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View Full Version : why do people scalp bermuda when its about to go dormant?


inzane
10-23-2012, 10:56 AM
i just watched my neighbor scalp his bermuda lawn yesterday.. and also had a customer tell me he wanted me to do his next app before he scalped it for the winter. :hammerhead: i guess its for the look of it. but is there just something i don't know about doing this? i've just always kept it a little higher in the winter myself.. common sense tells me this will help keep weeds out better. not to knock my neighbors lawn, his lawn always looks good.

bjack312
10-23-2012, 11:05 AM
It's basically just to get the dead grass off the top. Some say that it will encourage the bermuda to come out of dormancy earlier because the sun will better warm the ground. I don't think that it is really necessary, but it is a common practice. Most people in my area will scalp in the spring as part of a post-winter cleanup. Don't usually see it done in the fall.

macgyver_GA
10-23-2012, 11:32 AM
It's basically just to get the dead grass off the top. Some say that it will encourage the bermuda to come out of dormancy earlier because the sun will better warm the ground. I don't think that it is really necessary, but it is a common practice. Most people in my area will scalp in the spring as part of a post-winter cleanup. Don't usually see it done in the fall.



I think it's just someone heard from someone else's brother's neighbor who's a landscaper that told them to scalp before winter.

Personally, I scalp all my bermuda lawns down about the first week of April. Depending on the temps.

I'm with the school of thought that it helps with winter weeds to leave it at full height during the winter.

inzane
10-23-2012, 11:51 AM
i always scalp in april as well or when i start seeing a good bit of green.. took it down to the dirt last time, which i never did before. probally wont do that this time, i did it only to remove the massive amounts of henbit, poa, etc. that i had grew in the yard the previous year. http://www.lawnsite.com/showpost.php?p=4390040&postcount=1

Skipster
10-23-2012, 02:01 PM
I think it's just someone heard from someone else's brother's neighbor who's a landscaper that told them to scalp before winter.

Personally, I scalp all my bermuda lawns down about the first week of April. Depending on the temps.

I'm with the school of thought that it helps with winter weeds to leave it at full height during the winter.

I don't even see the advantage in scalping it in the spring -- the new growth is always going to come from the crowns and push out the old growth regardless of mowing height. You may get the lawn to look greener a few days or a week earlier than if you didn't scalp it, but I hardly that's worth the extra weed problems. I always see a lot more weeds in the scalped lawns than in the lawns that were left at the same height all year.

Remember, weed seeds need sunlight to germinate and heat to grow. If you leave the grass longer, it shades out the weed seeds and keeps the soil cool longer, so the bermudagrass has more time to grow before the weeds establish.

Scalping any time of the year only sets back the bermudagrass and makes the weeds healthier.

rbljack
10-23-2012, 02:01 PM
i would wait until spring. When you start seeing some green coming into the lawn thats NOT henbit or other early season weeds, then id say its ok to scalp it. But i dont see how doing it in the fall would be healthy to the lawn. No expert here by any means, just saying what I do to my own lawn. Scalping in the spring, then maintain it low until it starts gettign hot. As temps get over the 90s into the 100s, the grass is cut at a higher setting.

Sprinkler Buddy
10-23-2012, 02:06 PM
That's not as bad as a customer asking you to scalp their lawn in the middle of summer so it wont grow as fast. lol Grass or weeds, you pick!

cgaengineer
10-23-2012, 02:18 PM
Scalp in the fall to overseed with rye, scalping in the spring helps remove dead top growth so that the ground warms up a little sooner.

I do not agree with skipster, scalped Bermuda greens up faster...especially when you are using a reel mower. Scalping from 2.5" to 1.5" doesn't do much though.
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cgaengineer
10-23-2012, 02:20 PM
To add, the same heat that germinates weed seeds grown Bermuda. So skip, you actually contradicted yourself.
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Skipster
10-23-2012, 04:34 PM
No contradiction here. I said that scalping in the spring might get you some greenup a few days or a week sooner, but I don't think it's worth the extra weed competition. Sure, both the weeds and the bermudagrass will benefit from the warmer soil, but you have to look at the trade off. Green grass a week earlier with more weeds, or dormant for another week without weeds?

