Dallisgrass! Overseed or start over? What grass type?

MichaelWilliams(9B)July 21, 2013

Hi, I bought a home 2 years ago. Front and back lawns were in pretty awful shape.

In the front lawn I haven't done too much. Watering, fertilizing mowing and weeding have made it green, but it is not at all quality grass. It is very inconsistent in its look.
Pics of front lawn.

There is also quite a bit of dallisgrass. Most weeds I try to hand pull, but dallisgrass loves the heat and getting out to pull weeds is... challenging. So it gets bigger.
This fall I was thinking of overseeding to try to get some quality grass in there, to crowd out the weeds but after reading several posts I am thinking it may be a better idea to roundup and start all new in fall. Should I try to salvage what is there or start over?

I also am wondering what type of grass i should use. Bermudagrass has been suggested (bermudagrass weeds love it here, Plumas Lake CA 95961) but I don't really like the look of the super-short grass, plus there is no separation between mt lawn and my neighbors so I don't want something that spreads a lot. Tall Fescue is very popular here I but it does get quite hot in the summer. I planted Jonathan Green's black beauty in the back lawn last fall and it is doing o.k. but i am wondering if i should have looked harder for a higher quality mix. Any suggestions as to type and variety is should use?

This post was edited by MichaelWilliams on Fri, Sep 13, 13 at 13:39

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Well to late to seed Bermuda. Regardless of what you decide unless you eliminate the Dallisgrass all is lost. Dallisgrass is an extremely hard weed to irradiate and spreads faster than Bermuda.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2013 at 8:13PM
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Roundup sounds better then. So here is my plan:

mow low and water well
spray RU 2 days later
water 3 min 2x a day
spray RU again in 3 weeks
water 3 min 2x a day
spray RU again
plant in sept/oct

Will TTTF (cool season) be able to out-compete dallisgrass in the heat of summer (mowed at 3" and watered 1" once a week)?

    Bookmark   July 21, 2013 at 8:32PM
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Will TTTF (cool season) be able to out-compete dallisgrass in the heat of summer (mowed at 3" and watered 1" once a week)?

No way, not even Bermuda can compete with a Dallisgrass outbreak. Dallisgrass is extremely aggressive and grows extremely fast. It grows an inch or more per day and goes to seed in 3 or 4 days.

You need to do some homework on Dallisgrass control. What is really going to be difficult is Dallisgrass is a prolific seed producer. So if you have an infestation you have millions of seeds on the ground just waiting for some water and soil contact to get growing. Only way to control that is with a Pre-Emergence herbicide. Guess what? If you plan to seed a lawn you cannot use a Pre-Emergence herbicide.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2013 at 10:16AM
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From UC Davis IPM Website
"Dallisgrass seeds usually germinate in spring and summer when soil temperatures are in the 60ð to 65ðF range and grow to form new clumps. The optimum air temperature range for growth is 80ð to 90ðF and when temperatures are in this range, plants grow very rapidly. It tolerates both sandy and heavy clay soils and, once established, is drought-resistant and frost-tolerant. It responds to nitrogen fertilizer and competes well against turfgrasses in fertilized sites.

Chemical Control
Use the nonselective herbicide glyphosate (Roundup) to control dallisgrass in turf. Glyphosate kills both the dallisgrass and the turfgrass, leaving an area of dead turf. To keep the turf vigorous and growing well enough to out compete germinating dallisgrass seed, the spot needs to be overseeded or a preemergent herbicide needs to be applied. Sometimes dallisgrass is not entirely killed after an herbicide treatment, even though the turf is severely damaged or killed, and retreatment may be required."

My plan is to use 3 applications of roundup while it is still hot and Dallisgrass is actively growing. I am hoping that watering daily will encourage the seeds already in the lawn to sprout and they can be killed with the established plants. I think late Sept early Oct will be cool enough that Dallisgrass won't germinate, but the tall fescue (or whatever grass I decide on) will have time to establish before winter.

In early spring I will put down a pre-emergent and a organic fertilizer, not fertilize in the late spring or summer, then use organic fertilizer early, and late fall. Of course mow at 3" and water 1" once a week.

Will that be enough to control dallisgrass, with a small amount of hand weeding?

