Help me win this lawn war..!

beachav8rJanuary 12, 2013

Hello! I'm looking for some assistance, but there is some back-story and I'm afraid it is lengthy (sorry!). I moved into our home here outside of Charlotte, NC a few years ago having never owned a single family home. I had always lived in condos or apartments with landscapers hired through the HOA to do all the outside work.

Short story is - I love our home and I love working outside chopping wood, mowing grass, and all of that stuff. Some I'm not adverse to spending time and effort on something. Being a new home owner, I had to buy all the lawncare stuff from a riding mower, to aerator, dethatcher, etc.. Again, I really enjoy doing all the work. When we first moved in, the law was terrible. We have two acres of property, of which about one acre is lawn/grass. Upon moving in, much of the lawn was just red clay. The soil is fairly rocky with a lot of large rocks too. The only section of grass that was consistently good was where the pool filter backwash drained into the lawn combined with the septic drain field.

So - I worked hard that first year or so and got the lawn looking pretty darn good. Here is a pic of part of it last winter:

http://www.mudspike.com/war11.jpg

So then in the spring I had a really bad outbreak of what I believe is dalisgrass. At first I started pulling it to get it from the root, and I pulled a ton of it out of the yard, but I couldn't keep up with it. I did some research and found out that my local store was still carrying a product with MSMA in it. Bought a tow behind sprayer and coated the lawn and it really damaged my lawn. Turns out I had mixed it wrong, using a tablespoon per 5 gallons instead of a teaspoon. Coupled with the summer heat - it really did a number on my lawn. Most of the grass survived, but despite the double dose the dalisgrass didn't really seem to be hurt as much as the lawn (tall fescue). It was painful to see the relatively lush grass go bad.

Perhaps due to the damaged state, another problem reared its head - at the downslope part of my lawn another type of grass started to spread and work its way up the slope. It appears to be Bermuda grass I would guess. It has long stringy runners that can go for four or five feet and no matter how many I pulled up by hand, they just kept marching on. It was smothering out the remaining fescue.

* Note - I have learned in my rapid lawn education that I had been cutting my lawn too short. I now cut at 4" to promote taller grass and drown out the weeds at the dirt level.

So by early this fall, I felt I had to do something because nearly half of the lawn was being taken over by the Bermuda. I went with the nuclear option and it does seem to have worked. I took my dethatcher, and basically tore out all of the lawn section where the Bermuda was growing. I can't tell you how satisfying it was to rip all of that out and I had a mountain of Bermuda grass as tall as me off in the woods when I was done. So that left basically red clay, although I know that Bermuda (rhizomes?) are probably still down there lurking and waiting to spring back up this spring.

Here is a photo of the area after I had dethatched it down to the dirt and reseeded it with tall fescue:

http://www.mudspike.com/war10.jpg

I was happy to get the seed growing and the grass is probably about two inches long now before it went semi-dormant for the winter. I say "semi dormant" because it has been unseasonably warm here in Charlotte this winter (it was 74 today!). So here is where I need some advice. I have this relatively new grass down there that is looking pretty good, then last week I noticed Henbit (purple flowers) starting to grow down there. And some spotty clover.

This is what the lawn looks like today (Jan 12):

http://www.mudspike.com/war02.jpg

And this is the Henbit poking through:

http://www.mudspike.com/war03.jpg

Can I spray something down there or lay down some fertilizer this early to help control that? I worry that the new grass isn't tough enough to take it though. I do see we have some sub-freezing temperatures in line, and I'm sure we have many more weeks of that lined up and this warm stretch won't last.

On the plus side - the winter garden (another project we started last year) is going great!

http://www.mudspike.com/war04.jpg

My second question - I do know that I still have Bermuda down there on the fringes of where I tore out the stuff this late fall. I can see it and it even has a few green shoots here and there:

http://www.mudspike.com/war05.jpg

http://www.mudspike.com/war06.jpg

Here is a broader view of that segment of lawn. You can see the "furrows" where I had last drug the dethatcher and where the fescue really seeded well. The whitish stuff is the skeletons of the remaining Bermuda:

http://www.mudspike.com/war07.jpg

At what point this winter or spring can I treat the Bermuda - and is there a product I can spray on it that will kill the Bermuda, but not harm the relatively new fescue?

Interestingly - a few of the seeds that had not sprouted late in the fall recently decided to sprout in some other areas of the property..although I doubt they will survive coming freezes:

http://www.mudspike.com/war08.jpg

And this is the critter that started it all - the dalisgrass that is still around in the grass, although the MSMA did seem to put a bit of a damper on it. This stuff is obnoxious and I'd love to get rid of it (without having to pull it all). I have tried using a weed stick with Round Up in it to dab on little clumps of it, and it works OK, but 1 acre is a lot of work if I chase it down that way.

Is there such a product that will attack clover, dalisgrass, and stuff like Henbit yet leave the fescue relatively unscathed? If so - how early can I apply it? I *really* want to try to win this war this year. I love having a great looking lawn, and I don't mind working for it, but I feel like I've been throwing money at a problem that is consistently outfoxing me and draining my wallet at the same time. I've even called lawn professionals in the area, but the ones around here must not need the business because they NEVER return phonecalls or come to take a look and give me an estimate on what it would take to professionally weed control. (I'd still want to do the mowing and stuff..but if someone could treat this acre and make a real difference, I'd love it).

So there is my sad, sad story . I hope I can get some help - and I'll be very happy to share what has and hasn't worked with others here on the forum.

Regards,
BeachAV8R

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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

Here is your post with the pictures...

Hello! I'm looking for some assistance, but there is some back-story and I'm afraid it is lengthy (sorry!). I moved into our home here outside of Charlotte, NC a few years ago having never owned a single family home. I had always lived in condos or apartments with landscapers hired through the HOA to do all the outside work.

