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PostPosted: Tue Jun 15, 2010 7:41 pm 
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Location: Grapevine,TEXAS
At my home in Grapevine, TX, I had a healthy St Augustine lawn for 17 years---maintained organically--all of this changed last summer when first I was hit with chinch bugs which destroyed over half my lawn. Then I guess with the rains last fall and the cold winter, I have only 10% St Augustine left---the rest a mix of bare ground, weeds and patches of bermuda from the neighbors lawn. I'm committed to organics but have some questions.

I'd like recommendations if I should replant St Augustine again or something else. Zoysia has been offered as an option from two landscape companies. I've read a little but all that I can tell is it is more expensive. Is it more disease resistant? Does it require less water? Are there other better options.

Also, with this many weeds, is it better to have the top layer physically removed before replanting. I know one of the companies suggested treatment with Roundup---which I can't believe is safe for an entire lawn.

Finally, should I have the soil lightly tilled before planting?---some have recomended tilling with compost?

Thanks all


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 16, 2010 8:51 am 
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turforg wrote:
At my home in Grapevine, TX, I had a healthy St Augustine lawn for 17 years---maintained organically--all of this changed last summer when first I was hit with chinch bugs which destroyed over half my lawn. Then I guess with the rains last fall and the cold winter, I have only 10% St Augustine left---the rest a mix of bare ground, weeds and patches of bermuda from the neighbors lawn. I'm committed to organics but have some questions.

I'd like recommendations if I should replant St Augustine again or something else. Zoysia has been offered as an option from two landscape companies. I've read a little but all that I can tell is it is more expensive. Is it more disease resistant? Does it require less water? Are there other better options.

Also, with this many weeds, is it better to have the top layer physically removed before replanting. I know one of the companies suggested treatment with Roundup---which I can't believe is safe for an entire lawn.

Finally, should I have the soil lightly tilled before planting?---some have recomended tilling with compost?

Thanks all

____________________
Greetings from Flower Mound!

I am sure the forum is tired about reading my past turf problems. :cry: So I will just say I have had trouble with my St.Augustine too. The end of March, we replaced the St.Augustine in our backyard with Celebration Turf. It is a form of Bermuda but more shade tolerant. (If you want more info you can check out my posts on the 'lawn forum.'
I also listed a website. And I explained how we removed the old sod and how we prepared for the new sod.) We bought our sod from Brokers Quality Grass in Carrollton. It is less expensive than Zoysia and St.Augustine. And it is beautiful! It is almost looks green blue in color.

We still have St.Augustine in the front yard. We replaced the damaged sod. I am happy to say it is doing great.

I wish I could add a picture of my yard. I have tried but the file is too large. Please let me know if you need more info.

Good luck!

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Char Harris,
Flower Mound, TX


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 16, 2010 1:37 pm 
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I am by no means an expert, but I'll be more than happy to share what I've come to understand from reading and listening (until the real experts chime in!) :D

I recently attended a seminar given by Texas Agrilife Extension Service; and they said that, at least in Dallas, Bermuda and St. Augustine are the only lawns that work well.

I'm on the last leg of battling weeds, so I empathize. My novice opinion would be to remove the top layer (and the weed seeds), and put in corn gluten meal and till in compost. But on the Dirt Doctor site there is great information on how to prep a new lawn http://www.dirtdoctor.com/organic/garde ... n/id/1822/ Please avoid the chemical herbicides. A neighbor had their turf removed, treated with a chemical herbicide, and new sod laid; and I was so sad for them to see all the weeds in their lawn this past year. The corn gluten meal is a pre-emergent weed killer, when applied at the right times. Good lawn care practices (mowing, watering, fertilizing, and weeding) will help take care of any weeds that may pop up - there is so much good information on this site and forum to address the details. Things like diatomaceous earth and beneficial nematodes can take care of any pest problems - like chinch bugs, and organic anti-fungals like corn meal and milk can take care of the fungus that may have walloped your yard this spring (more details are on this forum).

So, hopefully, this is a little more info. that may be of help, in addition to what Char said! :wink:


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 20, 2010 10:53 pm 
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Location: San Antonio,TEXAS
I almost agree with O and O. Bermuda and St Aug are the two most popular turf grasses for a reason. They work in our soil and heat. Zoysia sounds good on the back of Parade magazine but the ads are wrong on a couple of key issues. Zoysia happens to be a very slow growing grass. When it becomes damaged, say from drought or disease (which it is prone to in our climate), it will leave a dead looking spot for the rest of the season at least. For this reason, all the zoysia lawns (except one) I've seen go in to my neighborhood have been converted to St Aug within a year of installation.

