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Too Late to Scalp Bermuda?

Posted by g26ster TX (My Page) on
Mon, Mar 12, 12 at 12:58

I put in a new Bermuda front lawn last fall (sod). It has grown unevenly. I now have it down to 2" but it is still somewhat uneven. Is it too late to take it down to 1 1/4 (lowest my lawn mower will go) here in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area? We have had almost no winter at all and the grass has mostly greened up (except for some patchy spots) already.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Too Late to Scalp Bermuda?

Heck no it is NOT TOO LATE. In fact it is just right. to maybe a little bit early.


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RE: Too Late to Scalp Bermuda?

Bermuda likes to be scalped. Is it every too late or too early?


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RE: Too Late to Scalp Bermuda?

OK, thanks. Being new to Bermuda, if I take it down to 1 1/4" now from the uneven 2", cutting off most of the green tops, the lawn will be mostly brown again - correct? Where do I go from there? Don't want to ruin a new lawn. As I would be taking off more than the recommended 1/3, should I just take it down to 1 5/8" first, then wait a week or so and go to 1 1/4"? I need guidance.


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RE: Too Late to Scalp Bermuda?

Nah. Take it all off at once and save some trouble.

Maybe if you were wanting to lower the height in the middle of the year when temps are a stress factor, you would do it gradually. But this time of year it is fine. All that dormant, dead material is getting in the way of your bermuda getting full sun and taking off. Plus, it leaves a bumpy, uneven mess like what you are dealing with now.

Get it outta there! :)

PS. You are going to have to try REALLY hard to ruin a bermuda lawn. Mow low, fertilize monthly, and irrigate when the grass ask for it.....badda bing, badda boom.....


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RE: Too Late to Scalp Bermuda?

Is it every too late or too early?

Well yes you do not want to do it in the middle of summer or late in the season. Best time to lower or scalp is just before spring green up or shortly there after.


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Relax

OK, thanks. Being new to Bermuda, if I take it down to 1 1/4" now from the uneven 2", cutting off most of the green tops, the lawn will be mostly brown again - correct? Where do I go from there?

Yes that is correct but relax it is a good thing. Bermuda, especially the hybrids are remarkable grasses. They can be trained to grow at various heights. The range depends on the variety. Since you are in TX so there is a 99% chance your Bermuda is Tifway-I or Tifway-II aka 419 and improved 419. Its optimum growing height is from 1/4 to 1 inch.

When you scalp it early in the spring and lower over all cutting height, the grass will train itself to grow lower. Instead of growing straight up it grow horizontally. This causes it to form a very tight dense carpet effect. It is a very good thing as it chokes out all competition and forms a nice silky surface to walk bare feet on.

Think about this a second. In Dallas as you drive around look at the golf courses. Look real close at the greens and fairways. 90% of them are Bermuda, even the greens.

The Bermuda on the greens is a dwarf variety of TifEagle, Tif Dwarf, or one of the other dwarf varieties. Greens are mowed between 3/32 to 3/16 of an inch.

The fairways in Dallas are mostly Tifway-I, the same stuff you likely have and they are mowed at 1/4-inch. The rough from 1/2 to 2 inches.


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RE: Too Late to Scalp Bermuda?

Thanks All! I'll take it down to 1 1/4 this week as you all have suggested.


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RE: Too Late to Scalp Bermuda?

OK, I cut it down to 1 1/4" Can't go any lower with my mower. I'll look forward to the green returning. Her's a pic. Still need to edge.

Here is a link that might be useful: Lawn-after


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RE: Too Late to Scalp Bermuda?

How emBARRASSING!

Give it a week. You'll thank yourself for scalping it.

Bermuda blades grow on the ends of stems. When you mow low, those stems are cut off and the new blades grow from there. As TW explained, when you mow it really low, the stems actually grow along the ground. There is nothing nicer than walking on a 1/4 inch bermuda lawn. Regarding the 1/3 rule, watch your lawn. The 1/3 might happen 3 days after you last mowed it. Bermuda can leap out of the ground.

Having said that, bermuda is much more work than I want to handle.


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RE: Too Late to Scalp Bermuda?

Well, I'd like to scalp the folks that installed it! They did a hasty job, but I got nowhere when I complained. In some areas, there was almost no sod under the section ends. When I took it down today, there is a spot or two that I scalped to almost bare sod due to the un-eveness of the sod (yes, they rolled it), and other places where there is plenty of grass above the sod. If I go any lower, I will have a real mess on my hands.

