Watering Schedule, Bermuda Taking Over, any help appreciated!

mirz2000March 23, 2012

Zone: 6a (Kansas)

Grass type: fescue

Current lawn issues:

1. Lawn was fried last summer, the hottest summer on record for my area, and drought to boot.

2. Crabgrass (every year, no matter what I do).

3. Neighbor two doors down has Bermuda, and last year neglected her lawn, so it went to seed in a lot of our lots... now I have Bermuda creeping into my lawn.

I am interesting in the "water deep" technique I keep reading about here, and since I will have my sprinklers turned on next month, I thought it might be a nice time to give it a try. I have a few questions for those of you who have tried it.

1. Has your water bill been higher? Or do you end up using the same amount of water, just all at once during a given week?

2. How do I know if I have watered down to an inch (may be a silly question, but I am kind of a novice at lawncare).

3. How long will it take to see the effects?

4. Also... (possibly off topically), any suggestions for Bermuda creeping into a fescue lawn?? I bought some spray that kills Bermuda, but not fescue, but have been scared to use it.

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ZoysiaSod(6a/6b St.Lou TranZone)

Mirz2000 wrote:
> How do I know if I have watered down to an inch (may be a silly question, but I am kind of a novice at lawncare).

Set out 4 or 5 tuna cans in different spots on the lawn. The cans should be lying flat, not tilting. When the water inside the cans has climbed to 1 inch, you'll have watered the lawn 1 inch. A good rule of thumb is that one inch of water seeps roughly 6 inches into the ground.

Regarding your crabgrass question, the following thread may help (look for the February 1 posting at the end of the thread):

New lawn full of crabgrass

    Bookmark   March 23, 2012 at 12:50PM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

And if you are not already mowing at your mower's highest setting, it's time to change that for the warmer weather. Tall grass is much more drought tolerant and will help keep weeds out (including bermuda).

Bermuda is a sod forming grass and fescue is a bunch grass. Any time there is a thin area in the fescue, bermuda will spread in fast. Fescue is at a severe disadvantage against bermuda. Your only weapon against bermuda is grass height and density. Well I suppose you could call it a weapon but for bermuda to really do well, it needs fertilizer every month. It will be weakened under a fescue fertilizer program (Memorial Day, Labor Day, and Thanksgiving).

Next August you should get some more fescue seed and try to thicken up the turf. Annual reseeding in the fall is a fescue ritual. Learn to love it!!

Your water bill may change or not. Depends on how much you were watering before versus now. The 1-inch "rule" is more of a starting place than a hard and fast rule. In a normal summer I water 3/8 inch every week. Last summer; however, I watered 7/8 inch every week. The idea is to allow the soil surface to dry out completely between waterings. Weed seeds need water every day to sprout so you definitely don't want to get on that schedule. The longer you can go without watering, the fewer weeds you'll have. Of course you have to keep an eye on the real grass so it doesn't dry out. One more think you can do with fescue in the summer is to stop mowing for several weeks. That will really drive the bermuda crazy but the grass will use much less water when it is 9 inches long and flowing in the breeze. But be sure the weather is cooled off before you mow it back down to size.

The effects of deep and infrequent watering are subtle. Deeper roots are more drought resistant. Fewer weeds is something you might not notice but it is happening. Healthier soil microbes is completely invisible.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2012 at 1:29PM
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texas-weed(7A)

There is no watering schedule you can do that will kill off Bermuda. The more water you give Bermuda, the more aggressive Bermuda gets. Cut off the Water, and everything dies except Bermuda.

Before blaming your neighbors Bermuda keep in mind there is a very good chance it is a hybrid, and if it is a hybrid its seed is STERILE.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2012 at 2:01PM
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mirz2000

Thank you for the information, everyone. The sprinklers were turned on today, so we'll see how everything goes.

I did my first fertilizer this weekend (Milorganite), after pulling a bunch of crabgrass with a dandelion puller.

Dchall: I reseeded last fall, but there are still some bare spots (crazy summer that it was). I am thinking about putting in some sod in those spots, though also wondering if it may be too late, since it has been an unseasonably warm spring already. Of course, the sod stores tell me it is not too late... ;)

Texas Weed: I am pretty sure it is my neighbor's bermuda... she let it get insanely long last summer, and we all have some Bermuda coming up now. I suppose it could be coincidence, but who knows.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2012 at 2:46PM
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ZoysiaSod(6a/6b St.Lou TranZone)

Dchall_san_antonio wrote:
> One more think you can do with fescue in the summer is to stop mowing for several weeks. That will really drive the bermuda crazy but the grass will use much less water when it is 9 inches long and flowing in the breeze.

You know, I like having fescue and bluegrass that is tall, like the 9-plus inches you suggested above to Mirz2000. Most of my lawn is zoysia but I also keep an area devoted to fescue and bluegrass.