Any ideas on what grass I should use in plumas lake 95961?
TTTF? Something else? Yard gets full sun. The soil is not that great, top 2 to 3 inches is good but then its pretty much clay. Thanks for the help.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2013 at 5:23PM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

I would mix 10% Kentucky bluegrass seed in with any fescues you decide upon. Fescue will not spread to fill in thin areas like Kentucky bluegrass will. If you come into spring with thin grass, anything could happen. KBG gets more dense by itself without annual reseeding.

Also I would tend toward early September in your area. Start after the summer heat breaks and the evenings cool off.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2013 at 1:16AM
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Will KBG survive here? I live about 30 miles North of Sacramento. About 15-20 days above 100 F every summer and almost every day above 90 from late may to early september.

I emailed my cooperative extension and they advised against KBG for our area (they did however suggest watering TTTF 3 or 4 times a week so not sure how reliable their advice is...)

Any thoughts on cultivar for TTTF?
Tiemco seems to favor bullseye. It has good ratings in the 2 CA trials on ntep. they are both in zone 9 but both in so cal.
You (dchall) have advised others on using marathon in CA but it is not part of ntep trial. It looks like it did very well in ntep in early 90's is it still a good choice?
I used Jonathan Green black beauty last year in the back. It looks ok but I have had lots of weed issues. That is probably my fault, I thought I knew better so I rototilled. The Bermuda grass I had there is reasonably controlled but I had lots of broadleaf.
Any thoughts on varieties are appreciated
Pics of back lawn

Thank You

This post was edited by MichaelWilliams on Tue, Jul 23, 13 at 16:01

    Bookmark   July 23, 2013 at 3:58PM
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An update and more questions.

Here are a couple pictures of my lawn currently.

Sprayed roundup Monday morning (8/5) everything seems to be dying nicely :) About 1/3 of the dallisgrass is dying it will need more applications to kill it all but i expected that.

I am planning to spray baby shampoo because I don't think enough water was soaking in. It is on a slope and runoff occurs at about 4 minutes. I was watering 8 times at 4 minutes each with 30 minute rest between watering. Can baby shampoo can be sprayed now and just before seeding with no ill effect?

I am also going to lay down rabbit pellets or cracked corn (whatever my feed store has cheap) now and at seeding. I assume that won't be a problem either. Should I still use synthetic starter fertilizer at seeding, or will that be enough.

Thanks for your help (sorry if starting multiple threads is bad form I will stick to this one)

Here is a link that might be useful: More pics of Front Yard

    Bookmark   August 11, 2013 at 5:47PM
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This is a core sample of the soil. It is about 1" diameter. The lighter brown part on the bottom feels like clay or play dough.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2013 at 5:58PM
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Does anyone have an opinion on Touche' KBG? I'm ordering from Hogan and it seems like it is the cultivar that would work best with TTTF in 95961. It is mid-atlantic type so it should do better with heat.
The TTTF cultivars I plan to get are Bullseye, Cochise IV, and Falcon V.
Backups are Hemi, and Turbo for TTTF, and Apollo for KGB.
Please let me know if there are any in that group that I should avoid.
Thank you.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2013 at 6:23PM
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More follow up...
On 8/11 I shampooed my dead lawn. It looked terrible, but it smelled like lavender! I ended up using about 5 oz on 1000 sq/ft. I don't have a hose end sprayer so i used the 2 gallon pump sprayer that I used for roundup. Miscalculated, but you guys say that too much wont hurt.

8/13 sprayed roundup again. Was planing to just spot spray but there was still green spots pretty much everywhere so ended up spraying the whole yard again.

8/14 put down Purina rabbit chow. The feed store thought I was crazy. Told me I'd get lots of rabbits in the lawn. Haven't seen one yet though :) It cost $20 for 50#. Later I found a place that has it for $13. My handheld spreader did an awful job of spreading it so I ended up spreading it by hand. I put down about 40# per sq/ft. (I don't seem to be good at estimating application rates) Because it put it on so heavy the 50# bag that was supposed to cover the front and back lawns only covered the front and a small section in the back. Now it is an experiment. I'll see how the section that did get it does in comparison. (After I did this i read it is not a great idea to fertilize right before or when you overseed, you don't want the old grass growing too fast and shading the seedlings. I guess not fertilizing may end up being a good thing)

8/21 - 8/26 Mowing on the lowest setting. I have had to rake the lawn to get the dead grass to stand up enough to be mowed. Lots of work. I've been working 1 to 1.5 hours in the morning each day.

