Mixing Bermuda grass with St Augustine for one continuous lawn

edd13chenMarch 20, 2014

First of all, this is my first post and I'm a total lawn care newbie, so please excuse any ignorance.

We just bought a house with a small backyard lawn that continuously flows into the two side lawns on each side of the house. The builder installed bermuda grass, which seems like the popular choice down here in Houston (St Augustine being the other popular one).

Problem is, the side lawns are essentially narrow walkways from the front yard to the back yard and are each in between the side of the house and our wooden fence, therefore it is heavily shaded. As you can probably guess, after 4 years of little care by the previous homeowner, the bermuda grass is pretty much mostly gone now, and the only vegetation there is a large variety of weeds. Thankfully, the weeds are keeping the dirt in place and prevent erosion, at least.

My question is, since Bermuda seems like a poor choice here on the side lawns with the shade, can I mix in another type of grass on the side lawns that handles shade better (such as St Augustine?), while maintaining my decent-looking front/back with Bermuda? Would there be any adverse cross-germination to be concerned about? If we really don't mind the aesthetics of the two looking very different, could I work towards maintaining the two grass types such that they coexist happily? I know the areas where one grass type meets the other would look really hideous, but we feel like this is truly the best low-cost option.

Again, I have no idea whether the different grass types require different maintenance, so if this is a dumb question, please excuse me. My wife and I just want to install something on the side lawns that's going to survive the low sunlight conditions, while keeping the bermuda in the front/back. It'd be great to still have grass on all sides of the house another 4 years from now.

Thanks in advance!

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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

St Aug should work and do exactly what you're suggesting...look ugly where they meet. St Augustine likes to be mowed at the mower's highest setting while bermuda likes to be mowed at the lowest setting. Bermuda likes monthly fertilizer while St Aug needs it only in the late spring and 2x in the fall. Both like the same deep and infrequent watering, but the side yards will probably need it even less often due to the shade and wind protection.

If you walk along the sides, St Aug will develop a path look very quickly. Would you consider using several inches of mulch along the sides instead of grass?

    Bookmark   March 20, 2014 at 11:53PM
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Thanks for the reply.

It's an interesting proposal to use mulch instead of grass where we will be stepping frequently, but my wife simply wants the green look of grass, so don't think that'll work. Would there be any other mostly-grass-and-still-mowable "pathway" solutions like this mulch approach? Thought about stepping stones in the middle of the grass, but I'm guessing that'll ruin my mower.

What about st Aug overtaking my existing Bermuda lawn in the long run, is that a real risk? I watched a pretty convincing youtube video of a landscaper that shows evidence of this. We still prefer the Bermuda look so hate to see it get killed off by SA, if that's even possible.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2014 at 11:58PM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

Oh yeah, St Aug will absolutely take over if you water weekly, mow it at the highest setting, and only fertilize 3x per year. I absolutely rely on that fact in my back yard. We got some bermuda in it a few years ago during a drought period when I was not home to water right. The St Aug died from the drought and common bermuda filled right in. Two years after that, with some TLC, it's all St Augustine again. Now we have a new puppy so all bets are off. One area will be mulched so he's not a muddy mess all summer, but we're hoping to keep the sunny area green with St Aug.

If you inset the stepping stones enough to keep them below the mower, then you will be good.

Many years ago my dog wore a path from our back deck to the garage. I had a local decking guy build a wooden walkway, deck style, following the curving dog path. It turned out beautiful, much better than we pictured at first, and lasted 15 years until we remodeled the yard again. The dog was very happy to walk on the wood, too, so everyone was happy.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2014 at 8:24PM
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