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My Experiences Leveling My Lawn with Sand

Posted by jv982 7b (My Page) on
Tue, Apr 26, 11 at 11:31

I guess I should introduce myself. I have been a lurker here for several years, but have always used the site to learn and research. I never felt experienced enough to have anything useful to contribute until recently so I never joined the site.

About a year ago I purchased my first home, a foreclosure in North Georgia. It is a 4 year old house that has always had renters in it. The renters severely neglected the lawn and landscaping. Over the past year I have spent a ton of time (and a bit of money) planting shrubs and fixing the lawn.

I spent a bunch of time researching how to level my lawn and everyone has a different opinion as to the best way to do it. I am not claiming to be any type of expert, but I would like to document my experiences in leveling my lawn. Hopefully someone will find this useful as I have learned so much from the site, I am hoping to be able to give back a little to the forum.

About the Lawn:
I have somewhere around 4,000 sq/ft of Bermuda. I am unsure of the type. It is probably some cheap builder grade stuff but I am unsure. The front yard gets a ton of sun and grows great. The back yard does not get any afternoon sun and grows much more slowly. I do not have an irrigation system. I use a old honda self propelled mower.

Spring 2010:
The lawn was probably 40% weeds and 60% Bermuda. The lawn was so bumpy and rutted that I was unable to mow at 2" without bottoming out and scalping the lawn all over the place.
I spent the entire year treating the lawn for weeds and babying it to get the bermuda to thicken up. By the end of the growing season I had gotten rid of most of the weeds. The bermuda grew in nicely and looked pretty good by the middle of July, but because I had to mow it so high, it didn't grow very thick.

I decided to level the lawn. After tons of research, I was unable to find much consistent info. Some people said to use builders sand. Other people said you should never use builders sand and you should only use river sand. And other sources said that you should not use sand at all and only use top soil or a combination of top soil and sand.

I was torn as to which direction I should go. In spring of 2010 2 of my neighbors paid a company to level their lawn. Both of the neighbors yards had MASSIVE improvements. The leveling company used river sand. They explained to me all of the steps that the Leveling company took, and they told me what they liked and didn't like about the service. Their huge complaint was that after a year all of the sand had settled to the bottom leaving TONS of small pebbles everywhere. Tons! The pebbles were probably around 1/4 in diameter. The lawn was not comfortable to walk on barefooted, and it seemed like the pebbles were not allowing the grass to grow as dense as it could. They also had problems with the sand on the hills on the sides of their houses. Rain moved the sand a little and left these little ridges on the hills that looked like mini terraces. I decided that I would only spread a small amount of sand on the hills at a time to help prevent this.

From their experiences I completely marked river sand off my list. I read about 1 other person on this site that used builders sand and seemed to have great results. The links to all of his pictures were dead, and I never was able to see them, but it appeared as though everyone was impressed. After reading that post, I decided to use builders sand, and I decided that I would try and replicate everything that the Leveling company did to my neighbors lawns.

My goal is to level the lawn enough to use the lowest setting on the mower (~3/4") and have the lawn grow super dense.

April 2, 2011:
I mowed the lawn as short as I could with my Honda Mower (about 3/4"). This was the first cut for the season. The grass was just starting to show a little green. It was super time consuming between emptying the clippings every 20' and bottoming out every 2' it took me a couple hours to mow. One huge benefit to mowing the lawn short was that it helped us to more easily see the highs and lows in the lawn.

We had gotten a ton of rain in the couple days before so the ground was nice and soft. I rented a walk-behind aerator from HD, and plugged the yard pretty heavily. I broke up the plugs with a rake.

April 3, 2011
I had 5 yards of builder's sand delivered. I used my ATV to pull a large wagon, and between my neighbor and I we spread the majority of the sand in about 4-5 hours. We used a large push broom to do the majority of the smoothing. I built something to drag by had using a baseball diamond drag. I used 3'x10' chicken wire and attached a couple 4x4 posts to it and pulled it around with a rope. This helped to level it even more.

On the high spots we had the sand fairly shallow, but in some of the holes the grass was completely buried. When the neighbors had this done their lawns looked very similar. In the deep spots the sand had to fill in from the sides.

After all of the sand was spread and leveled, I set out the sprinklers for several hours. It was amazing how much the sand moved around. The water moved the sand from the high spots to the low spots. It worked great.

Once I was done watering I applied some Vigoro SuperGreen. It is a 36-0-4 if I remember correctly.

Here are some pictures of the front yard immediately after watering the lawn for the first time. My wife said she loved her new beach!!

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Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: My Experiences Leveling My Lawn with Sand

Over the next week and a half it rained at least 3 times. The sand was settling very nicely and the grass was poking the the sand more and starting to green.

April 13, 2011
I did a test run with the mower. It was powered off, but I pushed it around to see if it bottomed out at all on the lowest setting. It didn't!!

