Seeding options for Central Florida

Op999(9)March 27, 2012

Hi all -- Much like last year I will try to seed my front yard here in Orlando, FL (with Bermuda; bought some high-end variety that unfortunately has yet to yield results). Unlike last year, however, I'm hoping that starting earlier will give better results.

Here's the thing: my yard is covered in crabgrass. Last year I put Roundup on everthing, checked soil levels (fine), and planted the seeds. Much to my chagrin, however, the end result was new crabgrass, and a touch of Bermuda.

So, to avoid a repeat of last year? Any suggestions?

One thing I was thinking was that, since it's still not too hot here, I could plant rye (or cool-weather seeds) for the time being, and then seed with Bermuda. My reasoning is that the rye would prevent the crabgrass from growing while giving Bermuda a chance to grow. (Since Bermuda is the more aggressive of the two, I wouldn't see it getting chocked out.)

Am I on to something here, or is this just a waste of time?

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grasshole

About the past seeding. How high did you mow? How did you fertilize? How did you water?

The rye would likely shade out a lot. The way it would hinder crabgrass germination, it may also hinder the Bermuda germination. I see your theory, though. Others will have more insight on its success or failure.

You probably won't have an award winning lawn the first season. Gotta start somewhere. Crabgrass is EASY to deal with once you get a little Bermuda established.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2012 at 11:19AM
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Op999(9)

Well the mowing wasn't an issue because by the time the lawn grew tall enough to cut, it turned out they were all crabgrass.

I watered the seeds twice a day, for 1-15 days, and added a starter lawn fertilizer (the more popular one). I believe I did all of this in May, when it's rather warm here in Central Florida. Now it's 65-85F, and dry (unfortunately).

I do have a few Bermudagrass seeds that managed to grow during the year, and those are about 2-3 inches tall now. I have begun to at least yank the surrounding CG, in hope that it will spread.

I was also debating to power rake now and add more seed (I have way too much CG thatch to pull by hand). I'm just hoping that it doesn't turn to a repeat of last year.

At this point I'm just hoping to have an OK lawn to where the folks at the community association get off my back. Last year I kept the CG because when it was fully grown, hey, it was green and thick =)

    Bookmark   March 27, 2012 at 11:28AM
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john_in_sc

A couple things here that I would point out.... Bermuda can be a pain to get going from seed initially... It can take a LONG time to get germination and decent growth... Starting from sod can be much easier... even if you only sod your lot in stripes (So you only buy 1/2 to 1/3 the amount for full coverage).... It will spread to fill in pretty quickly.

First - your watering schedule....

Your goal is to keep the top of the seed bed moist.. To that end - you may need to water 5-7 times a day, especially through Florida's HOT weather.... You only need to wet down the soil, though - so maybe only 10-15 minutes each time.

Next... you need to keep doing this until your Bermuda is germinated and growing.... Not until you have passed X days...

Then.. Freshly germinated Bermuda can be hard to spot - it is REALLY fine and teeny... kinda like teeny green hairs...

But... On what to do with all the dead grass clippings... My vote is to just leave it. I have gotten far better germination with a thin layer of grass clippings than on bare dirt. Scalp your lawn to the lowest setting on the mower - and leave the clippings, then spread your seed... The seed will do just fine - and the clippings will help keep the seed bed moist. Just make sure you do use starter fertilizer...

Anyway - you may well have more Bermuda than you think you do... Initially, it's really depressing - because the lawn looks like it's just bare dirt with a greenish shadow.... but as you fertilize and mow low - you will likely find that it's there... and it will spread....

Thanks

    Bookmark   March 27, 2012 at 1:41PM
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grasshole

And when you see the crabgrass pop up again, because it inevitably will, keep hammering away at the plan. Mow low, fertilize monthly with a pound of nitrogen per 1000, and water when need.

That'll keep conditions in bermuda's favor.

You can kill the crabgrass later and then start a pre emergent regimen.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2012 at 2:08PM
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Op999(9)

Hmmm...never thought about striping the yard with sod. Since that would cut significantly on sod costs, I may just consider it.

Think I should still power rake the yard? Or add pre-emergents? (I think at this point whatever Bermuda is going to grow from last year's seeds is already out, or close enough.) Pre-emergents would not affect the sod, would it?

And I was actually being conservative with the watering schedule. I do believe I was out there 5 times a day. I remember looking like I went to the beach with a brown tan. Wish I had been instead!

I still was hoping that the Riviera bermuda would emerge. It was supposed to be frost-proof, lush, and more drought resistant. It wasn't cheap for the seed. But I suppose I will have to settle for standard bermuda.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2012 at 3:15PM
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