University of Maryland Lecturer and Turfgrass Management Advisor Geoff Rinehart answers your questions about lawn care and planting. For more Maryland lawn care information, see the University of Maryland Extension Home & Garden Information Center website.
Q: I had a new shed put on my property. The delivery driver had to back onto my lawn. The weight of the truck and the flatbed put an initial 2-3 inch depression in the lawn. Where the driver had to pivot the trailer, the flatbed tires dug into the lawn 3-4 inches. In order to recover the contour of the lawn and deal with the gouges, what steps do you suggest I take? Today, after it rained all day, I went out on the lawn and attempted to press the humps down with my body weight and somewhat level the lawn back. I am worried, though, that the depressions indicate a serious compaction of the soil and damage to further propagation of the lawn.
Answer: You are correct – the gouges made by the flatbed have likely caused serious compaction to the area. You can try to press the gouges back into place and aerify now and topdress with ½” topsoil to try to smooth things out and see what happens next year. If you notice the area is struggling compared to the rest of the lawn and drying out more quickly if we have a dry summer, you’ll probably want to renovate the affected area by rototilling, re-grading, and re-seeding.
Q: A concrete contractor will soon remove sod and topsoil to install a sidewalk. We will be away while this is done and have asked him to put it in a low spot in our yard. When we return we plan to plant grass seed. We will prepare the loose soil by removing any chunks of sod and adding peat, lime, and fertilizer. Will it work to plant grass seed there even though there is already old grass under the new soil?
Answer: No, this will probably not work. The old grass will decompose over time, but there will be a “layering of the soil” that will be very difficult for water and roots to move through and it will be very difficult to support grass on the new grade in the long term. My recommendation would be to rototill the area that will be affected so that you can integrate the new topsoil with the old existing soil, grade, roll, and then re-seed.
By Geoff Rinehart, Lecturer, Turfgrass Management, Institute of Applied Agriculture, University of Maryland.
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Obviously lots left unsaid so refer to HGIC instructions for seeding lawns to include that depending on weather and your location, it is likely too late to get optimal results from reseeding this yr, and since you will be away for a while, assume it would be waste of time/money.