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2016 S. Carolina Bermuda Lawn Leveling

Brandon Bush
7 years ago

all, just
a few words/pics about my lawn leveling experience with a local company last year.
Hopefully will help someone with their decisions.

home builders did a terrible job installing terrible sod in 2014. Thanks to the
excellent help on these forums and others, I finally got the grass to be strong
enough to level in 2016.

days before leveling I applied 15lb of a 24-25-4 starter fertilizer, along with
72lb of Milorganite. I worked the month before to get rid of as any weeds as
possible. I also aerated about 1 month before. The day before leveling I
scalped and bagged as low as my rotary mower would go.

owner was really knowledgeable and he strongly suggested aerating before
leveling, in order to better incorporate sand with soil. I told him I had just
aerated a month before, but he felt so strongly that it was important that he
aerated again for free.

brought in 6 tons of sand and a team of 4 guys spread it using a metal drag
pulled behind a utility cart. Watching them work, I was glad I hired them
because without some kind of motorized way of pulling that drag around, it
would have taken me significantly longer and have probably not have been as
consistent. They hand-filled deep gaps and around the flower beds. Whole
process took about 3 hrs.

goal was 0.25-0.50” of coverage (other than in deep gaps), and they basically
achieved that with 6tons of sand. While I was happy to have done zero work
other than writing a check to get that sand spread, there were a few
disappointments after they finished. There were large hills of sand in a few
places, and in other places the grass blades were unnecessarily completely
covered. So I went back over the lawn with a rake, leveling the piles of sand
and “fluffing” the blades of grass to un-smother the worst areas.

was potentially most worrying though was the quality of the sand. It was
definitely what one would call “river sand”. Most of it was fine grained, but
there were plenty of small pebbles, about 1/4" in diameter. From what I
had read, that’s exactly what I didn’t want. Adding to my disappointment in the
sand, it also had a small, but not insignificant amount of junk in it, like
glass and a bottlecap or two.

after having to do work to straighten up the leveling job, and having sketchy
sand quality, I was nervous. But watching the grass grow over the next few days
calmed my fears.

Day 1:

Day 1, after I went over it with a rake and watering 1"

Day 3: Watering 1" every day and the grass is coming in *fast*. That nitrogen a week before was a good idea.

Day 5: Still watering 1" every day.

Day 6: Forgot to water and the grass was visibly thinner at the end of the day.

Day 9: Kept watering 1" per day and the grass has filled in beautifully. difficult to tell here but grass is about 2" above sand. Taller than I'd usually want, but now it's ready to mow!

Day 11: After first mow! Walking on it was like creamy butter, and the difference in how easy it was to push the mower versus before over the bumps was like night and day. It was a true joy. I did find a few of those larger pebbles from the sand, but they weren't a problem. The patches you see in the very front are over the sewer/irrigation access holes.

Day 11: Very happy with the result!

Did the aeration help or hurt? I don’t think it hurt in my case, but I’m not sure
it was necessary. It might have been a good idea since it was the first round
of sand on top of whatever soil was in my yard. If I do it again this year, I
might skip the aeration since I’ve now got a pretty sandy foundation.

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