Shortly before we moved to our new home, I received a notice from the homeowners’ association telling me that I had a brown spot on my lawn and needed to remedy the situation. The community manager suggested resodding the area. When I spoke to the property manager who was renting the house for me, she said she would tell the tenants (who were soon to be vacating) that they needed to fix the problem since they were responsible for the lawn. Apparently, that did not go well. The property manager later told me that she thought the brown spot had been there over 2 years ago when I first bought the property and, therefore, we should not attach the tenants’ security deposit to pay for the sod. I agreed, but asked that she make sure the problem got fixed so the HOA would leave me alone.
When we arrived to move into the home a month or so later, I saw what the HOA meant. There was a small area of grass that seemed a little bit stressed. It wasn’t super noticeable to me, but I could definitely see that there was a problem. I asked the property manager about it. She told me that she didn’t recommend resodding because it was the wrong time of year and water use restrictions would impede new sod’s growth. When I shared this theory with the community manager, he was less than impressed and told me that I needed to get something done immediately or be fined.
Thus began the “sod, sod story.”
We had a fellow who was trimming a tree for us that also did sod. We asked him about resodding for us and he agreed, but said that we probably needed to get some sort of lawn treatment service or protocol in place, as he thought the dead area was likely caused by some underlying problem like bugs or lack of soil nutrients. He advised that we would want to fix that problem so that new sod would thrive.
I called the lawn treatment guy, who agreed (of course) that we needed lawn treatment. According to him, it was the evil cinch bug that was causing the lawn disaster. He also said that the sprinkler system was in really good shape, but we might want to think about upgrading in the next year or so. When he was testing it, I noticed that none of the sprinklers seemed to be hitting the brown spot. I’m surely no lawn expert (never having had a lawn before), but it seemed to me that without water, it wasn’t any surprise that the grass was dying. I pointed this out to the lawn treatment guy. He insisted it was the evil cinch bug, not the lack of water, that was the problem.
I signed a contract for lawn treatment every other month. The lawn treatment guy said to wait a couple of months after the first treatment before resodding. While I was wondering how the HOA was going to feel about that, he uttered the words I have come to know and fear….
“It’s going to get worse before it gets better.”
Now, what is that supposed to mean? What does worse look like? And how will we know if it is the “worse before it gets better” or if it is the “worse because this crap isn’t working?”
True to our new friend’s word, it did get worse. And worse. The lawn treatment technicians left us with cryptic notes and multiple flyers about every possible thing that could be wrong with our lawn, from frost to the German measles. The flyers seemed to suggest contradictory courses of action. When I read that spraying with Round-Up was the remedy for one of the possible lawn maladies, I became alarmed. Did you ever look at the label of Round-Up? It is called “GRASS and Weed Killer.” It seems kind of counter-intuitive to spray grass killer on an area of lawn where you are trying to grow… well, grass. Applying Round-Up doesn’t seem like the best thing to do when you are trying to bring a lawn back to life, does it? Still, I tried doing everything suggested in the flyers, and, also, several strategies I discovered on the internet. Nothing seemed to make a difference. At least not a POSITIVE difference.
I called the lawn treatment company and, also, the guy who mows the lawn. Both of them said…. You guessed it…. “It will get worse before it gets better.”
After the second lawn treatment, with the area of brown expanding at a rather startling rate, we started trying to get our tree trimmer/sod guy back to do the resodding. Let’s just say that he wasn’t the most responsive of creatures. Max pursued him with the tenacity of a male musk ox trying to attract a mate. After no less than four no shows and reschedules, the sod guy finally showed up. I guess he figured it was either show up or take out a restraining order.
Never having seen sod before, we didn’t think anything of the pathetic collection of mud squares with some sparse grass blades sticking out of them that our sod guy delivered. He apparently did whatever one is supposed to do to prepare the ground and then laid the “sod.” Before he went away, he told us “It will get worse before it gets better.”
Max religiously watered the resodded area every day with a garden hose because the sprinkler wasn’t hitting that area. Some of the new sod seemed to start growing, but, for the most part, the lawn just got worse. Having been advised that it would “get worse before it gets better,” I wasn’t immediately alarmed, but when the dead areas started spreading and multiplying geometrically, I decided it was time for action.
I called the lawn treatment guy again, who finally agreed to come over and check the technician’s work. When he arrived, he was shocked and appalled by the state of the lawn. Duh. Initially, he thought the problem with the sod was that we had not kept to the heavy watering protocol for new sod. This pronouncement didn’t make us very happy since Max invested hours upon hours hand-watering what was presumably dead or dying grass. We explained what we did but the lawn treatment guy still eyed us suspiciously, assuming we were negligent, non-watering sod-killers.
Eventually, after much discussion, the lawn treatment guy could see I was about at the end of my rope, so he called in a sprinkler guy, a sod guy that their company used when needed, and the lawn treatment technicians. They all decided, of course, that I needed a new $2000 sprinkler system because (wait for it) …. THE SPRINKLERS WERE NOT HITTING THE PART OF THE LAWN THAT WAS DYING!!! After I stopped reeling from a severe case of déjà vu, I started bargaining. Noting that some of my problem was that I was dealing with too many components of the same issue (sprinklers, lawn treatment, sod) and wasn’t lawn-savvy enough to know which component was the problem (or even if there was a problem because, you know, “it gets worse before it gets better”), I demanded that this lawn treatment company take complete ownership of the problem and arrange for all the moving parts to do what needed to be done and monitor the success. When they agreed to that, I figured buying the sprinkler system for $2000 (which did seem kinda necessary since even I could tell lo those many months ago that the sprinklers were not hitting the dying lawn areas) was a bargain.
But wait…. There’s more. The sprinkler installation went pretty smoothly, except for the hit to my pocketbook. Then, the sod guy showed up immediately to take measurements and quote me a very low price to install the sod to replace the first sod guy’s mud. For, when the second sod guy finally showed up with the sod (it took several reschedules, but what else is new?), it was clear that the first sod guy provided something that truly didn’t even resemble real sod. It was no wonder it didn’t grow.
Our lawn is beautiful now. It only took six months. And, just for the record, after the second sodding, it never did “get worse before it gets better.”
Do you have a sod, sod story of your own? Who knew that acquiring a lawn that meets the minimum standards of the HOA would be such a trauma? Or at least a drama? At any rate, the grass is greener on the other side of the lawn now. Please share your perspective by leaving a comment. In the alternative, you can email me at terriretirement.com.
Have a sodding good day!