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Yard/Grass Advice in Houston, Texas

Posted by jluedemann 9 (My Page) on
Tue, Feb 1, 11 at 11:29

I've searched the forums and haven't found exactly what I was looking for so I'm hoping to get some advice on developing a plan of action for my yard.

I'm located in Houston, Texas and have (more like had at this point) a St. Augustine yard. The combination of a dog, some construction projects that were based in the back yard, and a less than effective watering schedule has pretty much destroyed it. It has weeds and brown/nearly bare spots throughout.

Since we don't have a sprinkler system and the dog occasionally gets in a digging mood, I'd like to switch to something that can be seeded for easier repair and can better withstand the heat/drought conditions.

Most of the back yard gets full sun. We have one large tree in the front yard so it get shade/partial sun

I usually mow once a week during growing season and don't mind doing fertilizer applications.

I'd say heat/drought tolerance, easily repaired and reasonable traffic tolerance are the most important things. I was thinking Bermuda might be an option but it looks like it might require more maintenance (more than once weekly mowing?) than I expected. Also I'm not sure it would work in the partial shade of the front yard?

Any thoughts on where to begin?

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Yard/Grass Advice in Houston, Texas

Bermuda would be good but would require mowing twice a week or so. You can get away with fertilizing 2-3 times a year but 9 times a year would be better.
Bermuda is great as you can use a very large variety of herbicides to kill weeds.
I have a putting green that is on the east side of my house. So it gets only 1/2 of the days sun and its as thick and as green as can be.
Is your summer a dry season? Id look into getting some irrigation put in, nows a good time since you can dig up the yard and start fresh.
Good luck.

RE: Yard/Grass Advice in Houston, Texas

You are really limiting your choices by wanting a seeded variety. Of the warm season grasses your only real choice is one of the seeded varieties of Bermuda, and eliminated Zoysia all together.

RE: Yard/Grass Advice in Houston, Texas

With a digging dog in the equation, it will be very difficult and, at times, frustrating to keep an attractive lawn. Requiring reasonable wear tolerance eliminates zoysia. The most wear-tolerant option is bermuda. But dogs like digging in it also.

RE: Yard/Grass Advice in Houston, Texas

Requiring reasonable wear tolerance eliminates zoysia. The most wear-tolerant option is bermuda. But dogs like digging in it also.

Well yes and no with respect to Zoysia as it stands up better than Bermuda to heavy traffic. Problem is when Zoysia does get beat down and dies from heavy traffic it take a very long time for it to repair itself and recover. Bermuda recovers in no time.

RE: Yard/Grass Advice in Houston, Texas

Well, actually you would be correct about the slower recovery of zoysia vs bermuda. And my comparison is not consistent, because I am comparing damage from a digging dog vs. damage from golf cart traffic. I guess I'm doing that apples vs. oranges thing, huh?

Hey texas-weed, you gonna take that grief from that clown in the TW Bible thread? LMAO!!!

RE: Yard/Grass Advice in Houston, Texas

If you are thinking that seeding will speed up the recovery process, that is not correct with bermuda. Going through the seeding process will probably take longer than bermuda will spread by itself. Take a look at some of the varieties of sodded bermuda.

RE: Yard/Grass Advice in Houston, Texas

Thanks for the replies. If I were to go ahead with re-sodding what are the recommendations for type of grass? I'm willing to give St. Augustine another shot and I'm open to other types.

In doing the research it seems that no option is really lower maintenance than another, it's just the type of maintenance that varies. Whichever way I go, I want to stay on top of the upkeep to keep it looking good.

So what are the experts' thoughts given:

- Houston, Texas
- No sprinkler system at this time
- Fast recovery a big plus
- Prefer to mow only once per week
- Weeds are/were a big problem

Back Yard Specs:
- Dog digs every once in while but not a huge problem
- Most of it gets full sun
- We have a pool so we like to entertain and sometimes set up tables and chairs in the yard so it gets high traffic for short periods
- The pool kind of segments the yard so using a hose sprinkler requires multiple watering sessions (three to hit everywhere) Probably why the St. Augustine didnt get enough water. But if I know what I'm doing I can keep to a better schedule.

