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My house is almost a year old and my front yard looks ok but my backyard looks horrible. There are patches of grass, tree stomps, lots of branches embedded in the ground, and lots of weeds. I had one guy come out to give me an estimate on how much it would be to fix all this. Oh yeah I live in middle Georgia and my backyard is nothing but red clay. Anywho the guy said that he would have to bring in dirt so that the grass seeds can cultivate. I know nothing of this kinda stuff b/c I'm a city girl. I called up the guy who had been doing the landscaping for this subdivision to see what he thought. He told me that I wouldn't need the dirt that the red clay will do just fine. Ok I need a little guidance on this one. Do I need dirt or can grass grow ok using the red clay I already have?
We live in a brand new development in Clarksville, TN. We have nothing but red clay here. Everyones backyard is growing grass without having to add any soil. Some people prefer to break the ground up a little before seeding, and some do not. As long as you water the seed every other day, or every 3rd day, you should get some grass. Although, if you have the time and money, rent a tiller from home Depot/Lowes and just break up say the top 1 inch of dirt yourself and scatter lots of seed everywhere. It should be no problem.
I too have the same problem. Bought a new house last year here in Jefferson, Ga and the builder never sodded the rear yards, only the front. I think someone thinks they are going to get rich off of you. Generally, this clay is a pain to work with but here are some things I have learned in my first year here as a do it yourselfer and new homeowner.
You don't need to buy dirt.
I rent from a smaller rental place (Harco) that is closed on Sunday so that when I rent on Saturday, I keep the equipment until Monday for the cost of only 1 day rental. That way I get a bonus day. If the ground is packed, pick a weekend or something after it has rained when the ground is soft and till it up first then plant seed. It will do just fine.
In Georgia heat, you may have to water the grass a couple times a day if it gets too hot. Keep the seed layer moist at all times. I did Bermuda and it must stay moist to germinate. Some days I had to set up a sprinkler and run it briefly 2x a day. It may be easier if you have a large yard to do it in sections so that you are better able to keep up with the watering.
Dont ever listen to these contractors. I got estimates for my fence. I wanted about 600 ft of fence built on almost level ground. Just plain old 6ft. privacy, no fancy decorations, 2 gates. Just wanted to keep the kids in. They said between $6,000 and $10,000. I priced all the supplies and did it myself. Cost $2500 and many days labor. That included renting a framing gun, air compressor and 2 man auger several times.
If you have red dirt, its possible to grow grass, just needs more TLC. For landscapers starting new projects, they will always go with fill dirt or sugar dirt because the compaction level is lower and allows the grass to grow more easily. Plus it costs less. Landscapers always want to bring dirt in because its used as a sculpting material, also to ensure water flows properly on the property. For cases where you are drive-ways, roads, buildings, garages, always go with red dirt. You can always save money, by doing it yourself. Find a landscaper that you trust, test him on a few projects in Georgia and then make decisions. If you have additional questions, email me at email@example.com. Hope that helps!
Grassless, It sounds like you need someone to come in with a bobcat to push branches and weeds into a burn pile. You can then plant grass, cover with straw and start seeing results in no time. Check around with neighbors and see if they know someone that owns one and will not charge a whole lot.