My customers like the green grass without the weeds. But, like many of my competitors, you're more than welcome to encourage weed invasion any time you'd like :)

cgaengineer
10-23-2012, 04:46 PM
My lawns and my customers lawns are on a weed control program.
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Skipster
10-23-2012, 04:56 PM
Sounds like a typical spray-and-pray lawboy. Ever heard of IPM? You know -- that stuff they've been trying to teach you at the industry association meetings, pesticide license recertification seminars, university field days, and the certification study manuals.

Anyone can (and does) throw PREs out and blanket POST materials on each and every lawn. But, then we're only being wasteful and putting more material in the environment than necessary.

Following proper mowing, irrigating, and cultivation practices reduce the need for heavy weed control measures. I haven't blanketed a POST app in years and all of my lawns are weed-free. When you mow properly, irrigate the right amount, and aerate a lawn, it's amazing how few pesticide inputs are needed (and how happy the customers are).

But, you can go right ahead and scalp down those customers' lawns if you want. That way, they can see their weeds and call you back to spray them. That was never my MO, but it takes all kinds in this world.

cgaengineer
10-23-2012, 06:48 PM
I practice IPM, on my lawn an customers...I prevent weeds with proper care or chemicals so that I don't have to use harsher chemicals to kill them later.
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inzane
10-23-2012, 07:48 PM
i see your point though. i scalped my lawn early spring, and it took a little while to fill in and even with pre's i had a bit of a weed problem earlier this year. i may take it down a little lower in spring just so i can start to keep it lower, but not gonna scalp it to the dirt. sure, i got rid of the henbit faster, but i admit i had more weed problems this summer than ever... it started to look pretty good i'd admit. scalping the bermuda in spring seems to be a common practice here though. :)

No contradiction here. I said that scalping in the spring might get you some greenup a few days or a week sooner, but I don't think it's worth the extra weed competition. Sure, both the weeds and the bermudagrass will benefit from the warmer soil, but you have to look at the trade off. Green grass a week earlier with more weeds, or dormant for another week without weeds?

My customers like the green grass without the weeds. But, like many of my competitors, you're more than welcome to encourage weed invasion any time you'd like :)

cgaengineer
10-23-2012, 08:03 PM
i see your point though. i scalped my lawn early spring, and it took a little while to fill in and even with pre's i had a bit of a weed problem earlier this year. i may take it down a little lower in spring just so i can start to keep it lower, but not gonna scalp it to the dirt. sure, i got rid of the henbit faster, but i admit i had more weed problems this summer than ever... it started to look pretty good i'd admit. scalping the bermuda in spring seems to be a common practice here though. :)

I scalped mine to the dirt and had about 5 weeds that popped up before the Bermuda greened up. But I'm a "spray and pray" guy.

To skip: I scalped a few weeks ago and overseeded with rye...no pre or post...you would be so proud of me. I feel like a good little tree hugger.
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cgaengineer
10-23-2012, 08:12 PM
My home lawn: Taken Oct 4 this season, I'll try to get a better picture tomorrow if I reel.

http://i40.photobucket.com/albums/e223/cgaengineer/0F388B15-F4E6-4612-B009-A85FFDE3F010-1391-0000015A3927800E.jpg
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ed2hess
10-23-2012, 09:07 PM
No contradiction here. I said that scalping in the spring might get you some greenup a few days or a week sooner, but I don't think it's worth the extra weed competition. Sure, both the weeds and the bermudagrass will benefit from the warmer soil, but you have to look at the trade off. Green grass a week earlier with more weeds, or dormant for another week without weeds?

My customers like the green grass without the weeds. But, like many of my competitors, you're more than welcome to encourage weed invasion any time you'd like :)

In my area bermuda wins over weeds all season long. Can't scalp anytime during the summer here or you will have permanent mark that looks bad. And often there are some of those in the yard and spring gives you a chance to cut it all down low and start over. Often you get mower tracks that don't come up and scalp gets those out also.

