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 Post subject: Bermuda grass turf: Pros and cons
PostPosted: Tue Jul 01, 2003 12:22 pm 
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Grass selection topics are heavily read on this forum, so I'd like to consolidate the experience for each grass in one place if I could.

Please reply to this message to tell us your stories and give us your opinions about BERMUDA grass. You can pick any of the questions below to reply to.

How does it look?
How much water does it need/get?
How do you mow it?
Are weeds a problem?
Do you use fertilizer? What kind and when?

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 Post subject: bermuda grass
PostPosted: Wed Jul 02, 2003 12:20 am 
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Location: Whitesboro,TX
Looks great!
Almost never water
Turns brown in August if you don't water - which I do not. Turns green in Oct and have to cut at least 2 times before winter sets in
fertilizer when I get around to it - mostly grass clippings and organic fertilizer maybe once a year if it is lucky but at least every other year.
We water trees not grass. We live in the country so we don't have tpo keep up with the "Jones's" Watering grass is wasteful and expensive. Like our pasture the grass has to make it on its own. I shouldn't say the above becaust I do put humates on pasture at least once a year.
I cut weeds for their contol with bush hog on tractor.
If nothing else I am organic - I forgot to mention that cows do fertilize a lot.
Robert D Bard


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 Post subject: Bermuda grass
PostPosted: Fri Aug 08, 2003 4:35 pm 
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Location: Ft Worth-I30&Hulen
My backyard has a good stand of bermuda. Previous owner did not chemically enhance the backyard. As for fertilizer<, we used to rescue dogs and had up to 22 dogs at one time. Scooped the poop everyday and applied hydrated lime for smell control. Used nematodes and granulated sulphur for ticks and fleas. Applied dry mollasses and Garrett Juice to help
build microorginisms. Rarely water. So thick it chokes most weeds. I mow it at the highest setting on my mower. Only have 5 dogs now and the grass holds up very well except in the high traffic areas and where the dogs like to roll.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Sep 12, 2003 7:32 am 
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I do not like Bermuda grass at all. I have been trying to install herb gardens in my backyard and I can not seem to get the bermuda to die. It is incredibly invasive and about impossible to get rid of. I realize the best thing is to scrape the top few inches off, but how do you do this without ending up with an uneven ground? The soil is quite compacted, and it is difficult to move. :x
I just took over the yard last year during the process of moving in with the most wonderful man I now call my husband :D Previously, it was his grandmother's home. She was a gardener, but not organic. In the process of preparing the ground for beds, I have dug up scraps of carpet (about 25 square feet of it so far) and roofing shingles :( from underneath the bermuda. :roll: She must have put these down for pathways. Bermuda grew right over it. That is how invasive it can be! Imagine that! Something that will grow over roofing shingles. :shock:

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Sep 15, 2003 5:57 pm 
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organic 1
there are some suggestions to get rid of bermuda a little further down under the title Use of Vinegar. I used a large black plastic sheet laid over the area after I watered the area a lot. The heat and moisture killed the bermuda. Then lots of mulch and hand removal of invading grass from the rest of the yard has kept it out. I also put a steel border around the bed. My only problem was dallas grassand I don't know where that came from. I don't have it anywhere else.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Oct 13, 2003 10:01 pm 
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Location: Rowlett TX
If you LIKE to work in the yard I think Bermuda is the best thing going. The better cultivars, kept very short, chokes out weeds, has fabulous texture and color and is tough.

With a new business keeping my busy it got abused this summer - too tall, not enough care. I cut it very low every fall when the heat breaks and it looks awful for a week or two - but right after hacking it down I spread a LOT of bioform dry, milorganite and corn gluten meal for crabgrass control and 2 weeks later it is dark dark green and gorgeous.

Bermuda does like a lot of fertilizer - going organic with the above fertilizers 2-3 times/year and using a sharp mulching blade (I sharpen it with a hand grinder before every cutting) to return the clippigns to the turf has given me a putting green with nice loose soil in 2 years....

Now if I could kill nutgrass without chemical warfare agents I'd have nothing to do.


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 Post subject: Same here
PostPosted: Tue Oct 14, 2003 10:06 am 
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Quote:
Now if I could kill nutgrass without chemical warfare agents I'd have nothing to do.


I hear ya! Nutgrass is the only weed that really gives me a hard time. Anyone have any advice on how to organically control this nuisance in bermuda? I have been hand-weeding for months, but don't seem to be making any real headway.

