Which type of Bermuda seed for my area?

Kevin13March 31, 2014

My existing Bermuda (not sure which type) yard is over run with weeds and I'm seeding this summer. Does anyone has a recommendation for which type of seed to use for my area and where to get it?

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I've been reading a ton of forums on here and wanted to mention a couple things that may be important. I use a regular mower, not a reel. I also have a pretty big yard, so I'd like to only mow it once every 7-8 days. I'd like to use seeds to plant. I don't mind spending money on the good stuff. I hope this helps someone make a recommendation. Thanks.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2014 at 4:20PM
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Riviera or Yukon would be some of the good stuff but it may already be to late to order from any of the seed company's. However i think that with either of these you may need to mow more often than you would like. Look around on Hancockseed dot com

    Bookmark   April 4, 2014 at 9:56PM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

Seed with a mixture of Yukon, Riviera, and Princess 77 at a rate of 3 pounds per 1,000 square feet. Best place to get seed happens to be in San Antonio. Douglass King Seed is inside Loop 410 where I-10 EAST meets it going toward Houston. They are closed on weekends, but their website is open at dkseeds.com.

Here are the general guidelines for bermuda as reinterpreted from The Bermuda Bible (Google it)

Every month during the growing season
Fertilize with a high N fertilizer

Every week during the growing season
Water a full inch, all at one time
Mulch mow 2x at about 2 inches high

    Bookmark   April 5, 2014 at 12:05PM
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Thank you for your reply. I really appreciate it. I hope you don't mind me picking your brain and asking a few more questions. I've read lots of forums to educate myself on bermuda grass and I’ve learned so much from helpful people like yourself. I've answered a lot of my own questions, but not all of them. I’m not 100% sold I want to kill everything and start over. I think I may try to follow tips from you guys and see if I can get my yard back without starting over.

Here is my situation and here is what I plan to do about it. Like I said, I live in San Antonio. Even within the city, there are different soil types. I live in Stone Oak, literally just a huge rock. There's very little to no native dirt. Most of the dirt was hauled in during construction. I only have to dig about 6 inches before hitting rock. Some places solid hard rock and some places softer rocky soil.

I live in the suburbs and bought the house after it sat on the market for a while so the lawn was overgrown with weeds. Bermuda was planted, not sure how or which type. I also have perennial rye grass that grows in about 50% of my front yard in clumps (none in the back yard). It has sprouted every Fall since I've lived there. I don't know if they planted it when they were selling the house or what. I haven't tried to get rid of it. I attached a picture of my front yard and have more if it would help.

My lawn is about 6,000 sq ft between the front (2,300) and back yard (3,700). I have some shade in the yard, but we planted flower beds under the trees, so that's not a huge concern. There's lots of shade on the sides of the house and there's no way bermuda will grow. I'm having erosions problems there and plan to put down some river rock. I've lived there for 4 years and tried lots of different things people have suggested, but nothing has worked to get my bermuda growing. I finally decided to do some research myself and learn as much as I can. I read the texas-weed Bermuda bible and have been following that as close as possible. I sent him a private message asking these same questions, but I’m not sure if he checks in very often.

I own a rotary mower. I scalped everything on the lowest setting last weekend (3/29). I know you guys recommend to bag the clippings, but I didn't have anything to do that so I skipped that step. I'm going to buy something that will catch the clippings for when I need to do that next time. Should I scalp again this weekend and pick up the clippings this time? I didn't put down a pre-emergent this year because I was planning to seed bermuda to thicken the grass.

I plan to gather some soil and submit a soil sample this weekend too. I went to the John Deer Landscape store, who happens to own Lesco (I didn’t realize this). They didn’t have the type recommended in the Bermuda bible, so I got the closest thing (#016481-007) 32-3-8 and it says “8.64% Slowly Available Urea Nitrogen from Polymer Coated Sulfur Coated Urea”. I’m assuming that means its slow release. I know y’all recommend 75% slow release, but this is all they had. They said they can special order next time, but I needed to put it down this weekend. Anyhow, I did the calculations and put down 1 pound of nitrogen per 1000 sq ft. I also purchased some 21-0-0 (#500787-007) for my subsequent fertilizations, again because that was the closet to the recommended 39-0-0. Again, I’ll do the calculations and make sure I get 1 lb of nitrogen/1000 ft.

I had a sprinkler system installed a couple years ago, so I'm good on watering. I do have a unique problem with watering though. As I mentioned, my soil isn't very deep, so it doesn't get saturated like most lawns. Also, since I live on a huge hill, my yard is sloped, so runoff may be a concern. In the past, I watered for 15 minutes (rotary sprinkler) every other day. I know you guys recommend once a week for longer and I'll try that and see if it works. I'll check for runoff and make sure that's not a problem. Once I get the bermuda established, I plan on leveling it with sand and purchasing a reel mower. This season, I just need to get it growing.

