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PostPosted: Sat May 02, 2009 1:37 pm 

Joined: Sat May 02, 2009 1:28 pm
Posts: 1
Location: San Antonio, TX
Hi. Here's my introduction. I've never really been much of a lawn guy, but decided this spring I'd try to change my ways. I've got a smallish yard and I'll describe my issues.

Front: Mix of shade and sun
Back: Mix of shade and sun + two 70lb dogs.
Both front and back can be push mowed in 20 minutes total.

For the first time ever today, I mowed using the grass catcher attachment and was stunned at how much it picks up. I can see that is now a *must* each time I mow.

My grass is patchy, and just doesn't feel good under my feet. I'd like my grass to be full and (somewhat) green, yet not have to spend a great deal of time (or water, due to water conservation) on it.

I'm in N Central San Antonio. What would be a good grass to go with? Anything hearty, drought resistant and traffic resistant?

I've read about many grasses in S.A., but nothing that definitively says which ones are the best "yard grasses" that meet my criteria above.

In summary, I don't mind mowing regularly, will always use the grass clipping catcher, don't want to water for the sake of watering when restrictions are right around the corner, will fertilize as necessary (that's another entire discussion to know when and what to use), and it needs to be "DOG" resistant to 4-legged traffic.

Is there an answer for me? :)

What about Kentucky Fescue? Will that work in SA TX?

Thank you for your time!


PostPosted: Sat May 02, 2009 9:56 pm 

Joined: Tue Mar 18, 2003 3:45 pm
Posts: 2884
Location: San Antonio,TEXAS
Hi Tim. Welcome to lawn care and to this forum.

There are a few things that can help you. First is to pick the right grass. St Augustine is the dominant grass here in SA as long as you water it every week or two. The SA water restrictions have never been so severe that watering was prohibited. If you are inclined to carry the water restrictions farther than the ordinances go, then St Augustine is not the grass for you. When St Aug dries up, it dies. Most other grasses will go dormant but not St Aug.

If you have any shade, most of the rest of the grasses will not work for you. You might try using Shadow Turf or Diamond zoysia for the shade. Those will blend into either bermuda or buffalo grass. Fescue might work but that will require continual watering in the SA heat. Bermuda would work in the sun but requires a lot more effort to make it feel good under your bare feet. St Aug is really an easy grass to grow as long as you water it.

With two dogs in the back yard you should start getting used to the idea of no grass at all. If you have not been to the dog park in McAlister Park, you should visit there and see what they have done with mulch. Enter the park from Starcrest (north of the airport) and the dog park is the first thing you come to. You can get free mulch if that helps you make that decision. There is no grass that can regrow as fast as two big dogs can tear it up.

Please do not use the grass catcher on your mower. If you remove that grass then you will have to replace that amount of nitrogen with other fertilizers. If you leave it in the grass, you will benefit from the mulching effect of the grass clippings and you will benefit from the decomposition of the clippings back into plant food.

Here are the basic 1-2-3 of 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.
  2. Mow at the highest 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 5 times per year using organic fertilizer. Which fertilizer you use is much less important than numbers 1 and 2 above. My schedule is simple to remember. I fertilize on the federal holidays. Starting on Washington's Birthday, then Memorial Day, 4th of July, Labor Day, and Thanksgiving. I generally use ordinary corn meal from the feed store. Cost is about $8 for a 50-pound bag this year. Rate is 10-20 pounds per 1,000 square feet.

Kentucky fescue. I have not heard of every single variety of grass but I think you are confusing Kentucky bluegrass and any of the turf-type tall fescues. Both of these types of grass will require more water in the summer heat but they can be grown. If this is a possibility, write back and I can fix you up with the most beautiful grass you've ever seen.

David Hall
Dirt Doctor Lawns Forum

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