Skipster
10-23-2012, 09:59 PM
I scalped mine to the dirt and had about 5 weeds that popped up before the Bermuda greened up. But I'm a "spray and pray" guy.

To skip: I scalped a few weeks ago and overseeded with rye...no pre or post...you would be so proud of me. I feel like a good little tree hugger.
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I'm certainly no tree hugger. But, if I were, I might tell you that overseeding isn't environmentally responsible, either, since it requires resources that would otherwise not have been needed. As a turfgrass ecologist, I think that overseeding is crazy, since you're introducing a competition problem for your bermudagrass in the spring.

But, you guys are perpetuating what the regulators already think of you -- you blindly follow what's been done for years without thinking and you rely on chemicals. That's why they keep taking pesticides from LCOs, but not other uses (like MSMA, 2,4-D restrictions, simazine restrictions, atrazine, and the list goes on).

Look, I'm not a tree hugger, but I am a proponent of smart management. Just because you have chemicals doesn't mean that you have to rely on them. We did that 50 years ago and created a resistance problem. Just because some hillbillies think they need to scalp everything doesn't mean I need to.

BTW, what's up with all the thin spots in that lawn, cga? That's the kind of lawn I laugh at as I drive by it. The poor homeowner probably thought he was really cool by cutting his lawn so short and overfertilizing it, but the joke's on him, since he has thin spots, has to water more frequently, and has to mow it twice as often as I do -- all for quality much lower than a properly maintained lawn.

You can maintain it how you want. But, if that's the result your program delivers, I don't want it. Short, high maintenance, and thin spots? No thanks!

cgaengineer
10-23-2012, 10:27 PM
I'm certainly no tree hugger. But, if I were, I might tell you that overseeding isn't environmentally responsible, either, since it requires resources that would otherwise not have been needed. As a turfgrass ecologist, I think that overseeding is crazy, since you're introducing a competition problem for your bermudagrass in the spring.

But, you guys are perpetuating what the regulators already think of you -- you blindly follow what's been done for years without thinking and you rely on chemicals. That's why they keep taking pesticides from LCOs, but not other uses (like MSMA, 2,4-D restrictions, simazine restrictions, atrazine, and the list goes on).

Look, I'm not a tree hugger, but I am a proponent of smart management. Just because you have chemicals doesn't mean that you have to rely on them. We did that 50 years ago and created a resistance problem. Just because some hillbillies think they need to scalp everything doesn't mean I need to.

BTW, what's up with all the thin spots in that lawn, cga? That's the kind of lawn I laugh at as I drive by it. The poor homeowner probably thought he was really cool by cutting his lawn so short and overfertilizing it, but the joke's on him, since he has thin spots, has to water more frequently, and has to mow it twice as often as I do -- all for quality much lower than a properly maintained lawn.

You can maintain it how you want. But, if that's the result your program delivers, I don't want it. Short, high maintenance, and thin spots? No thanks!

It's my lawn..

It had just been overseeded late September, picture taken maybe 10 days after planting...guess you missed where I mentioned a better picture (more current).

Its environmentally reaponsible, doesn't require water...winter is our rainy season and II also have not applied ANY fertilizer.

Did you know rye is a cover crop skip? Please tell me reasons why.

Please post some pictures of Bermuda lawns you maintain...I'm begging...in fact, I dare ya. Can't wait to see some thin rotary cut Bermuda lawns.
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sehitchman
10-23-2012, 10:41 PM
CAG, that is one of the nicest GA bermuda lawns I've seen. Keep doing what you are doing and don't feel like you need to defend yourself. I'm ready for some time off, or I'd put the winter rye out also.

I wait till spring to take the bermuda down. Usually 2" with is a good height to start the season with and avoid burning it down to dirt in places. Many of my accounts have kids, if I were to scalp the grass short now, the wet season and kid pressure would turn the yards into a muddy mess.

dKoester
10-23-2012, 11:19 PM
Another benefit from rye is that next year when it dies those deep roots will break down creating some nice channels for water to get down in. ****If your going to knock someones work at least post some of your own.***

jgrs7
10-24-2012, 12:21 AM
Ca eng.. thats a beautiful lawn. love to see ga lawns look that good. how low is that cut? im assuming you cut it with a reel mower.

herler
10-24-2012, 12:47 AM
That's not as bad as a customer asking you to scalp their lawn in the middle of summer so it wont grow as fast. lol Grass or weeds, you pick!

