Posts Tagged ‘Bermuda grass’

If you live in the central Texas region, or like me live in Temple, Texas, you likely live on soil not too well suited for much of any plants, or even grass; however, this does exclude those who’re in the “black lands”, you’re incredibly lucky. For the rest of us, I’ll briefly outline some basic care information here and what you should do to winterize your lawn to keep it green, healthy, and keep the weeds out. I am going to make the following assumptions before continuing

  • You have some form of Bermuda grass, likely Tiff-419 “builders grade” garbage
  • You’re in the Temple, or central Texas region, where you have sandstone about 4-6″ below topsoil
  • You’re planning on continuously re-seeding with a better form of Bermuda, like Pennington Texas Bermuda or Sahara

Analysis

Before you go spending hundreds, or rather thousands, of dollars on stuff for your lawn I strongly suggest you get soil samples and send them to you Texas A&M for soil analysis, click here for more information or call to get more information. If you’re a homeowner, use the “Urban and Homeowner soil sample information form”. The basic test is currently $10 for standard analysis for basic information on what fertilizer to use; however, I strongly advise against this cheap test as you’re looking for more comprehensive information. The region we live in has wildly varying organic matter levels and this is very important to understand because it’ll determine your top-dressing needs, which also includes adding compost and manures. Finally, because this soil sucks for drainage you’re going to want a texture analysis done, so you can get a detailed understanding of your soil and what methods you’ll need to employ to fix areas of low water intake and too high water retention. When you look at what I write above you can find what you’re looking for, but here are the key words:

  • Fertilizer recommendations
  • Organic Matter analysis
  • Top-dressing with compost and manure
  • Texture analysis

Thus, the test with everything you need is the #12, on the current SU17 form, which runs for $84/sample. This seems like a lot of money; however, quality fertilizer in a 35-50lb bag runs about $60, quality limestone in a 40lb bag runs about $15, and Ironite isn’t cheap, and without a soil analysis you’re going to be throwing money at your lawn at a problem you have no idea how to solve. This soil analysis is the key and this is why I am talking about it first because without it I really cannot help you much and you definitely cannot help yourself.

Tools

Alright, you can’t do anything without the proper tools and good tools are not cheap, and cheap tools are not good. I won’t get into too many details here about the items I am recommending, take them or leave them, but always buy quality as it’ll last longer.

  • Lawn Mowers:
    • I recommend Either the Honda Brand lawn mowers that have a bag/mulch option
    • I also recommend the Husqvarna lawn mowers, powered by a Honda mower if possible, with a bag/mulch option. These usually have cleaning ports and 4WD, big pluses!
  • Trimmers/Weed Eaters:
    • I recommend either the Stihl or Husqvarna brands only. I have the 4-stroke Husqvarna and love it!
  • Shovels:
    • Spaded shovel – Used for digging larger holes
    • Transfer shovel – Flat, used for transferring materials
    • Trench shovel with pointed edge – The Razor brand makes an excellent one, at Home Depot I think, I may be incorrect on the brand name
  • Mattock pick – You’ll need this for digging. The pointed edge is what you actually use to dig and the trench shovel is then used to remove the broken materials
  • Drop spreader – This is just my preference, you can use a broadcast spreader, I just prefer a drop
  • Rakes:
    • Standard Metal rake – No need to explain
  • Aerators:
    • Core Aerator – This will be a key in getting your yard where you want it, there are two types:
      • Manual – This is a device with two holes, pointed at the end, and you manually push with your foot to extract plugs. You should have one to do small areas every so often
      • Gas Powered – These run about $1200-$5000, so not cheap. However, you can rent them and I do recommend using one to save time and your back when you’re doing your entire yard, preparing for over-seeding and top-dressing. Average daily rental fee is between $50-90/day.
  • Soil pH tester – I recommend the: Kelway PHD Soil PH Meter. This is an excellent, and very accurate tool, to keep around to inspect your lawn’s pH levels. Helpful if you’re seeing an area with not so great growth or having some growth issues.
  • Pump sprayers:
    • 4-Gal backpack – Get a high quality model, you’ll want this for when you need to spray down larger amounts, saves time and your shoulders from carrying around 2-3 gallon handheld sprays for larger projects
    • 2-3 Gal Hand sprayer – Multiple ones for things like: Fertilizer, Weed Killers, and other chemical types you don’t want to mix. Only use for smaller/quick jobs

Materials

You’re going to need a variety of materials, this includes chemicals/fertilizers and other things like:

