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PostPosted: Wed Oct 29, 2014 6:10 pm 
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Location: Dallas,TEXAS
I USED to have a beautiful lawn. The yard has consistently compacted a little worse each year no matter how much aerating has been done...or watering. What causes this phenomenon?

I need to make the soil better....richer. I keep visualizing a grader coming and removing at least a foot of the dirt and dumping midwestern black dirt full of earthworms.

So, short of that fantasy...what do I do? I put down new sod in several places this summer, and it is mostly dead now. A lawn guy came by and told me that I have grub worms. We went out and turned over random bare dirt places, and the dirt had those nasty things in it all over...everywhere the grass had died.

So...please help. I grew up in far West Texas, then I lived as an adult mostly in the Midwest. I am unfamiliar with how to take care of grass here in the DFW area. I have obviously failed. My grass looks terrible, and is very visible on my corner lot. I feel sorry for my neighbors.


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PostPosted: Sun Nov 23, 2014 9:52 am 
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Location: Dallas,Texas
What is your fertilization program? Good sunlight? What is your watering program?

Here is the Basic Organic Program: http://www.dirtdoctor.com/Organic-Program_vq1822.htm

Use a natural organic granular fertilizer like MaestroGro Texas Tea, GreenSense or Medina Growin' Green early Spring and late Fall, and Garrett Juice Pro monthly or every other month during the growing season.

Here is a great book if you want more information: http://www.dirtdoctor.com/Howard-Garret ... vq3220.htm


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 27, 2014 3:33 pm 
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Compaction is a misused term in lawn care. I believe the term is propagated by the lawn care industry so they can charge $250 to aerate your yard.

True compaction almost never happens in a homeowner's yard. True compaction is caused by mechanically driving the air out from between the soil particles while the soil is saturated with water. Typically this happens at the edge of a cattle tank where the animals sink into the soil while getting a drink. Ranchers call it "pugging" the soil. It also happens if a livestock producers allows the animals to linger in a pasture during a multi-day rainstorm event. The soil gets saturated and the animals just moving around on it drive the air out. It can also happen where heavy equipment is driven on saturated soil. Note that this rarely happens during home construction because home construction workers take every minor rain event to take the whole day off. IN the sports industry you will see football fields and golf courses becoming compacted because they allow play during the rain. As the players walk and drive carts over saturated soil it can become compacted.

Then what is the hard soil that occurs in a normal lawn? It is not true compaction. It is simply soil where the beneficial fungi populations have died out. The fungi in the soil send hyphae out into the soil which helps to separate the soil particles. As the hyphae intrude, the soil particles move farther apart allowing air and water to penetrate much easier. These fungi must have adequate moisture and air to survive. If you allow the soil to dry out for more than a few weeks at a time, you can lose your population of beneficial fungi. This is why, even though you have a drought tolerant grass like common bermuda, you should still continue deep watering every week or two during the hottest part of summer. But if you have allowed the soil fungi to die out, all is not lost. They are still there but they are not doing the job of keeping the soil particles separated.

All you have to do to revitalize the soil is to provide the proper environment for the fungi to thrive. Any kind of mulch you can apply in a quantity of more than 1/2 inch per 1,000 square feet (about 2 cubic yards per 1,000), will cause the environment you want. If you don't want to spend $100 per 1,000 square feet for mulch, you can get a similar effect by spraying the soil with a surfactant. The most popular surfactant for lawns is baby shampoo or any clear shampoo not containing conditioners. Baby shampoo is fairly universally available. Generic is fine. Spray at a rate of 3 ounces per 1,000 square feet (or 90 ml per 100 square meters if you're reading this from Canada or outside the US). Spray the soap and follow that up with one full inch of water (about 2.5 to 3 cm). Then the next week repeat the deep watering, and the following week, repeat the shampoo and water. If that does not soften your soil, you can freely repeat the shampoo treatment. You can test the depth of the soft soil using a screwdriver. Try poking it into the ground to see how hard it is to penetrate and how deep you can get it to go. If you can get to go 8 inches deep fairly easily, you're doing very well. At first you might not get it to go 1/4 inch. Another thing to know is that normal soil will be hard when it is dry and soft when it is moist. When soft it might be a little hard to walk on. But as the soil dries out between watering, by the next week or so it should be hard again. Once you get the soil softened, it should remain soft for years as long as you don't allow it to dry out completely for several weeks.

One of the lawn gurus tried overdosing his lawn by spraying 50 ounces of shampoo per 1,000 square feet, every week, and he saw no problems. Another lawn guru had been using shampoo for awhile attempting to get softer soil deeper and deeper. He had a tree drop a limb and it buried itself 27 inches into the soil. The other lawn forums are using the shampoo method with great success. Of course the huge benefit of shampoo is you can do it easily and save yourself $250 for core aeration.

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 27, 2014 3:42 pm 
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Part 2 - how to care for St Augustine

St Aug is the easiest grass to grow in my opinion. You should water it like all other grasses, deeply and infrequently. Deep means 1 inch all at one time. Measure 1 inch by timing how long it takes your sprinkler system to fill several cat food or tuna cans place around the yard. Infrequently means to water once per week when the temps are in the 90s, once every other week with temps in the 80s, once every 3 weeks with temps in the 70s, and once per month the rest of the cool months. By watering this way the grass will thrive but the weed seeds will never have enough moisture to sprout.

Mulch mow once per week at your mower's highest setting. Tall grass is much (MUCH) more drought resistant than short grass. (NOte this does not apply to bermuda). Plus tall St Aug will help prevent weeds from taking root.

Fertilize with organics any day of the year. If you really need a schedule, fertilize on Memorial Day, Labor Day, and Thanksgiving. My favorite organic is alfalfa pellets (rabbit chow) and no, it won't attract rabbits. Rabbits much prefer fresh food. Find alfalfa pellets at your local feed stores and apply at a rate of 20 pounds per 1,000 square feet. Make the Thanksgiving application a double dose to "winterize."

That's all there is to St Aug. If you follow those guidelines, you should have a weed free lawn.

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