Section 2         Topsoil Preparation

2.1 General

The specifications of Section 2 shall apply to the topsoil of sites intended for turfgrass seeding; certain of these specifications shall apply only to topsoil that is transported to the seeding site, and others shall apply whether the topsoil is the natural topsoil of the site or whether it is topsoil that has been transported to the site. Topsoil shall meet the specifications of Section 2, unless other specifications are approved by all affected parties. All labor, equipment, and materials required for the completion of Section 2 shall be furnished by the seeding contractor, unless specified otherwise.

2.2 Topsoil Definition

The natural topsoil of the seeding site may be of any soil texture; however, only loam, sandy loam, sandy clay loam, clay loam, silty clay loam, or silt loam topsoil shall be transported and spread at turfgrass seeding sites, unless specified otherwise. Where clay subsoil is present, only loam, clay loam, silty clay loam, or silt loam topsoil shall be deposited over the subsoil, unless specified otherwise. Topsoil shall be of a nature and quality sufficient to establish and support the growth of turfgrass, and shall contain not less than 1.0% organic matter. Seed shall not be placed in topsoil which has been treated with soil sterilants until sufficient time has elapsed to allow for the dissipation of toxic materials.

2.3 Topsoil Testing and Physical Properties

2.3a Topsoil Testing Requirements

Topsoil shall be tested by The University of Maryland Soil Testing Laboratory, or another accredited soil test lab for topsoil acidity (pH), soluble salts concentration, phosphorus (P or P2O5), potassium (K or K2O), and sulfur (S). If, because of contractual obligations or other compelling reasons, there is insufficient time to conduct and evaluate topsoil test results before topsoil is spread or seedbed preparation and seeding operations are begun, a topsoil sample shall be collected at the time the topsoil is spread or prepared for seeding, and topsoil tests shall be conducted and evaluated as soon as possible thereafter. All parties which may be affected by topsoil conditions that may adversely influence the success of turfgrass seedings shall be promptly notified by the seeding contractor of the results of such topsoil tests. Note: Subsoil testing is required according to Section 1, and any necessary subsoil modifications shall be completed before topsoil is spread and prepared for seeding.

2.3b Topsoil Acidity (pH)

Topsoil shall be tested for soil acidity (pH). The pH of the topsoil, to a depth of 4.0 inches, shall be suitable for turfgrass seeding when the topsoil pH lies in the range of pH 5.5 to pH 7.5. Topsoil with pH 6.5 is ideal. When topsoil pH is not within pH 5.5 to pH 7.5, modifications to correct topsoil pH shall be made according to the recommendations of the soil test lab, or the Maryland Cooperative Extension Service, or Table A or Table B, below, as follows: When topsoil pH is below pH 5.5, see Table A and add the amount of limestone recommended to raise topsoil pH to pH 5.5 to pH 7.5. When topsoil pH is above pH 7.5, see Table B and add the amount of elemental sulfur recommended to lower the topsoil pH to pH 5.5 to pH 7.5. Except as allowed in Section 2.3a for contractual obligations or other compelling reasons, topsoil shall not be deposited and spread, or prepared and seeded to turfgrass, when the topsoil has a pH below pH 5.5 or above pH 7.5. See Section 4 for information about limestone and elemental sulfur.

Table A
Pounds of Limestone to Add per 1000 ft2
To Raise Soil pH to 6.5

Soil Texture Class

Original pH  Sand  Loam Clay
4.8 85 140 200
5.0 75  125 175
5.2 65 110 150
5.4 55 95 125
5.6 45 80 100
5.8 35 65 80
6.0 25 50 60
6.2 15 35 40
6.4 5 15 20


Note: Table A shall be used only for limestone which meets the specifications Section 4.3

 

Table B
Pounds of Elemental Sulfur to Add per 1000 ft2
To Reduce Soil pH to 6.5

Soil Texture

Original pH Sandy Soil  Clay Soil
7.5 10-15 20-25
8.0 25-35 35-50
8.5 35-50 40-50


Note: Table B shall be used only for elemental sulfur which meets the specifications of Section 4.4

 

2.3c Topsoil Soluble Salts

Topsoil shall be tested for soluble salts concentration. Soluble salts in the topsoil shall not exceed 500 parts per million (ppm) by weight or 4.0 millisiemens per centimeter (ms/cm) when evaluated by the electrical conductivity method. When topsoil soluble salts exceed these levels, modifications to reduce topsoil soluble salts shall be made according to the recommendations of the soil test lab, or of the Maryland Cooperative Extension Service, or by using Table C, as follows: When topsoil soluble salts exceed 500 ppm or 4.0 ms/cm, add the amount of gypsum recommended in Table C to reduce topsoil soluble salts below these levels. Except as allowed in Section 2.3a, for contractual obligations or other compelling reasons topsoil shall not be deposited and spread, or prepared and seeded to turfgrass, when topsoil soluble salts exceed 500 ppm or 4.0 ms/cm. See Section 4 for information about using gypsum.

