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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Leveling seems to be pretty common with warm season grasses but I was wondering what the process is for topdressing and leveling cool season grass.

If you've done it how did it work out? Can you do it with longer grass or do you need to be reel cutting around an inch or less? My concern with long grass is that the sand wouldn't be pushed in the low spots with a drag mat or rake effectively with long grass.
 

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I'm no expert, but I imagine that you may run into trouble with longer grass. Have you ever scalped your KBG before? How does it recover? Given you need to scalp before you throw down the sand and level, this may be the key part to determining success. I'm not sure if you oversow with more seed in the fall but if you do it might be worth overseeding as part of the process??
 

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Bewitched KBG (38k sqft)
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Leveling with sand can be done on KBG just like it is done on the warm season side, although maybe not as aggressively. You will need to cut as short as possible before you level as I don't think you will have much success leveling grass over 1" tall. This is a leveling I did on bewitched KBG. I cut/scalped down to 5/8" before I leveled. I went .375" deep with mason sand(which is just over 1 cu yd per 1000 sq ft). If I had to make a recommendation, I would stick to no more than .250" deep (about 3/4 cu yd per 1000 sq ft) As the amount I did was alittle too aggressive.

9/4/15 Cut down to 5/8"


9/5/15 when I was done dragging it in


9/7/15 after a few days of water


9/12/15


9/19/15


10/6/15


Next spring 4/13/16 HOC 9/16"
 

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Pete and Ward may be able to chime in here. Here is ward's post on it: http://thelawnforum.com/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=388#p7429 check the section on "leveling". He says to do multiple rounds in thin layers of fine sand. I'm already at 1" and looking to do this too but I'm going to de-thatch first and use a sand/top soil mixture (75/25). Just not sure how to drag it into the depressions. Would a push broom by itself be fine for 1.2k area. I don't have access to a drag mat. I'm also a little worried if the grass in the "deeper" depressions will survive it.

edit, just got done posting this and saw Pete's post.
 

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What Pete said.

I have done it 3 times on my lawn. You can not go super heavy or it suffocates the grass and it will not grow through. A push broom is the key in my opinion for working the sand down into the canopy.

Just cut it down as low as you feel comfortable. Start with a small test area to see what happens. The best time is when the grass is growing aggressively like in the spring or early fall when its cooler.

See this post

This is how I drag my sand in





 

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Bewitched KBG (38k sqft)
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Ward that is an awesome drag for leveling! :thumbsup:

For a smaller version of ward's
https://www.precisionusa.com/mStorefront/itemDetail.do?item-id=202464&order-quantity=1&customer-item=60029375&order-uom=EA&warehouse-id=1&item-number=60029375

I used a drag mat for mine, it worked ok, but ended up improving on it for my next leveling attempt.
http://thelawnforum.com/viewtopic.php?f=4&t=276
 

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I have a pretty big sinkhole in my yard from erosion (lots of rain and not enough grass to keep the soil in place before my 2015 reno). My leveling plan is cut out sod from the top layer of the sinkhole area, level up with top soil and then replace the sod.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Great info here, everyone. Hopefully, this can be a thread people can ask questions and brainstorm about this topic.

I hesitate to ask this question here because it may deserve a thread of it's own but since the leveling seems most successful with grass >1" what is the process of taking your grass down from 3" to >1"? I renovated last year (maybe that's not relevant) and below about 2" the grass seems pretty stemmy. If I cut it below 2" now, even going less than 1/3 per day, I'm afraid my lawn would be mostly stems especially at the high spots.
 

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It is going to look ugly, but it will recover. By cutting high at 3" you allowed the crown and stem parts of the plant to grow taller as well. You will need to slowly take it down and like GrassDaddy said, it would be best to do in fall. Take it down alittle at a time, and bag the clippings if possible. Once you are down as low as you want to go, you can sand/level. Then fertilize and water more frequent like you would if you were establishing grass and most importantly keep cutting short to train the grass crowns and stems to stay low. An added step would be to rent a power rake/dethatcher to clean out the canopy and could be done when you get it low right before you topdress. I had good results without it though as the scalp and then sand did a great job at resetting the growing point of the plant.
 

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Also, as you begin scalping it down, a rotory would be ok down to 1.5-2" depending on your yard. I would then use a reel from 1.5" and lower and it would be best to have rollers on the reel, like what you see on a greens type reel mower, as you get under 1".
 

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OK, so I know that leveling cool season grass can be done. I am planning on trying to do this starting with my back yard. I have already started to gradually lower the mowing height using a reel mower. My question is whether or not it is bad to add sand for leveling on top of a soil that is predominantly clay? I seem to read a lot of conflicting papers/information on this online, even from university extension sites. I'm wanting to just go for it, but I also don't want to turn my soil into "concrete" as a lot of sites warn. That seems kind of extreme to me, but interested in your guys' advice.

Thanks!
 

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I think the soil turning to "concrete" might be a myth. I have added sand(although only in a few spots) to my current 30% clay/clay loam soil without any issues. I'm sure wardconnor will chime in as he frequently topdresses a clay soil with sand as well as some warm season members without issues.
 

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Correct. But it won't be a one and done. Golf courses topdress more often to dilute the thatch/organic layer that builds up as well as smooth it out. Depending on how unlevel your yard is to start and how smooth you want it, it will take multiple attempts.
 

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No, you don't need to topdress/level that frequently... unless you want to. I would try one leveling attempt in late summer/early fall right as the growth rate starts increasing for fall. See how it recovers, and how smooth it gets, and then maybe plan another one for the following spring around the spring growth flush.
 

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RockyMtnLawnNut said:
Thanks! I'll try to update with pics once I get going on this project.
Looking forward to seeing it. :thumbsup:
 

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Pete1313 said:
No, you don't need to topdress/level that frequently... unless you want to. I would try one leveling attempt in late summer/early fall right as the growth rate starts increasing for fall. See how it recovers, and how smooth it gets, and then maybe plan another one for the following spring around the spring growth flush.
Yes.... I totally agree with what Pete said.

I have bad clay soil. Its so bad that my wife asked me if we could try making pottery with it. Last labor day I aerated and top dressed. Turns out I've got an awesome lawn and no concrete in places undesired.

I wouldn't worry about it. Go for it when grass starts growing quickly again and then again in spring. It takes a while for it to recover. This schedule is what I'm planning on doing.

I going to attempt core aerating then using snow push shovel to gather cores. After that I plan to sand and level/topdress. I really hope the snow shovel works.

Here's a picture of my clay soil with 4 inch roots. I pulled up quite a bit of sod doing my beds.

 
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