March Lawn Care in Houston, TX

BirkdaleSteveFebruary 28, 2014

I've been struggling with various areas of my yard for well over a year now, and I finally found this fantastic forum - plenty of very knowledgeable and experienced people here!

I originally came across the forums when I was searching for help on how to switch from St. Augustine (Raleigh) grass to Bermuda. I have two large dogs that run throughout the back yard, and twice now my sod has failed to take root, so I'm trying Bermuda in stages in the back.

My question is almost two part: tomorrow starts the first weekend in March, when temperatures in the Houston area typically begin to rise. For those with St. Augustine grass, what do you normally do at this point in the year for your lawn? If my St. Augustine in my front yard needs some help (but not enough to call for any sod), what would you recommend?

I'm pretty sure that I can't do much with new Bermuda seed until soil temps stay above 70 deg., so I don't imagine there's much I can do for the back yard except for possibly the much-needed leveling project that I read about (link attached at bottom).

If I plan on seeding Bermuda in my backyard where patches of St. Augustine exist, would you recommend anything for the month of March? Perhaps something to kill off weeds before they really start to grow in the Spring?

Thanks to all for any help, advice, or links you provide - I greatly appreciate it.

Location: The Woodlands, TX (northern suburb of Houston)
Zone: 8 or 8b
Soil Analysis: (will be mailed off to Texas A&M this weekend)
Dogs: Active Golden Retrievers
Frustration Level with Lawn: Contemplating paving over everything with concrete.

Here is a link that might be useful: One of The Good Lawn Leveling Threads

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PKponder TX(7b)

I sprinkle alfalfa pellets and start watering a bit more often on my established Palmetto lawn. I'm rethinking the St Aug also with a big active dog. We'll see if it lasts through the summer.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2014 at 1:32PM
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If you don't mind me asking, do you have a large back yard? We have a small fenced in back yard, and our two golden retrievers have worn half of it down to bare dirt. Our friends further away from Houston have much larger back yards with large, active dogs and have no issues with their St Augustine grass. I'm quite jealous!

    Bookmark   March 1, 2014 at 7:20PM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

Alfalfa pellets at 20 pounds per 1,000 square feet for front and back. The St Augustine should spread about 5 feet in all directions in April and again in October. By that time you should be watering once per week. Fertilize all the St Augustine and none of the bare or damaged area. When you see runners, fertilize along those lines with alfalfa. You cannot overdo it with alfalfa pellets. Moisten them, let them swell up, let them dry out, and then brush or sweep them down into the turf. This process takes about 24 hours.

If your St Augustine is in full sun, then mildly active dogs should be no problem. Wildly active dogs will still be a problem. I have a Catahoula leopard puppy, and he's got my shady back yard very torn up.

How are you going to seed the back with dogs? Is there a plan for keeping them out of the mud? The seed needs to be kept moist with 3x per day watering.

You have time for this project, because the seed won't do well until May in Houston. The soil needs to be very warm for bermuda.

Would you consider sprigging the bermuda? Search this forum for the approach SimonR took for stolonizing bermuda. This, too, would require a plan to keep the dogs off the yard for several weeks.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2014 at 8:43PM
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Dchall, thanks!

To answer your question, yes - ill be barricading at least half of the yard (the sunniest portion) for the new bermuda. And you were absolutely correct - the full sun st Augustine didnt get nearly as damaged as the shaded areas.

Thanks for the help with the organic fertilizer - trying to find a place here within driving distance that has it.

When do you put out your pre emergent control (corn meal or corn gluten meal)? Or is that even necessary for your yard?

BTW, saw the photo of your front yard - looks amazing. Nicely done.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2014 at 11:06AM
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