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 Post subject: Help me help my yard.
PostPosted: Fri Mar 12, 2010 7:47 am 
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Joined: Fri Mar 12, 2010 6:47 am
Posts: 3
Location: Dallas,TEXAS
OK, I am a new member, just this morning, and my motivation here is that my yard is a mess. Beds are fine, my wife and I work on those fairly regularly. However, my bermuda yard is becoming overrun with clover and broadleaf weeds. Clover has mostly moved in the areas that aren't covered as well by the automatic sprinkler system. My yard is sloped and faces south, is partially covered by Bartlett Pear where it is starting to become bare with the exception of the clover and weeds. The remainder of the year is the original bermuda blown hydro-mulch I believe, if that is even the term. I am wanting to stay away from the chemicals, but I don't know if I need to just start over, or if I can save what I have and improve the areas that need help. I know this is most likely a very elementary question for most of you, but I wait until it is too late every year to do something about this, but I was just voted into my HOA, so I have to make a good impression this year. Someone help me here, PLEASE!!!!!!!!!!!!


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 12, 2010 10:07 am 
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Joined: Tue Oct 20, 2009 12:22 pm
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Location: Frisco, Tejas
LOL So first thing first: Bermuda lawns look like hell in March, the Sun rises in the East and that's just life.

When we bought our house 3 years ago we had the worst lawn on the block - scraggly bermuda with a ton of weeds and we bought around this time of year.

So... Here's what I did and would do:

1. Go get a gallon of the 20% Acetic acid vinegar from your local organic shop. Lowes has this in their organic section. Use a tank sprayer to spot treat the broadleaf stuff in your yard (including clover) BEFORE the Bermuda greens up (like now, hurry).

2. Mow low low low! Use the string trimmer too if you have to but take it down close to the ground. If you bag it, save it for the compost pile.

3. You'll want to spread some good organic fertilizer and you want to use some good soil, compost or the bagged composted manure from the store to level things out. Dips and holes make it hard to mow uniformly later. For a cheap, easy fertilizer in the lawn I like Milorganite (Lowes, Home Depot, Elsewhere) or the Gardenville 7-2-2. Milorganite has a lot of iron and will give you that DEEP dark green. It doesn't burn but it doesn't smell great at first.

4. Get a gallon of horticultural molasses: an ounce or two mixed with water and sprayed over the yard once per week for the next month will loosen the soil and get the fertilizer "digesting" so the plants can use it.


This is not as much work as it sounds like, I just killed your saturday basically but it's nice to get outside this time of year!

Next, if you have a lot of bare spots you will want some seed or plugs to fill it in but the way to get rid of weeds and have a perfect carpet of Bermuda is twofold.

1. Easy on the water! DO NOT sprinkle 15 minutes per day. Water it deeply WHEN IT IS DRY ONLY. This encourages deep roots and discourages disease

2. MOW MO! Don't mow it high once per week in April-June. Cut it LOW and keep it LOW even if that means twice per week. Every 3-4 days when it is growing well early in the year. This will make your lawn much more dense. If your grass is normally 4" high and you reach your hand in around the ground you'll see that there is an inch or so between grass plants. If you mow it down to 3/4" for a season then eventually there is no getting to the dirt - it grows so dense that it looks like carpet. In July and August you can take it up a bit once the temps get around 100 and stay there but take it back down in September. When you 'scalp' it, it looks like hell for a week or two but scalp, fertilize and water and you will have a great lawn deep into the fall.

One other thing I might try. There has been a lot of talk about a product called "THRIVE", not the one that's been around forever in the brown bottle but a new one - it inoculates your lawn with bacteria and fungus that are good for the lawn and help it feed. I've been experimenting with it this spring with good results.

If you want to drop by and chat sometime and see exactly what I do for different issues just PM me, always happy to help a newcomer figure this stuff out. Fortunately, it gets to be easier and LESS work intensive after a year because once everything is healthy, it pretty much figures out how to grow without much help :-)

Here's my yard this week... OK, the winter rye is cheating I know but this yard hasn't seen any chemicals since I bought the house three years ago.