Oh, you mean when they ask about "Can you cut it shorter?"
The absolute worst ones are those who have had a pre-em treatment done, no grass and no weeds.
And that is ALL they plan on having done.

I usually give up on them once it becomes clear to me that a lawn is the last thing they want.
The only thing that kills me is, why'd they call me?

cgaengineer
10-24-2012, 05:36 AM
Thanks fellas...I'm waiting to see some of skips pictures. He must maintain golf courses.

To someone who asked...yes it is reel mowed.
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Florida Gardener
10-24-2012, 06:51 AM
Hey skipster, nobody here would let you maintain their sports turf with your program, you'd be fired in a week. But I guess all the professionals that have been maintaining the sports turf for decades here and make easy 6 figures per year are doing it wrong.
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jetta
10-24-2012, 09:21 AM
i dont know how low a scalp is but for me especially north face yards we cut real low, it seems to help mold after a heavy snow and the ground is not froze

txgrassguy
10-24-2012, 10:57 AM
As a Turfgrass Agronomist I can state categorically whenever a C4 turf plot is scalped close to the crown - unless this action is being done for a specific renovation purpose, the stress the scalping creates is incredible.
Carbohydrate reserves going into dormancy are vital for correct emergence, overseeding CAN aide in transitioning through microrhyzial bacterial population management - depending upon the species of over seed C3 utilized.
However, scalping prior to emergence is, without a doubt - short of spraying glyosphate - the worst possible action, plant health wise, one can do to C4 turfgrass.
Instead of being a typical uninformed mower boy, actually learn what inputs actually helps C4 turf by studying the pathology and morphology of the plant species maintained.
In case all you are capable of doing is cruising for porn, try this instead:
Hollow core aerify a minimum of 2X annually, actually bag the clippings on soil other than sand based, apply a compost tea solution for the microbes/soil or failing that use good old Milorganite in granular form - and watch the turf thrive.

Skipster
10-24-2012, 11:11 AM
Hey skipster, nobody here would let you maintain their sports turf with your program, you'd be fired in a week. But I guess all the professionals that have been maintaining the sports turf for decades here and make easy 6 figures per year are doing it wrong.
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Are you sure about that statement? I've been asked to consult on 6 Super Bowls and I've consulted on field management at Raymond James Stadium and SunLife Stadium, both in your part of the world. I've also provided consultation for 11 SEC football stadiums and 10 baseball stadiums. You see my athletic field work on TV every weekend. You will even get to see my baseball work during the World Series this year. I could go on an on about my golf work, but this isn't a golf forum. But, if you watched the Masters, the US Open, the PGA Championship, or this year's Ryder Cup, you saw some of my work.

As for CGA's overseeding, since it didn't use and fert, are you telling us that you didn't use any starter fert when you overseeded? You didn't apply a single bit of fert before or after overseeding? You didn't water the newly planted seed a bit more than you would have watered bermudagrass on its own?


But, what benefits do you think your overseeding is providing you? Research has shown that overseeding worsens bermudagrass winter injury, worsens Spring Dead Spot, harbors other pathogens, and provides a negligible amount of OM. When you scalp the bermudagrass to overseed it, you interrupt the production and translocation of carbohydrates (so the plant is more susceptible to winter injury) and you increase auxin production, which shifts plant resources from carbohydrate storage to tryingto repair top growth. Spring transition is also a problem because you have a cool season grass operating at its optimum time of year and it's competing with bermudagrass for light, water, and nutrients. Why make life nay harder on the bermudagrass thna you have to?

The only agronomic bright spot about overseeding is that it can cushion bermudagrass crown from traffic injury. If your lawn gets as much traffic as a football field, overseeding may help. Otherwise, it competes against bermudagrass, worsens winter injury, and keeps springtime soil temps lower than without overseeding.