Table C
Pounds of Gypsum to Add per 1000 ft2
To Reduce Soluble Salts to Recommended Levels

Original Salts Level

 Pounds Gypsum

millisiemens  parts per million (ppm)  per 1000 ft2
8 2500 320
7 1800 230
6 1250 160
5 700 80
4.5

550

40


Note: Table C shall only be used for finely ground gypsum which meets the Specifications of Section 4.5

 

2.3d Topsoil Phosphorus, Potassium, and Sulfur

Topsoil shall be tested for phosphorus (P or P205), potassium (K or K20), and sulfur. Fertility recommendations for the topsoil based on turfgrass requirements for phosphorus, potassium, and sulfur shall be obtained from the soil test lab or the Maryland Cooperative Extension Service. Topsoil levels of phosphorus, potassium, and sulfur shall be adjusted with fertilizer to conform with the recommendations of the soil test lab or the Maryland Cooperative Extension Service. Seed shall not be placed in topsoil which is deficient in phosphorus, potassium, or sulfur.

2.4 Unacceptable Impurities of Topsoil

Topsoil which is transported to the seeding site shall not contain soil of mixed textural classes or lumps of subsoil; shall not contain impurities such as slag, cinders, stones, trash, sticks, roots, or other non-soil materials with a diameter over 1.5 inches; and shall not contain herbicides, chemicals, or any materials which may be toxic to seedlings or established turfgrass plants.

2.5 Unacceptable Weeds of Topsoil

Topsoil which is transported to the seeding site shall not contain viable seeds or viable plant parts of Bermudagrass, quackgrass, Johnsongrass, poison ivy, poison oak, multiflora rose, Canada thistle, violet, mallow or other weeds which may be of a type, habit, or quantity that may adversely influence the permanent establishment of turfgrass.

2.6 Topsoil Grading

Topsoil which is transported to the seeding site shall be uniformly distributed over the designated subsoil areas and shall be tilled into the subsoil to an average depth of 1.0 to 2.0 inches below the surface of the subsoil/topsoil interface. Spreading of topsoil shall be performed in such a manner that seeding can proceed with a minimum of additional soil preparation. Stones and other debris with a diameter over 1.5 inches shall be removed from the surface of the topsoil. A uniform grade shall be established so that no depressions or elevations greater than 2/10 of 1.0 foot (2.5 inches per foot) are present. Topsoil shall not be placed when it is frozen or muddy or when the subgrade is excessively wet. Topsoil shall not be placed when the subgrade is in any condition that may hinder the distribution or the grading of topsoil, or hinder the conduct of subsequent seeding operations.

2.7 Site Protection and Damage Repair

2.7a Site Protection

It shall be the responsibility of the seeding contractor to install signs, flagging, etc. at the perimeter of the topsoil preparation site immediately after the completion of preparation operations, which shall serve to notify foot and vehicular traffic that a sensitive area may be damaged by their entry. The seeding contractor shall not be financially or otherwise held liable to repair a topsoil preparation site that is damaged by the entrance of such traffic when the site has been appropriately designated with signs, flagging, etc. at its perimeter (see Disclaimer, Section 2.10).

2.7b Erosion Protection and Damage Repair

.1. General. It shall be the responsibility of the seeding contractor to ensure that soil and other materials applied according to the specifications of Section 2 are not blown, washed, or otherwise removed from the topsoil preparation site, and so that nearby streams and other areas shall be protected from soil, fertilizer, compost, etc.

.2. Repairs to topsoil preparation sites. In the event of heavy rain, wind, or other natural event that causes damage to the topsoil preparation site before seedbed preparation and seeding operations are begun which is of a kind or type that may have been anticipated or prevented by the seeding contractor, then the seeding contractor shall be obliged to make repairs limited to the damaged areas within the site, so that the topsoil preparation site is restored to condition acceptable according to the specifications of Section 2, and which may be readily prepared for seeding according to the specifications of Section 3.

.3. Repairs to nearby areas. In the event of heavy rain, etc. that causes damage to the topsoil preparation site, as described in Section 2.7b.2., above, and which also causes damage to nearby areas, as may be evidenced by soil deposition on the surfaces of the nearby areas, etc., then the seeding contractor shall be obliged to make repairs to the damaged nearby areas, so that the nearby areas shall be restored to a condition substantially similar to their condition before the damaging event.

