still a sandy beach. If anything, larger rocks might have come to the surface since this last picture was taken.

Now, we want to start fixing it since we have some cash again. I just have no clue where to start. Do I just add topsoil? Do I mix topsoil with the sand? Side Note, there are also a ton of huge roots and such that i know could just be below the surface of the sand. How do I deal with those?

I'm just trying to get an idea if this is something i can fix myself or if I am going to need major professional help. Thank you again. I appreciate any tips or thoughts on this matter.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Help with fixing a lawn that looks like a beach.

Tiemco just posted some great advice in a topic just below yours and it is applicable to your situation. BTW, you don't need to add topsoil as sand makes a great soil base and adding topsoil can create drainage and soil horizon issues. Read tiemco's post and come back with your questions.


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RE: Help with fixing a lawn that looks like a beach.

Thank you grass1950. I didn't even notice that post from Tiemco. I really didn't think the sand would be okay as a base.

So based on what I read from his post, combined with your suggestion that topsoil is not necessary, I guess I should do the following. And please correct me if anything sounds like it is incorrect.

1) Get my soil checked by a lab.

2) I'm assuming from what I've read elsewhere, that it is best to remove the larger rocks and pebbles. Should I be raking through it as well to get some of the rocks slightly below the surface?

2) Seed the Sand.

3) Now at this point, should i be rolling the seeds into the sand? or should i add a thin layer of topsoil and then roll over it? I just feel like by adding seeds over the sand they are not going to germinate.

4)Water 3x a day until germination.

---Fertilizing Im a little confused....should i add organic matter and fertilizer prior to seeding? When I seed? Or after they start to germinate?

Lastly, I was planning on starting when the ground thaws and its warm enough outside for germination. Timeco mentioned "Another thing to consider is planting grass this spring just to get coverage, with the intent to kill it all in the summer. You should use a fast germinating/establishing grass for this like TTTF or annual rye." --What do they mean by with the intent of killing it in the summer?

Thank you again for your help.


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RE: Help with fixing a lawn that looks like a beach.

Chubavis, grasses grow a root zone 3 or more inches deep. That is a lot of topsoil to add and a lot of sand to remove even in a small lawn. I've grown and seen a lot of fine lawns grown in sand soil. It is much cheaper and easier to make sand into good soil than to bring in topsoil. Adding organic matter will improve sand's moisture and chemical retention characteristics.

1) Get my soil checked by a lab.

Grasses need certain chemicals in certain amounts to thrive. A soil test report from a comprehensive and reputable lab like Logan Labs will tell you what ammendments are needed and save you from just thowing chemicals (and $) at the lawn.

2) I'm assuming from what I've read elsewhere, that it is best to remove the larger rocks and pebbles. Should I be raking through it as well to get some of the rocks slightly below the surface?

Yes, remove all the rocks that you can from the surface and try to get the larger rocks and stoes by raking an inch or two down. Grass will not grow on rock and fewer rocks and stones will make the lawn more "knee friendly." Don't try to bury them, as they will just work their way back to the surface. On the otherhand, don't get obsesive and try to remove every pebble. Break your lawn into small sections and do the sections as time allows.

2) Seed the Sand.

You will want to wait for your soil test results. (See answer to your "fertilizing" and "last" question below)

3) Now at this point, should i be rolling the seeds into the sand? or should i add a thin layer of topsoil and then roll over it? I just feel like by adding seeds over the sand they are not going to germinate.

Rolling is fine- it really doesn't matter if you roll before or after topdressing, rr you could go over the lawn with a verticutter or you could lightly rake the lawn (drag a garden rake to make shallow furrows for the seed and then use the back of a leaf rake to cover the furrows) to bury the seed (bury no more than 1/4" deep no mater which method you choose). Many of us like to lightly topdress our seed. I, and others, prefer to use peat moss as it will protect the seed, hold moisture and add organic matter. (My current home has a 50/50 mix of silt and sand. I raked the stones up from the surface only and hand pulled the larger rocks. Spread seed, used a verticutter in two directions to bury the seed to 1/4" and lightly covered with peat moss.)

4)Water 3x a day until germination.

Yes, but lightly. You just want to keep the seed moist, not drowning wet, so just enough water each time to get the top 1/4 inch of soil damp. 3x a day so the seed never dries out. Once the seed germinates you'll go to 2x for a little loger each time.

---Fertilizing Im a little confused....should i add organic matter and fertilizer prior to seeding? When I seed? Or after they start to germinate?
Lastly, I was planning on starting when the ground thaws and its warm enough outside for germination. Timeco mentioned "Another thing to consider is planting grass this spring just to get coverage, with the intent to kill it all in the summer. You should use a fast germinating/establishing grass for this like TTTF or annual rye." --What do they mean by with the intent of killing it in the summer?

I'm going to address you earlier "seed" question and your last question here. The best time to plant seed is late summer/early fall. Less weed competition, cooler temps but still warm enough for grass establishment and the turf has 7-9 months to mature and develope a root system before the heat of the next summer. When you seed in the spring the new grass only has a couple of months to mature and develope a root system before the heat of summer. Also Spring and summer is when weeds are most prolific. This results in 1. summer grass die off. 2. increased weed competition as you are fertilizing and water the weed seeds along with the grass and 3. as the summer kills off grass areas, new weeds jump in to fill the space.
Some amendmendments (per soil test) are either needed in such large amounts that they need to be applied over time and/or should not be applied at the same time as seed. The best plan is to plan on a fall seeding schedule. Though spring and summer, prepare the soil by adding the needed ammendments and regukar application of organic matter (hopefully others here (tiemco, tw, andy, dchall etc.) will chime in with more specific advice) About 4-6 weeks before fall seeding kill everything with Round up, mow short and rake up the debree and then seed per above. Some people with bare dirt can't stand to have a dirt lawn all sommer, so as tiemco suggested, they seed with a fast growing grass like annual rye in the spring and kill it and everything else (weeds) in preparation for fall seeding. Feel free ask for clarification as this was pretty cursory.


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RE: Help with fixing a lawn that looks like a beach.

I just want to agree with grass's suggestions. Sometimes it helps to see that others agree. Fall is the right time to seed, so consider a spring seeding only temporary. Use cheap seed the first time and get better seed for the fall.

Regarding sand: I prefer it. Every golf course in the US has a sand base. Your soil test will be pretty weak on everything with sand, but at least you aren't starting out with a mess.

Rolling sand is more like the way Mother Nature seeds. She sends out herds of elk, zebra, wildebeest, etc., to do Her seeding. They come in, knock the seeds on the ground, and then trample them down. They've done it this way for hundreds of thousands of years.


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