Image


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 14, 2010 12:06 pm 
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Joined: Fri Mar 12, 2010 6:47 am
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Location: Dallas,TEXAS
Can't tell you how much I appreciate the advice. I will start putting it into practice today. I was hoping that I wasn't too late to make a change this year, but i am minorly encouraged now. Thanks again.


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 14, 2010 12:18 pm 
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Joined: Fri Mar 12, 2010 6:47 am
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Location: Dallas,TEXAS
One more quick thing, please. What type seed should I use for our bare areas? The soil there has become rather packed down so I thought i would break it up, till a bit before seeding. Should I bring in some soil following? I am not sure what kind of seed to use because most of the spots that are bare are partiallly shaded areas as well. Hey, thanks again for the advice. If you don't mind, I would like to keep in touch and perhaps let you know our progress every few weeks or so. Maybe send you a picture of our yard looking like yours one of these days.


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 14, 2010 8:37 pm 
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Joined: Tue Oct 20, 2009 12:22 pm
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Location: Frisco, Tejas
Sure thing - happy to help if I can.

Bermuda seed won't do very much until the soil heats up - like May.

In the next few weeks the stores will be getting bermuda plugs and Bermuda sod.

For bare spots that is just easier - break it up, add in some compost and natural fertiliver then put the sod or plugs down, sprinkle a little dirt over it and the water it in.

For shade it is a little tougher - I would like to see a picture of your lawn if possible. If you have heavy shade you can't have heavy Bermuda. Kinda like that whole peace and quiet versus wife deal (joke).

Let's see a photo and I can give you a slightly more intelligent opinion.

Ouch (wife just looked over choulder and b-tch slapped me.)


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 21, 2010 2:24 pm 
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Location: San Antonio,TEXAS
Sounds to me like your bare areas are in the shade. They are bare because bermuda doesn't grow in the shade. You'll need something else to go in there. One grass that does well in deep shade is called Shadow Turf. Call around to find it. It is kind of expensive to get going but now is the time to do it if you want grass in the shade. The other alternative is St Augustine. St Aug just does not look like bermuda and will invade it mercilessly. The look weedy together. Shadow Turf is a fine bladed zoysia and looks a lot like bermuda.

DO NOT TILL - EVER! ESPECIALLY IF YOU ARE GOING TO MOW LOW. I meant to shout, so I hope you heard me. There are many reasons why not to till but for turf, the overwhelming reason is the soil will settle back into a very lumpy/bumpy surface over the following three years. If you need more grass in your bare areas, go with sod of some kind. There are no good seeded grasses that do will in the south in shade.

Unless you have a low spot to fill, NEVER bring in more soil. I have pictures of a lawn where they brought in 1/4 inch of soil every year for ever. Currently at the high spot, it is 8 full inches above grade. It looks terrible and is very hard to water and mow. Well, here's the picture

Image

You can't see it very well in the picture but notice how you have to look over the grass to see the sidewalk to the right? You should be able to see the side walk all the way from edge to edge even in this side shot. Also notice in the distance how the grass and soil have covered the sidewalk. There is still concrete under there but the soil is so deep it supports grass. This is what it should look like.

Image

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 21, 2010 3:18 pm 
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Joined: Tue Oct 20, 2009 12:22 pm
Posts: 129
Location: Frisco, Tejas
Dave - what in God's name did those people bring in as fill? That soil looks like garbage! When needed I level things out a bit with compost - naturally it breaks down but my theory, based on nothing but observation, is that the worms come and get it and break the surrounding soil up enough that the area levels out on it's own.

Oh... and since today is the first day of spring, don't bother planting over the 8" of snow we got in North Texas today, lol.


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 26, 2010 9:57 am 
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Location: San Antonio,TEXAS
They just had local topsoil brought in a little bit at a time. It is in the Texas Panhandle. Pretty bad, huh? I talked to the owner about taking better care of it. I don't think she really cares. It's a rental. I considered renting it just to get the lawn in shape, but I had a pretty good deal living in a hotel.

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