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PostPosted: Fri May 06, 2011 11:27 am 
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Joined: Thu Feb 07, 2008 5:37 pm
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Location: Mansfield,TEXAS
I'm just not getting the information I'm looking for, perhaps I'm not asking a good question. I'll try again. Last December we moved into our new home, built from scratch. A new sodded lawn was laid, it is Bermuda. I am in the DFW area. My concerns are one, getting the lawn established and two, getting the weeds out and looking nice. Other homes here, newer than mine, have a better lawn than I do, but was laid later. This sp[ring I spread organic fertilizer in the front and corn gluten in the back. It just is not getting green or growing as I'd expect. I water daily, grass and weeds. I have more weeds in my lawn than other new sodded yards. What am I doing wrong? I am new to organic products and losing my motivation to use them. The soil is dark black clay. The builders did not use much top soil. How do I treat weeds and how do I get the grass to grow and green up? Remember this lawn is not yet a season old. What products can I use on a new lawn to treat and kill common weeds?


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PostPosted: Fri May 06, 2011 4:42 pm 
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Location: Arlington, Texas
Sorry you haven't yet gotten the help you need.

Need a little more info.
Do you have full, or mostly full sun on your grass?
And how do you have your mower set? Low or high?
If somebody else mows, how are they doing it?

As to what you're doing wrong, first you must stop watering every day. What you are doing is giving the shallow-rooted plants (the weeds) the perfect conditions for crowding out your grass, and bermuda is very tough to crowd out. (I have a bunch of it, so I know! :shock: )

This watering regimen/info that follows is from "Dchall" and has worked marvelously for getting our lawn established. It is a quick primer on basic lawn care.

1. Water deeply and infrequently. Deeply means at least an hour in every zone, all at once. Infrequently means monthly during the cool months and no more than weekly during the hottest part of summer. If your grass looks dry before the month/week is up, water longer next time. Deep watering grows deep, drought resistant roots. Infrequent watering allows the top layer of soil to dry completely which kills off many shallow rooted weeds and prevents new (weed) seeds from germinating.
2. Mulch mow at the lowest setting on your mower. Most grasses are the most dense when mowed tall. Bermuda, centipede, and bent grasses are the most dense when mowed at the lowest setting on your mower. Dense grass shades out weeds and uses less water when tall. Dense grass feeds the deep roots you're developing in 1 above.
3. Fertilize regularly. I fertilize 4 times per year using organic fertilizer. Which fertilizer you use is much less important than numbers 1 and 2 above.

Everyone's sprinkler system is different. Mine puts out 1/8 inch of water per hour over a 900 square foot area. In the hottest part of summer it takes 7 hours (sometimes) to get enough water on the lawn. Usually I water for 3-4 hours. You can measure your water by putting out cans (like soup cans or tuna cans) and timing how long it takes to fill.

Watch your grass to see how long it takes to look wilty. When you see it wilting, water it right away. If it has not been a full week since you watered last, then water it longer this time. If you have runoff issues, those can be addressed.

One note from me: this sentence #1 above "Deeply means at least an hour in every zone, all at once." really gave me trouble. Maybe it's just me, but I thought I had to water my entire yard all at one time.

If you have a sprinkler system for your whole yard, this is not a problem. We do not have a sprinkler system, so I couldn't figure out how to water it all at once (without spending an entire day moving sprinklers around and watering by hand with the hose).

Then I had my epiphany! :lol: This sentence: "Deeply means at least an hour in every zone, all at once." means that when you water, give your yard the full amount of water all on the same day, or as quickly as possible (in my case), instead of giving the yard 1/4" today, 1/4" tomorrow, etc.

Make sense?

As to your question about products to treat weeds, the best thing you can do is water and mow properly. In the lawn care primer above, Dchall mentions "mulch mow"ing. If you mulch your grass cuttings back onto your yard, you are putting organic matter right back onto (and, as it breaks down, into) the soil.

It has been my experience (with proper watering, mulch mowing, and only 1 fertilization in almost 3 years) that bermuda establishes quickly and hangs on for dear life. :D

So hang in there. Organics really DO work! :wink:

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Cara
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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: Sun May 08, 2011 10:03 am 
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Joined: Thu Feb 07, 2008 5:37 pm
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Location: Mansfield,TEXAS
These are great comments and I appreciate the information.

The front of the house faces almost due south, back north, etc. No trees established yet so it is full sun all day except when the house shadow covers the lawn. Currently the mower is set on a low height, but I intend on increasing it to about 2 inches as the growth progresses.

I do mulch mowing, but at this time I also think I am getting weed seeds back to the lawn for growing. I pick as many and as often as I can in the front yard; my back yard is about 6000 sf. I’ve done a pretty good job picking in the front
.
I have solid black clay, not dirt; I don’t think I can get a deep watering, but sure would do it if I could. Do you still think deep watering is possible with a clay soil? I agree with your input about deep roots versus shallow, but I can’t get there from here; I don’t think. I hate to see water going down the sewer drain.

Again thanks for the information, I hope to get it right soon. I have issued a challenge to my friend, I am goning to win havving a better yard than him. I choose as many Texas native plants as I can to keep maintenance down.