I touched up a couple areas with a broom and rake moving sand from high spots into low spots. I only had to do this a little because the rain was doing most of this for me.

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3: My Experiences Leveling My Lawn with Sand

It has been consistently raining at least twice a week so I have not had to use my sprinklers. The grass is starting to spread over the deeper holes and it is greening very nicely.

April 24, 2011
The yard was starting to get weedy. I don't know if I introduced weeds that were in the sand, or if it is just easy for weeds to start growing in it. I applied a pre emergent and a broadleaf killer.

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I will try and answer any questions and keep everyone updated as the grass continues to improve!!


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RE: My Experiences Leveling My Lawn with Sand

Very nice. One question. When you inquired about builder sand, did you run into sales people who didn't know what it was or thought it was something else? I'm asked several sand places here, and when I ask for sharp or builder sand, I've been offered masonry sand, concrete sand, or wash sand. Wish there was some consistency.


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Yes!! I asked for builders sand, and the girl said, "We have white sand and river sand." From what the owner told me, their "white sand" was the same thing as sharp, builder, and masonry sand which he said was all the same thing. I just took his word for it keeping my fingers crossed that I used the "right stuff".


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Well allow me to butt in for a minute and maybe help clear up some of your confusion on sand types. To start there are hundreds of different kinds as you have probable found out by now.

As a sod farmer and landscape biz owner I can tell you my opinion on the river sand vs sharp sand debate. River sand grains are spherical, polished, and irregular size from very fine to large rocks. It does not stay put and tends to settle and pack down hard. Sound familiar? It is really the first and last choice for professionals. First choice because it is dirt cheap and chosen to win a bid. Last choice for those who want quality, and do not mind paying a little extra.

Sharp sand is angular grained, jagged, and not rounded like beach and river sands. The grain sizes vary from fine to very coasre. It is recommended as amendments to loosen tight clay soils or mixed with pure peat for a soilless potting mix, top dressing, or golf greens. It is also called builders sand by some, but they are not technically the same thing as sharp sand has wider variety of grain sizes where builders sand has more uniform grain sizes that is mostly coarse and medium.

The one sand to avoid at all cost is play sand or washed sand at the home centers as it has chemicals in it from the washing and bleaching process.


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There is no doubt that you will be very pleased with the results of your time and labor. You may want to consider the idea of topdressing again around July 4th for any isolated areas that need additional leveling. Then by Labor Day, you're lawn will be on par with the neighbors.

Well done! Thanks for the informative post.


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RE: My Experiences Leveling My Lawn with Sand

Hi TW, Thanks for stopping by and adding to the thread! You have been one of the most informative contributors on subjects that I have had questions about. I was hoping that you would stop in and say hi!
Thanks for the clarification on the sand! So builders and masonry sands are both types of sharp sand, which is a generic term for sand that is jagged. I understand now.
My neighbors both HATE the sand that they had applied. They have been raking pebbles out of their yard for months!!

Hi Near, I am really excited about how it is turning out so far, and I am having a hard time being patient for the grass to grow in. I know that if I had put down just a little sand at a time, I would not have had to wait, but I was hoping to knock out the majority of all of the leveling in a single shot.
I definitely still have a couple low areas, and you are right, once the grass has filled in, I will be touching up those spots. I just don't want to stress the grass out anymore for now.
I am just happy that I was able to contribute!!


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To jv982: You mentioned that you applied Vigoro 36-0-4. How much did you apply? (Ex: 1 or 2 50lb. bags) You stated that your total turf area is around 4000 sq.ft. Knowing this information can help you provide the grass with the correct amount of nutrients. Also, submitting soil samples for analysis will be very helpful for you to apply the nutrients your turf needs, and omit the nutrients your turf doesn't need. The soil test results would include any liming needs, if any, for soil pH adjustment.


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Hi Near, I did not apply anywhere near that amount of fertilizer. I purchased one of the small bags that said it was good for 5-6k sq.ft. I forget. I ended up using somewhere around 2/3 or 3/4 of the bag I think. But it was a small bag. Not one of the big ones. I just tried to follow the instructions on the bag.

I was planning on sending a sample to the county extension for analysis, but then I read on their website that you should do a soil sample in late winter before the grass is green and fertilizer has been applied. So I think I will be doing that next winter if I remember :)

Thanks for the advise!


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Thanks for posting. David Proud is the guy who wrote the original message on this topic. I tried to work with him to publish something more stable than the GardenWeb format. I should have gone ahead with it and let him approve/disapprove rather than blowing it off. Now, as you have noticed, his photos are completely gone.

So now you are the expert!! Personally I think you left out some steps that would have made this more of a one-time event for you. Specifically you should have used more sand as soon as you noticed the surface was not perfect.

Also did you scalp right before applying the sand? Scalping does a couple things. Probably the most important is it minimized the amount of sand you need to get this perfect.