Most of the Bermuda in my neighborhood looks like it's cut to about 2". I can live with that, as all I want is for the grass to grow evenly. It did not do that after it was laid. In some areas it grew to 8" and in other areas it barely grew at all. The funny part is that it grew the tallest in the small shaded areas. So I had areas from 1 -8" and everything in between. I care more about the evenness of the grass than the height I keep it at. Right now there is no way I can go lower than 1 1/4 without scalping to bare dirt in some areas.


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RE: Too Late to Scalp Bermuda?

Well, I'd like to scalp the folks that installed it! They did a hasty job, but I got nowhere when I complained. In some areas, there was almost no sod under the section ends. When I took it down today, there is a spot or two that I scalped to almost bare sod due to the un-eveness of the sod (yes, they rolled it), and other places where there is plenty of grass above the sod. If I go any lower, I will have a real mess on my hands.

Well first let me say I am not trying to defend your contractor, or say you share some of the responsibility but there is a two-way street going on here. Keep in mind contractors bid to get awarded jobs. To get the job they usually have to have the lowest bid OK?

So when you asked them to do the job, if you did not specify anything other than lay Bermuda Sod, they made the bid based on bare bones minimum. I promise you that did not include grading. As that is very labor intensive and expensive. So if you did not ask for it, they are not doing it unless you paid for it.

Most of the Bermuda in my neighborhood looks like it's cut to about 2". I can live with that, as all I want is for the grass to grow evenly. It did not do that after it was laid. In some areas it grew to 8"

OK this statement confuses me, and I am sure others as well. In order for the Bermuda to get 8 inches tall tells us you allowed that to happen and is neglect on your part. So I am not sure how to respond other than that is your fault by neglecting routine lawn maintenance. I am not trying to be cruel here but there is no other conclusion I can formulate.

Scalping in some high spots is quite normal. Again this is caused because the lawn was not properly graded to start with. Even with proper grading, scalping can and well become a problem over time from natural settling . It can be fixed by incremental top dressing.

Something you need to be fully aware of, Bermuda is a high input grass. It is extremely fast growing and needs frequent mowing. The lower you go, the more frequently it needs mowed. For example if you want to maintain at 1/4-inch, you are looking at mowing every day. At 2-inches, for your variety is a bit too high, but with a rotary mower is about the only choice you have. It will work but the grass will not be as lush and thick as it would be if kept 1 inch or lower with a reel mower. But here is the point, even at 2 inches you are looking at mowing twice a week as Bermuda in the summer can grow a 1/4 inch per day.

In addition to frequent mowing Bermuda need a lot of fertilizer to keep it very lush and green. In your area that means 5 to 6 applications per growing season, or about every 30 to 45 days. So as you can tell now what high input means.


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RE: Too Late to Scalp Bermuda?

TW is picking up on some possible issues and raised my concerns, too. In looking back at the picture I can see that the yard is crowned up in the middle. I assume it was like that before they sodded. Did you have them bring in more soil? Or was it always crowned? Was the soil rototilled before the sod was put down? If so, did you do that yourself? I guess I'm asking about how the installation was done. This has everything to do with the bumpy soil. The sod itself has very little contribution to causing a bumpy surface. It is the prep where things go wrong.


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RE: Too Late to Scalp Bermuda?

Thanks again texas-weed for all your input. My answers are below.

So when you asked them to do the job, if you did not specify anything other than lay Bermuda Sod, they made the bid based on bare bones minimum. I promise you that did not include grading.

The job quote sheet stated, "Remove old grass down to dirt, till and rake level." I did not know grading would be required, nor did the contractor mention it. The sod was laid on 12 Oct 2011.

OK this statement confuses me, and I am sure others as well. In order for the Bermuda to get 8 inches tall tells us you allowed that to happen and is neglect on your part. So I am not sure how to respond other than that is your fault by neglecting routine lawn maintenance. I am not trying to be cruel here but there is no other conclusion I can formulate.

I was instructed by the contractor to water for 4 weeks daily, and to absolutely NOT mow until the 4 weeks was done. During this time the grass grew in several places to 8" and in other places none at all, and then in other places from 1/2" to 4-5" I assumed they were the "experts."

Even with proper grading, scalping can and well become a problem over time from natural settling . It can be fixed by incremental top dressing.

I would appreciate any instructions on doing this. What to use, and best way to apply.


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RE: Too Late to Scalp Bermuda?

"Remove old grass down to dirt, till and rake level."

As plumbers and brake repair shops always say, "There's your problem, lady."

A reputable landscaper would never till in preparation for a lawn. That is the reason you have a bumpy lawn. Poor raking is the reason it crowns in the center. Looks like they could have removed a yard or so of topsoil to bring it down to grade.

