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  #1  
Old 08-09-2012, 10:13 AM
NEwhere1 NEwhere1 is offline
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Join Date: Aug 2012
Location: Woodstock, GA
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Should I continue trying to get my Bermuda lawn the correct height?

Hi Everyone!

First of all thanks for having a Homeowner forum!

Secondly i didn't do my due diligence prior to choosing Bermuda grass. I'm fine with the choice now, and am up to the task of maintaining it.

Background info: I had my backyard redone and a pool installed feb-april of this year, and it was sodded with Bermuda. It appeared to be doing fine except for a few places where it gets too much shade. I had been mowing it with my riding lawn mower 36" non-floating deck and to avoid scalping I had to mow it between 3-4" tall. Install was not done perfectly, there are bumps and dips, and a few of the irrigation lines are showing due to wet clay when they back filled the ditches. After doing some research online I decided to buy a new mower. I bought a used 20" Tru-cut reel mower, and got it tuned up at a local shop.

PRE-SOD pictures:









Have you ever seen such beautiful Georgia Red Clay?

I started trying to reduce watering frequency, but over did it and caused two large patches to brown out/die. They grass turned dry and took on a silvery color in those patches right before i watered again. I tried to go 4-5 days without watering. So at least I learned first hand what grass that needs to be watered looks like. I pulled some of the dead grass up to make sure it wasn't grubs, it still has roots so i don't think it was grubs, just burned up.

So the Reel mower can only mow so high, and when I mowed a portion of my lawn it cut all the green off in many places. I used the grass catcher and also blew off any remaining cuttings when i finished.

I'm told here in Atlanta that the Bermuda will grow into September and keep it's color into October.

I have two dogs, some of the small dead circles are from dog pee, but not all off them.

Here are some pictures!

You can see previous scalping from riding mower




You can see thin grass due to shade (working on trimming Jap maple and redtips)



and finally you can see the area i cut with the reel, and the results



Picture of scalped area

closer

Close up of reel cut where it didn't scalp


Mower seems to be cutting vs. tearing, no grass juice on bedknife, cuts of grass appear scissor like.

My question is, is it too late in the season to be adjusting lawn height this much? Should I just wait until next spring and scalp and top dress then (yard is lumpy)? Some of the previous scalpings from the riding lawn mower are still visible, and it seems to take 3-4 weeks to recover.

Keep in mind this is the highest setting on the reel, so really i probably need to go lower than what is pictured.
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  #2  
Old 08-09-2012, 10:41 AM
Duekster Duekster is offline
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Provided you do not remove more than 1/3 of the blade then the sod will continue to develop strong roots with proper water and fertilizer.

To avoid damage to the mower or the grass however you may want to wait until the lawn is leveled to use the tru cut.
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  #3  
Old 08-09-2012, 11:18 AM
NEwhere1 NEwhere1 is offline
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If i go about cutting 1/3 of the green portion of the grass, will i ever be able to reduce the overall height of the grass? Meaning, will the green portion get lower to the ground?

If what i've done is way too much and will damage the grass then i can't continue until i can scalp it all down next spring in prep for leveling. Is angular sharp sand the recommended method for leveling vs. sand/topsoil mix or some of my native red clay? I've been told soil filled into holes will smoother the bermunda where sand won't. I've also read where too much sand to level in one spot will create future watering issues ...


http://www.walterreeves.com/lawn-care/lawn-leveling/
"NOT PURE SAND It is easy for a homeowner to level a lawn. The first task, however, is to unlearn what you see at a golf course. There, sand is commonly used to fill divots made by golf clubs. Since the soil beneath has a high percentage of sand, adding sand to the damaged spot doesnít change the structural characteristics of the soil.

Normals lawns, though, are not built with a soil mix approved by United States Golf Association. We typically have soil that contains lots of clay. If you add pure sand on top of clay the drainage and growth characteristics of the soil are disjointed. Grass growing in the sand is more susceptible to drought and cold injury. Internal soil drainage is worsened.

HALF AND HALF You can easily make your own lawn patching soil by mixing sand and planting soil in a 1:1 proportion in your wheelbarrow. Some of the retail soil companies have gone so far as to package and sell such a mixture specifically labeled for lawn leveling."


I can continue cutting the lawn at 3-4" for the rest of this season and it sounds like that's the best thing for it.
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  #4  
Old 08-09-2012, 02:43 PM
Duekster Duekster is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NEwhere1 View Post
If i go about cutting 1/3 of the green portion of the grass, will i ever be able to reduce the overall height of the grass? Meaning, will the green portion get lower to the ground?

If what i've done is way too much and will damage the grass then i can't continue until i can scalp it all down next spring in prep for leveling. Is angular sharp sand the recommended method for leveling vs. sand/topsoil mix or some of my native red clay? I've been told soil filled into holes will smoother the bermunda where sand won't. I've also read where too much sand to level in one spot will create future watering issues ...


http://www.walterreeves.com/lawn-care/lawn-leveling/
"NOT PURE SAND It is easy for a homeowner to level a lawn. The first task, however, is to unlearn what you see at a golf course. There, sand is commonly used to fill divots made by golf clubs. Since the soil beneath has a high percentage of sand, adding sand to the damaged spot doesn’t change the structural characteristics of the soil.