Front Yard Specs:
- One large tree shades it pretty well for most of the day
- We have a child swing hanging from the tree so the spot underneath is completely worn at the moment. Not sure antyhing can handle that but any suggestions on how to deal with or landscape around that situation?
- It has a pretty steep slope right before the curb begins that never seemed to fill in with grass very well.

I've got some time off in March so I'm hoping to make some decisions and get a plan in place that I could do any prep work before and re-sod then if it's appropriate.

Thanks in advance!

RE: Yard/Grass Advice in Houston, Texas

Because you seem not putting in a sprinkler system, I would go with bahia. Hold on everyone before you bash this idea, hear me out.
There is no grass as drought tolerant. you can get it in seed or sod. once rooted in, dogs even have a hard time digging through it (because of the millions of roots).
its green, doesnt grow too fast but fills in good.
Resistant to lots of pesticides. Pretty much, bug and disease resistant.
This is one of the cheapest sods or seed to buy.

you get a few seed heads if you dont mow it weekly, no big deal.

If you said you would put in a sprinkler system, I would lean to bermuda, again.

RE: Yard/Grass Advice in Houston, Texas

'Floratam' and 'Sapphire' st augustine fill in fast. 'Floratam' is easy to find but apparently 'Sapphire' is not available in Texas anymore but still can order plugs from Lawn Plug website. 'Floratam' is probably the most drought hardy variety of all. 'Sapphire' isn't too bad.

It's Houston and overall Houston gets plenty of rain for St Augustine grass to get through without needing watering every week like Austin or San Antonio.

How about raising canopy on your large tree in the front yard to allow some sun on the ground to thicken up lawn?

RE: Yard/Grass Advice in Houston, Texas

Hey texas-weed, you gonna take that grief from that clown in the TW Bible thread?

If you mean the guy with Celebration, Nah ain't worth getting upset over, I got better things to do. If he/she wants to believe Bermuda grows better in partial shade rather than full sun, let them believe it because its not worth my time trying to convince them otherwise. :>)

Follow up

If I were to go ahead with re-sodding what are the recommendations for type of grass?

If shade is not an issue, and you have heavy traffic I can think of no better choice than Bermuda sod or improved common seeded types like a blend of Triangle.

But you do have a bit of a challenge without irrigation. Doesn't matter what variety either sod or seed, you will need water to get either seed or sod going good. After set Houston gets enough rain so the irrigation will not be a big issue after established.

RE: Yard/Grass Advice in Houston, Texas

Okay based on the replies and researching my options some more, I'm leaning toward re-sodding with Floratam St. Augustine. I think if I know what I'm doing I can get by with using hose sprinklers.

Right now I'm just going to focus on the backyard since we have some landscape/hardscape things we want to do in the front yard besides just rehabilitating the grass.

Here are some pictures of the back yard in its current state - basically neglected since winter began.

The closest tree is an orange tree, the farther is an apple.

This is pretty much facing due North.

The spot below the palm tree has always been pretty bare. Not sure if it's a shade issue or if it's because it's a low spot.

This had a couple of sago palms when we moved in which we removed and laid down sod. It has some weeds but isn't in bad shape since it wasn't affected by the construction/pool remodel that we had done.

What are the options for between the shed and the fence. Will anything grow in that much shade or should I just plan for it to be dirt.

Thoughts? Assuming the pictures don't show any critical flaws in my plan to give St. Augustine another shot, where's the best place to find a step by step for re-sodding? I've seen conflicting information in different places on how best to go about it.

RE: Yard/Grass Advice in Houston, Texas

I called a couple of sod farms and I'm getting told that Raleigh is the usual choice for St. Augustine in Houston. They are saying that Floratam will not survive the colder temps that we occasionally get. But I've read that Raleigh doesn't do well in heat. So now I'm totally confused.

Any help?

RE: Yard/Grass Advice in Houston, Texas

  • Posted by ltruett Zone 9 Houston (My Page) on
    Sat, Feb 26, 11 at 19:30

You will not have to worry about cold weather in Houston. While it is possible to get some die back, as soon as it warms up it will spread and you will never know the difference. I have some floratam growing at my house and my mother's house with no problems. I tend to have more problems with Raleigh as far as disease. Floratam is more drought resistant and at least at one time was chinch bug resistant. I also have some Sapphire growing which I think looks nice but isn't as available.