I think you will be much better off with builder's sand.


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Hi Dchall,

Thanks for the input!!

I'm definitely no expert!! ;)

One of the big differences between David Proud and I was that he completed his leveling in the middle of the growing season when the Bermuda was growing really aggressively. I was concerned that by spreading the sand in the middle of summer, the lawn would require more water. Since I don't have an irrigation system, watering is a pain. I knew going into it that my lawn would not fill in as quickly as his because the bermuda was not growing as quickly, but I thought that it would be safer with less chance of damaging the lawn from drought or extreme heat.

I scalped the lawn as best as I could the day before we spread the sand. My lawn mower only goes down to about ~3/4". Without hiring someone to cut it, I'm not sure I could have gotten it any lower, and I was DEAD set on trying to find a way to DIY.

I agree that I could have used more sand in the 2 low spots that I have found. You are also right in saying that if I cut the lawn shorter I would have been able to level the lawn with less sand.

The good news is that the 2 low spots are probably a combined area of 50sq/ft. My neighbors think I am being too picky about this because those areas are probably less than 3/8" low. I think that I will be able to make the lawn completely level with one more application of sand in those couple areas.

One of the really cool things about the sand is that even yesterday, I saw a small high spot next to a small low spot (maybe I am being a little anal about this :) I was able to rake the sand from the high to the low spots and sweep it perfectly smooth.

The DIY approach to this is definitely back breaking work. And I cannot imagine having to do this on a lawn much bigger than mine, but so far the results are awesome, and I highly recommend this to anyone with a bumpy, rutted, trenched lawn.


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Excellent write up. I plan to do this in a few weeks. I do have irrigation, but I also have a fairly steep slope.
Who provided the sand. I'll use them too.

I have my own Bluebird aerator and lesco power rake.


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Hi Wrager,

Thanks!! I hope it helps!

I live near Holly Springs. I purchased the sand from the Mulch Man. www.mulchmanllc.com

He delivered the sand to me for $25 because I live only a couple miles away.

Good luck and let me know if you have any questions!


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wrager, if you are doing a slope it is critically important to get sharp sand. I would take a magnifying glass out there and look at all the different sands they offer. Rounded sand particles never lock into place and always flow downhill. We had a couple of areas of quicksand where I grew up. Quicksand consists of rounded sand particles that never lock together. Bring in a little underground spring and you have quicksand.


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wrager on a steep slope you will have problems. Consider doing this in steps. Do the sloped areas have grass growing on them? If not you have some real headaches.


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My level lawn experience.

http://i1227.photobucket.com/albums/ee424/jhchang/LawnSteps.jpg

http://i1227.photobucket.com/albums/ee424/jhchang/jj.jpg


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Dude....that doesn't even look like real grass!


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Wow bermuda guy! If mine turns out 1/4 that nice I will be very happy!!! Good job!!!

What kind of bermuda is that? It doesn't look like the same kind that is next to your driveway.


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I would love an update for this thread. looking to level with sand soon.


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I second that. Updates on leveling are usually spectacular.

swiff can we assume you have bermuda? If you want personalized attention, open a new thread and give it a title something like, "Thinking about leveling my lawn." Please ask all your questions first. Do all the research you can and come back here for specific details and comments on what your research has found. This is not rocket science but there is room for error if you get steps out of order or use the wrong tools.

This topic advanced considerably with the work that David Proud did. You can search his handle dproud and find his approach. Unfortunately his pictures are no longer available. I have contacted him since this thread started, and he replied, but I have not been able to get a new link to his pictures. The pictures posted above in this link are enough to go on. David's pictures showed the long 2x4 he used (20 feet long???). That was about the only tool he used that is not intuitively obvious. Push brooms, long straight wood, chain link fence, water, sand, and manpower. It can be very smooth when you're finished.


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RE: My Experiences Leveling My Lawn with Sand

  • Posted by coreman 8 Dallas Wylie (My Page) on
    Mon, Jun 13, 11 at 13:47

A have a couple of quick questions.

1. Is it absolutely necessary to core aerate before laying down the sand?

2. I'm having a tough time figuring out what type of sand to use. Would the sand shown in the link below (from Lowes) be alright?

Here is a link that might be useful: sand


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RE: My Experiences Leveling My Lawn with Sand

Coreman, to answer your questions:

1. No, it is not absolutely necessary to core aerate prior to topdressing with sand. But core aerating certainly does help to incorporate sand into the existing soil profile.

2. Texas-Weed discusses the two types of sand used for topdressing in an earlier post within this thread dated 4/26/11 at 17:55pm. Read it to see if it helps you figure out what type of sand to use.


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Thanks nearandwest. I think my confusion comes from so many different names for the sand. The specific bag of sand I linked is a "graded coarse sand". So based on what TW said, it does look like this will work. If not, someone please advise otherwise.


