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PostPosted: Mon Apr 18, 2011 6:27 am 
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Joined: Mon Apr 18, 2011 6:00 am
Posts: 4
Location: Arlington, TX
First off, I will go ahead and admit that I am a certified "lawn idiot"... I have lived in my home for 11 years in Arlington, Texas...and my yard has looked worse every year.
Finally at the request (demand) of my lovely and much smarter wife, I rented a Bobcat and removed the patchy, spotty, grass and leveled the rolling hills of our backyard. It went from looking like a Peruvian burial ground ready for archeologists to descend on it, to what I have now...a slick level dirt landing strip (120 x 30 ish).

I knew I needed irrigation help, the 3 for $19.99 sprinklers hooked to a patchwork of hoses just was not getting it done I guess, so I called several professionals and eventually chose one that has a great reputation and presented an impressive series of charts and graphs outlining his plan. Today is day 3 of the install and he should be wrapping up late this afternoon...the. It's up to me.

I have to get a lawn established and I need help!

My "plan" (I use that term loosely) was to so the small, triangular, 70% shaded due to pin oaks, front yard with St. Augustine... There is a sod place by my office in Plano and they were friendly and recommended some variety. I have about 400 sq ft to cover and my neighbors will really appreciate it. I thought about getting it aerated, and was thinking of adding some good dirt and sodding on top of that.

The backyard is a mystery to me. 85% sun...about 1200 sq ft with no real tree or fence shading, and the dirt is packed pretty good. Tilling is out of the question, but I thought about aeration, then seeding and raking some peat moss over it. Maybe some good soil? Then water it.

You can tell I have really thought this out...

My neighbor is organic, and his yard looks great, but he is not at the advice giving age... He is getting up there in years and I'm lucky to get casual neighbor chit chat with him...I don't want to pepper him with a lawn pop quiz.

If you have some advice or recommendations for what to do before I sod in the front yard, what seed for the backyard (fescue? Was recommended), and what to do before and after that goes down...basically if you want to have full credit when my poor neighbors ask me "how did YOU end up with a beautiful yard?"...
Please tell me what to do...I need help.

All advice taken, I won't argue, and I'm not married to any of my grand ideas... I just want my yard to look good and don't want to dump chemicals all over it. My wife, son, 2 dogs, and myself would like to go outside and enjoy green grass...someday soon!?

Thanks in advance,
Dan


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 18, 2011 8:49 am 
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Joined: Fri Apr 10, 2009 1:58 pm
Posts: 144
Location: Arlington, Texas
Hi Dan,

I don't know where you got your advice, but it sounds to me like you were given information that's exactly backwards. For full sun or mostly-full sun (in your back yard) you need a full sun, or mostly-full sun grass -- like St. Augustine or Bermuda, both of which are common here in our area.

In your front yard, which is mostly shade, you need a mostly shade grass, like Fescue.

My suggestion is this: go to the Home page on here on DirtDoctor.com, click on the "Learn" tab and then some hover menus come up. Choose "Article Library" (at the far left of the screen) and then read and learn.

To get you started, these articles are about grass selection and grass planting, including a question and answer from the radio program (last link):
http://www.dirtdoctor.com/organic/garde ... n/id/2479/
and
http://www.dirtdoctor.com/organic/garde ... n/id/2226/
and
http://www.dirtdoctor.com/organic/garde ... on/id/624/

I hope that DC Hall will join this thread. He's the moderator on this forum and always has helpful input.

I have no experience with grass for shade (and, as you will see from the 3rd link above, it is hard-to-impossible to grow grass in heavy shade).

We are also in Arlington and we have a combination of St. Augustine and Bermuda and we have full to mostly-full sun. I am trying to kill the Bermuda by digging up as much as possible. I like the look and feel of St. Augustine much better than Bermuda and it is not so invasive. We have a large veggie garden that's getting larger all the time and the Bermuda always wants to get in the beds with the veggies.