Below is a picture of the section in the back yard that got the rabbit pellets. The section that is the width of the shed back toward the camera. That is the worst section of the yard so we will see how it goes.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2013 at 2:23PM
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i have a dallisgrass problem in my bermuda.

im just going to dig out what i have (eventually) and put down new sod

    Bookmark   August 28, 2013 at 4:20PM
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Quick question. What is the difference between sod quality and non sod quality seed? I just got my seed from Hogan Company and the label says it is not sod quality, but it has 0% weed and 0% other crop. Is there something special about sod quality?

The Hogan Company was great BTW put together a small mix of 6# bullseye 5# cochise IV and 5# falcon V. even offered to mix it up for me. Dealt with Steven. Very helpful. Highly recommend them.

Just a little more prep over the weekend and I will be ready to plant Monday morning.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2013 at 8:37PM
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Seed comes with one of three colored labels. White, blue or gold (from lower to sod quality). Subject to different state requirements, white can be no less than 90% purity, blue 95% and gold 96-98%. The allowable crop and weed amounts become more restrictive also and I believe Washington State allows no poa annua or triv in sod quality seed. Don't quote me, but I also believe the sampling amount for sod quality certification is also larger. Other than that, I'm clueless.:)

    Bookmark   August 31, 2013 at 12:06AM
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I planted the grass on labor day (9/2)

I had planed to spray Roundup around Friday, but I was sick so I didn't get to. The instructions on the bottle (actually the home depot brand glyphosate) said wait 7 days before planting grass. I've heard you can plant the same day, but figured I'd follow the label directions so I wasn't breaking the law ;)

I used my weed dragon flamer to kill the weeds that had already sprouted (pic in link below) There is quite a bit of yellow nutsedge that the flamer didn't kill, so I guess I'll be pulling that out by hand in the spring. There was some sedge in the yard before I started but not bad. All this watering is really bringing it up.

After using the flamer (which really is a lot of fun I recommend getting one, It's great for killing weeds in beds or walkways without using chemicals) I scratched the surface of the soil with a metal rake. Next put down 5# Pennington starter fertilizer that was left over from last year.

I used 20# of chicken feed as organic fertilizer. It spread out of the handheld spreader because it was much smaller. Protein content is 19%. It cost $16.50 at tractor supply. No tax in CA on animal feed :)

Finally spread the grass seed. 9# on the 1000 sq ft.

Last I used a 1/2 filled lawn roller to get good contact with the soil. There is a lot of dead grass still to I went over everything at least 3 times to get all the seed to the ground.

Then I napped.

This is a pic of how it looks after it was seeded.

Here is a link that might be useful: Pics of front yard

    Bookmark   September 5, 2013 at 3:42PM
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Next time I start thinking I know better than the advice here I am going to slap myself.

Really wish I would have used roundup before I put down the seed. I now have 2 problems. First is Yellow Nutsedge. It is growing happy as can be; no memory at all of being nearly burned alive 6 days ago. Second problem is moss.

Both of these were present but seemed like small issues when I seeded Monday. I figured flaming would take care of them, but both have gone into overdrive with the addition of the starter fertilizer.

My question is should i do anything about these issues or just let them be and take care of them when the grass is established?


    Bookmark   September 8, 2013 at 10:49AM
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As I don't seem to be clever enough to put more than one picture per post, here is the Yellow Nutsedge:

    Bookmark   September 8, 2013 at 10:53AM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

OMG!! Now we need to see the guaranteed analysis of your chicken feed. Not every animal feed is appropriate for your lawn. Only products where the seed is fully ground up should be used. Cracked corn always has intact corn seed in it, but with corn, one mowing and it does. Other weeds are not so benevolent. Chicken feed is quite often made up of intact seeds from a bazillion different kinds of weeds. It never makes any different when actual chickens are eating it, because they eat it all. But when you put it in your lawn, you might end up with anything.