Here is a link that might be useful: Floratam info

RE: Yard/Grass Advice in Houston, Texas

Thanks ltruett.

Currently I'm leaning toward a more long term approach to getting the yard back in shape.

I've read that adding compost as a top dressing is a good way to encourage your grass to grow and spread. Is this correct? If so, are there any recommendations for type and where to get it in Houston?

RE: Yard/Grass Advice in Houston, Texas

Hogwash, if your sod dealer is telling you Floratam will not survive Houston winters is full of chit. All the Floratam sod farms are in the Houston area to the south and west of Houston. The worlds largest sod farm is there and they grow and sell and grow Floratam. I am dead certain as I know many of the owners/operators in that area.

My guess is the dealer who told you that does not have Floratam, or has a much higher profit margin selling you Raleigh. Raleigh SA is a good cold tolerant SA and best used in areas where you actually get a lot of freezing weather. Houston does not get a lot of freezing weather and frozen ground is unheard of there in Houston. Well at least it was before the Global Warming Scam disease broke out around the world.

RE: Yard/Grass Advice in Houston, Texas

Hmmm..."Global Warming Scam disease". I was looking through my Compendium of Turfgrass Diseases book and I couldn't find that turf disease anywhere. Tell me more about the symptoms, TW.

RE: Yard/Grass Advice in Houston, Texas


I am posting a link for you. I mostly do organic stuff. I get soybean meal, alfalfa pellets, cottonseed meal and so on from a feed store for fertilizer. Cut the grass high, water deeply but infrequently and so on. You can top dress with compost, just more expensive and added labor. Some places sell organic fertilizer with beneficial fungi/bacteria in it. This might help initially to get things going for you.

Here is a link that might be useful: Lawn FAQ

RE: Yard/Grass Advice in Houston, Texas

ltruett, can you please tell me where in Houston you buy your soybean meal, alfalfa and cottonseed meal? I've looked in the usual places but can't seem to find a local store that sells them. Thanks!

RE: Yard/Grass Advice in Mcallen, Texas

I went to a local vendor and he sold me what he said was floratam grass but i don't if it is or if I got ripped off?

Here are two pics I took one regular and a close up.

RE: Yard/Grass Advice in Houston, Texas

here is another pic

RE: Yard/Grass Advice in Houston, Texas

Floratam is real easy to identify. It has a purple stigma color. Stolons of Floratam are large, purplish-red in color with internodes averaging 3 inches in length. Leaf blades are wider and longer than any other variety.

RE: Yard/Grass Advice in Houston, Texas

so i am assuming from your response that what I have is not floratam but some other type of grass?

RE: Yard/Grass Advice in Houston, Texas

I believe Floratam gets that coloration when it is very healthy and in FULL SUN. Your grass is not looking healthy and not in full sun. I would apply 2 pounds per 100 square feet of any dry dog or cat food to that area, wait 3 full weeks, and then look for the colors in the grass. Dry pet food is a great organic fertilizer. The only reason I don't use it all the time is it costs too much. I had a problem with my dog's food getting moldy. I kept dumping it in one spot out front and now that area is gorgeous.

I mentioned before on another thread that your grass looks a little unhealthy. I would say it looks like it has a fungus, but your pics are too fuzzy and distant to really tell. If it is a fungus, then getting it established will be very touchy. You don't want to water the fungus, but the roots need to be damp.

Since that is brand new sod, you should only be moistening the top layer of soil with your daily watering. The idea is to moisten the soil where the roots are penetrating to the underlying soil and nothing more. I would not water longer than 5 minutes a couple times a day and get ready to back off.

If you have not tried any kind of chemical fungicide, I would hit it with 2 pounds of ordinary corn meal per 100 square feet. Corn meal has never failed me as a fungus killer in my St Augustine. If you get yours at a grocery store, you do not want to get the corn meal that is ready mix for tortillas. It has other stuff you don't want. Look for unadulterated corn meal. Feed stores also carry corn gluten meal. That is different. You want plain ground corn. Cracked corn will work. Whole corn will give you a corn field as it all sprouts. I get ordinary corn meal in 50-pound bags at the feed store. Call first to see if they have it.

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