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Coarse sand is what you are looking for. It should have 'faceted' edges instead of being round particles. Rock that has been crushed leaves fine particles of faceted rubble behind. The small particles are sand sized. Those are what you would like to get. River sand and most beach sand has been bumped against itself for millions of years and is round. Round sand will never lock into place. It will always feel like a sand box under your feet - loose and soft. You want the sand to lock together.

And I agree you do not need to core aerate first. Not only that but I definitely would not core aerate before leveling.

On core aeration: Others disagree with me but I rarely see any need to core aerate. Usually aeration is done to relieve hard soil. It can be good for that but there is more to the process than simply aerating. You have to water heavily afterward also.


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Yes, I am one of those who will agree to disagree with dchall on the issue of core aeration. But that would be a discussion topic for a different thread.


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LOL, join the crowd. I am a lone wolf on a few topics. Core aeration is one of them. If you are going to do it, hammer it hard. But in this case, I think we agree it is not a good idea in prep for leveling. I would want to get absolutely everything off the soil that might interfere with the soil surface. Putting a few hundred (or thousand) cores of dirt on top is just added time to the project. Do it later if you must.


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I think the idea is to fill all those holes with sand. While I like the sound of that, no, I didn't core aerate before sanding my lawn. In fact, I haven't core aerated in the last 15 years and haven't seen the need to do so. Sanding wasn't a "once and done" thing for me. I repeated the process each spring for two or three years before I got the final results that I wanted.


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Well David here is one benefit I have learned about core aeration since moving to Prescott and managing a golf course. It differently improves water penetration and softens (loosens the soil) golf green up. There is no doubt in my mind or the USGA for what that is worth. One caveat we remove the plugs obviously, then top dress with sand and sweep it into the holes with brooms.

The effect is immediate. Shots go from bouncing and rolling off the green to either plugging into the divot, and/or a little bounce leaving a divot and stopping on a dime. Trust me I get an earful from the members when the greens will not hold a shot. We have to aerate 4 times a year.


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I posted this in another thread. I just found it, although I'm surprised they are leveling dormant turf???

http://www.levellawns.com/top_dressing_video.aspx


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Good info.

Weed I don't know if you remember GW member Woodycrest or not. He managed two par-3 courses just north of Lake Erie. When he took over that job he happened to come here and read something I wrote about using dog food as a fertilizer. He thought I was nuts (as usual) but tried it. Three weeks later he had a green spot so he started doing more research. He and I corresponded heavily offline for years.

He started with a rock solid soil with mostly brown, weedy turf. If you landed a pitch on the green you likely got a 40-foot bounce from it. The members were complaining like crazy. The courses were behind gated communities so he had a captive audience. The grass was creeping bent with plenty of dandelions. The owners had used herbicide for the dandelions and had used Sevin dust to keep the worms down. Woodycrest experimented with cracked corn on some greens and nothing elsewhere. He also changed the mowing height. He had the luxury of no players during the week and could go without mowing until Friday. Thus he let the fairways grow up as well as the greens. When he did that the dandelions disappeared, worms reappeared, and clover appeared. He found that the grass with organic fertilizer and the grass with clover was equally nice. The other benefit of the taller grass and the clover was that the soil softened (no irrigation on these courses). After two years the courses had transformed. He ended up using no chemicals or fertilizers at all. He saved his fertilizer money and bought much better mowers. Ultimately his only management was to mow on Friday and to roll out any worm mounds on the greens on Saturday and Sunday. Members loved him for getting the bounce out of the greens and for restoring a green course for them. Some of the home owners asked him to install putting greens for them.

I realize your situation is different in Prescott. I'm just saying there are different ways to achieve the same result. Woodycrest had certain luxuries and approached it with a completely open mind. He would argue that mowing height was the best thing you could to do improve the turf. I would hesitate only to add that his allowance of clover into the turf helped considerably.


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I thought this thread had died from low interest...

Update:
The lawn has almost completely filled in. I would say maybe 97%. It is extremely level. It is not putting green smooth, but it looks very nice. I am very excited about the results so far, but I do need to add a little more sand in some areas.

I was able to mow at the lowest setting without ever bottoming out my mower or scalping any sections of lawn.
I say "was" because my lawn has become so incredibly thick that my mower is now incapable of mowing at the lowest setting. It bogs the engine down even at half the deck's width. Incredible! I have had to raise the deck by one notch.

I have a couple problems that I am still trying to correct. I have some weeds in a few select areas that i am still trying to get rid of, and the neighbor's dollar spot has started creeping into my yard.

I will upload some new pictures in the next couple days.


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Are you using a reel mower? That's the only way to really see the benefits of leveling a Bermuda yard.


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jon

I have a 30 year old Honda commercial rotary mower.

I normally avoid making blanket statements with words like "only", "never", and "always".