Tom


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Oct 14, 2003 10:37 pm 
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Well, with Nutgrass i kinda sorta took the wimp way out finally. I have a real issue with the lawn services companies that spray MSMA indescriminantly in the neighborhood where myself, my kid and my parrot breathe on a regular basis. Arsenic just ain't air freshener.

Although this may be organic blasphemy I have gone to a compromise solution... I literally apint the msma onto the nutgrass with a small paintbrush and in small areas it kills it all very quickly - especially if you do it in hot weather without touching the Bermuda and causing it to yellow.

While that may offend those who like to go purely organic I am wondering... would that tiny bit of msma put directly onto the nutgrass cause problems? It would SEEM (ie, I am asking a question, not making a statement) that minute amounts, right where you want it, would have very nearly no impact.

Now here's the real question..... if I am anal enough to use a paintbrush is there a natural herbicide (or one that rapidly breaks down) that would also work well with less impact than MSMA?????????

Effort is not an issue - wasted effort is.... pulling nutgrass has not really worked and I have VERY thick 3/4" bermuda that chokes out everything BUT nutgrass......

FWIW - My thoughts on going organic are not purist but pragmatic - it generally works better and makes better logical sense - chemi's throw off a very nicely planned natural system.... on the other hand if there is a useful chemical that is superior for it's specified purpose I try to use it in a very carefully targeted manner...

All that to say - I am not looking for a philosophical debate on using something that WILL kill nutgrass... I am asking whether, from a practical standpoint, targeted application of a chemical like MSMA has much or any impact on the soil health etcetera....


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Oct 15, 2003 9:03 am 
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MSMA is some very bad stuff and it should be banned.
Just one thing I found on MSMA:
http://www.naplesnews.com/03/08/marco/d982692a.htm

When it comes to human health, arsenic is some of the nastiest stuff around.
The naturally occurring mineral can cause lung and liver cancer, diabetes, heart disease and other deadly ailments. But when it comes to keeping Florida's golf courses green, pristine and weed-free, a particular strain of arsenic-based herbicide is an essential tool….
The problem first caught the state's attention several years ago after local environmental inspectors in Miami-Dade County found elevated arsenic levels among 30 testing wells dug at five municipal golf courses, most of which were at least 30 years old. According to the Miami-Dade Department of Environmental Resources Management study, 37 percent of the shallow ground water wells exceeded the recommended arsenic levels of 50 parts per billion.
When those samples were compared to a more stringent, 10 parts per billion standard established by the federal Environmental Protection Agency and set to go into effect in 2006, the number of wells exceeding the standard increased to 76 percent.
In underground soils, 60 percent of the samples exceeded the state's residential clean-up target, with 42 percent exceeding the higher target for industrial sites.
The report, which relied on 1997 data but was only finalized in December, notes that private golf courses typically apply about twice as much arsenical herbicide as municipal courses.

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The Laws of Ecology:
"All things are interconnected. Everything goes somewhere. There's no such thing as a free lunch. Nature bats last." --Ernest Callenbach


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Oct 15, 2003 9:30 am 
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Hi Nadine,

Thanks for your response - that is exactly why I am hesitant to use it. I would imagine that a golf course would go through gallons of the stuff each year and the ChemLawn type companies must spray tons of it each year.

Definately not arguing that it is WIDELY overused in a very stupid and reckless manner.

My question, if anyone knows... is let's say you used one ounce of it, applied directly to nutgrass plants (ie, paintbrush/eyedropper) over the course of a year. the resulting amount of Arsenic would seem to be so minute as to not have an impact (that is a GUESS, not a statement).

Don't get me wrong here - I think the chemical companies are being allowed to destroy first, recall later and it is a shame.

My question isn't a challenge to the organic world, it is an honest question - is a tiny amount applied very specifically dangerous?

Part b of the question - since MSMA decomposes leaving arsenic behind (given that it has it's own little box on the periodic table I am sure it ain't gonna break down further) is there an herbicide that is very powerful - ie dab it on nutgrass and kill the plant root and all - that does break down into innocuous elements??????

I enjoy gardening organically, it makes sense, it is fun and it is better for our kids... believe me, I get that.

My question isn't whether MSMA would make a good mixer with a martini :-) it is

1. How much carefully and thoughtfully applied would measurably change the soil environment in the lawn.

2. Is there an equally effective compound that breaks down into inert elements in a reasonable period of time????

Please don't mistake my question for 'is organic better than chemical'. I think sometimes generalization hurts the overall concept of going organic. If someone is going to use a mostly organic program but uses some chemicals to control things that thrive in the artificial lawn ecosystem it would be nice if there was some hard infor on how much is too much. I can kill all of the nutgrass in my 150x150 lot with an ounce of MSMA each year while some would use a gallon to eliminate the same amount because they spray it all over.


