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PostPosted: Sun Aug 15, 2004 1:51 pm 
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Location: Keller,TX
Hi,
Kate and I are building our new home in Keller in the area known as Crawford Farms. It has a soil type known as calichi, kalichi (spelling?). We want to use Bermuda grass for it's lush green appearance. Kate and I are both extemely sensitive to the chemical fertilizers. Can't stand them. So how can we maintain the lawn organically?
Thanks,
Mike


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 15, 2004 8:03 pm 
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Location: austin
Hi Mike,

Welcome!

Here are few quick suggestions:

1) you can get organic fertilizer for fall and spring (I use Ladybug brand in Austin, I'm not sure what is available in Keller.) What I use consists of sheep manure and other ingredients (but it doesn't stink)
2) topdress your lawn with compost each spring to reduce watering requirements
3) Spread corn gluten on the lawn in fall and spring, it keeps weed seeds from germinating
4) If you need to kill something, use a 20% vinegar solution instead of roundup.

Also, visit the home page to these forums:
http://www.dirtdoctor.com

Since you are new to all this, I'd recommend listening to Howard's radio show and buying one of his books.


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 18, 2004 11:10 pm 
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Hi Mike,
Your soil is not true caliche but nobody in Texas is going to argue with you about it. We know what you have.

Go to the top of this forum and read the FAQ on organic lawns. That should get you going. Someone else on this forum recently wrote in about his bermuda turf being scalped under 3 inches high. That should never happen. Be sure your landscaper understands that you want to mow your grass under 1 inch and the finish grading has to be spot-on to do that. Then the sod or seed needs to be rolled down to ensure contact with the underlying soil.

Invest in a reel mower. You should be able to get a deal on one about this time of year. For bermuda to look really nice, you need a reel. Rotaries will yank out the grass instead of cutting it at the low heights. One half inch is a good mowing height for the best looking and softest bermuda turf - like padded carpet.

Compost is something you should do at the very first when you start your lawn, whether it is sod or seed. After that it is completely optional. As long as you don't use any chemicals on the yard and it doesn't get soggy for more than 24 hours, you might never need compost again. Get your watering program set to INFREQUENT and DEEP when you water, and get your mowing right, and you should never need more compost. As long as you have good healthy microbes, adding more microbes is a waste of time and energy. Maximize the benefit of the microbes you have by using organic fertilizer.

I use corn meal, alfalfa pellets, and soy meal for my organic fertilizer. The branded fertilizers are good but cost 6x more than the raw materials. Texas Tee is the one I've seen have the most remarkable results.

Check out the FAQ at the top of this forum for more info about organic turf care.

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 Post subject: Burmuda and Reel Mowers?
PostPosted: Thu Aug 19, 2004 8:25 am 
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Joined: Thu Aug 19, 2004 8:14 am
Posts: 4
Location: Texas
I am having my builder put in a lawn and we truly want a "putting green" look. 1) - Is there a specific grass you recommend? 2) - In looking at Reel Mowers, there are several types to choose from. Would you recommend the 7 or 10 blade and there are some that cut very close 1/8"... is this overkill?

I appreciate the help.

Dchall_San_Antonio wrote:
Hi Mike,
Your soil is not true caliche but nobody in Texas is going to argue with you about it. We know what you have.

Go to the top of this forum and read the FAQ on organic lawns. That should get you going. Someone else on this forum recently wrote in about his bermuda turf being scalped under 3 inches high. That should never happen. Be sure your landscaper understands that you want to mow your grass under 1 inch and the finish grading has to be spot-on to do that. Then the sod or seed needs to be rolled down to ensure contact with the underlying soil.

Invest in a reel mower. You should be able to get a deal on one about this time of year. For bermuda to look really nice, you need a reel. Rotaries will yank out the grass instead of cutting it at the low heights. One half inch is a good mowing height for the best looking and softest bermuda turf - like padded carpet.

Compost is something you should do at the very first when you start your lawn, whether it is sod or seed. After that it is completely optional. As long as you don't use any chemicals on the yard and it doesn't get soggy for more than 24 hours, you might never need compost again. Get your watering program set to INFREQUENT and DEEP when you water, and get your mowing right, and you should never need more compost. As long as you have good healthy microbes, adding more microbes is a waste of time and energy. Maximize the benefit of the microbes you have by using organic fertilizer.

I use corn meal, alfalfa pellets, and soy meal for my organic fertilizer. The branded fertilizers are good but cost 6x more than the raw materials. Texas Tee is the one I've seen have the most remarkable results.

Check out the FAQ at the top of this forum for more info about organic turf care.


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 19, 2004 3:53 pm 
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bladd wrote:
I am having my builder put in a lawn and we truly want a "putting green" look. 1) - Is there a specific grass you recommend? 2) - In looking at Reel Mowers, there are several types to choose from. Would you recommend the 7 or 10 blade and there are some that cut very close 1/8"... is this overkill?


1/8" is overkill. But the optimum mowing height depends on the type of grass. Since mowing is a stress to the grass, pushing the envelope with mowing very short will require more care to overcome the mowing.

Lowes & sears has reel mowers 20 or 21" for $89-$99. What I've noticed though is it's very hard to find a 48" or so reel mower that you can tow with a lawn tractor so if you have a big area to mow figure on $1500+ for a huge 7 blade attachment. However, riding reel mowers are quite common in the UK.