The problem with making blanket statements like the one that you made is
that they are often false.

My lawn was soooo bumpy, I had to mow at 2" to keep from bottoming out the deck on the mower. Now I am able to mow at the mowers lowest setting without ever bottoming out. Because I have been able to keep the grass very short, it has gotten extremely dense.

The benefits of leveling the lawn are extremely visible even with my old rotary.


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Cool. Didn't mean to offend. By 'very short', how short are you mowing with that rotary? Even with a level lawn you can only go so low.
Jon


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Jon: I have to agree with you. It's the only way to really see the benefits of leveling a bermuda lawn. The rotary mower cannot go as low, or as even, as the reel mower. A reel mower allows a level bermuda lawn to be seen in ways a homeowner could never have imagined prior to the leveling process. If jv982 could take the HOC (Height Of Cut) on his lawn down to 7/16", just like yours, he would see a result he never could have imagined.


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Yep, on my next yard I'm going to have a landscaper do the box blade/laser grade thing, then, instead of sod, I'm going with sprigs. That way, I won't have to fool with all those cracks and seams.


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I thought your next yard was going to be one of the ultradwarfs and a practice bunker?


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Not much of a golfer. :)


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jv, now that this deal is done, help us out. Nothing ever goes according to plan, so what are the most important things you did and what would you change next time? Anything you did not do that you should have? What about timing?

Get another blade for your mower and start alternating the sharp one for the dull one. It is much easier to do it like that unless you have a special attachment to sharpen the blade on the machine.

Mow more frequently. You might have to mow every day to keep ahead of it.


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Hi Jon and Near,

I never actually measured the height of lawn with my rotary on its lowest setting. I thought it was around 3/4", but I could be off.

No offence taken... I just want to make sure that the amateurs out here like myself aren't discouraged from leveling the yard because they only have a rotary mower.

I am sure that with a reel mower my efforts would be more visible. I also know that some of the results cannot be seen with my lawn at its current height. No doubt about that.

But even with my little rotary, the results are amazing. I would highly recommend this to anyone with a bumpy lawn regardless of their mower.

Hi dchall,

Thanks for getting us back on topic!

Most everything went pretty much as planned... I knew that it was going to take a while for the lawn to fill in because I sanded when the grass was just coming out of dormancy, and I completely smothered the grass in some areas.

My guess is that if I waited for a month or so to do the leveling, the lawn would have recovered more quickly, but I was thinking that it was better to do the leveling when we were getting a bunch of rain early in the season. I'm not sure how much of a difference it would have made.

There some downsides that I have learned in leveling the entire yard with a ton of sand in one shot. One problem is that if you have deep areas of sand that completely cover the grass, it takes a while for the grass to fill it in. That area will need sand after the grass is grown in. Here is why: Every time you run over that bare spot with the mower a little sand is sucked up. Every time it rains or is super windy that sand moves. The sand becomes extremely rigid once the grass has grown through it, but until then, it goes where it wants.

The areas that were bare for a long time will need a little touch up because the sand that I applied isn't still all there.

The other problem with having bare spots for a long time is that they seem to be susceptible to weeds. I applied pre emergent after laying the sand, but it didn't seem to work very well. Maybe i should have done a couple applications, or maybe I should have used a different chemical, but I do have more weeds in the areas that were bare for a while.

With that said, I am happy with the way everything has improved, and I wouldn't have changed any of the major technique or strategy that I used.

I do want to emphasize though that all of this work has been worth it 10-fold. I accomplished all of my goals with the initial leveling. The main goal was to be able to run my mower at its lowest setting without bottoming out the deck or scalping the lawn. Initially my lawn was insanely bumpy and I had to keep the grass at Fescue height to keep the mower from high siding. My lawn went from very sparse to super dense.

With that said though, my goals have changed slightly. I exceeded my initial expectations, but my standards have also been raised. I do still have some low spots from the areas that stayed bare for a while. I will touch them up soon.

As far as my mowing height is concerned:

I have a new blade on the mower, and was cutting the grass every 3-4 days. Unfortunately my little rotary was unable to cut the grass at the lowest setting without bogging after the grass thickened up even with the brand new blade. I have raised it up one notch. Maybe if I keep it mowed every 3 days instead of 3-4 my mower would be able to handle it, but i think it is too late drop it back down. I have been at my current height for 3weeks maybe.

Would it be ok for me to drop it back down to the lowest setting? I don't have a problem mowing it every 3 days, or having it look bad for a week to recover. I just don't want to damage the lawn. I also thought it was a good idea to raise it up a little when the summer got hot and dry. Is that incorrect?

I have been meaning to take pictures to update this thread, but I keep forgetting.


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If you drop it down a notch it will look bad as you say. It will recover by the end of the week but after the next mow will look bad again and so on. To mow one notch down you will need to mow below that notch and then start mowing at the new height. Or you can "thin" the lawn and then mow at the lower setting. You will fight this all summer with a rotary unless you mow like 4-5 times a week.


