Plan for re-establishing my Bermuda in Texas

marcelosomersFebruary 24, 2013

I'm coming up on my third summer now in this house, and I'm working to get my lawn re-established. I've tried unsuccessfully for two seasons, and I've now started to do more research. I've read the lawn bermuda bible on here along with the A&M Horticulture document.

I live in the north-Dallas area, and wanted to check my plan to see if I'm going down the right path. My yard is mainly Bemuda (or weeds that look like it) with Feschue patches under an Oak Tree. Perennial Rye pops up around this time of year as well. I have many completely bare dirt areas to under Oak Trees.

Here's my plan:
This weekend: Apply a Spring Pre-Emergent (Scotts Turfbuilder which is 30-0-4) - I know I'm probably a few weekends late on this one
Mid- to Late-March: Apply Spring Fertilizer (Scotts TurfBuilder Plus2 Weed Control which is 28-1-4)
Every 4-6 weeks through August: Continue applying fertilizer (A Nitrogen-only or low phosphorous (21-3-6 or 15-0-15 - does anyone have a product recommendations for this?)
In late September, I'll apply a Fall Fertilizer and Pre-Emergent (Scotts Winterguard which is 26-2-12)

Does this seem like a reasonable fertilization plan? Should I be using this Scotts fertilizer or are there other better options? I just buy this at my local Home Depot.

Something I'm debating is if I should Aerate or Overseed. I've got a *very* patchy lawn, especially in the front. Are there any good guides to doing this? My main questions:
- Would I overseed Bermuda in the sunny spots and the Feschue under my Oak tree?
- Do I need to do anything to re-establish the grass in completely bare areas? I have parts that only have dirt and maybe some Rye will pop up around this time of year.

Thanks for any input you guys can give!

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rager_w

Was it originally sod? If it is 419, you would not want to overseed with common Bermuda. You need a soil test first and foremost. You may have to adjust thge pH which will take a while. Do you not have a JD Landscapes near by? That's where you find the Lesco 39-0-0, much preferred over the Scotts stuff.

I wouldn't bother with the pre-M at this point. Aerating and spreading compost would be beneficial.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2013 at 11:05AM
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    Bookmark   February 24, 2013 at 11:17AM
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grasshole

What about mowing and watering?

    Bookmark   February 24, 2013 at 1:26PM
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oceandweller(8B)

Sure your grass would be crazy green but with the heat I don't know about that nitrogen. I don't know much about grass but if your trying to repair a plant it mostly starts with the roots. I would get some worm casings or heavily composted manure ground fine and sprinkle that over the lawn myself, using any leftovers for divets.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2013 at 2:15PM
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apundt-tx(8 SW Austin)

A picture of your lawn would help out too.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2013 at 2:45AM
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marcelosomers

Thanks for the tips everyone. Based on what everyone has said, here's a few follow up questions & comments:

- Watering: I've got an irrigation system in the front, but not in the back. Right now I have it running every 4th day for 2 rounds of 15min each. I will probably do a test soon to see how much water that actually is. In the back yard, I just have an oscillating sprinkler and I'll water each area once or twice a week for 20min or so.
- Mowing: I actually just picked up a new mower back in December. The grass is mostly dormant right now, but my plan is to mow very short and bag for my first mow when it wakes up, and then keep it between 1"-1.5", and I won't bag the clippings.
- Soil Testing: How/where would I get this done? It sounds like this is my starting point
- Composting vs Fertilizing: I already put down the Pre-Emergent this past weekend, but if I were to compost, when should I do this, and how would it affect my fertilizing schedule?
- Should I aerate if I compost? If so, when would be the time to do it?

As for photos, here are the front and back yards. The back yard is actually established pretty well except for one area under my neighbor's tree that has nothing. You can see in the front yard there is a small patch of Fescue that's active right now but usually goes dormant in July/August. Most of the rest of the green are weeds or clovers that pop up around this time of the year.

Front Main:

Front Side:

Back:

This post was edited by marcelosomers on Thu, Feb 28, 13 at 15:40

    Bookmark   February 28, 2013 at 10:20AM
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RB56(7A)

im not sure about anyone else, but i cant see the pics

    Bookmark   February 28, 2013 at 3:11PM
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apundt-tx(8 SW Austin)

Pictures are there now they were not earlier today. How much shade does your yard get. I think your Bermuda is starving for sun.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2013 at 7:58PM
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marcelosomers

A good amount, especially during the summer. In the front, the only part that is more shaded is under the tree where you see the darker feschue and the brighter Ryegrass at this time of year.

In that first picture, the sun basically goes from the left side to the right side. It sets behind those trees in the distance, so it gets morning and afternoon sun.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2013 at 3:10PM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

For this time of year you are watering way too frequently. In fact for the hottest heat of July you are watering too frequently. Watering frequency ranges from once per month in the winter to once per week in the summer. In between times you will shift the frequency to get to those general times. The secret to getting that long duration is watering a full inch all at one time. And why would we do this? To keep weeds out. Weed seeds need continual moisture at the surface to germinate. If you withhold water and allow the surface of the soil to dry completely, the weed seeds can sit there for decades (or until Mother Nature intervenes) without sprouting.

The best soil test lab in the country for lawns is Logan Labs in Ohio. Their $20 routine test would cost you over $100 at TAMU to get the same information.

Compost is the most expensive thing you can put on your lawn. It has very little value and carries the possibility of smothering the grass due to over application. Instead of using compost, please try an organic fertilizer like alfalfa pellets (rabbit chow) or soy bean meal (which ever is cheaper at your local feed store). The application rate is 20 pounds per 1,000 square feet but if you accidentally double the rate, it will not hurt the lawn. These organic fertilizers have real protein in them and will do much more for your soil and grass than compost will. For the cost of delivered compost you can get 4-6 applications of alfalfa pellets.

If your soil is hard you can soften it by spraying with shampoo. Use only clear shampoo and spray at a rate of at least 3 ounces per 1,000 square feet. Again, if you accidentally double the rate, no harm. Apply and follow up with a full inch of irrigation to soak it in. Then repeat in 2 weeks. After the second app the soil should be soft every time you water and become hard again as it dries out. That is normal. The two apps will last until the next time your soil becomes extra dry. That is likely to be a year.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2013 at 7:30PM
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marcelosomers

Thanks for the input, dchall. So I'll go with organic fertilizer rather than the nitrogen only stuff. When/how often should I apply it? I was going to start the fertilizer in a few weeks, and continue applying it every 4-6 weeks. Does that hold true for the organic fertilizer you mentioned?

    Bookmark   March 9, 2013 at 12:47PM
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texas-weed(7A)

Dave pure organic on a Bermuda lawn?

    Bookmark   March 9, 2013 at 12:56PM
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