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1st time home owner in need of help - half dead yard

Posted by jaredmdavis84 none (My Page) on
Sat, Jan 11, 14 at 16:26

I'm a first time home owner in north texas (DFW area) , who purchased a house where the front and backyards were overgrown and neglected. It looks like when the previous owner was getting ready to sell the house, they had the backyard sodded in patches with st augustine (it looks like, please correct me if I am wrong). By the time we saw the house about 1/4 of the back yard was dying or dead (october). Fast forward to January, and almost 3/4 of it is dead and is becoming a mud pit.

My wife and I are planning to remove some large trees as the roots are invasive and creates a large shadow canopy that we believe probably caused the grass to die). I will try to post another picture of the yard after this post -

Since most of the yard is dead, I know I will need to re-seed. Since I live in a master planned community, it looks like most of the yards here use a cheap bermuda hybrid that the builder companies prefer, so I will probably end up planting that - but the problem is I have no idea really how -

From what I understand, I will need to re-till the soil prior spreading the seed, but does anyone have any other suggestions or am I missing something? I removed some shrubs in the front yard but was unsuccessful in getting some bermuda to grow there (it was later in october though before things started to get cold here) -

Any insights or suggestions would be greatly appreciated -

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: 1st time home owner in need of help - half dead yard


RE: 1st time home owner in need of help - half dead yard

another yard photo

RE: 1st time home owner in need of help - half dead yard

Ok, wow. I mean WOW! You're getting the wrong advice on every front. St Aug would THRIVE in that shade. The grass died because they didn't water it. Actually it might have died the first time from a disease left to run out of control, but in any case, the solution now is new sod (NOT SEED) and water.

That cheap builder grade bermuda is only one notch below the very best bermuda grass you can buy at any price. The reason it is cheap and "builder grade" is that it is easy to grow and every grower in Texas grows it. The supply of that stuff is inexhaustible, but you cannot get a better turf grass without paying through the nose. The name of it is TIF 419 or TifTurf, or something like that. It has been around for 40 years or more and is very popular. The more expensive TIF varieties are only used in professional sports stadiums. I should note that ALL seeded varieties of bermuda are basically common bermuda, not the TIF hybrid. Thus if you start with a TIF lawn, you should never reseed bermuda into it. The common bermuda looks like a weed in a hybrid turf. Here is a picture of common bermuda invading a TIF turf.

Note the common is bluer in color, coarser, and has a different growth habit. It's a mess once you have them mingled. If you have already seeded with common bermuda, I would not attempt to install a hybrid (sod) lawn without a lot of prep to kill the common. June is the time to take on that project. Whatever you do, do not fall into the trap of watching all the golf TV where they are urging you to get out and do something to the lawn. Bermuda needs hot soil to do much of anything to it.

The reason your neighborhood lawns might look cheap is because they don't know how to care for them. Bermuda needs a LOT of maintenance to keep it nice. It should be mowed to about 1 inch high, 2x per week and 3x per week during the spring flush of new growth. It also needs heavy fertilizer applied monthly all season long. Most people are unwilling to do what it takes to make bermuda look great.

Having said all that, I still prefer a St Aug lawn if you can keep it watered. All lawns need exactly the same amount of water to keep them looking nice through the summer. That amount is one inch per week, applied all at one time. The problem with St Aug is if you fail to water it for 3-5 weeks, it can die on you. Other grasses will go dormant first, but St Aug just dies. That's what happened in your yard. Bermuda would never grow in your shade, but St Aug should do fine. In fact, St Aug will take over your yard even if you have bermuda now. You would have to keep the St Aug mowed at the mower's highest setting and allow it to invade the bermuda. Bermuda cannot invade into tall St Aug because the tall St Aug provides too much shade for bermuda. But if you mow the grass at the lowest setting, then the bermuda can invade just fine and will give you a mess.

Absolutely DO NOT rototill the soil in prep for a lawn. You might want to rototill for a vegie garden but never for a lawn. The tilled soil will take 3 years to settle, and it will settle unevenly. There is hardly anything worse than mowing a bumpy lawn.

RE: 1st time home owner in need of help - half dead yard

Thank you for the extremely detailed information - it has been extremely helpful.

So what I am gathering from this (and your suggestion), re-sod the augustine (don't plant another type of seed).

And re-sod the patches in the front with hybrid bermuda -

Here is a local company that offers both - would this probably put me on the right track? they offer the augustine and hybrid

Last question - realistically, how difficult would it be for me to re-sod the backyard? Would it be that much easier just to have a company do it? The quotes i was getting previously were outrageous - and how would i actually go about re-sodding?

RE: 1st time home owner in need of help - half dead yard

If you can make your own bed, you can lay sod. Click here for a video showing you how to do it. I like that video because there is no voice over telling you to do things you don't need to do or are counterproductive. Key to success is to have everything ready so you can put the sod down as soon as it arrives. Sod can get a disease sitting on the pallet for too long.

Trim the sod around obstacles using a serrated knife, machete, or shovel.

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