I'd go with St Aug. DO NOT TILL anything in. Yes, I realize that none of the new lawn guides agree with this. I don't know what research they have done but I've been reading forums since 2001. My informal experience reading thousands of messages about lawns indicates that tilling is the wrong thing to do unless they use a tractor tiller. Nobody uses a tractor tiller unless they own as sod farm. Everyone else uses a hand held tiller. Hand held tilling will result in an uneven surface once the soil settles. Settling after tilling takes 3 full years and almost always results in a bumpy lawn. Compost belongs on the surface of the soil. That is where Mother Nature applies it in the fall. And She does not till it in.

With that in mind I would rent a power rake and set it to rake at the soil surface. The rake will remove everything from the surface up leaving the roots and soil structure intact. Blow or rake all the fluffy stuff off and lay the sod right away. Don't buy the sod until you are ready to lay it. St Aug sod can dry out and die on the pallet if you don't apply it right away. Roll the sod down with a rented roller. This assures good contact with the underlying soil. Roots cannot grow through the air to knit into the soil.

Water the new sod like it was new seed. Water it for 10 minutes, 3x per day, for 2 weeks. Then start to back off. Ideally you want to water about an inch all at one time, once per week. My sprinkler and water pressure takes 7 hours to get an inch out. Your mileage and need for water will vary. Before a recent storm took out all the trees on my west side, my yard was using about 1/3 inch per week. I'm watching closely to see if that changes. The important point is you change watering habits as you move from new sod to established turf.

Once the new sod is down, apply ordinary corn meal as if the sod came in with a disease. Apply at 20 pounds per 1,000 square feet. Why? Because the sod was probably over fertilized with synthetics right before it was removed from the sod farm. Over fertilized turf is susceptible to disease and corn meal can cure it.

Hope this helps.

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 21, 2010 7:46 am 
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Location: Dallas, TX
Howard's favorite: http://www.dirtdoctor.com/organic/garden/view_question/id/572/


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 21, 2010 9:14 am 
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Location: San Antonio,TEXAS
I disagree somewhat with Howard's favorite. The seeded types of buffalo are horrible turfgrasses. They are thin, send up tall (ugly) seed heads, and are very prone to weed infestations. If you don't want a lawn that looks like the side of a road, then stay away from seeded varieties.

On the other hand, the Turffalo brand of buffalo is called Tech Turf. In fact the Turffalo ad is probably flashing on your screen right now. I've seen Tech Turf growing at 3/4 inches high, 2.5 inches, and 4 inches. It looked great every time. It has good color, exceptional density (for weed prevention), and no wiry seed heads. There is another variety of buff out of California that seems to be much like Tech Turf. I can't remember the name right now, sorry.

The only requirement for buffalo grass is you must have full sun. If you have fences, trees, shrubs, or buildings blocking the line of sight between the grass and the horizon, you will have bare spots. This means no northern exposure and no east or west exposure next to the house. Turffalo has another variety of zoysia called Shadow Turf that will blend well with Tech Turf.

Turffalo grass plugs are expensive at first, but you'll forget all about that once the grass comes in. I know I sound like an ad for Turffalo but I sincerely believe in their grasses. I was very skeptical about them until I visited a nursery in Lubbock and some homes where the nursery had done installations. Then I visited the Turffalo company in Abernathy, TX and got another tour of installed landscapes. It is awesome grass.

I have a little area of Shadow Turf in my lawn. Unfortunately I put it into a very small area that I cannot get a mower into. The idea was to let the grass grow unmowed. Well, Shadow Turf isn't that kind of grass. It needs to be mowed, and I'm not good enough with a weed eater to keep it looking right. Still, it does what they say. It spreads faster than most other zoysia varieties, so that is a plus, and it survives well in shade or sun. It does not like drought and tends to go from looking good to dead without much warning. But it comes back. It is very dense but does not compete well with bermuda. Bermuda goes dormant in a drought, so the Shadow Turf loses ground if you don't keep it watered weekly. It spreads far and wide, so I would not plant it adjacent to a flower bed unless you have a solid barrier running at least six inches deep to separate the grass from the bed.

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 21, 2010 1:18 pm 
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Boy, do I agree with Dchall on the tilling! The backyard area where the vegetable gardens were planted are now like the Rocky Mountains due to the use of a hand held tiller...

Hence, the expert! :D (But as a novice, it's nice to be on the right track and it's always great to learn new things!)