Normals lawns, though, are not built with a soil mix approved by United States Golf Association. We typically have soil that contains lots of clay. If you add pure sand on top of clay the drainage and growth characteristics of the soil are disjointed. Grass growing in the sand is more susceptible to drought and cold injury. Internal soil drainage is worsened.

HALF AND HALF You can easily make your own lawn patching soil by mixing sand and planting soil in a 1:1 proportion in your wheelbarrow. Some of the retail soil companies have gone so far as to package and sell such a mixture specifically labeled for lawn leveling."


I can continue cutting the lawn at 3-4" for the rest of this season and it sounds like that's the best thing for it.
Some on this thread from GA will say they have used sand but I think what Walter is saying is conventional wisdom around the country where the soil is clay. I like compost and try to keep it to 1/4' in depth for the most part when dressing the lawn. If you have some areas that are relatively small but deeper the bermuda will recover pretty quick.

What you could do is buy some quality top dress compost and fill in the worst low spots only. Let the grass come up there. Then later aerate and top dress/level the whole lawn at a later date.

What height are you wanting to maintain on your lawn?

Following the 1/3 rule, the mowing frequency is as such.

(mowing height/2) / growth rate. You can assume a well watered and fertilized bermuda will grow close to 1/4" a day.

So for example you want to keep the turf at 1.5"

1.5/2 = 0.75 ( so you would cut the grass before it reaches 2.25" so you only remove 0.75" when you mow @ 1.5.

.75 / 0.25 = 3

If the grass grows 1/4 ( 0.25) then you need to mow every 3 days to keep the grass at 1.5 inches.

You are better off biting the bullet and taking the grass down one time then maintain it than you are removing 40 to 50% of the blade each week all summer long.
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  #5  
Old 08-09-2012, 03:23 PM
NEwhere1 NEwhere1 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Duekster View Post

What height are you wanting to maintain on your lawn?
I am not sure about final mowing height. I eventually want the nice thick green lawns i see (only one in my neighborhood) in really nice neighborhoods, or like on a golf course. Everything i've read said I'm currently mowing too high for bermuda. I have read i need to be below 2.5" with Bermuda to accomplish my goal. Of course i've read all kinds of suggestions 1-1.5", 1-2" etc. Until my lawn is more level, i either have to use the tru-cut at highest setting or mow at like 3-4" with my rider.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Duekster View Post
Following the 1/3 rule, the mowing frequency is as such.

(mowing height/2) / growth rate. You can assume a well watered and fertilized bermuda will grow close to 1/4" a day.

So for example you want to keep the turf at 1.5"

1.5/2 = 0.75 ( so you would cut the grass before it reaches 2.25" so you only remove 0.75" when you mow @ 1.5.

.75 / 0.25 = 3

If the grass grows 1/4 ( 0.25) then you need to mow every 3 days to keep the grass at 1.5 inches.

You are better off biting the bullet and taking the grass down one time then maintain it than you are removing 40 to 50% of the blade each week all summer long.
I'm okay with mowing every 3rd or 4th day.

I can currently accomplish the 1/3 cut of green only with my riding mower, but obviously would have to hack it back to be able to do that with the tru cut.

Do you think the part of the lawn i hacked down to ~2" from 4" as shown above will recover before it stops growing this year? Would my lawn be ultimately healthier if i just kept it high until next spring, i guess that is what i'm trying to figure out.

We're you suggesting that i start working on filling in some of the worst spots with good compost now?
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  #6  
Old 08-09-2012, 03:31 PM
Duekster Duekster is offline
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I am suggesting you fill in your worst spots now but again try to only add 1/4 to 1/2 inch at a time, let the bermuda recover then repeat. I would rather see you fill up a hole than scalp the area because of the low spot.

If you treat the majority of the lawn well, it will recover. Bermuda is tough as nails in the turf world.

I am not sure mowing higher is better for the lawn. I know removing more than 1/3 of the blade harms it. If you can not do this with the true cut, then use the rider at it's lowerst setting and mow so you do not remove more than 1/3 of the blade.
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  #7  
Old 08-14-2012, 02:52 PM
NEwhere1 NEwhere1 is offline
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Location: Woodstock, GA
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I finished "adjusting" the rest of my lawn this past Saturday afternoon and Sunday. We've had good rainfall every day and i've been checking the lawn all over with a screwdriver ensuring it's wet down to 6 inches.

I'll continue to update this thread as the lawn greens back up (assuming it does).

This scalping enabled me to easily find all of the crabgrass and pull it out as well as some other broad-leaf weeds, so i'm currently weed free.
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  #8  
Old 08-14-2012, 04:12 PM
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cgaengineer cgaengineer is offline
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Subscribed...will post my suggestions in a bit.
Posted via Mobile Device
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  #9  
Old 08-14-2012, 04:37 PM
NEwhere1 NEwhere1 is offline
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I'll take some new pics in a bit and post them. Approx 8000 sq ft or 16 pallets.
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  #10  
Old 08-14-2012, 07:02 PM
NEwhere1 NEwhere1 is offline
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Updated pictures




















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