Is that making any sense?

Better question is whether there is an absolute knockout herbicide that breaks down to inert elements in the soil if one is careful enough to tediously apply only to the targeted pest plant.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Oct 15, 2003 11:20 am 
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chuckfranke wrote:
My question...is

1. How much carefully and thoughtfully applied would measurably change the soil environment in the lawn.

2. Is there an equally effective compound that breaks down into inert elements in a reasonable period of time????

...If someone is going to use a mostly organic program but uses some chemicals to control things that thrive in the artificial lawn ecosystem it would be nice if there was some hard infor on how much is too much.


First of all, I do not believe an application of toxic substances of any kind “thoughtful”. I have heard reports that nutgrass may be killed with molasses just as or even more effectively than with MSMA. If MSMA would kill nutgrass, one might could use it then treat the area with Nor-It. But it does not work.
Second, molasses will speed up the microbial activity and thus burn and kill the nutgrass. It will do this with the desired turfgrass as well.
Furthermore, I do not believe in a "mostly organic" program. Either it is or it is not. Things work together in nature like a good balanced wheel. When a wrench is thrown into the works (MSMA in this case), the wheel looses balance. The results are not good. The good things present in an organic program are no longer able to function as they should. A heavy application of molasses does this as well, but the aftermath is not near as grim. In fact, the results of a heavy application of molasses are eventually beneficial.
Something else to try might be an application of potassium bicarbonate. If you try this, please let us know how it turns out. It seems sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) is reported to have killed crabgrass in a St. Augustine lawn. (Potassium is better for the soil than sodium).

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The Laws of Ecology:
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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Oct 15, 2003 8:37 pm 
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Thanks Nadine,

I am somewhat well versed in aquatic ecosystems having spent many years developing custom biological filtration systems based on various species of aerobic/anaerobic nitrifying bacteria and plants life to filter toxic compounds out of an aquatic ecosystem so I understand the foundations of your belief systems in this area. I've read most of those papers and written a few of them. So while I may find out that MSMA in the quantities mentioned would be damaging to the artificial bermuda lawn ecosystem I can assure you that I am not without thought.

I understand that your stance is one of principle and that you deem any addition of toxins to that artificial ecosystem a violation of your philosophical beliefs. I'll try to do a little research on this and will try the cures you suggested.

I would politely caution you that when you have a person who is learning organic gardening it is sometimes prudent to differentiate between a philosophical reason and a scientific one. A lawn, or a garden, or an aquarium etcetera is by it's very nature artificial and not as nature designed it.

I am assuming that you are using a variety of organic compounds such as Urea that you would not drink because they are quite toxic. Arsenic is clearly a very dangerous NATURALLY OCCURING compound that if used msut be used with tremendous care - but it does have it's own little square on the periodic table and God or mother nature or whomever you believe set up the ecosystem probably put it there for a reason. I have no idea what a typical PPB count on Arsenic in North Texas soil would be but will endeavor to find out and then calculate what the addition of one ounce of MSMA to a half acre would do to that count.

With all due respect - it can be a real turnoff to those changing to an organic program if those who teach the principles treat it as dogma rather than science. While you may deem the addition of any chemical product to be wrong (and you may well be correct - hard to say with out actual hard data) it is important sometimes to differentiate between a personal philosophy and an objective fact.

No disrespect intended and I hope that none was intended from you either - perhaps generalizations that the addition of any toxin is by definition not thoughtful is somewhat of an insulting and arrogant generalization. Obviously i have put some thought into the actual impact of what I asked about because I like to have a factual basis for my opinions rather than a philosophical one. if an ounce of MSMA per year would increase the naturally occuring arsenic level in the soil by 1% each year then heck yes, I would say that is bad. If it raises the level by .000001% per year then I would not be overly concerned because the impact over time would be so minute that it would fall within the margin of error in the testing process more than likely.

I get it ok? You believe in a 100% organic program and everything else is wrong - but please go easy with generalizing any viewpoint not completely in synch with yours as wrong. Objectively speaking if every homeowner and greenskeeper in Texas went 100% organic on their fertilization program (which we know works) it would clearly reduce significantly a large number of runoff problems and would measurably improve the water supply and soil quality - that's a fact, not a belief or opinion.

