Replacing bermuda with fescue

lassiter79June 13, 2009

Hello all, I am new to this forum and am seeking good advice about how to handle my problem.

We bought a home in Charlotte in Oct. 2007 with a lawn that had been converted to bermuda by a previous owner. It is the only yard in the neighborhood that has bermuda, and I am concerned primarily about curb appeal when we sell the house next spring/summer. Since the bermuda goes dormant in August and doesn't begin to peak until late May/June around here, the yard looks terrible most of the year! Especially since the neighbors on either side of me have fantastic fescue lawns...

So.... I'm pretty sure I want to convert the bermuda to fescue this fall.

The area I'm going to replace is between 1000-1300 square feet. The area is basically divided into 3 parts:

1. The main section borders the driveway, a sidewalk, a shrub bed (that is bordered with retaining wall block), and a mulch/garden bed (that is bordered with edging block) and about 30 feet of my neighbor's lawn. It has one newly-planted Japanese maple with edging block around it.

2. The second biggest area is an L-shape that borders already-established fescue, a fence, and the house/deck. There are a couple of established trees in the middle of the main part that are about 6-8' tall and one 7' tree on the side of the "L".

3. The smallest section is a thin strip bordering my neighbor's yard, a sidewalk, the driveway, and a mulched shrub bed/ rock walkway.

Based on some recommendations and some research, my initial plan is this:

1. Spray the bermuda with Roundup (or a commercial chemical) the first week of July.

2. Spray it again the first week of August.

3. During the first week or two of September, either till the dead bermuda or maybe get a gas powered sod cutter.

4. Level the turf with soil and raking/spreading.

5. Seed and fertilize. Water daily for 3 weeks, 15 minutes daily at 5am.

Thoughts, comments, suggestions? I have ****GOT**** to get this right because if the new lawn installation doesn't take or if the bermuda comes back it's going to kill my curb appeal for a possible market listing in March or April 2010.

Based on this information, does my plan sound like a good one? Would I be better off tilling or using a sod cutter? (I have cable, water, and electrical lines in 2 of the 3 affected parts of the yard).

All comments and suggestions are welcome! Thanks for any advice!

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Your screen name looks familiar, maybe I talked to you before...?

The are 3 effective ways to kill Bermudagrass:

1.- Roundup + tiller (you must fertilze and water bermuda before applying it) Grass needs to be happy and growing, not streesed out.

2.- Dig it out (labor intensive, but very effective) you must dig down and around to at least 12 inches.

3.- Soil Solarization (this method is very effective, but requires more knowledge and patience)

Are you sure you working with 1,300 sf of lawn to replace/covert? That sounds rather small for a yard. Did you measure the lawn yourself?

If in fact you're working with 1,300 sf, you are better off buying 2 or 3 pallets of Bluegrass or Fescue sod for $100 each and be done with it.

Below is a picture of soil solarization

Also, there's a link that explains soil solarization, please click on there.

Let me know if you have any other questions.

Here is a link that might be useful: Soil Solarization

    Bookmark   June 13, 2009 at 1:24PM
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1. Spray the bermuda with Roundup (or a commercial chemical) the first week of July.
2. Spray it again the first week of August.

NOPE! You need to mow it short now, lightly fertilize it, and water it. As soon as it's growing nicely and has a couple inches of fresh green, spray it with Roundup, very thoroughly, according to the package directions. Wait a couple of days, then mow it short and repeat the process.

It takes more than two applications to get the deep roots.

After that, you can mow it REALLy short, dethatch it (not a sod-cutter) and seed over the top if your lawn is level.

In the spring, hand dig any sprouts you see.

Here is a link that might be useful: How to kill Bermuda Grass

    Bookmark   June 13, 2009 at 9:14PM
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I would leave it. I am just outside of charlotte, and unless you have an irrigation system it is typically so hot and dry during the summer (except this spring) it is tough to keep a fescue lawn looking nice.