.4. Special limitations. The seeding contractor shall not be obliged, financially or otherwise, to regrade or make any other repairs to the topsoil preparation site, or to any nearby areas, when there is evidence that the damage caused to the site was substantially due to water, soil, or other materials which passed into the topsoil preparation site from an area which was not stabilized or under the control or supervision of the seeding contractor. Examples of situations which shall void the responsibility of the seeding contractor to repair the topsoil preparation site and nearby areas shall include the failure of responsible parties to provide effective groundcover, spillways, drainage diversions, water settlements, silt fence, etc. for areas which drain into the topsoil preparation site, which would have prevented significant damage to the topsoil preparation site and nearby areas.

2.8 Clean Up

Grading stakes, stones, trash, and other debris which may hinder seedbed preparation (Section 3) shall be removed when topsoil preparation operations are completed. Soil, fertilizer, compost, limestone, elemental sulfur, and gypsum shall be removed from paved areas as soon as possible after topsoil spreading and tilling operations are completed. Clean up operations shall be completed before acceptance is given.

2.9 Acceptance

2.9a Acceptance of Materials

The seeding contractor shall inform all affected parties of the composition of the fertilizer, compost, limestone, elemental sulfur, gypsum, and topsoil which are intended for application at the topsoil preparation site before any of these materials are applied at the site; acknowledgment of acceptance of these materials shall be given by the owner, general contractor, landscape architect, or other person(s) authorized to make such a decision before spreading operations are begun. Labels and other material identification pertaining to the materials which are applied shall be retained by the seeding contractor for a minimum of 90 days after the completion of spreading operations.

2.9b Acceptance of Performance

Acknowledgment of acceptable performance shall be given by the owner, general contractor, landscape architect, or other person(s) authorized to inspect the topsoil preparation site upon the satisfactory completion of each Subsection of Section 2. The topsoil preparation site shall be inspected within 24 hours of the completion of each Subsection, as indicated by the seeding contractor, unless specified otherwise. The seeding contractor shall give notification when all Subsections of Section 2 have been completed; final acceptance and payment shall be made within 24 hours of such notification, or within the time period specified in the contract.

2.10 Disclaimer

2.10a Damage

The seeding contractor shall not be financially or otherwise held liable to repair damages incurred to the topsoil preparation site as a result of materials not applied under the supervision of the seeding contractor, nor by vandalism, nor by acts of God. The seeding contractor shall not be financially or otherwise held liable to repair or otherwise amend the topsoil preparation site as a result of the use of topsoil, compost, fertilizer, or soil amendments which are labeled in error or which are otherwise not in accordance with the label or description provided with them by the manufacturer or distributor of the products, when they are applied by the seeding contractor in good faith, in accordance with their label or description.

2.10b Hazards

It shall be recognized that the topsoil preparation site is a construction zone not under the ownership or legal control of the seeding contractor, and as such may present hazards to persons or property which enter the site. The seeding contractor specifically disclaims any and all responsibility for the safety and security of persons or property which may enter the site before the seeding contractor has begun work or when work is underway or at any time after work has been completed, and without regard to whether such entry is legal or otherwise. The seeding contractor shall assume no responsibility for personal injury or property damage, nor be subject to any claims of negligence, when the seeding contractor has performed work according to the specifications of MSA-GS-99, as mutually agreed, or has applied products or materials according to the recommendations of their manufacturer or distributor.

2.11 Guarantee

2.11a General Guarantee

The seeding contractor shall guarantee that all materials and methods which are selected and used under the supervision of the seeding contractor to prepare the topsoil of the seeding site shall be appropriate for the site and the intended use of the site, and shall be selected and used according to the specifications of Section 2, unless specified otherwise.

2.11b Special Guarantees

.1. Topsoil composition. The seeding contractor shall guarantee that a topsoil layer of thickness and composition required according to the specifications of Section 2.2 shall be installed, prepared, and made ready for final seedbed preparation (Section 3).

.2. Topsoil acidity (pH). The seeding contractor shall guarantee that testing for topsoil acidity (pH) shall be performed as required according to the specifications of Section 2.3a, and that measures taken to modify, adjust, or correct topsoil pH shall actually obtain a topsoil pH required according to the specifications of Section 2.3b before final seedbed preparations are begun.

.3. Topsoil soluble salts. The seeding contractor shall guarantee that testing for topsoil soluble salts shall be performed as required according to the specifications of Section 2.3a, and that measures taken to modify, adjust, or correct topsoil soluble salts concentration shall actually obtain a topsoil soluble salts concentration required according to the specifications of Section 2.3c. before final seedbed preparations (Section 3) are begun.

2.12 Payment

The seeding contractor shall give notification upon the completion of Section 2; the topsoil preparation site shall be inspected within 24 hours of such notification, and payment shall be made at that time, or as specified in the contract. When payment is not received within the specified time period, the seeding contractor may void any guarantees related to Section 2, and may seek appropriate legal remedies.