Spray Lawn

SprayLawn Hydroseeding

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Preparation For A New Lawn

LawnThe most frequently asked question we are asked is ,"How do we prepare our lawn?"  Below are common site conditions in preparing your lawn.  This soil preparation guideline can help you prepare your lawn to make it ready for hydroseeding.

Typical Loose Fill (silt, sand, clay, loam)
About 25% of the lawns we spray can be hydroseeded directly on native soil.  The dirt must drain well and have been raked level.  If you can hold your moist dirt in your hand, squeeze it, and still have it fall apart; you're in luck.  You must be able to go down at least 4" with this type of dirt in order for it to be effective.  Keep in mind, it's important for the soil to be loamy (with air) in order for the grass roots to easily penetrate it.  This is the best type of soil to rototill if you are so inclined.  Blading it with a Bobcat with teeth is also a quick way to loosen up the soil, if necessary.  Always rake and roll your dirt if disturbed prior to hydroseeding, wet it down, and lightly scratch it with a rake.  You can delineate the perimeter with a stick, rake, or upside down paint.  Feel free to make a radius for ease of mowing.

Hard, Compacted Top Soil (lots of clay)
If your dirt is typical hard pan; a sticky clayish soil with lots of rocks in it, etc., you're probably going to want to forget amending this dirt.  Most houses, when built, will have their yards covered with this undisturbed hardpan which was dug out from the foundation during construction and graded out to form the yard.  To try and "cut" this dirt or mix it up with peat and sand is a massive undertaking and only introduces an inferior component to your topsoil.  We suggest you consider importing at least 4" of topsoil with this kind of dirt.  A sandy loam with 20-40% sand, 20-30% composted organic material, and 40-50% fines (coarse sand, silt and clay) is fine.  As a rule of thumb, 2.2 yards per 1" per 1000 SF is a reliable formula to determine how much top soil you will need.  Always rake and roll your dirt if disturbed prior to hydroseeding, wet it down, and lightly scratch it with a rake.  You can delineate the perimeter with a stick, rake, or upside down paint.  Feel free to make a radius for ease of mowing.

Compacted Soil With Lots Of Vegetation
At this point you are almost a candidate for bringing in light equipment.  If the budget, size, or access to the project will not allow for this, then you can Roundup and weed whack the vegetation and amend the dirt by rototilling composted manure and sand into it.

Under no condition should you rototill uncomposted organic material into your soil.  Doing such will create hot spots festering with bacterial fungi, creating red threat, mushrooms, and all sorts of unpleasantries for your lawn.  Also never ever top dress an existing lawn or a highly vegetated area with topsoil.  One will create an entire layer of deteriorating slime thwarting the health of a new lawn.  When new grass roots encounter the viscous rift, it will surround the new root with a decomposing layer of moldy soil, ill suited for a healthy lawn.  The only remedy when one has already prepared a lawn in this fashion is to regularly apply heavy doses of Dolomite or Capril (pelletized lime).  Lime will help expidite the rapid decomposition of decaying organic material in your lawn and help stabilize the soil.

Another option in preparing your lawn (which I think is much easier) is to sod cut the vegetation with a "sod cutter" (if very thick and reasonably level) and import topsoil.  A sandy loam with 20-40% sand, 20-30% composted organic material, and 40-50% fines (coarse sand, silt, and clay) is fine.  As a rule of thumb, 2.2 yards per 1" per 1000 SF is a reliable formula to determine how much top soil you will need.  Always rake and roll your dirt if disturbed prior to hydroseeding, wet it down, and lightly scratch it with a rake.  You can delineate the perimeter with a stick, rake, or upside down paint.  Feel free to make a radius for ease of mowing.

Glacial Till (Covington River Rock)
Don't even bother amending this soil. You will only make rubble bounce.  If you have the dubious condition of having tons of rocks in your soil and have the suspicion an ancient river may have ran where you now reside, leave it alone.  It is a waste of time to try and treat this soil.  The rototiller will buck and bounce and it, along with your patience, will soon be broken.  Import at least 6" of sandy loam with this type of soil.  Glacial till is so porous that any water will perk extremely fast through this soil.  To avoid having your lawn dry out in the summer, you will need to import a minimum of 6" to properly top dress this for a lawn.  Avoid a sandy winter mix at any cost; it is vital that you import soil with a 30-40% binder in it.  A sandy loam is ideal.  A sandy loam with 20-40% sand, 20-30% composted organic material, and 40-50% fines (coarse sand, silt, and clay) is fine.  As a rule of thumb, 2.2 yards per 1" per 1000 SF is a reliable formula to determine how much top soil you will need.  Always rake and roll your dirt if disturbed prior to hydroseeding, wet it down, and lightly scratch it with a rake.  You can delineate the perimeter with a stick, rake, or upside down paint.  Feel free to make a radius for ease of mowing.

Rototilled (Or Recently Excavated Soil)
You are ready to go.  Having disturbed soil is a good thing.  Air entrapment is crucial in establishing a new lawn.  Grass roots have a much easier time embedding themselves in aerated (turned) soil than if left consolidated.  You can determine the suitability of your dirt by doing a simple soil test: wet a sample of your dirt (from the top 3-4") squeeze it in your hands and hope it does not resemble potting clay.  If the soil crumbles, you're ok.  If it is ready for the kiln, import 3" of sandy loam.

