Lawn Rehab with Bermuda: a few questions

NCSU_MSEMarch 28, 2012

My front yard is currently a mix of a few bermuda sprigs, fescue, and chickweed. I also have a low spot in the middle of the yard that turns into a swampy mess whenever it rains.

The back yard, which gets more shade, has decent fescue coverage. However, my neighbor has bermuda which has been slowly creeping into my yard.

What I'm wanting to do is start over with Yukon bermuda. My plan is as follows:

1. Scalp the yard & bag the clippings.

2. Hit everything with RoundUp.

3. Reapply RoundUp in a week.

4. Rototill the front yard.

5. Fix the low spot.

6. Put down starter fertilizer.

7. Seed, water, & wait.

Does this plan make sense? Are there any hurdles that I need to be aware of?

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Swap 1 and 2. Hit everything with roundup FIRST. THEN after it is dead, scalp the yard & bag the clippings.

You could even fertilize and water the weeds for a couple weeks like you are taking care of them before you spray roundup. The better the weeds are growing, the better the roundup will work.

Then after you scalp all the dead stuff, fertilize and water some more to tray and make more stuff grow that you can kill.

I might skip the tilling, too. Things never settle evenly, and a lumpy lawn isn't a lawn that you can cut low like bermuda needs. If you want the soil roughed up for better seed contact, rent a slit seeder and go over the lawn in several different direction.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2012 at 1:46PM
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Thanks for the tips! The main rationale behind tilling the front yard was to fix the low spot. Currently this location becomes a real mess and doesn't dry out for 2-3 days after any substantial rain. I've read a bit about leveling and while I'm not looking to have a baseball-like flat yard, I'd like to have a consistent slope (away from the house, of course) that helps with this drainage issue.

That said, if this is not the time to fix the low spot I'm more than willing to wait.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2012 at 5:30PM
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No, sir/ma'am. Now would definitely be the time.

I guess I don't get how tilling could help fix the low spot.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2012 at 5:51PM
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jdo053103(7b - NC)

you said your back is more shady...bermuda will not work if that is the case. you may want to keep the fescue there.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2012 at 6:02PM
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Thanks for the additional info.

grasshole, I just figured I'd till so that I could move some of the dirt from the high spot into the low spot. My guess is that I'll have to supplement with something like a topsoil/sand mix.

jdo, I have a pic below showing my yard. I probably misrepresented the amount of shade my backyard gets. The only spots that get a LOT of shade are right around the house. The oak tree to the west of the house provides some shade, but there is still bermuda creeping into that area.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2012 at 9:33AM
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Oh, I see. Sorry, I'm slow. LOL!

Have you priced someone to grade it with a box blade and a tractor?

    Bookmark   March 29, 2012 at 10:56AM
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brettn_10(4-5 Northern UT)

+1 on the box blade grading. If you till, you'll likely regret it. It was recommended to me several years ago when I was rehabbing my back lawn at an old house. I tried to level the soil before sod in the fall, but the next spring the results were terrible. So many lumps and bumps that even with a rotary mower at a high setting it didn't look good.

If you can't find or afford a box grader, then get a good flat nose shovel and try to scrape the high spot down to fill in the low spot. I guess if the high spot is really high, then using a tiller to break up a few inches at a time wouldn't be a disaster. I just wouldn't till any deeper than about 1" below the intended final grade. Remember to roll the loose soil as you go depending on how deep the low spot is.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2012 at 1:55PM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

If you are going to bring in more soil and level it yourself, you need a tool called a drag. A drag is something you drag behind you (who'da thought?). I made one from a 6x8 piece of chain link fence. The idea is to pull it across the soil. As it moves, it takes the tops off the high spots and puts the soil into the low spots. A drag will save you from doing a lot of raking and will look a lot better in the end. If you were looking for that baseball infield flat look, you would follow up the chain link drag with a carpet drag. Carpet drag is made of old carpet...who'da thought.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2012 at 3:43PM
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brettn_10(4-5 Northern UT)

Wait! Is that carpet drag soft side up or soft side down? I'm so confused. :D

    Bookmark   March 29, 2012 at 4:36PM
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OK this post is still fresh. Try this schedule.

1. Give the yard a good dose right now with 20-20-20 at a rate of 5lbs/1000 Ft2. Water it in real good.

2. Wait about a week for the Fertlizer to kick existing grass into high gear, then nuke it with Round Up Pro Granules mixed to 4% solution.

3. Wait a week and reapply RU Pro

4. Wait another week, scalp mow, bag and rake up debris. It may take a few passes with the mower.

5. Regrade or fill your low spots.

6. Rent a vertical mower aka Power rake and make a few passes at right angles. Do not sit it to cut real deep. What you are trying to do is loosen up the top 1/4 to 1/2 inch of soil, than rake smooth or drag it like suggested.

7. Broadcast seed.

8. Rent a water roller and roll the seed down. Do not rake it, roll it.

9. Start watering keeping the seed bed moist, not drenched and muddy. This will probable require several light applications per day.

  1. Keep the watering up until it looks fuzzy green then start backing off.

  2. Once the first grass blades reach about 1 to 1-1/4 inches start mowing. Warning make sure you use a sharp mower blade for the first couple of cutting. A dull blade will grab and tear the young seedlings right out of the ground because they have shallow roots, so make dang sure the blade is sharp and cuts, not tear.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2012 at 8:20PM
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