Short story is - I love our home and I love working outside chopping wood, mowing grass, and all of that stuff. Some I'm not adverse to spending time and effort on something. Being a new home owner, I had to buy all the lawncare stuff from a riding mower, to aerator, dethatcher, etc.. Again, I really enjoy doing all the work. When we first moved in, the law was terrible. We have two acres of property, of which about one acre is lawn/grass. Upon moving in, much of the lawn was just red clay. The soil is fairly rocky with a lot of large rocks too. The only section of grass that was consistently good was where the pool filter backwash drained into the lawn combined with the septic drain field.

So - I worked hard that first year or so and got the lawn looking pretty darn good. Here is a pic of part of it last winter:

So then in the spring I had a really bad outbreak of what I believe is dalisgrass. At first I started pulling it to get it from the root, and I pulled a ton of it out of the yard, but I couldn't keep up with it. I did some research and found out that my local store was still carrying a product with MSMA in it. Bought a tow behind sprayer and coated the lawn and it really damaged my lawn. Turns out I had mixed it wrong, using a tablespoon per 5 gallons instead of a teaspoon. Coupled with the summer heat - it really did a number on my lawn. Most of the grass survived, but despite the double dose the dalisgrass didn't really seem to be hurt as much as the lawn (tall fescue). It was painful to see the relatively lush grass go bad.

Perhaps due to the damaged state, another problem reared its head - at the downslope part of my lawn another type of grass started to spread and work its way up the slope. It appears to be Bermuda grass I would guess. It has long stringy runners that can go for four or five feet and no matter how many I pulled up by hand, they just kept marching on. It was smothering out the remaining fescue.

* Note - I have learned in my rapid lawn education that I had been cutting my lawn too short. I now cut at 4" to promote taller grass and drown out the weeds at the dirt level.

So by early this fall, I felt I had to do something because nearly half of the lawn was being taken over by the Bermuda. I went with the nuclear option and it does seem to have worked. I took my dethatcher, and basically tore out all of the lawn section where the Bermuda was growing. I can't tell you how satisfying it was to rip all of that out and I had a mountain of Bermuda grass as tall as me off in the woods when I was done. So that left basically red clay, although I know that Bermuda (rhizomes?) are probably still down there lurking and waiting to spring back up this spring.

Here is a photo of the area after I had dethatched it down to the dirt and reseeded it with tall fescue:

I was happy to get the seed growing and the grass is probably about two inches long now before it went semi-dormant for the winter. I say "semi dormant" because it has been unseasonably warm here in Charlotte this winter (it was 74 today!). So here is where I need some advice. I have this relatively new grass down there that is looking pretty good, then last week I noticed Henbit (purple flowers) starting to grow down there. And some spotty clover.

This is what the lawn looks like today (Jan 12):

And this is the Henbit poking through:

Can I spray something down there or lay down some fertilizer this early to help control that? I worry that the new grass isn't tough enough to take it though. I do see we have some sub-freezing temperatures in line, and I'm sure we have many more weeks of that lined up and this warm stretch won't last.

On the plus side - the winter garden (another project we started last year) is going great!

My second question - I do know that I still have Bermuda down there on the fringes of where I tore out the stuff this late fall. I can see it and it even has a few green shoots here and there:

Here is a broader view of that segment of lawn. You can see the "furrows" where I had last drug the dethatcher and where the fescue really seeded well. The whitish stuff is the skeletons of the remaining Bermuda:

At what point this winter or spring can I treat the Bermuda - and is there a product I can spray on it that will kill the Bermuda, but not harm the relatively new fescue?

Interestingly - a few of the seeds that had not sprouted late in the fall recently decided to sprout in some other areas of the property..although I doubt they will survive coming freezes:

And this is the critter that started it all - the dalisgrass that is still around in the grass, although the MSMA did seem to put a bit of a damper on it. This stuff is obnoxious and I'd love to get rid of it (without having to pull it all). I have tried using a weed stick with Round Up in it to dab on little clumps of it, and it works OK, but 1 acre is a lot of work if I chase it down that way.

Is there such a product that will attack clover, dalisgrass, and stuff like Henbit yet leave the fescue relatively unscathed? If so - how early can I apply it? I *really* want to try to win this war this year. I love having a great looking lawn, and I don't mind working for it, but I feel like I've been throwing money at a problem that is consistently outfoxing me and draining my wallet at the same time. I've even called lawn professionals in the area, but the ones around here must not need the business because they NEVER return phonecalls or come to take a look and give me an estimate on what it would take to professionally weed control. (I'd still want to do the mowing and stuff..but if someone could treat this acre and make a real difference, I'd love it).

So there is my sad, sad story . I hope I can get some help - and I'll be very happy to share what has and hasn't worked with others here on the forum.

Regards,
BeachAV8R

This post was edited by dchall_san_antonio on Wed, Jan 16, 13 at 15:46

    Bookmark   January 16, 2013 at 3:33PM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

Henbit is one of the easiest weeds to pull. Try it and see if you think you can get the whole yard. You don't have to get it all at one time.

Your bermuda skeletons are alive.

I do not believe there is a product that will kill bermuda and leave everything else behind.

I'm not sure I know anyone who owns his own aerator and certainly not a dethatcher. Those are usually rented. Not only that but I'm on a campaign to make aerators obsolete. People usually use them to soften hard soil. Well they don't work that great for that job, but a simple application of shampoo (at least 3 ounces per 1,000 square feet) will do it after the second app.

You can discourage the bermuda by mowing the fescue at 4 inches all summer. Then in late August, you can spray the bermuda with RoundUp, twice, a week apart. That should kill it out. Then reseed with your fescue in September.

    Bookmark   January 16, 2013 at 3:54PM
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