I guess we answered your original question - when to scalp. Now are you interested in fixing the bumpy soil? How much do you want to spend on this to make it right?

Here is a picture of the proper tool for grading soil in prep for a lawn. The blue tractor with the box blade does not disturb the deep soil but only works at the surface.


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RE: Too Late to Scalp Bermuda?

dchall: We agree the landscaper was not professional, and I would have gladly paid for box blade leveling if I had known what was required. This contractor came highly recommended by a local sod company BTW.

Yes, I see the crown now, but my yard has never been realy level even with the old St. Augustine. It also slopes from the house to the street. But the St. Augustine grew and cut level unlike this new sod.

It's not totally out of the question to level and re-sod at this point, but I was looking for methods I have read about using builder's sand and/or local top soil to help level the low spots without re-soding. If this house had some real value I might just start over. But at current value, it probably wouldn't pay to do so. Perhaps I am dreaming or off base thinking I can help to level it without re-soding.

Thanks for your uinput.


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RE: Too Late to Scalp Bermuda?

The job quote sheet stated, "Remove old grass down to dirt, till and rake level." I did not know grading would be required, nor did the contractor mention it. The sod was laid on 12 Oct 2011.

OK contractor contract is not ideal, and the sod was late in the season. No reason to beat a dead horse. It boils down to you have a few problems which are correctable. It will take some work and expense on your part. Other than that relax, it is not major and water under the bridge. Bermuda is very forgiving and almost impossible to kill.

I would appreciate any instructions on doing this. What to use, and best way to apply.

Ok that is the spirit and what I was looking for. Let's start over from that point.

Right now go to Home Depot Garden Department and look around the area where all the fertilizer is kept. Keep your eyeballs peeled for either a green or blue on white bag that has LESCO printed on it. Find the one that has either 15-5-10 or 20-5-10 printed on it and buy enough for one application. if using the 15-5-10 it takes 7 pounds of product per 1000/ft2 and 5 pounds for 20-5-10. Assuming you have the average size DFW tract lot 1 bag of either should do. Just do the math. Put is down as soon as possible and water it in if Mother Nature will not do it for you in the next couple of days.

Then relax for about a month or 45 days. Just keep it mowed and water when needed. Once it is greened up then we can worry about smoothing out the bumps.

In the meantime locate your nearest John Deer Landscape dealer. There a quite a few in the DFW area. Go there and buy you 5 or 6 bags of a product called Lesco 39-0-0 product number 000777. That will be enough slow release fertilizer for a year and maybe longer depending on the size of your yard. You need to apply it about every 30 to 45 days. Last application is mid to late October.

That is it for now. other than mow feed and water. Once it warms up and the grass is growing fast we can work on the grading issue. Too early to worry about now. But basically when it warms up you are going to fill low spots with material like coarse sand or quality top soil mix incrementally until you get where you want to be without smothering the grass.

Any Questions?


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RE: Too Late to Scalp Bermuda?

texas-weed, I sent you an email.


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RE: Too Late to Scalp Bermuda?

texas-weed, I sent you an email

Please resend. The address I had on file is closed. I updated with current address.


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RE: Too Late to Scalp Bermuda?

Please resend. The address I had on file is closed. I updated with current address.

Well your page no longer has a "send me an email" option, so I'll try again to post now.

Thanks for all your help and encouragement. After the 4 weeks of watering, etc. I contacted Trugreeen for lawn services. They come 8 times a year. So far they have been 3 times, but no fertilizer yet. Just pre-emergents. Next visit this late month or early next month will be fertilizing and each 45 days thereafter til Fall. Do you recommend canceling the Trugreen program and going with your recommended fertilizing? Thanks again.


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RE: Too Late to Scalp Bermuda?

I have to giggle a little. You're asking TW if you should ignore his advice and do something else? And especially when the 'something else' is to use a lawn spray company?? I think I can predict the answer to this one.

To put this in perspective, over the decade, I can count on one hand the number of posters who are happy with a lawn spray company. It is very common to see people who are unhappy with those companies. They are asking for the advice TW has already given you. If you already have The Bermuda Bible (authored by TW), then memorize it. If not, find it on the Internet and then memorize it. It's free to download.


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RE: Too Late to Scalp Bermuda?

I have to giggle a little. You're asking TW if you should ignore his advice and do something else? And especially when the 'something else' is to use a lawn spray company?? I think I can predict the answer to this one.