Other than that, when you see recommendations to never use a fertilizer when [fill in your activity], they are always talking about chemical fertilizers. I can't think of a time when using organic fertilizer would be inappropriate. Plus it takes 3 weeks before you see any results from organic fertilizer.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2013 at 9:59PM
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I did use chemical fertilizer. I had ~ 5# pennington starter fertilizer leftover from the back yard last year that I put down. I also used rabbit pellets at 40# per 1000 sq ft on 8/14 (three weeks ago) Figured I'd time everything so the fertilizer kicked in right when I planted.

The chicken feed is not "bird seed" it is grain based. Hopefully there aren't a bunch of seed in it. The label is below. I was buying feed for my chickens and thought "this stuff would be a lot easier to spread"

From this project I have learned when In think "Hey, I bet this would be... beter... easier.. faster... whatever" someone has probably already tried it and figured out why its a bad idea. Trust experts.

Feed Label:

    Bookmark   September 9, 2013 at 1:11AM
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Actual chicken feed:

    Bookmark   September 9, 2013 at 1:13AM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

Whew! Dodged that bullet. I was not so lucky with my experiment with hog feed. It looked like parrot food. It was all seeds.

    Bookmark   September 9, 2013 at 9:50PM
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Well my crop of sedge is progressing quite nicely. There is a little bit of tall fescue growing below it though. :)

    Bookmark   September 13, 2013 at 12:24PM
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This section is growing (actual grass) the best. I think it gets too much water though. The neighbors sprinklers run off through this section. The "lawn" was always thick here but it was a different type of grass. I don't know what it was but when I was raking up the dead stuff for the renovation I found that it had runners. Didn't bother figuring it out, cuz it was already dead.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2013 at 1:13PM
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This was the best section of lawn. This grass was thick and almost entirely TTTF. I don't think this section died when the house was empty for a year. The neighbors sprinklers kept it alive.
The new grass here is coming in pretty well. Some sedge, but not too bad.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2013 at 1:22PM
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Two problem areas.
In the middle of the picture on left edge is the section that had moss growing. Ended up not being a problem at all. Grass is growing great there.
The bottom of the picture shows a section where I added some generic "topsoil" sold in 1 cu/ft bags at Walmart. This was a low spot. The "topsoil" was drying out and nothing was germinating there. Wednesday evening I added some more seed and covered it somewhat with straw to help retain moisture. Still nothing growing, but it's only been 2 days.

Here is a link that might be useful: Larger versions of all pics

    Bookmark   September 13, 2013 at 1:35PM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

There are two kinds of sedge you need to be concerned about. Nutsedge (nut grass) is one of them. It is a swamp type plant that practically requires continual moisture. Deprive it of continual moisture and it seems to go away by itself. I've had several infestations following some calamity in my lawn. I've done nothing and it goes away. The only thing I can think of is the lack of water from my infrequent watering habit. I've seen nutsedge growing on a high spot in a river. Once your grass is in and you go to deep, infrequent watering, the nutgrass may go away. Give it until next June and then do something about it.

The other sedge is green kyllinga. It looks just like nutsedge until it goes to seed. Green kyllinga will grow in very dry soil. My neighbors have some on a side of their house which has not received any water in 20 years other than rain. While it can stand the dry soil, it is only growing up against their house on the west side, so possibly it cannot stand a full day of sun.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2013 at 2:19PM
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This was from 9/19. Shows the progress of the sedge lawn :)

    Bookmark   September 27, 2013 at 1:27PM
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another from 9/19. Growing pretty well but does have some grassy weeds. What are they?

    Bookmark   September 27, 2013 at 1:30PM
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Closer pic of grssy weed. PLEASE don't be Dallisgrass. Has anyone ever prayed that the weed in their lawn was crabgrass?

    Bookmark   September 27, 2013 at 1:33PM
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Pic from this morning. 9-27. 3 weeks and 4 days from planting.

Ended up using the weedeater to chop down the sedge. Cant wait for winter to kill it all. Grass looks pretty good under it though.

The section at the top of the hill I don't think was getting enough water. I changed my sprinklers to MP rotators on Monday. Hopefully that will water more evenly. The wife wants me to put more seed down in those areas but I am pretty sure the seed that is already there is still good. Thoughts?

    Bookmark   September 27, 2013 at 2:17PM
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