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 Post subject: new back yard
PostPosted: Fri Feb 04, 2005 4:16 pm 
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Location: Dallas, Texas
For some of us February means it is time to start working in the yard again. I started my organic yard initiative one year ago, and so far am loving the results in the front yard. I expect to see much fewer weeds and hardier grass this year, at least in the front yard, where 80-90% of my effort has been focused. The back yard is another issue. Back there I've got some bermuda, some augustine, and lots of weeds!. Today I decided to mow the weeds in the back because they were getting tall and starting to bother me. I've also found out I can resod the backyard with 450 sq. ft of palmetto st. augustine for about $170 delivered. Who can recommend the easiest way, and the best time to do this? The sod man told me in March the sod is starting to green up again and I would have greater success choking out the green weeds. I have one mature cottonwood in the back that may be hurt if I till. I also have two oaks, but both have been in the ground for less than one year.


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 05, 2005 3:18 pm 
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Before you do anything...have you been following these three rules in the back yard?

1. Water deeply and infrequently.

2. Mow at the highest setting on your mower.

3. Fertilize regularly.

If not, what have you been doing?

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 07, 2005 2:01 pm 
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Yes and no.
1. I have hardly watered the back yard at all, but last year we received over forty inches of rain, including some heavy storms occasionally in the summer. The claylike soil here cracks heavily when dry, and last year it rained enough that the backyard only dried enough to crack a little once.
2. I'm guilty of sometimes cutting the weeds and bermuda in the backyard low (1 inch or less). I realize the augustine prefers it higher, so I usually raise the mower to 3 inches when cutting it.
3. Last year I applied corn meal, greensand, and molasses pretty regularly, along with some CGM, and bioform dry. None of this appears to have helped the augustine, or the bermuda much. I've got too many green weeds right now. If I started pulling weeds now, I don't think I could keep up. My preferred method is to plant more augustine and encourage it to "choke" out the weeds.


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 11, 2005 11:12 pm 
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Okay, thanks for the answers to the questions. Here's the deal with St Aug and bermuda in the same lawn. IF YOU WATER IT ENOUGH, the St Augustine will take over. IF YOU DON'T, the bermuda will take over. Once you let it get dry enough that the St Aug dies, you're done for with the St Aug. Bermuda will go dormant with no water while St Aug dies and will never return without new grass. So you have to make up your mind to water back there. Once you do that, the existing St Aug will fill in for you and choke out everything else. Now I say 'everything' but there are some broadleafed weeds that will force out the SA, but usually the SA takes over when it's watered.

Don't ever mow low if you want St Aug. Weld your mower adjusters in the highest position so you can't make the mistake of lowering it. If you want St Aug there is NEVER a reason to lower it. The only reason to lower it is to get seeds to sprout. Since St Aug doesn't grow from seeds, the only seeds that might sprout would be considered weeds. Therefore you never need to lower your deck.

Since you're going to resod anyway, here's a plan for that. Rent a mower and scalp your lawn to the dirt. The reason you want to rent a mower is that you will ruin the blade doing this. Chew up everything and mulch it. Try to keep from gouging any deep ruts but do cut it to the ground. Water that chewed up grass to the point of being soggy. Immediately lay your sod right down on top of the wet chewed up grass. Then use a water fulled roller to roll the sod down to make good contact with the soggy stuff under there. Roots will not grow into open air so you must roll the sod. Then, that same day, apply corn meal to the turf at 10-20 pounds per 1,000 square feet to take care of any fungus disease the grass might have been left susceptable to from the sod farm. Then water from the top for an hour a day, all at once, for three days. Then start to back off watering every other day for a week. Then you can probably back off to weekly watering for an hour at a time. If the grass ever changes color to blue-green or seems dry, water it.

If you really want to do it right, between the pieces of sod you could pour in a 50/50 mix of sand and compost. If you can keep the pieces of sod touching, you really should not need this.

There's no reason to till your soil. In fact there's lots of reasons not to till. Rather than go into them all without knowing why you might want to till, can you tell me if that was just something you though you should do or did you have a reason to till?

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 14, 2005 4:00 am 
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Thanks for that info David. It should be very helpful for this project.
My budget for sod is very limited so I plan to just purchase a few square feet of Palmetto St Augustine to start with. Yesterday I cut the weeds in the yard as low as I could, and sprayed some vinegar based herbicide solution to help kill the weeds in a spot I plan to use. Some of the home and garden shows I see periodically on the TV recommend tilling the soil before planting new sod, but I've read plenty on here about the disadvantages of doing that. My main concern is for the cottonwood tree roots found throughout the yard. If that tree dies on me anytime soon, I'm in trouble because I don't have the equipment to take it down myself safely.


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