So, what's the point of overseeding again? Oh yeah -- you want something green with stripes in it to impress your neighbors. Too bad they see the poor bermudagrass you have underneath it in the spring and summer.

txgrassguy
10-24-2012, 01:34 PM
Skip, like anything else, over seeding if done incorrectly presents more problems than it solves. However, to a informed/capable person, the benefits of over seeding out weigh the negatives. Unfortunately, there are few agronomists on his site so info has to be necessarily truncated.

I have a very efficient C4 to C3 transition program and C3 control for dormancy emergence, however it happens to be quite equipment/timing specific. Again, usually outside of the typical LCO lexicon and ability.

Out of curiosity, when and what work did you perform for Augusta National? It has been quite some time since I was on-site yet if my memory serves correctly, aside from soil movement projects completed by outside vendors, the transition/course correction occurs during course closure time from October onward via the large in-house staff.

Are you stating you have replaced the longtime agronomic consultancy from Penn State as well?

cgaengineer
10-24-2012, 02:19 PM
Are you sure about that statement? I've been asked to consult on 6 Super Bowls and I've consulted on field management at Raymond James Stadium and SunLife Stadium, both in your part of the world. I've also provided consultation for 11 SEC football stadiums and 10 baseball stadiums. You see my athletic field work on TV every weekend. You will even get to see my baseball work during the World Series this year. I could go on an on about my golf work, but this isn't a golf forum. But, if you watched the Masters, the US Open, the PGA Championship, or this year's Ryder Cup, you saw some of my work.

As for CGA's overseeding, since it didn't use and fert, are you telling us that you didn't use any starter fert when you overseeded? You didn't apply a single bit of fert before or after overseeding? You didn't water the newly planted seed a bit more than you would have watered bermudagrass on its own?


But, what benefits do you think your overseeding is providing you? Research has shown that overseeding worsens bermudagrass winter injury, worsens Spring Dead Spot, harbors other pathogens, and provides a negligible amount of OM. When you scalp the bermudagrass to overseed it, you interrupt the production and translocation of carbohydrates (so the plant is more susceptible to winter injury) and you increase auxin production, which shifts plant resources from carbohydrate storage to tryingto repair top growth. Spring transition is also a problem because you have a cool season grass operating at its optimum time of year and it's competing with bermudagrass for light, water, and nutrients. Why make life nay harder on the bermudagrass thna you have to?

The only agronomic bright spot about overseeding is that it can cushion bermudagrass crown from traffic injury. If your lawn gets as much traffic as a football field, overseeding may help. Otherwise, it competes against bermudagrass, worsens winter injury, and keeps springtime soil temps lower than without overseeding.

So, what's the point of overseeding again? Oh yeah -- you want something green with stripes in it to impress your neighbors. Too bad they see the poor bermudagrass you have underneath it in the spring and summer.

Sorry about your own lawn looking like a turd skip...

I've posted pictures of my lawn summer and winter...looks great. Not sure where you come from (maybe mars) but I get comments all the time about my lawn. Neighbors, friends...people on LawnSite...but hey, all that green grass 365 days a year sure looks bad. My reason for overseeding...because I want to. I could give two shitz about crown damage of my Bermuda...it's just a plant, can't seem to hold it back much.

And once again, no fertilizer was used...not even starter fertilizer. I've watered once. It's been down since late September.

And somehow skip...you've done everything from creating herbicide labels to meeting god himself...why are you on here. Post your company name.
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Skipster
10-24-2012, 02:29 PM
What are the benefits of overseeding that you see outweighing the negatives? Sure, there's value in overseeding athletic fields in some situations (mostly to have a repairable green surface to play on) and some value for golf operations (mostly for green color, some for cushioning crowns). But, I can only see one agronomic benefit for overseeding, while there are numerous agronomic detriments of overseeding. So, if the need for green color in the winter or excessive traffic are things that are important to you, overseeding may have a place. But, you will have to contend with the other problems that come with it. That is why the golf industry is moving away form overseeding. The proportion of southern courses that overseed is lower now than it has ever been -- because they don't find the value in havign crappy bermudagrass for a month in the fall and two or three months in the spring, only to have green grass for a couple of months in the winter.