I recall in a different, older thread you mentioned you are growing some of your grass at your new home extra super tall.

Once a cool season grass reaches 9 inches and taller, though, how do you cut it with a mower without cutting into the stems? The stems grow higher as the blades also grow higher, so you won't just be cutting blade, but also stem. At least that's what I found when I allowed my fescue and Kentucky bluegrass to grow extra tall. Even on the walk-behind mower's highest wheel setting, I was cutting into the stems.

Of course, the books recommend cutting fescue and bluegrass to a height of 3 to 4 inches, and not removing more than a third at a time.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2012 at 5:29AM
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ZoysiaSod(6a/6b St.Lou TranZone)

Forgot to add: I'm guessing the answer to my question may be that riding mowers have a high-enough setting to allow you to cut a 9-inch tall grass to 6 inches, thus not removing more than a third at a time, and also probably not cutting into the stems.

But if Mirz2000, like me, doesn't use a riding mower because we have smaller lawns, it may be a very bad idea to allow his fescue to reach 9 inches, and then cut into its stems with a walk-behind mower.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2012 at 5:48AM
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jdo053103(7b - NC)

to me 9" is a little extreme. a lawn is to be enjoyed. my city or hoa would send me letters if my lawn got to 9". what about the mice, snakes or other things that would be in your lawn?

    Bookmark   March 27, 2012 at 8:18AM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

Yes an HOA will not let you do that, but if you could, that is an easy way to get through a drought. Mice would only come if they had a source of food. Same with snakes. At least that's what I'm hoping. I have not seen any rattlers at this house but I did see a big one when I first moved to a brief rental here.

I don't know of a mower that will mow down from 9 inches nicely. There would be some sacrifice there. That is why you can't mow in the summer heat. Have to wait until the heat breaks to come back from really tall grass. You could weed eat it down bit by bit every few days.

Sod can be applied any day of the year, so your sod dealer is right.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2012 at 8:41AM
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rager_w

"Texas Weed: I am pretty sure it is my neighbor's bermuda... she let it get insanely long last summer, and we all have some Bermuda coming up now. I suppose it could be coincidence, but who knows."

You are missing the point TW is making. Long or not, if it was hybrid Bermuda, the seeds are sterile and won't proliferate.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2012 at 8:43AM
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mirz2000

Rager: I just thought it was an odd coincidence that we all have Bermuda all of the sudden... so suppose I am challenging the notion that her Bermuda was sterile. Regardless, we have what we have, and it doesn't really matter the source at this point.

Dchall and Zoysia: yeah, my HOA does require that lawns be mowed regularly (and I do use a push mower). I try to keep it at the tallest setting, but I don't think 9 inches would fly with the HOA.

Thank you for the information on the sod! That is at least reassuring. I am hoping to put some down in the next week or so.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2012 at 12:21PM
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ZoysiaSod(6a/6b St.Lou TranZone)

Texas-Weed wrote:
> ....if it is a hybrid its seed is STERILE.

That's a very big "if."

There's also a good chance the neighbor doesn't have a hybrid bermuda. It could very well be Common Bermuda or an improved variety of common bermuda.

Common Bermuda and the improved varieties of Common Bermuda produce viable seeds. You can buy seeds for the many improved common varieties like Mohawk, Yuma, and Sonesta.

Here in the Transition Zone, most of my neighbors' lawns are zoysia and some have a fescue/bluegrass mixture. But there are a couple lawns in the neighborhood that are actually Bermuda (common bermuda I believe), and those 2 houses are located right next to each other, which makes you wonder about infection. Maybe one or both houses weren't bermuda a decade or two ago. They are the only 2 bermudas here.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2012 at 1:21PM
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texas-weed(7A)

Where in Zone 6A Kansas? Wichita or SE Kansas?

    Bookmark   March 27, 2012 at 3:08PM
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ZoysiaSod(6a/6b St.Lou TranZone)

Texas-Weed wrote:
Where in Zone 6A Kansas? Wichita or SE Kansas?

Texas-weed's question might be getting at which of the 4 climatic zones you're in. The USA's lower 48 states has 5 separate climatic zones of *4* different types:

Cool - humid (or wet)
Cool - arid (or dry)
Warm - humid
Warm - arid

The 4 Climatic Zones are different than the USDA Hardiness Zones. It's easy to confuse the two.

There's a north-south line that runs through Kansas just a wee west of Topeka that separates the Cool - Wet zone from the Cool - Dry zone. Even more importantly, just about all of Kansas is part of what's called the Transition Zone. Yay for the Transition Zone! I'm also in the Transition Zone.

Here are a couple web sites explaining more about the 4 Climatic Zones:

http://www.usna.usda.gov/Gardens/faqs/turfgrassfaq2.html

http://www.turf.uiuc.edu/turfSpecies/toursites/Site.html

The lines for the zones are drawn a little differently at the sites above.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2012 at 11:40PM
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