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 21, 2010 5:26 pm 
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Boy, do I agree with Dchall on the tilling! The backyard area where the vegetable gardens were planted are now like the Rocky Mountains due to the use of a hand held tiller...
_____________________

We used a power tiller to remove the St.Augustine in our backyard. It did take a few days and we were exhusted. We started the raking procedure and before we could finish we had an unexpected day of snow. I then called for help. The people who were going to lay the Celebration turf finished our project. They raked and removed the old
grass (it filled the bed of a truck. I thought we could just fill up a few garbage cans...OMG!). Then they leveled and rolled (many times) over the dirt. (Our soil was mixed with peat moss. It was nice and soft. The one thing I wish we had done was also mix in shale. I was really a 'newbie' then!). It was pacted down pretty good. Then we had a heavy rain. The sod arrived a few days later. (fresh cut sod...delivered, laid, rolled and watered immediately).

I guess time will tell if we made a mistake by using a tiller. I use a rotary push mower and as of last night the yard was still very level...no hills or valleys. The mower is set on the highest setting. After mowing, the grass is at 3 inches. It is so thick and soft. It grows pretty fast. I mow every two to three days. I have gone 4 days. It was so thick I had a hard time pushing the mower. Half way thru I had to ask my husband to take over. OH....we are not having rain and the temps are close to 100. I do a deep root watering once a week. Each zone runs 4 X 10 minutes. That is 3/4 of an inch of water. The grass shows no sign of drought. I have no weeds, no fungus. A few nutgrass. But there is no nut attached. I spread molasses once a month. I did CGM 2 times. I also have spread Texas Green Sand, used coffee grounds, lite layer of peat moss, composted manures and Alfalfa pellets. I did spray Turf Thrive when the sod was a few days old. And I have sprayed Garrett Juice Plus. I have read that it takes a year for your yard to reap the benefits of being Organic. We have lived here 15 years. I think my poor soil needs a lot of additivies. I am hopeful that I can taper off a bit next year. :roll:

I totally recommend Celebration Turf for this area. It is not expensive, not prone to disease, shade and drought tolerant and repairs quickly. :lol:

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Char Harris,
Flower Mound, TX


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 22, 2010 3:08 pm 
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Char,

Professionals were definitely not used for the backyard in the vegetable garden area. No rolling, no packing, no "nothing" - just letting nature take its course - and boy did it ever.

I am going to use Garrett Juice on the lawn, and I can't wait to get my hands on the coffee grounds (jumping up and down in anticipation)!

Onward and Upward :D


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 22, 2010 3:31 pm 
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I am going to use Garrett Juice on the lawn, and I can't wait to get my hands on the coffee grounds (jumping up and down in anticipation)!

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:lol: I hit the 'Mother Load' today at Starbucks! Unfortunately I am gaining weight. I stop by almost every day around 11am. I have already had my limit of coffee. I feel bad taking the grounds without buying something. They have wonderful pastries! I guess you know what I buy! :roll:

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Char Harris,
Flower Mound, TX


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 23, 2010 1:46 am 
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Joined: Wed Jun 23, 2010 1:32 am
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Hey there,

I experienced the same problem with St. Augustine. My lawn supplier then recommended me to plant and grow palmetto turf and it turned out to be much better than St, Augustine. It requires simple mowing procedures, less watering and fertilizing.

My Supplier is Green life Turf and you can view their provided info about palmetto here: http://www.greenlifeturf.com.au/palmetto_turf.html. You'll find there smart tips for mowing and fertilizing procedures.

Hope I was able to help and may you be able to grow a beautiful lawn yard.


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 23, 2010 3:55 pm 
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charharris wrote:
I am going to use Garrett Juice on the lawn, and I can't wait to get my hands on the coffee grounds (jumping up and down in anticipation)!

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:lol: I hit the 'Mother Load' today at Starbucks! Unfortunately I am gaining weight. I stop by almost every day around 11am. I have already had my limit of coffee. I feel bad taking the grounds without buying something. They have wonderful pastries! I guess you know what I buy! :roll:


You're funny! I heard coffee (the drink) makes wonderful plant food - that's a thought (and option to pastry)!


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 24, 2010 8:21 am 
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You're funny! I heard coffee (the drink) makes wonderful plant food - that's a thought (and option to pastry)!


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Good idea!

We decided to buy Starbucks Gift cards when ever we needed to give a 'gift.' BUT I will miss those pasteries! :D

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Char Harris,
Flower Mound, TX


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