Not really, More like asking an expert what his opinion is of Trugreen. If I had the experience and expertise of you folks, I wouldn't ask. At my age (70) and physical condition, sometimes it's best to rely on service companies to do those things I used to do myself. I simply wanted to have his opinion of Trugreen and how their products stack up against the ones he's recommended. I appreciate any and all help and advice I am given, but if I don't ask, I'll never know.

I was also unaware that TW had authored the "The Bermuda bible" and I will download it. No disrespect was intended in my question.


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RE: Too Late to Scalp Bermuda?

At my age (70) and physical condition, sometimes it's best to rely on service companies to do those things I used to do myself.

OK that is needed info, and does change my answer. I normally would not recommend a Lawn Service unless it was my Son's company. Unfortunately he no longer does residential service in DFW as commercial is all he can handle.

As long as you are happy with the service you are getting and not physically able to do the work yourself. Stick with them.

In the mean time is there a kid or someone in the neighbor hood that might be able to spread some 20-5-10 now? Even thinking down the road can the same person do subsequent applications for you this year? Do you have someone who mows your lawn for you? If so it is certainly a job they can do for you, and should save you a few bucks with better results.

I know what TrueFreen will do and use. They will just spread 36-0-0 Ammonia Nitrate. It is OK but it is fast release and not ideal. The Lesco product I have recommended for you is a urea slow release 39-0-0. For the first I would want to see a balanced application of 20-5-10 or 15-5-10 used, then go straight nitrogen for the rest of the year.

Let me know if I can be of any help.


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RE: Too Late to Scalp Bermuda?

As long as you are happy with the service you are getting and not physically able to do the work yourself. Stick with them.

I can do most of the work, but it will take somewhat of a toll over time. Not that I can't, but let me tell you why I opted for Trugreen in the first place. I have a neighbor down the street with a fabulous lush Bermuda lawn. I went down and asked him (we'd never met before) how he did it. He is older than me, and said he's only used Trugreen for years and a mowing service. I was surprised. That's why I opted for Trugreen with my new lawn. I can't say at this point if I'm happy or not as only pre-emergents have been used to this point, but they seem to be mostly effective.

In the mean time is there a kid or someone in the neighbor hood that might be able to spread some 20-5-10 now? Even thinking down the road can the same person do subsequent applications for you this year?

I don't anticipate great issues with the applications of fertilizer if I do it, but if I have to also do the annual pre and post emergents, season after season, it will take it's toll. That was my primary reason for asking how Trugreen compared to your recommendations.

So, would there be major issues if I did the fertilizer myself, and let trugreen do the pre and post emergents? I am temporarily mowing the lawn myself now, but I plan on hiring the same company that my neighbor I spoke of uses, once the lawn is fully established. I will also ask them if they are willing to do the lawn applications as needed. If they can, I can cancel Trugreen.

Once again, I can't thank you enough for your assistance.


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RE: Too Late to Scalp Bermuda?

So, would there be major issues if I did the fertilizer myself, and let trugreen do the pre and post emergents? I am temporarily mowing the lawn myself now, but I plan on hiring the same company that my neighbor I spoke of uses, once the lawn is fully established. I will also ask them if they are willing to do the lawn applications as needed. If they can, I can cancel Trugreen.

No problem at all. I would say let them do it all except the first fertilizer application this year. I only recommend the first because you can use a balanced fertilizer, and it needs to be done now, not a month from now. This is an unusual year where everything is starting a month early.

What I suggest is you call and speak with TrueGreen, and get the details of what fertilizer they actually use. What you are fishing for is do they apply a BALANCED fertilizer during a growing season. If so when and how many applications of what ratio?

If they answer 1 application per season at either the first or last application is a good (right) answer. If they do not use a balanced application , have them skip the first or last one and you take over that application, or let a kid do it for $5. A bag of Lesco 20-15-10 will cost around $25 and cover 17K/ft2. So if your lawn is only 8K/ft2 it will last you two years.


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RE: Too Late to Scalp Bermuda?

The lawn spray companies are only as good as their applicators. Sounds like you have a good one, so yes, jump on that.


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RE: Too Late to Scalp Bermuda?

Ok, thanks. I will call them tomorrow. Just to be sure, did you mean to say a bag of Lesco 20-15-10 or did you mean 20-5-10 as mentioned in your previous posts?

So, also to be sure, if they use a balanced application for the first application, do I still apply the Lesco now, or let them do theirs this month, and throughout the growing season? What if they say they do it last? Do I apply the Lesco myself this month? Obviously, if they don't do a balanced application, I will do it myself this month. Just trying to make sure I understand correctly. Sorry if I am being dense.


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Sorry

Well your page no longer has a "send me an email" option

Sorry about that I fixed it. I am an ole fart too!


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