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Question about installing new sod over old grass in Georgia

Posted by gil_happy 7 (My Page) on
Fri, Dec 7, 12 at 15:10

Hello,

I have a question about installing new sod over old grass during the winter season and the best way to go about this. Here are some of my details of my project:

- I live in Cumming (Atlanta), GA
- My property sits on about 1/2 acre
- Currently my lawn is "hodge-podge" of grasses and I plan to install Centipede grass (no sprinkler system in my yard)
- I need plan to add some 'dirt' over the current grass to fill in the various dips and grooves in my yard - this could be anywhere from 3" to 8" in new dirt (but how much I add may depend on cost of the dirt)

Do I need to spray my current lawn with chemicals, etc before bringing in dirt?
Should I remove the old grass with a Bobcat before bringing in the dirt?
Can the Centipede grass be installed on the new 'dirt' without spraying or removing the old grass?

Thanks in advance!


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Question about installing new sod over old grass in Georgia

Do not do anything to your lawn using a Bobcat. Those machines are not meant for land surfacing. Their high center of gravity, short wheel base, and small wheels make them unsuitable for the task. The proper tool is a real tractor with a box blade on the back. Here is a picture.

Note the Skidsteer (like a Bobcat) in the back. It has a tool on the front for loosening the top inch or so of the surface but the tractor is doing the real leveling. If you rent a driver and tractor for one morning, he can prepare your yard for immediate sodding. Let him decide whether you need more soil or whether soil needs to be taken out. A Bobcat could do that same job but it might take a week due to the shortcomings of the vehicle design. Bobcats have their place, but lawn leveling is not it. If you run the box blade you will not need to do anything else. All the old grass will be turned over and buried. The surface will look just like in the picture.

Do you know what your soil pH is? Centipede seems to work best in very low (acidic) pH soils with low fertility. Proper care for centipede includes mowing low, watering when needed, and almost never fertilizing.


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RE: Question about installing new sod over old grass in Georgia

Thank you so much for the response! I would never have known about or that it was called a 'box blade'. At any rate, I have found someone in my area that has a box blade.

I'm not sure of the pH, but I guessing this is something I can measure?? I had a landscaper lay some sod early in the summer and he recommended Centipede based upon the shade / sunlight conditions in my yard.

Thanks


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RE: Question about installing new sod over old grass in Georgia

Thank you so much for the response! I would never have known about or that it was called a 'box blade'. At any rate, I have found someone in my area that has a box blade.

I'm not sure of the pH, but I guessing this is something I can measure?? I had a landscaper lay some sod early in the summer and he recommended Centipede based upon the shade / sunlight conditions in my yard.

Thanks


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RE: Question about installing new sod over old grass in Georgia

The box blade is also called a landscaper's blade for that reason. It has no other use. My nephew always scrapes his 4 acres in the morning before I come to visit because he knows I appreciate the clean look rather than his unkempt weeds.

Since you're going all in on this, you might want to get a soil test before you start. One of the reasons centipede is so rare is the acid soil condition to make it work is very rare. Look up Logan Labs on the Internet. They have the best soil test for any amount of money and it's only $20. They are in Ohio but test soil from around the world. You can spend $100 at a university test lab and not get as good a test. That test will tell you if centipede is the right grass for you. I think it would be a shame to put the money into centipede if you have alkaline soil.

No sprinkler is no problem. I have a system but never use it. I prefer hoses and an oscillator type sprinkler for much more even coverage. I have 1/2 acre of grass so I have four hoses (front, back, left, and right). In the heat of summer I sometimes run all four for hours, but then I'm good for the week. Normally I can make do with just one and move it around every other day until I'm back where I started in about 2 weeks or so.


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RE: Question about installing new sod over old grass in Georgia

Thanks for the link to the soil testing lab. I will definitely send some samples to them.

I am wondering if I should have the soil tested before it is disturbed, i.e. before the box blade and possible additional soil is added, or wait until until I have my yard ready for the sod, and then take samples?

What is your recommendation?

Thanks


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RE: Question about installing new sod over old grass in Georgia

Thanks for the link to the soil testing lab. I will definitely send some samples to them.

I am wondering if I should have the soil tested before it is disturbed, i.e. before the box blade and possible additional soil is added, or wait until until I have my yard ready for the sod, and then take samples?

What is your recommendation?

Thanks


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RE: Question about installing new sod over old grass in Georgia

I would do it before. Otherwise you're incorporating the grass itself into the mix.


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RE: Question about installing new sod over old grass in Georgia

Hi, now that I've finally got around to having a soil test done, I have attached the results.

Keeping in mind that I'm planning on having Centipede grass installed (either sod or Hydroseed), do I need to:

- add top soil based upon the results?
- add any fertilizer (or other) to get the "levels" where they need to be? If so, is this just tilled into the existing dirt as they prepare it ready for sod / seed?

Thanks!


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RE: Question about installing new sod over old grass in Georgia

Hi, now that I've finally got around to having a soil test done, I have attached the results.

Keeping in mind that I'm planning on having Centipede grass installed (either sod or Hydroseed), do I need to:

- add top soil based upon the results?
- add any fertilizer (or other) to get the "levels" where they need to be? If so, is this just tilled into the existing dirt as they prepare it ready for sod / seed?

Thanks!


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RE: Question about installing new sod over old grass in Georgia

Wonder why your posts are always double posted??

Wonder why your posts are always double posted??

Only add topsoil if you need to change the drainage. If your drainage is good, then work with the soil you have to improve it.

Centipede will not thrive in that soil. It might survive but it definitely will not thrive. Centipede prefers soil with a much lower pH. Have you considered St Augustine or bermuda?


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RE: Question about installing new sod over old grass in Georgia

Since you're in Cumming Ga, I thought you might want to check out one of the better landscaping companies in the State, who just happens to be right down the road from you. I'm not affiliated, but just wanted to pass them on as they do excellent work.

As for your soil, it is typical of GA soil in that it has a very low exchange capacity. This means that it won't hold nutrients very well, which can be offset by using slow-release fertilizers, or by improving the soil with the addition of compost. My soil supplier is on the south side of Atlanta, but I'm sure SEL could recommend someone local if you're doing the work yourself. Also, it's been a closely held belief for years that Centipede doesn't perform well in a pH above 6 (I shared this opinion for 15 years). Texas A&M shed some new light on this a few years back with a mass-cultivar study in which they grew every cultivar of Centipede at a pH of 8.0. The trick was that they supplemented with chelated iron, otherwise the grass would have lost all color. The study proved that the issue was that iron tends to be less exchangeable as the pH increases, this leads to chlorosis (iron loss), which Centipede is very sensitive to. However the root systems in the higher pH levels grew much deeper. The lessen there was that with a pH that's just slightly acidic, like yours, you can actually have a more drought tolerant stand, but you will need to supplement with iron during the growing season (part of a normal centipede program anyway). The ideal pH recommended by most extension agents (Texas A&M included) is still 5 to 6, but again that is based on iron uptake.

Here is a link that might be useful: South Eastern Landscape Contractors


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RE: Question about installing new sod over old grass in Georgia

Post a picture of the property during the mid day. There's a reason why most of us use Bermuda in GA. Shade is a problem though.


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