Replacing Our Worn-Out Bermuda Lawn

Having had the house painted this past fall, there was one more big outside project on my list that I’d been putting off for a couple years: repairing or replacing the 25-year old Bermuda grass front yard.

The side and backyard were redone several years back with great success.  About the same time I attempted to “fix” the thin spots in the front yard by patching-in with new sod.  It took for about a year, which is to say that it really never took.  My soil prep was probably lacking since the front yard has become like concrete over the years.

Anyway, here’s what the yard was looking like just before it went dormant this past summer. The brown patches at the left and upper right edges of the lawn were about 10x worse than they appear to be in this photo.  The shade from surrounding trees eventually killed-off the Bermuda and with the grass gone rain run-off simply eroded-away the soil.  All of those lighter brown spots across the yard were thin spots, where no amount of plugging or aerating has brought-about new growth.


It was about three weeks ago that I called Rich at DreamScapes in nearby Acworth to come out and give me a quote on a lawn refresh. I’d had Rich quote the backyard work and regretted not hiring him for that job ever since.  So, I didn’t even compete the bid: it was a sole-source project.  The scope of work was pretty straight forward: remove all of the old sod, prep the soil and install a new lawn using a shade resistant sod.  At first it was assumed that Zoysia and Bermuda would be about the same cost; however, once the bids came in the price increase in Zoysia over the past year was a heart-stopper. So, we opted to go with the Bermuda and the date for the project start was all set: they’d be out on Monday the 27th.


By mid-afternoon on the 27th Rich’s crew had all of the old sod scrapped off the hill and the 8 pallets of new sod (there were two extra pallets delivered to our job site for a different job, hence why you might be counting 10 pallets) were delivered to the sidewalk, as there was nowhere else to put them where they wouldn’t be in the way. Unfortunately, what was supposed to be a light shower turned into a steady hour of rain and that pretty much made any additional soil prep work impossible for the guys, so they called it a day early.


By early afternoon on Tuesday they had made great progress.  Almost all of the soil prep was done and they had just started putting down sod when I arrived home around 1:30pm.  Interestingly enough, a county inspector rolled-up to the site and seemed to be asking them to do a little clean-up on the soil that had migrated to the street during the sod removal and soil rework.  It turns out, six different complaints had been called into the county from people in our neighborhood over “dirt in the street”.  Really?  Anyway, even the county inspector was having a hard time understanding why any one individual would have called in a complaint, never mind six. The job site, in his opinion, was in good shape and the soil spill-over to the street was minimal. Thankfully, he didn’t fine our contractor and simply asked they give the street and sidewalk a good sweeping off throughout the day and move the pallets of sod off the sidewalk which they did.


It was around mid-day on Wednesday that they had all of the sod down, rolled-in and turned their attention to restacking the stone around the islands, the final part of this job.  Their timing was impeccable as heavy rain was expected later in the afternoon / early evening.  And, in terms of the work they performed, it was outstanding.  Great attention to detail and no shortcuts that I could see: everything was done ‘by the book’ which should yield a great-looking and healthy lawn in the coming spring & summer.  Oh, and yes, the rain pretty much washed what little dirt was left in the street and on the sidewalk away without a torrent of mud collecting elsewhere in the neighborhood.

In Process / Before & After Photos

Here’s what the job site looked like when they had to call it quits on Monday afternoon when the rain began to fall. If this is what prompted the calls to the county on Tuesday, then I could understand a lot better than what I saw on Tuesday afternoon because it was a bit of a mess and could have stood a good scraping before they left the job site. But, they’d made a lot of progress and removed an entire truck load of old sod from the site while leaving as much soil as possible, all of which would get reworked and tilled-on Tuesday.

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Here’s a before and after shot of the far edge of the front yard next to the driveway. This small patch had been an eyesore for most all of the yard’s life.  I started off with holly shrubs at the corner but they were always getting run over and looked like heck so I eventually filled in with sod.  Once again, shade and erosion pretty much reduced that part of the yard to a few wisps of grass with mostly dirt showing through.  Rich’s crew did a great job of leveling the soil, restacking the stone retaining wall and cutting in the sod to finish the corner-off quite nicely.  Now, we just need to keep visitors from cutting the corner.

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The biggest eye-sore on the front yard — that big bare spot where the soil had all washed down the hill and collected at the bottom — looks fantastic once again.  And, the stacked stone wall is also looking better than it ever did.  Definitely prefer having sod in that part of the yard vs. expanding the island and putting more Azaleas out there.

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At the far end of the front yard under the Oak tree, the once very thin and sickly lawn is once again a full carpet of Bermuda.  If it’s as shade tolerant and Rich suggests, this should make for a huge difference in the look and feel of the house, as this part of the yard was really looking low-rent and was something of an embarrassment to me.

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Just another look up at the stone border wall along the hedges before and after the crew installed the new sod and fixed the stacked stone.  What a difference! It never looked that good, even right after I did the initial installation. There’s definitely a knack to stacking stone and I don’t have it.

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About TG

I've been around a bit and done a few things, have a couple kids and a few grandkids. I tend to be curmudgeonly, matter-of-fact and not predisposed to self-serving chit-chat. Thankfully, my wife's as nice as can be otherwise we'd have no friends. My interests are somewhat eclectic, but whose aren't?
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