New homeowner overwhelmed by lawn car

vanessa2010March 21, 2014

About a year and a half ago I purchased a home and was so excited to finally have a yard. Now I am just feeling overwhelmed.

The yard is pretty large but I don't mind a bit of hard work. I just want to see some results. I feel as if I am just spinning my wheels and getting nowhere. I have thought of using a yard service but I really really want to do it myself.

I was thinking of aerating the lawn but am not sure if that is the right thing. As I said the yard is large and on three levels (retaining walls) so I don't think I would be able to get the giant core aerator rental I saw at Home Depot up to the top levels. I can barely get my mower up there. That being said I think I would have to use a manual aerator. Again, I don't mind the hard work but would like if it showed some results. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. I really don't want to give up.

Background Information:

Location: Austin, TX

Grass type: no can I find out? Should I cut a sample and take it to a nursery?

Products used: so far just watering, cutting and pulling weeds. I don't even know where to begin with other products.

Watering: we are on water restrictions her in Austin. I am only allowed to water on Thursdays. I have a sprinkler system but to be honest I am not exactly sure how to program it. (Still working on figuring it out)

Established lawn?: yes, it was here when I moved in but it wasn't in great shape.

What height and how often do I mow: I think it's dormant now...well at least some of it. Most of it is browny color (like most of the lawns in the neighborhood) but I have these random patches of beautiful soft green grass. In the summer I mow about once a week.

Soil test: haven't don't this yet.

Problems: some bare patches, weeds.
Some areas of my yard are very rocky and hard soil.

Weeds: yes! Scattered throughout the yard. Not sure what kind. I am letting a few grow pretty big and plan to take it to the nursery for identification.

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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

Can you take pictures of the grass from a distance of 3 inches and post here? There are two types of typical lawn grasses in Austin: St Augustine (coarse bladed) and bermuda (fine bladed). They need opposite care programs, so it is important to know what you have to get you pointed in the right direction.

You don't need to aerate. There is an easy alternative. You likely don't need a soil test. Everyone's soil from Dallas to San Antonio is much the same. Limestone.

Since you are in Austin, can I assume you want to fertilize organically?

Once per week watering should be fine, but you have to get the entire lawn and it has to be watered deep.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2014 at 7:41PM
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Organic would be great but I am really open to anything.

How can I calculate how long I should water? And how deep does the water need to go? Should I water twice a day to allow the lawn to absorb water more deeply?

Here is a picture. There are patches that are lush and green. The majority brownish right now. I'm not sure if they are different types or not.

Thanks for the help.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2014 at 4:18PM
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I'm a new homeowner too, and have similar questions. Regarding watering, I received this great reply from user dchall_san_antonio:

"Mature lawns should be watered deeply and infrequently. Deeply means one full inch all at one time. Infrequently means no more than once per week in the hottest heat of summer (above 90 degrees F). If you never get that warm, then you should be able to water once every 2 or 3 weeks. This will allow the surface of the soil to dry out completely before you water again. It will also encourage deep roots which can withstand periods of no water.

You cannot go cold turkey into this. Start weaning now and by summer you should have it. Measure one inch using empty cat food or tuna cans placed around the yard. Time how long it takes to fill them up and use that time every time you water. If you get an inch of rain, then don't pile up more on top of that. If you get 1/4 inch of rain, then add the other 3/4. Watch the grass for signs of wilting. As soon as you see it wilt, water immediately. If you did not get a full 2 to 3 weeks, then water longer next time."

    Bookmark   April 7, 2014 at 3:40PM
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Looks like dormant St Augustine grass with crabgrass currently growing in it. But whatever the dormant one is, that's the one you want to care for. The green crabgrass is usually the one you don't want (unless you do like it, since it's green now without even your care and attention, right??) :-)

For the weeds: Take pictures of them now, and go to "Name that Plant" forum here on GW. Many can be identified even before they get too big...and in fact, you don't want them to get too big.

At the same time, you can probably ID several by yourself just bit a big of searching for common weeds in Texas or Central US, etc. Another way I've IDed weeds is to get one of those weed killer liquids and just search for pictures of the weeds that it mentions. You'll find some that are the ones in your yard.

It's good to read up on them anyway when you have time.

For your sprinkler, since it sounds like you may not have used it much, now is a good time to learn it and at least identify if there are any sprinkler heads that need to be fixed or replaced.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2014 at 2:34PM
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