Here are my questions:

Considering my grass is thin and I have weed problems, should I bother putting down a compost top dressing? If so, when and how much? I know the soil sample results will probably answer this, but wanted your opinion too. Do you agree I should try to get my bermuda to fill in this season, or plant new seeds? Thank you for your seed recommendation. I'm guessing I have common bermuda right now and I know it can take over other strands. Is it ok to over seed with your recommendation, or did you assume I was starting from scratch? I considered killing everything and starting over. Mainly because I have rye grass in the front yard that keeps coming back. Plus, I wouldn’t have to worry about my common bermuda taking over the new stuff (assuming I have common Bermuda). But I have 2 kids that love playing in the back yard and if I do that it will be a long time before they're able to play in the yard. Not to mention it would be hard work. I do everything myself, so I'd like for that to be a last resort. But I'll do whatever you recommend. If you agree it’s ok to keep what I have and try to make that work, then is it too late to put down a pre-emergent?

I hope you can see I've put a lot of effort into doing the research myself and trying to figure things out. I'm just at a dead end and need professional help. I appreciate your time and thank you for everything you do for this community. I can see this being addictive and me mowing my grass every 3 days in retirement. I'm excited to get my yard looking nice.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2014 at 10:04AM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

Wish I had asked for a picture earlier. You have too much shade for bermuda. That is the root cause of all your issues. You can plant more seed and it might come in, but it will thin back out again. The only grass that will work in your shade is St Augustine. Fortunately you don't have to do much to put St Augustine in there. If you want to spend a lot of money, just buy enough pallets of St Aug to cover the area. If you don't want to spend a lot of money and you don't have an immediate need for an excellent looking lawn, you can put in a few pieces of St Aug at $1.50 per piece. If you treat the St Aug nice it will overrun all the bermuda by the end of 2015 growing season. Let me know if you decide to do that and I can help you nurse it in. Is your back yard in the shade, too?

Second problem I see is your tree is buried too deep in the soil and will die from bark rot. This can be fairly easy to fix by removing the soil until you see the tops of the roots where they flare out from the base of the trunk. If you don't want the tree to look like it is sitting in a hole, you can feather the soil out away to a distance of 5 to 10 feet. Hard to believe they could dig a hole deep enough to bury a tree too deep in your rocky soil.

You are preaching to the choir about your soil issues. Your soil is the same as everyone's, except yours might be a little better. My soil is white, crushed limestone except for the sand and a little topsoil I brought in. My yard was a complete washout when we got it with soil down 4-6 inches below the concrete walks. The best thing you can do to improve your soil is get the grass growing (not bermuda) and fertilize at least once a year with an organic fertilizer. My favorite is either corn meal or alfalfa pellets (rabbit chow). I live down by the Quarry Market, but you are closer to my favorite source for those materials, Mummie's on 281 North.

If you decide to not fight a losing battle against Nature and go with St Augustine, let me know. You can forget about the Bermuda Bible, because St Aug is much different. If you go shopping for St Aug, you can probably get away with Floratam, the variety they want to sell, but normally it likes full sun, too. I've lost my notes on St Aug varieties, but there is one other that is good here and less susceptible to fungal issues. You can call the people at Shades of Green Nursery and ask them for a recommendation. They do not sell grass so they will give you an honest opinion. Tell them you are looking for a variety of St Augustine which grows well in shade.

Also if you get runoff before you can put an inch of water down, the first thing to try is baby shampoo. If you have been reading these forums, you must have come across my description about using that to improve the ability of soil to hold water and soften the soil. If not I can redo that for you.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2014 at 2:16PM
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We're certain that dormant stuff is bermuda? Shouldn't it have greened up by now?

    Bookmark   April 6, 2014 at 4:23PM
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That makes sense. I’ve done so much work and spent so much time and money trying to get my bermuda growing and shade was the problem the whole time. Aaahhh! I know it grows better in full sun, but I was hoping mine got enough sun to make it. I didn't realize it was that anti-shade. I took another picture further away so you could see the trees better (but it probably won’t change your mind). They’re not huge, but they may be some day. I also have a cluster of live oak in the backyard and I planted three Mexican white oaks a couple years ago. Probably similar shade to the front yard. Thanks for the tip on the tree being buried too deep. I didn’t think that was possible here! I’ve been surprised how well it does here. That thing has been growing like crazy since we moved in 4 years ago. But I’ll definitely take your advice and fix it. Thank you.

Well, if nothing else, I’m relieved to have an answer and know what I need to do. I’m not in any hurry to do this overnight and I like the idea of saving money, so nursing it in sounds like the plan for me. I really do appreciate your time and willingness to help. I’ve been reading for weeks on bermuda, guess it’s time to study up on St. Augustine. Ha! And yes, I have come across your description about using the baby shampoo. After I get things going I’ll lookout for run off and use that method if I need to.

I’m going to switch gears and start reading about St. Augustine. If you have any info you don’t mind passing along (and if it doesn’t take too much time) to help me nurse it in, it would be greatly appreciated.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2014 at 4:56PM
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For what it's worth, here's a picture of the backyard.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2014 at 4:57PM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

From a distance you can see more clearly where the trouble spots are. In the back, though, it should be doing better. Don't know if I mentioned it before but bermuda shouldn't ever need to be reseeded. All it needs is proper water, mowing, and fertilizing as has been outlined to you earlier. I would start taking care of the back yard as per the Bermuda Bible and patch in some St Aug in the shadiest part of the front.

Nurse the St Aug in front. Feed it with organics monthly and concentrate the water on it. Once it starts to spread, fertilize with organics along the runners but not off the runners. And mow the St Aug at your mower's highest setting. Stick with that and the St Aug will take over.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2014 at 1:19AM
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