Installed geothermal system, half of yard dug up with serious runoff

Asked April 14, 2017, 5:30 PM EDT

We had a geothermal system installed in mid-October after our HVAC system died last summer. As you can see from the photo, the middle portion of the yard was dug up/disturbed--a much larger area than I expected. Areas not dug up/regraded are patchy, perhaps due to compression of equipment. In the fall I accessed and read the University of Maryland extension service "Lawn Establishment, Renovation and Overseeding" and had planned to reseed affected areas, but I'm not sure what to do now: 1) Should kill grass that is growing on each side of the disturbed area? Or just overseed portions that are more or less patchy? 2) I see the best time to seed recommended tall fescue is late August. What should/could I be doing to prevent weeds and run off in the meantime? (My neighbor does not control weeds and I am in low spot.) Should I wait until August and kill everything? Or is there a way to start preparing the soil now without inviting weeds? 3) The big rain last week washed off a half inch of topsoil in the shady side of the yard. (I can tell because remaining patches of grass are higher.) I expanded a swale at the fence line in back to mitigate runoff from the disturbed area, but there was significant silty water flow going into the street nonetheless. (Water runs off the street into my neighbors driveway between houses to the street in the picture.) Are any experts available to consult on such residential runoff situations in PG county? 4) How much topsoil do I need to reseed the most disturbed portions of the yard? The town of Cheverly has provided two scoops of leaf mulch that I can use on top of I need sod for the more sloped portions to keep topsoil from flowing off? (What is economical/ecological way to deal with this...I am graduating from UMD School of Public Policy in May--my wife works, but so we're low on income with kids. I may have lots of time in June though!) 5) I was able to remove many of the dandelions and some wild strawberry since the soil was wet, but not sure if worth it to keep going if I will need to just start over anyway? Thank you so much for any advice you can give on these questions! BTW - Those are peach, apple, and serviceberry trees in the foreground. I have not used pesticides for 11 years we have been here. I had a soil test done when we moved in.

Prince George's County Maryland

1 Response

If you are dealing with runoff, you should contact Soil Conservation in your county first.
Does not sound like a good situation with silt running into the street. They may have specific recommendations.
Here is additional information. Your site looks like there is a lot of shade. Grass needs at least 4 hours of sunlight to grow. If you have shady conditions, you should you should consider sowing fine fescue grass seed. Sod is not available in fine fescues. In general fine fescues are comprised of creeping red fescue, hard fescue, chewings fescue, and sheep fescue. They do not perform well under frequent foot traffic, wet conditions, or high rates of nitrogen fertilizer. They also do not require a lot of mowing. Begin with a soil test. Results give pH. liming, and fertilization, recommendations.

Since you are dealing with erosion, it would be good to sow your seed now. Follow the site preparation steps. You may want to apply an erosion mat over the seed to keep in place. They are available in big box stores or garden centers. You will have to keep watered throughout the summer. Most likely you will have to do some overseeding this fall.

If you are not successful sowing grass seed, you may want to make a plan to plant ornamental beds with shade perennials and groundcovers. You may want to mulch the area underneath the swing set as grass will not survive in this area.
Take a look at our publication on Fescues for Low Maintenance Sites
Also, you mentioned you planted fruit trees. They need at least 6 hours of full sun to grow well. See more on Fruit trees