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With that said though, my goals have changed slightly. I exceeded my initial expectations, but my standards have also been raised. I do still have some low spots from the areas that stayed bare for a while. I will touch them up soon.

We see this all the time. The results of leveling are quite often overwhelming. You find yourself inviting people over just to brag about it.

Yes a little longer in the heat of summer. If you were mowing at 1 inch, mowing at 1.5 inches is a 50% increase, so that's about all you want to go. neilaz has a point on mowing, too.


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RE: My Experiences Leveling My Lawn with Sand

Great thread everyone, very helpful. I only laid my bermuda 419 a couple of months ago but it is growing in very well. I have had to mow it a few times already to keep it at the 1" to 1.25" level, just above what it was from the sod farm. I am going to have to do some leveling and wanted to know if I should wait for the grass to grow in some more before dumping sand on it. I am using a push reel mower and it is a bit bumpy for it right now. I have an irrigation system and have been watering it daily since I laid it and the grass is growing really well. I added a pic to help see where it is at. It is about 1.25" high in the picture.

Here is a link that might be useful: bermuda 419


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RE: My Experiences Leveling My Lawn with Sand

Yes, your lawn would benefit from leveling with sand. If you did it now, you would still have time to gain benefit from the leveling this year before the growth slows down. Those constant ridges you see in the grass? That is called "washboarding" and it happens because your reel is not spinning fast enough as you move forward across the lawn- a very common occurence for manual push reel mowers. Also can be the result of needing a reel to bedknife adjustment.

Also, I would suggest you back off on watering every day. The roots need to start growing deeper for better health, and they can't do that if you water every day. Water every 3-4 days, or longer, if you can. If bermuda starts to wilt (turns blue or pale), just water it heavily, and it will come right back.

Are you fertilizing correctly?

Have you done a soil test?

Are you alternating directions each time you mow?


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RE: My Experiences Leveling My Lawn with Sand

I just found out from Fiskars that their momentum reel mower is not a good fit for bermuda, which explains all the problems I was having pushing it through my grass. They told me to return it since there was nothing they could do to make it work properly for my grass. I am now in the market for a different reel mower that will work properly with bermuda 419.

I am using a lawn treatment service for the rest of my lawn, which is also bermuda 419. They won't start treating the front until it has been down for a few months. I just laid it no more that 2 months ago.

No soil test yet, I will have my lawn service company check it when they start treating it.

I was trying to alternate mowing directions but the fiskars mower was not cutting through the grass smoothly so I stopped using for now. Sending it back tomorrow. Any suggestions or personal experience with another type of reel mower that works with bermuda?


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RE: My Experiences Leveling My Lawn with Sand

Same situation with the Brill and it is too light. The Mascot is really heavy and does a nice job. I hear the Scotts is also good for bermuda, but never used one.


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RE: My Experiences Leveling My Lawn with Sand

My experience with walk behind reel mowers is strictly commercial gas powered mowers....Jacobsen, Toro, John Deere. There are some other contributors on this forum who use gas-powered walk behind reel mowers that are specific for home lawn use, hopefully they will jump in with some comments.


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RE: My Experiences Leveling My Lawn with Sand

I've tried the manual push mowers on 419. It's a waste of time, energy, and money. I've got two McLane's, and they do a great job. You just have to keep em sharp and adjusted. That part cannot be emphasized enough.


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RE: My Experiences Leveling My Lawn with Sand

Hey jonmhenderson, do you think you could re-post those pics of your lawn from a couple months ago so that ronm69 can see what his lawn can look like with the proper care and proper mower? Thanks!


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RE: My Experiences Leveling My Lawn with Sand

jonmhenderson, thanks for the input. What kind of McLane's are you referring to. I have looked at their site and see they have both gas and manual. Are their manual push reels any good on 419? I don't know that I can put that much into a mower right now, the gas models are not cheap.


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RE: My Experiences Leveling My Lawn with Sand

ronm69, gas powered reel mowers are not only expensive but require proper maintenance (eg. backlapping, reel grinding) which can also get expensive. If you're not prepared for the upkeep, then maybe a rotary might be a better fit. If you're gonnna level you lawn, then you could probably go to the lowest setting on a rotary like the OP did in this thread did.

If you still want to try a reel mower w/o spending too much, get a Scott 16" Elite. It's like $70 and you can get decent result w/ it. You'll have to mow often and it will get harder to push as your lawn thickens, but not impossible. And if you don't like it, then it will have only cost you $70 and you'll have a better understanding of reel mowers so when you're ready for a power reel mower, you'll be better educated. Good luck.


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RE: My Experiences Leveling My Lawn with Sand

Mine are the 7 blade 4.5 hp selp propelled. The company that sharpens/adjusts mine do the mowers that mow the field at the University of Tennessee. They are excellent!