Keep in mind the direction the water will flow when your top soil is final graded.  A wet lawn is the number one cause of lawn failure.  Try and slope your lawn so all the water will exit your lawn.  If it looks like you have a dish or a low spot, either crown it with top soil or install a catch basin at the low point and discharge the water.  A sandy loam with 20-40% sand, 20-30% composted organic material, and 40-50% fines (coarse sand, silt, and clay) is fine.  As a rule of thumb, 2.2 yards per 1" per 1000 SF is a reliable formula to determine how much top soil you will need.  Always rake and roll your dirt if disturbed prior to hydroseeding, wet it down, and lightly scratch it with a rake.  You can delineate the perimeter with a stick, rake, or upside down paint.  Feel free to make a radius for ease of mowing.

Soggy, Wet Soil
The best way to treat this type of yard is to regrade any low spots so water can sheet flow off the lawn area.  If this is not possible, there may be a drain pipe around your house where the water can be directed towards.  A catch basin can be tied to the existing drain pipe and greatly help dewater your lawn.  The third option is to import a winter mix topsoil.  A winter mix soil contains at least 50% sand and will bridge and cover wet areas.  You will need to be at least 6" above any visible high water table for this to be effective.  Winter mix packs requires very little preparation.  The only drawback of a winter mix is that it requires more water and fertilizing as compared with a sandy loam, due to its much higher percolation rate.

Overgrown (Trashed) Lawn
You are better off starting from scratch.  Either bring in light equipment (Bobcat or Grader) or use a sod cutter.  It is generally not worth the time and effort to Roundup and rototill this type of lawn unless you are under 1500 SF or so.  For the time and expense to chemically kill this lawn, remove the vegetation, and rototill it, one could just as easily have sod cut and imported dirt, or called a Bobcat operator to do the same.  In any event, the odds are that the topsoil is shot and it is necessary to import fresh topsoil.  A sandy loam with 20-40% sand, 20-30% composted organic material, and 40-50% fines (coarse sand, silt, & clay) is fine.  As a rule of thumb, 2.2 yards per 1" per 1000 SF is a reliable formula to determine how much top soil you will need.  Always rake and roll your dirt if disturbed prior to hydroseeding, wet it down, and lightly scratch it with a rake.  You can delineate the perimeter with a stick, rake, or upside down paint.  Feel free to make a radius for ease of mowing.

Heavily Vegetated
After clearing, you may be able to use the organic material deposited from the vegetation as your top soil.  It is more often than not that native topsoil is superior to imported soil; so use your existing soil if you can.  Keep in mind it is always easier to final rake dirt after it has been recently graded.  If heavier equipment graded out the soil, you will not need to roll this soil as it should have been "back bladed" by the equipment operator and compressed enough for final preparation.  Wet the soil down prior to hydroseeding and lightly rough up the dirt with a rake.  You can delineate the perimeter with a stick, rake, or upside down paint.  Feel free to make a radius for ease of mowing.


Lawn Renovation (Replace Your Old Lawn)

Perhaps the most difficult estimation in lawn care is deciding whether your lawn is beyond rejuvenation.  The average lawn lives 25-30 years, beyond that a lawn will begin to lose its vitality.

Like any living thing, lawns have a life span at which point they become problematic.  The effort to sustain an old lawn often exceeds the effort to remove it and start anew.  In considering replacing your old lawn, it cannot be emphasized enough how much more attractive the luster and texture of a new lawn are.  So much richer and vibrant are new lawns than that of older failing lawns that they almost cannot be compared.

Thatching and aerating become necessary for old lawns, eventually requiring this for life support.  Hydroseeding over existing grass brings back a lot of its vitality, however, at some point the expense of sustaining an old lawn may notbe worth it.

Never in the process of renovating your lawn, rototill the old lawn into the soil.  Sod decomposes very slowly and will create "hot spots" throughout your lawn giving it an uneven, camouflaged appearance.

We regularly overseed existing lawns, yet recommend sod removal and starting anew if the lawn has become moss laden, heavily thatched, and old.

SprayLawn has hydroseeded as many lawns for people who have removed their old lawns, started anew, as new construction lawns.

Many lawns are impossible to bring to their full potential because they never had decent topsoil installed in the first place.  A classic example is where a spec house receives a gratuitous 1/2" of top soil under their lawn and the homeowner watches the water run off their lawn 5 minutes after they begin watering it (clay hardpan absorbs very little water).  Invariably, in the summer, this lawn will brown out and look shabby.  If a homeowner, despite their best efforts, encounters these problems, they should consider sod removal, importation, and spreading 4" of a good, sandy loam, and of course, hydroseed...

It is for these reasons I am a bit reserved to eagerly promote hydroseeding over an existing lawn as a fix all for rejuvenating an existing problematic lawn.  It will definitely improve the appearance, however the final solution for creating a spectacular lawn may be better served by installing a new lawn altogether.