Yes, your response touched a nerve - I may be wrong on this one and if the facts bear that out I will be the first to say so. One thing I am quite certain of is that I don't know the answer because I don't have the facts to draw a conclusion from (which is why the question was asked). Solidly held beliefs make for good principle but sometimes they make for poor science - hence the importance of having the data to back up the opinion before denouncing another viewpoint.

If you know someone who would have the data I am asking about let me know -

To be clear - it is not, nor was it ever, to denounce an organic approach. Mine is not 100% organic and I do hope that eventually it will be. Meanwhile if I use a chemical I want to know exactly what's in it, what it breaks down into, and how it impacts the ecosystem where it is used as completely as possible and then let those facts form my opinion as to the goodness/badness of the chemical rather than starting from my philosophical beliefs and working backward to try to fit the facts to them.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Oct 16, 2003 1:24 am 
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8) I appreciate your input. I do hope that I was not too harsh in my wording. I can be quite passionate about that which I believe in and you are so good and so right to point out to me that this could easily have a negative impact. I will seek to get a more scientific based answer to your question. Again, I truly thank you for your response. Such are things that help us grow.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Oct 16, 2003 12:35 pm 
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chuckfranke wrote:
I am assuming that you are using a variety of organic compounds such as Urea that you would not drink because they are quite toxic. Arsenic is clearly a very dangerous NATURALLY OCCURING compound that if used msut be used with tremendous care - but it does have it's own little square on the periodic table and God or mother nature or whomever you believe set up the ecosystem probably put it there for a reason. I have no idea what a typical PPB count on Arsenic in North Texas soil would be but will endeavor to find out and then calculate what the addition of one ounce of MSMA to a half acre would do to that count.


If you are going to use a toxic and persisent agent, it certainly is laudable to do it in the most minimal and localized way possible. That said, urea occurs naturally in the body; Ar does not. I sort of doubt that urea in the ordinary exposure is carcinogenic or neurogenic, but arsenic surely is. Would you also equate arsenic to pure water? I am not as sanguine as you about the breakdown products of MSMA, particularly the carcinogenic cacodylic acid. I would not be surprised if the background levels of all arsenic variants is fairly high in N. Texas, given the years of applications of Ironite and arsenated cotton defoliants. I shouldn't take that as license to compound the problem. Even so, you miss a bit by thinking that the arsenic stays away from you. If it's in the lawn, it's in the ambient dust; if it's in the ambient dust, it's in your house; if it's in your house it's in you and your 9-year old. You like to walk barefoot among heavy metals? Why take that risk? You rightly speak of science, but it doesn't appear that you have much idea of what flora and fauna should exist naturally in your arguably artificial lawn. As such, how do you propose to determine whether your efforts are adversely impacting the system? The tact of judging those efforts by seeing whether they affect what is there now presupposes a more robust system than likely is present.

If you are willing to hand-apply the material and if your background is as you say it is, perhaps you might try applications of less toxic and less persistent materials before subsidizing China's arsenic production. If you insist on an impractical one-shot application approach, I might begin with something that should be familiar to you--osmolarity, perhaps in the form of a super-saturated salt solution. I might even progress up the ladder to something as hazardous as a fairly concentrated acid--after I've tried the less hazardous choices. A little R&D might be a good thing, and it just may be that proper lawn care might reduce your nut grass problem over time as the system moves back into a more natural balance. All in all, it seems that jumping directly to a highly toxic heavy metal compound to destroy another naturally occurring thing for mostly cosmetic purposes is a bit like taking up smoking to appear cool.

Wherever that nifty MSMA is made, its production leaves the surrounding and downstream ecosystems and people substantially worse off than things likely are in your patch of green. Part of the Natural Way is to take the load off of everyone, not only the end user's local setting. Finally, the current state of apparent knowledge often is a thin reed on which to rest an aggressive tactic. We don't know much about long range effects of many commonly accepted practices, mostly because they haven't been studied rigorously. That, of course, is a large flaw in the pesticide myth -- no look, no see, no apparent instant damage, no worries. Welcome to the Natural Way.

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Last edited by Enzyme11 on Fri Apr 16, 2004 3:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Oct 18, 2003 11:42 pm 
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Okay folks. I'm pulling moderator rank. If you want to discuss nutgrass, please do it under the heading of Nutgrass. Start a new thread, but I started this one to discuss bermuda grass.

I'll delete any future replies on this one that don't maintain the theme.

Cheers!!

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