Photobucket

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And here's my little guys enjoying the 419!
Photobucket


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RE: My Experiences Leveling My Lawn with Sand

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos


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RE: My Experiences Leveling My Lawn with Sand

Thanks for posting the pics jon. I see you're grooming those two young fellas to enjoy the turf now, in a couple of years you'll have them mowing straight, even passes on that 419 :)


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RE: My Experiences Leveling My Lawn with Sand

HEY YOU KIDS! GET OFF MY LAWN!!


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RE: My Experiences Leveling My Lawn with Sand

Lol @ dchall!!!!!


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RE: My Experiences Leveling My Lawn with Sand

Good stuff, guys! Yes, those two boys are why I put in the 419. I want them to have a soft, tough turf to play on. I cannot recommend 419 and and Texas Weed's Bermuda Bible highly enough. I've even been mowing the back at the same height as the 419 just as an experiment. I'll post pics in a few weeks. I've never done the high input schedule on the Transcontinental/Mohawk blend before. So far, I'm impressed by how it's responding to all the nitrogen, water, and tight reel mowing. Next summer, I'm considering putting in 419 in the back as well and making a bocce ball court.


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RE: My Experiences Leveling My Lawn with Sand

I cannot recommend 419 and and Texas Weed's Bermuda Bible highly enough.

Seconded!

I think the Bermuda Bible and the Organic Lawn Care FAQ have made lawn care more fun for more people than anything I've ever read (or written).


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RE: My Experiences Leveling My Lawn with Sand

"I'm considering putting in 419 in the back as well and making a bocce ball court."

Now that would be truly, officially, COOL.


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RE: My Experiences Leveling My Lawn with Sand

I DO know that when I do that bocce ball court, I'm going to bring in a box/blade and laser grade it, then sprig it. The squares of sod are way too hard to get as smooth as I will want them. Maybe TW can weigh in on this: when installing greens, is the usual MO sprigging or sodding?
Jon


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RE: My Experiences Leveling My Lawn with Sand

Having grown-in 6 new golf courses, I believe I am qualified to answer your question. For hybrid bermudagrass greens (328, tifdwarf, tifeagle, etc.) sprigging is the preferred method. Sprigging is also the preferred method for installing Tifway 419. You will get a much smoother surface by sprigging, especially after laser leveling.


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RE: My Experiences Leveling My Lawn with Sand

Thanks for the answer, nearandwest! That's what I thought. Sprigging just makes sense as opposed to laying sod, living with a bumpy turf for a year, then covering it with sand the next. Sheesh, you're into year three before you can even enjoy the thing!


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RE: My Experiences Leveling My Lawn with Sand

Inetersting! I never would have thought that sprigging would be better than sod. Where do you get sprigs? Do regular sod farms sell them. Do you need special equipment to install them? Congrats on the leveling Jon! Looks amazing.


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RE: My Experiences Leveling My Lawn with Sand

@ wrager: I see your location is in the Atlanta area. Back in 1988-89, we built and grew-in Eagles Landing CC in Stockbridge. All tees, fairways and roughs were sprigged with Tifway 419 bermuda. We got our sprigs from Tifton Turf Farms in Tifton, Ga. There is specialized equipment that "cuts-in" the sprigs. We have also used one of those 16" manual walk behind spikers with success to cut-in sprigs. You can get them from lawn and garden centers. Since texas-weed has extensive experience from the sod production industry, he may know some tips and tricks for cutting-in sprigs.


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RE: My Experiences Leveling My Lawn with Sand

Hey jonmhenderson, great looking lawn. Thanks for adding the pics. I hope to get mine looking like that by next year. I need to get it leveled before the season ends so I can start cutting low.

dwrecktor, I have a scott's classic 20", but haven't tried at the lower levels yet. Will that work as good as the 16" at the 1" or lower level?


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RE: My Experiences Leveling My Lawn with Sand

Hey ronm69, click on the link below to go to my response for you're question, so that this thread can remain about lawn leveling. Thanks.

Here is a link that might be useful: Push Reel Mower Reviews


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RE: My Experiences Leveling My Lawn with Sand

A quick note on sand types that I have learned recently. I spoke to a company that supplies a lot of the area golf courses with their sand here in Myrtle Beach and they recommended a sand that they supplied to a local landscape company called playground sand. He said it is plenty course enough and free of pebbles to do a great job leveling bermuda 419. As we have seen with other posts here the names are different everywhere. This particular playground sand is different than play sand that is sold at places like Home Depot. Hopes this helps.