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PostPosted: Sun May 08, 2011 6:18 pm 
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Joined: Fri Apr 10, 2009 1:58 pm
Posts: 144
Location: Arlington, Texas
That's good that you are mowing low, and mulching. You really shouldn't raise your mower, though. Bermuda grows dense the best when it's mowed low -- all the time. It's true that the weeds are also being mulched back down into the lawn, but I promise you, as you water properly and add organic matter to your soil (see below), the result will be dying weeds, spreading bermuda. :D

As to watering, do you have a sprinkler system? I'm guessing you do. What you should probably try is watering for a brief period and then, same day, water for a little bit longer, watching to see if you still have run off. Think in terms of having a hard, dry sponge. If you try to submerge it in water, it just pops out. Put a little bit of water on it and let that soak in then it is ready to absorb more water. (I hate water runoff, too :roll: )

I don't have experience with black clay but we have brown clay in several places in our yard that is so hard it feels like digging straight into rock. As we have continued to amend the soil with organic products, and to add compost to it, we are finding less and less clay. AND more and more worms (which is very good news for your whole organic yard).

Do you have the finances available to add a 1/4" layer of humate or compost to your yard? Even if it's just the front yard. Adding organic matter to your yard IS going to improve your soil (or clay). It will take time, but as you add organic matter -- including mulch mowing -- you will see your yard improve.

As to sun for your grass, bermuda on the south side should do just fine. I don't know how well it will do on the north. Hopefully somebody will join in who has experience with it.

As to your bet, are you supposed to have the better lawn this year?

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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 May 09, 2011 10:01 pm 
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Joined: Thu Feb 07, 2008 5:37 pm
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Location: Mansfield,TEXAS
I'll check the cost of compost for the fron yard; is is only about 1500 sf. This year is not a factor in the bet but next year I should be in the race. My friend realizes I cannot be competitive this year.

I do have a sprinkler system and can program to water several time a day. I'll start early about 5am then 8am and once in the evening close to sundown.

It is good to get advice aand help, I certainly thank you.


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PostPosted: Tue May 10, 2011 2:01 pm 
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Joined: Fri Apr 10, 2009 1:58 pm
Posts: 144
Location: Arlington, Texas
You might also consider this (from a Q&A on the Dirt Doctor radio broadcast):

My lawn is a year old, and I have worked hard to get it growing. It has responded well except that we have spots that start wilting and go brown if we do not water every other day. I have noticed when I water that the majority of the water runs off the yard. When I work my finger into the soil, it feels dry. I watched as the builder was creating other lawns in my neighborhood, and it seemed that the workers were putting mostly clay on the yard before they laid the sod. What can I do to help the soil hold more water? J.W., Keller

Answer: Builders commonly use very poor soil that should be changed into healthy soil. To jump-start the life in the soil, apply volcanic rock minerals or expanded shale. Then apply dry molasses at a rate of 30 pounds per 1,000 square feet of soil and drench problem areas with Garrett Juice.

Your sprinkler plan sounds good. I really hope it helps!

And you're most welcome. :D

_________________
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: Wed May 11, 2011 9:34 am 
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Joined: Sun Apr 11, 2010 6:39 pm
Posts: 71
Location: Dallas, TX
Love is right on.

My two cents:

Encourage turf thickness and depth: Don't raise the mower and mow every 4 to 5 days.

Choke out weeds: Mix in another grass variety or ground cover to fill any places that are mostly shade.

Water: Up to 1 inch or as long as possible until it runs off then don't water again until the clay dries and cracks open up and the grass tells you its time to water.

Feed: Amendments work best if they get down into the clay rather than sitting on top of it. Only apply top dressing or rock sands when the clay is dry with big cracks. If you can't get cracks, get a lawn company to come core-aerate then apply.


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PostPosted: Thu May 12, 2011 7:23 am 
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Location: Mansfield,TEXAS
Thanks for the reply; it all makes since to me and I'm turning off the water now except to water once a week or when needed.


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 06, 2011 11:21 pm 
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Location: San Antonio,TEXAS
Congratulations to those of you who have followed the advice here and had good results. The ideas presented are not mine. I am the messenger for thousands of voices over the past 10 years on lawn forums. The infrequent watering, proper mowing (low for bermuda), and fertilizing come from a LOT of experience.

Bermuda is a different grass. Under a synthetic chemical program, it can take a lot of 30-0-0 fertilizer once a month. Under an organic program it is very difficult to apply that much. If you applied 20 pounds of soy bean meal (very high protein) per 1,000 square feet every weekend, that would be a good start. Bermuda can take it all without damage, but you will have to decide how much this is a fun hobby and how much is an expensive chore. Bermuda is the hardest turf to keep looking very nice.

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 09, 2011 5:57 am 
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Joined: Thu Aug 12, 2004 3:00 am
Posts: 514
Location: Dallas,Texas
If you live in North Texas, the soil is drying out because of the severe drought - maybe down to 8 - 10 inches below the surface. You need to water more frequently - the drought is causing is a unique and extreme situation. Based upon your soil type, plants, direct sun, slope, irrigation system, etc., you may need to be watering every other day right now.

20 lb. per 1,000 sq. ft. means that you should evenly apply 20 lbs. of product over a 1,000 sq. ft. area.


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