As for Augusta, I regularly talk with Marsh and Brad (director of agronomy and golf course superintendent) and they ask me to help them with their programs. We talk about twice a month in the off-season, then it picks up in frequency in January, and I'm always on-site for the tournament. The consultation with Penn State is really just these guys talking to their old profs when questions come up -- same as they do with me. We talk about fertilizers, wed control, and disease issues.

Richard Martin
10-24-2012, 03:37 PM
To add, the same heat that germinates weed seeds grown Bermuda. So skip, you actually contradicted yourself.

Crabgrass seeds must have direct sunlight to germinate. Scalp the grass to the dirt and guess what you're promoting the growth of. My Bermuda lawns all get cut the same height, year round. Even mine. :walking:

cgaengineer
10-24-2012, 03:50 PM
Crabgrass seeds must have direct sunlight to germinate. Scalp the grass to the dirt and guess what you're promoting the growth of. My Bermuda lawns all get cut the same height, year round. Even mine. :walking:

That's great for you Richard, I don't have CG problems from scalping.
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inzane
10-24-2012, 08:24 PM
man, great looking lawn.

My home lawn: Taken Oct 4 this season, I'll try to get a better picture tomorrow if I reel.

http://i40.photobucket.com/albums/e223/cgaengineer/0F388B15-F4E6-4612-B009-A85FFDE3F010-1391-0000015A3927800E.jpg
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cgaengineer
10-24-2012, 08:27 PM
man, great looking lawn.

Nah, it's full of bare spots and laughable at best...
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bjack312
10-25-2012, 08:51 AM
Nah, it's full of bare spots and laughable at best...
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Yeah, looks horrible. Your yards infested with golf balls, you need to spray that with something.

I wish I could make my yard look that bad!

Florida Gardener
10-25-2012, 09:17 AM
Chris, you should be ashamed of yourself. Your yard is absolute fodder.....what a joke. Guys who don't even cut with a reel and renovate sports turf are now experts....
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cgaengineer
10-25-2012, 03:22 PM
Yeah, looks horrible. Your yards infested with golf balls, you need to spray that with something.

I wish I could make my yard look that bad!

Thanks man, I tried.

Funny thing about the golf balls, I don't even play...I pick them up when I'm mowing other properties...I like the contrast of the white ball on shitty looking reel mowed green turf.
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cgaengineer
10-25-2012, 03:29 PM
Chris, you should be ashamed of yourself. Your yard is absolute fodder.....what a joke. Guys who don't even cut with a reel and renovate sports turf are now experts....
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Yeah, I know...reel mowers are for losers. If I was a golf course super I get rid of the reels and use ZTR's...they leave a much nicer cut. I would also practice IPM until people stop showing up because weeds became obstacles for golf balls.

Ok, I have some pine straw raped from a beautiful South GA pine forest to install in my beds...
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macgyver_GA
10-25-2012, 03:47 PM
Yeah, I know...reel mowers are for losers. If I was a golf course super I get rid of the reels and use ZTR's...they leave a much nicer cut. I would also practice IPM until people stop showing up because weeds became obstacles for golf balls.

Ok, I have some pine straw raped from a beautiful South GA pine forest to install in my beds...
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What is this pine straw stuff you speak of? Why would anyone put that stuff in the beds around their house? :laugh: Isn't that a fire hazard during the hot summers? ;)

cgaengineer
10-25-2012, 03:55 PM
What is this pine straw stuff you speak of? Why would anyone put that stuff in the beds around their house? :laugh: Isn't that a fire hazard during the hot summers? ;)

I've heard of entire neighborhoods burning down because of it... ;), but I think it looks great and I am huge risk taker...sometimes I drive without my seatbelt or ride my quad without a helmet. I also have some needless safety devices disabled on some equipment.

Wood chips? Don't those cause termites? ;) (I know they don't)
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cgaengineer
10-25-2012, 03:56 PM
Haven't some humans spontaneously combusted?
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