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RE: My Experiences Leveling My Lawn with Sand

Hey, My Name is John. I live in VA and Im new here. I have enjoyed reading these threads and decided to join the forum. I thought I would start to comment on some things and I may think of more. This is regards to the sprigging vs sodding thing. Sure both have areas where they are the better choice...but in my opinion if the area can be sprigged...sprig it. If your grading work is slick as glass, the sprigs will hug the existing topography...And only need the lightest top dressing(if any). Most putting greens are put in with sprigs at a very high application rate to increase coverage rate(unreal). Sod always has seems and you have to work on it with sand the next year anyway and in the end it also turns into a two year project befor you get the "look" you want. You can sprig(I broadcast stolonize) at "not mentioned in the handbook" high rates and get coverage so fast and so cheap(with no sanding) you would be blown away! Also I will add that all of my turf experience is with fine bladed Zoysias..Diamond, Zeon etc. So it would be even easier to do with Bermuda. If anyone want to talk about how to do sprigging and nail it on the first try...I can help with the pros and cons of a ton of different ways of doing it. I have now taken my experience and come up with "my" way of doing. Id be glad to share with anyone interested. Also, Here in Virginia...no one sells sprigs. You start with sod and grind them yourself...Sprigging is easy even for the homeowner if you get your head wrapped around the "key" areas that lead to success.


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RE: My Experiences Leveling My Lawn with Sand

John Irby if you could start a separate DIY sprigging thread, that would be great! I have had ok success with plugs but I have found that isn't a perfect way to do a large area and getting the depth isn't exact even using the plugging tool as in FL the sand just falls out of the plugger so I'm back to using a hand trowel digging out the hole for the plug anyways.


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RE: My Experiences Leveling My Lawn with Sand

Wow. The lawn in those photos is stelar. However, if I was out there cutting my Bermuda 419 every day or even every other day, I would be the most hated neighbor in my subdivision of 300-400K houses. Most of my neighbors have an OK lawn and based on their comments, want everyone else to have the same so as not to make them look bad or make them work harder on their lawn. If I try to have a very nice lawn, then I am accused of being pretentious or better then them. How can this person who posted these photos get away with such meticulous lawn care? I have to wonder. I wish that everyone would simply be proud of their work and if they wish to have a subpar lawn, then stop being envious of other people's lawn if it looks better. Maybe, just maybe, they put more effort into their lawn to make it look so good.


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RE: My Experiences Leveling My Lawn with Sand

That's interesting, Peter. In my sub-division (kind of middle-of-the-road), almost everyone has a slightly different yard. This one is green and pretty while that one is entirely crabgrass while this one is somewhere in the middle.

I think that a lawn will affect the way someone thinks of your house because it is what they see at first glance. The poster has a beautiful lawn, and hence his house looks better as well, because the lawn adorns it well. In my area, almost all of the work done at high-end subdivisions is done by professionals, not homeowners. So it comes down to how much they want to pay - or work, if they do it themselves.


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RE: My Experiences Leveling My Lawn with Sand

It is very interesting. Most of my neighbors do not know how to properly take care of their lawn. Most make comments like "I just cut it when it's Saturday or when I have the time" or make grass maintenance comments that are just not correct. I made the mistake of trying to help them with their grass care and all that did was make them dislike me (envy working here). Kind of strange because you would think a guy with a nice looking lawn knows a thing or two about lawn care so naturally you would ask him/her to give you some pointers. One neighborhood kid (about 10 years old) even made a strange comment about gasoline and how it kills grass. Like I should be worried about someone pouring gasoline on my lawn to try to kill it and make it look worse (somewhat on par with neighborhood lawns).


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RE: My Experiences Leveling My Lawn with Sand

What happened to the 10 year old kid that suggested your lawn might be doused with gasoline to bring your yard down to the neighbors subpar level? Did he ever make good on that threat?


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RE: My Experiences Leveling My Lawn with Sand

John Irby...come back! I'd like to read what you have to say about sprigging and anything else regarding zoysia. Shade tolerance of Diamond is of interest. If you don't want to start a new thread, please find my member page and write to me.


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RE: My Experiences Leveling My Lawn with Sand

Does sprigging work with Kentucky Blue Grass?


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RE: My Experiences Leveling My Lawn with Sand

I just finished sanding my yard (half inch) and today we had a big rain. I now have some low spots where the blades of Bermuda grass are covered. I am guessing one inch max. I heard from the sand company that you should not cover the blades. Will the sod die in the low spots? Help!


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RE: My Experiences Leveling My Lawn with Sand

lol, if it were that easy to kill bermuda, everyone would be doing it.

But you should have gradually filled those holes over the course of a month or two and then come in and leveled to get it more perfect.

Didn't you water your sanded area to level it?


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RE: My Experiences Leveling My Lawn with Sand

I do not have holes. I just have pockets of low spots where about half to one inch of sand has collected. Do you think I should remove sand from loo spots. I have watered it in.


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RE: My Experiences Leveling My Lawn with Sand

Leave the sand in the low spots and continue to fill with sand until they are at the level you want. Roots and rhyzomes will fill the sand and hold it down.


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