  • Fertilizers:
    • Synthetic fertilizers for help with starting a new lawn/fixing a bad lawn – This will vary on your soil analysis. Both pelleted and liquid fertilizers
    • Ironite – Once again, based on your soil analysis, will determine if your lawn needs iron, mine did.
    • Organic pelleted fertilizer – They sell this at Lowes, it is kind of pricey; however, I do recommend slowly coming off synthetics and moving to this
  • Compost/Manure/Soil:
    • Garden soil – Generally, garden soil is “thicker”, not really the best thing for a top-dressing operation, all depends on what is in it. You’ll want to buy this as-needed.
    • Top soil – This should be a “finer” product and is used for top-dressing a lawn, buy this as-needed
    • Compost – Very high quality compost only. Basically, it should be as “fine” a product as possible with no larger chunks in it. Buy as-needed
    • Double ground dairy cow manure – This is “the stuff” to use for top-dressing, in my humble opinion. This is usually mixed with top-soil and the manure is double ground, making it an incredible “fine” product that’ll spread evenly and nicely for top-dressing operations while also providing the benefits of adding nutrients for your lawn, requiring less and less synthetic fertilizers
  • Bug control:
    • Diatomaceous Earth – I place this along my entire border of my home, about 2-3 wide line, decent amount of height. This will kill anything which comes into contact with it and it is natural and safe
    • Grub/bug control pellets – I prefer the Bayer Advanced formula, I discovered a really bad infestation of grubs across my entire front lawn. Once I applied this, a week later they were all dead.
      • Bifenthrin – I have a dedicated sprayer for this and use it along all my exterior walls, crevices, shrubs/bushes, and my entire lawn. I apply this a little stronger than recommended and add a little 80/20 surfactant to the mix. This will control almost everything; however, I recommend incredible precaution when using this. Do not spray onto plants which attract pollinators, you can spray it below the plants on the ground to prevent/kill anything from crawling onto the plant, but be careful as we’re not targeting pollinating bugs, which are good for us. This has controlled: mosquitoes, flies, ants, roaches, and fleas.
  • Weed control:
    • Glyphostate 47-50% concentrated liquid – This is the key ingredient in “Round Up”, but you don’t have to buy Round up if you don’t want to, you have options. Even with Round Up, it is recommended to use an 80/20 surfactant when mixing this to ensure the product sticks to the weeds surface and can penetrate the leaf.
    • 80/20 surfactant – You’ll find you’re mixing this with a lot of different chemicals; however, you’ll mostly mix it with Glyphoste at a rate of 2oz per gallon. This helps break the surface tension of the water/chemical mix, which is critical in penetrating the weeds’ green surface. As a rule of thumb, the waxier the plant the higher the strength of surfactant you’ll need. A plant with a matte, non-shiny surface, won’t need as much.
    • 2,4D Amine – This is a general purpose weed control liquid you can use on Bermuda grass lawns to control a wide variety of weeds. When mixed and applied properly, to healthy Bermuda grass, this will not impact the grass.
  • Seeds:
    • Bermuda Grass – I prefer Pennington Texas Bermuda or Pennington Sahara Bermuda grass. Sahara is much more expensive, but if you go that route, you’ll be rewarded with a very drought tolerant grass. Their Texas Bermuda is almost as drought tolerant for a central Texas lawn, and much cheaper
    • Annual Rye-grass – This is your “cool season” grass. You’ll likely want to over-seed this in late October here in central Texas. I do recommend a slight top-dressing for this overseeding, but not entirely necessary, depending on your lawns’ needs.
  • Misc soil and lawn conditioning:
    • Pelleted lime – I recommend the Pennington brand pelleted lime as it works quickly and is very effective while not leaving a “slimy/milky” appearance. You will likely find the “Soil Doctor” brand which is very inexpensive; however, I have found this doesn’t do a great job at helping bust up compacted areas and is hit-or-miss with adjusting the soil pH levels. Sure, it is cheap, but you get what you pay for. If Pennington isn’t available, Sta-Green is also a great choice too.
  • Fish and Seaweed fertilizer – Yes, this stuff does stink, but I promise the benefits of the micro-nutrients and well worth it.
  • Human urine for fertilizer – We’ll discuss this later, but do some research on the topic, you’ll likely be amazed.

Winterizing

First, you need to understand Bermuda grass, of any type, is not a cool-season grass; however, it does grow back in the spring. This being said, during the cool months your lawn will look brown, some grass may die, and this leaves a very open environment for weeds to take over. Thus, to keep both a nice green lawn and maintain an environment which keeps out weeds, you will need to over-seed with Annual Rye-grass. Here is what you need to do for Winterizing your central Texas lawn:

  1. Mow your Bermuda grass to about 1.5-2″ – I highly recommend you bag it so you don’t have to work harder, later.
  2. De-thatch your entire lawn – I would use a gas-powered de-thatcher as this is incredibly hard work.
  3. Core aerate your lawn – The plugs which come up are likely going to be a lot of clay/sandstone plugs REMOVE ALL OF THE PLUGS, DO NOT LEAVE THEM ON YOUR LAWN
  4. Top-dress your lawn – Generally, a 1/8th – 1/4th” thick top-dressing is all you need, but you can take this moment to fill in low spots. Since this is winter, and if you can find double-ground dairy cow manure, I would use that over typical top-soil if available/affordable.
  5. Over-seed – Set your spreader to the appropriate setting for over-seeding and spread your seed
  6. Fertilize – Based on your soil analysis and the recommendations of the Annual Rye-grass seed you have chosen, spread your fertilizers.
  7. Rake over entire yard – You want to ensure the seed is no greater than 1/4th” below the surface. You can take the back end of the rake and just drag it over the lawn a few times, this will ensure good coverage.
  8. Ensure your lawn stays moist – You’ll likely want to water about 3-times per day, do not over-water as this can cause root-rot and soil/nutrient erosion
  9. Use Straw or compost over the top – If you want to ensure optimal moisture retention, lower your water consumption, and provide additional, natural, nutrients to your lawn you can place either high quality compost or straw over the newly over-seeded lawn. For either of these, do not spread it on so it entirely covers everything, you’ll rob the seed and grass of sunlight and not keep in too much moisture, which can introduce mold and fungus, screwing everything up. You’ll just want a very light/thin coating on the top, not you don’t want it to provide 100% coverage. I’d say you should still see about 60% of your original surface.

Allow the seeds to germinate, root, and sprig to a point where you can mow, remember, you don’t want to disturb the surface area so excessive walking, and also mowing, while it is growing can disturb the process. Follow the recommendations on the bag of seed you have chosen to use. Once established you’ll want to dial back your watering to appropriate times/frequency.

 

More to come later as I update this…