You can overseed the bermuda with rye grass in the fall to have a nice green lawn, but the work it would take to get rid of the bermuda may not be worth it??

But I would be hesitant to swich if you still want to without an irrigation system........

    Bookmark   June 16, 2009 at 2:55PM
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Good Luck is all I can say. Bermuda is some tough grass to completely kill. But, you are on the right track with the Round Up. You will need to use Round Up several times to have any hope of killing the Bermuda. I would say 4-5 doses over the next couple months. After that is should be dead, Hopefully.

You have some high expectations for a full/established lawn by March 2010. The only way you'll achieve that is by laying sod. If you do spread seed you will need to water more than stated in #5.

5. Seed and fertilize. Water daily for 3 weeks, 15 minutes daily at 5am.
More like 15mins per zone @ 5am, 9am, 12pm, 3pm, 7pm for 3 week, possibly 4 weeks. Then slowly back off, say 2x per day for a week, then 1x per day for a week, then every other day, then once a week.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2009 at 3:56PM
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keithw(Zone 8)

I have to agree with KJBOGGS. It doesn't seem worth it especially if you are planning on selling next April. Winter Rye is so inexpensive and easy to grow that I would just overseed. Someone here can surely tell you when to plant it to look good in April. I am in VB and have put down winter rye a few differnt months of the winter season and it has come up nicely.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2009 at 4:22PM
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hsvcara((Alabama - 7))

Wow.. that's going to be a lot of round-up and a lot of work.

As skoot_cat said, it'd be near impossible to get a full lawn by next spring if you plan on using seed. I don't know much about fescue, but considering it's a clumping grass, it seems like it would take even longer to "fill in" if the grass seed isn't perfectly distributed and completely undisturbed by rain, animals, people, etc.

Skoot is also right about the watering schedule.

If I were you, I'd just wait a couple extra months to sell the house after the bermuda has greened up. Take some pictures this summer when your lawn is beautiful and green and use those when advertising the house next spring.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2009 at 4:23PM
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rcnaylor(z7 Tex)

I changed a 1700 sq ft lawn from bermuda to fescue in the summer fall of 2000. I sprayed with roundup for 3 weeks, then rented a sod cutter and cut out the bermuda, and its rhyzomes about as deep as it would cut. It wound up taking a dump truck and a front end loader to haul off the dead bermuda sod.

I then tilled and planted fescue. The lawn was perfect by the next spring.

The problem is keeping it from coming back from deep roots over time. The first year I hand dug out the bermuda shoots that came back.

I have had a 99.99% fescue yard, but even to day I still have some of that stuff that tries to get going again.

Whether you want to fight that much of a fight is up to you. But, if you do a good job of seeding, you can have a great looking fescue yard next spring.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2009 at 8:05AM
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There's not such a thing as "winter rye", there're Annual, Intermedia, and Perennial Ryegrass.

To the OP, if the target is to have a green lawn in the spring with little effort, then overseed your bermuda lawn with Perennial Ryegrass in late summer to early fall.

You should be able to find Perennial Ryegrass at Lowe's or HomeDepot, if not there are several websites where you can mail order the seed.

If appearance is what you're looking for, let me know, I can recommend a few blends.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2009 at 2:43PM
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The important thing to keep in mind when you want to establish a cool season turf grass (like fescue or rye) after the area was previously bermuda grass is to make sure you have gotten rid of all the bermuda grass.

The reason is that you cannot get rid of bermuda grass from fescue without hurting the fescue.

So best to commence the eradication of the bermuda grass in warmer weather. This ensures success in the spraying of bermuda grass with non-selective herbicide like Roundup. This should be followed up with another psray to bermuda grass. Rake off dead grass, and wait another couple of weeks to make sure no new bermuda grass re-appears.

Hope this helps.

Here is a link that might be useful: Lawn Green

    Bookmark   June 18, 2009 at 8:47PM
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