This is another thing you want to consider when you make your grass selection. Do you plan to have flowers, shrubs, flowering trees, veggie garden?
If you think you might, Bermuda is definitely invasive and crowds out most other vegetation around it.

Do a little reading, do a little more thinking and planning, then come back to this thread with more thoughts and questions.

Hope that got you started & hope it helps!

_________________
God speed!
Cara
**
Take time to stop and smell the flowers!
(or... as my ladybug refrigerator magnet says
"take time to stop and eat the flowers!" :D)


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 18, 2011 9:49 am 
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Joined: Mon Apr 18, 2011 6:00 am
Posts: 4
Location: Arlington, TX
Thanks for the tips regarding where to find helpful information... I will be reading the articles asap...

My grass selections were recommended by... (wait for the punchline)... a company that sells sod and seed locally :D . In hindsight I guess I should consider the economic benefit as a motivation for recommendations next time.

I too like the look and feel of St. Augustine, but after spending $4000 dirt work and irrigation, I really want to wrap up this fiasco without spending another $1000 on sod for both the front and back yards... however if that is the way to get a beautiful yard I may just bite the bullet and lay sod in the back.

I did try to grow a fescue variety a couple of years back in the shady front yard, I think it was "creeping red fescue", and it grew fast...looked green...but never really took off. By the time August rolled around the heat had done it in and it never came back. I was told that there is a variety of St. Augustine that was able to do well in the shady front yard and it would thrive with water and ambient light since full sun is not common in the front.

I will be heading back to the drawing board for grass types as well as soil treatments that I can and should be doing before planting or sodding.

I look forward to the advice.
Thanks

Dan


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 18, 2011 10:47 am 
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Joined: Fri Apr 10, 2009 1:58 pm
Posts: 144
Location: Arlington, Texas
Ha ha. Yes, you do have to consider your source. :wink:

One thought about your yard, I have had some small success with buying just a few squares of St. Aug, cutting it in quarters, planting the quarters in various places, babying them (good thorough watering, worm castings) and they have spread pretty nicely.

Right now, I'm trying to fight the Bermuda, so that's the main project, but the squares of St. Aug I planted last year have spread out in circle from each 1/4 that's about 2' diameter. I was very happy with the progress for not much cost.

Maybe you could put in just enough full sod to make a nice place near your house, or wherever your family will hang out, and then just "spot sod" the rest of yard and wait for it to fill in. That may not be a great idea, but the thought did occur to me.

Again, hopefully, DC Hall will add some of his sage advice to this discussion.

_________________
God speed!
Cara
**
Take time to stop and smell the flowers!
(or... as my ladybug refrigerator magnet says
"take time to stop and eat the flowers!" :D)


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 07, 2011 9:17 am 
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Joined: Tue Mar 18, 2003 3:45 pm
Posts: 2884
Location: San Antonio,TEXAS
Here's a plan for St Augustine sod. If you can't afford an entire lawn of sod, do what was suggested above and place pieces of sod around and let them knit into a full lawn. You'll be surprised how well that will work. Here are the first steps.

Don't till
Don't add any soil unless you have certifiable low spots

You can fertilize with organic fertilizer at any time. I would wait until the sod is down and fertilize only the sod and surrounding area. Move some soil away so the sod is set in at the same height as the surrounding soil. Place the sod down and keep it continually moist for about 3 weeks until it is rooting into the soil. That means watering morning noon and night for about 10-15 minutes per time. Fertilize relatively heavily with something like Purina Rabbit Chow. Heavily would be two heaping handfuls on each patch of sod. Moisten that so the birds do not carry it away and then the regular watering will take care of the rest. At the end of the three weeks of continual watering, start to back off on frequency and water for a longer time. Since you are still trying to get the sod to spread, don't ever let the grass get to the drying stage. It needs to be moist to spread. And also at the end of three weeks, hit it again with more rabbit food. The healthier the grass is, the better it will spread.

Set your mower for the highest setting and leave it there.

For more and better exposure of lawn issues, visit the lawn forum.

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David Hall
Moderator
Dirt Doctor Lawns Forum


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