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PostPosted: Sun Sep 05, 2004 8:02 am 
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Location: Keller,TX
Thanks to all for the replies, especially David Hall who has spiked my interest even more.
David, if I don't have caliche soil then what type is it? My wife and I have been heavily into gardening and lawns for a long time but all of our knowledge is from central New York where no one ever needs an auto sprinkler system (grin).
Thanks for the advice. I'll be sure to insist on the landscapers doing a proper job.
Mike


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 06, 2004 10:27 am 
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I'll try to find out more about the difference between true caliche and our mucky soil and get back to you.

For putting green grass, you need bent grass (probably not in Texas) or one of the bermuda hybrids made for putting greens. Some of these can be mowed to 1/16 inch, so a mower that mows to 1/8 would not be overkill. It depends on how much you want to put into it in terms of money and labor.

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 Post subject: We're Here!!
PostPosted: Fri Nov 12, 2004 8:51 pm 
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Location: Keller,TX
Kate and I moved into the new home in Keller two weeks ago. The new bermuda lawn looks like he--. I don't think they knew what they were doing when they laid it, and no, I didn't get the chance to supervise the installation. It's a long story. Bottom line is that the sod strips have huge gaps in places where the weeds are just growing merrily away. I found a Black and Decker electric mulching and have mowed it once already. Trust me, it needed it just because of the weeds.
The mower did a fabulous job. No sign of clippings at all.
So.... it's now Nov 12 as I write this. Is there anything that I should do this late in the year? I want to get a head start on the organics.
Thanks,
Mike


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 13, 2004 11:23 am 
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Fill the strips with sand/compost at 50:50. Let the grass grow in and it should be great. You will have to keep after the weeds until they are gone. Mow at the highest setting to discourage the weeds.

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PostPosted: Sat Nov 13, 2004 1:33 pm 
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Location: florida
a rotary mower will never get you a putting green look! as already stated get a good reel mower, it should cost about 3500.00 for a new self propelled bagging mower.

mow short and over seed with Poa not rye grass that you purchase at home depot. they probably used Common Bermuda which will never get you the results you want so start thinking about working in a dwarf variety!

also start considering your sanding schedule for spring and plan on sanding the lawn every 3 months for the first 2 years, if you truly want a sweet lawn!

MONEY should be NO object if you want golf course quality and if your a golfer your golf pro will get you their schedule of accomplishing things!

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 Post subject: thanks
PostPosted: Sun Nov 14, 2004 8:51 am 
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Location: Keller,TX
I'm more interested in a "fairway" look than putting green but I will take Scott and Dave's suggestions. I had thought of the sand but didn't think about the compost. I have ben dealing with a nursery here who carries all of the Dr.'s products. So Wish me luck.
Mike


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 03, 2004 5:27 pm 
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Okay here's what I think I know about caliche. True caliche is a naturally occurring concrete. Apparently a crude cement structure can be formed in volcanoes where there is limestone. When that cement dust falls to earth and gets wet, it hardens to form concrete with the local mineral or sand.

As a reminder of the confusing definitions, cement is the dusty stuff you mix with sand, rocks, and water to make concrete. Cement is made by super heating limestone dust. When this process goes on in nature, the cement is not nearly as pure as the man made stuff.

What we have in Texas is better called calcareous gumbo. That means a clayey limestone mix. What we have in Texas can be wetted whereas true caliche is more like your driveway only underground. Water does not penetrate it. Ours is tan or reddish in color, contains lots of crumbly material like small rocks, but does break apart with some coercion.

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 06, 2004 10:01 am 
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Location: florida
ca·li·che (k-lch)
(Chemistry, Geology, Agriculture)
n.
1.
a. A crude sodium nitrate occurring naturally in Chile, Peru, and the southwest United States, used as fertilizer.
b. See sodium nitrate.
2. See hardpan.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

[American Spanish, from Spanish, pebble in a brick, flake of lime, from cal, lime, from Latin calx, calc-, lime; see calx.]

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition copyright ©2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Updated in 2003. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Noun 1. caliche - crust or layer of hard subsoil encrusted with calcium-carbonate occurring in arid or semiarid regions
hardpan
dirt, soil - the part of the earth's surface consisting of humus and disintegrated rock
2. caliche - nitrate-bearing rock or gravel of the sodium nitrate deposits of Chile and Peru
rock, stone - material consisting of the aggregate of minerals like those making up the Earth's crust; "that mountain is solid rock"; "stone is abundant in New England and there are many quarries"

Legend: Synonyms Related Words Antonyms

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Dec 06, 2004 10:04 am 
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Location: florida
sodium nitrate
n.
A white crystalline compound, NaNO3, used in solid rocket propellants, in the manufacture of explosives and glass and pottery enamel, and as fertilizer. Also called caliche, Chile saltpeter, saltpeter, soda niter.

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 Post subject: Sodium nitrate
PostPosted: Mon Dec 06, 2004 10:29 am 
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Location: Keller,TX
Oh Great! Now if I barbeque my lot might explode!
Grin

Thanks to Scott in FL for the info. I can certainly attest to the density and hardness of the ground. It's a bi... to dig in.
Merry Christmas everyone.
Mike


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