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Front Lawn Renovation

Discussion in 'Turf Renovation' started by rbljack, May 6, 2013.

  1. rbljack

    rbljack LawnSite Senior Member
    from Texas
    Messages: 731

    Ok, so a few years back we had rain and decent weather, and my Bermuda lawn looked pretty good (about an 8 on a 10 scale). It hit its best the year I dethatched it and laid in about 10 bags of miracle grow potting soil raked in and over seeded. Last few years have been incredibly dry, and my yard suffered because we don't have automatic irrigation. Add to that, we were on water restriction last year for only one day a week.

    With a weather outlook this week showing 80-90's for the highs, and 60's for the low, I decided it was time to work our yard.

    I watered heavy on Saturday evening, and sunday went over it 3 times with my aerator which worked great. From there, I laid starter fertilizer, and then laid my half my seed and another 8 bags of Miracle grow potting soil spread thinly over the yard using a landscape rake. I was considering getting sand, but due to my last minute decision to do this (while there is a lull in the lawn cutting), all I could get at wally world was the potting soil. I then went back over it with another layer of seed and lightly raked the surface again.

    Watered the seed, and now its a waiting game. The seed i used is a Penington Brand of bermuda seed called "Saraha".

    Hopefully this will improve the quality of my lawn so the "local Lawn care guy" has a decent lawn this year....LOL.

    Any thing I should have done differently? I may aerate again in the fall and level the yard with sand, or should that wail till next spring for that?
  2. RigglePLC

    RigglePLC LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 13,717

    What was the purpose of the potting soil--was it to bury the seed? Why the aeration? Was it heavy soil--or was it compacted by foot traffic? Won't the starter fert stimulate the Bermuda already present? So it covers over the seed? (I guess, it that case, it wouldn't matter.)I don't do Bermuda--so--lots of questions.

    Clearly the best and most needed thing for this lawn is water--and lots of it.

    Are you convinced that the seeded Bermuda Sahara is the same color and quality as your original Bermuda sod? If it takes--if it looks the same as the old grass--how will you tell if it "took"?
    Are you cutting with rotary or low with a reel?
  3. agrostis

    agrostis LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,539

    I want to know what height you mow at? What kind of mower you use and what kind of bermuda is there now? What kind of soil is this? Do you fertilize? Is this in the west? Picture's would be a big help. Riggle's right, that inconsistent water is a major problem, but bermuda is the best bet for water restricted area's.
  4. rbljack

    rbljack LawnSite Senior Member
    from Texas
    Messages: 731

    yep, its a common bemuda lawn and we are in west texas. I mow with a rotary mower, and realize that a reel mower would be better, but I haven't gotten to that point yet. I aerated because it hasn't been done in years, and the ground is hard. By aerating, it allowed me to get the compaction knocked down a little, and the soil was used as a top dressing to help with seed to soil contact along with leveling the low spots. I hope to get a few pictures and post them soon. With two years of bad drought, the lawn was getting thinner and thinner, and it was time to thicken it back up. Idid fertilize three times last year with the appropriate amounts, but we werent able to water as much as it needed last year due to he restrictions.

    I will be watering as much as possible from now through june, but here in west texas, if we don't get any rain, we will be on water restrictions again. Hopefully this seed will take and get established this year if we can get the rainfall. We need it BAD.

    I don't know how well the saraha will blend with the original Bermuda, but it should match up fairly closely. Ill be happy to have a weed free, non patchy lawn that is at least somewhat green. Everything is turning brown here, you just cant imagine what only 2 inches of rainfall in 4 months can do. Dry DRY DRY...it sucks. My lawn cutting is suffering too.

    I have in the past cut the lawn around 1 inch, and when it starts to hit the 100 degree plus mark, cut a bit higher through summer.

    I would like to purchase a reel mower this year for our small yard, and was looking on craigslist a bit last night actually. we will see.
  5. agrostis

    agrostis LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,539

    The key here is that you have common bermuda, you really need to mow at 1-1/2". Hybrid bermuda is able to take a lower HOC, but not common, this isn't just my opinion either.


    Mowing at 1-1/2" would take care of your thinning problem, help choke out weed's and cut back on water requirement's, you'll just have greener grass. You won't have to do any overseeding, the Sahara you have been using is only a few step's removed from straight common, you won't have any color mis-match's.

    Bermuda like's nitrogen, give it 1/2 Lb. of N per 1000 sq. ft. per month, May through Sept. Water the fertilizer in with .25" of water. Mow when the grass is totally dry and keep your blade's sharp. Good luck.
    Last edited: May 7, 2013
  6. maynardGkeynes

    maynardGkeynes LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 411

    When you say the original lawn is "common Bermuda," do you mean it was from seed? Or was it sod?
  7. rbljack

    rbljack LawnSite Senior Member
    from Texas
    Messages: 731

    it was here when I moved in, and am pretty sure its just common Bermuda because it doesn't have the finer blades like some of the other hybrids I've seen. Just guessing though.

    I agree with the nitrogen and water routine. That's why I picked this month to do the renovation. I have to get it done while the weather is in the 80's and 90's, not 102! Second reason is that may is typically a month where we get a bit more rain. (its actually rained twice this week, and we doubled our rainfall for the year because of it (from 2 inches for Jan-Apr, to maybe 4 inches now).

    Lastly, the community will kick in water restrictions as the drought conditions continue, so again, may is a month where I can at least keep the seed bed moist without getting in trouble for watering.

    Its been tough here in west texas for the last 2 years, and this year is starting off the same. Severe drought conditions, and the mowing business is suffering. My customers keep calling and delaying the next mowing.

    Thanks for the inputs, and Ill try to get some pictures posted with progress as it occurs.
  8. maynardGkeynes

    maynardGkeynes LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 411

    What I wonder is why it thinned out in the first place. That stuff spreads voraciously by rhizomes if it is adequately fert and irrigated. Figuring out why it thinned out seems like job #1, not the overseed. Otherwise, you may soon have the same problem. Sounds like it may have been simple drought stress, given your irrigation restrictions. It may be that Bermuda is not a good choice in your area. It will survive, but it may not look too good when it gets dry out where you are.
    Last edited: May 8, 2013
  9. rbljack

    rbljack LawnSite Senior Member
    from Texas
    Messages: 731

    Ill try and get some pictures posted soon, but the lawn is coming along. Ive been using my Honda HRC to keep it mowed low and often. Good news too...ive been watching craigslist this month, and tonight I picked up a reel mower.

    Its not top of the line by any means, but I think I did ok. Its a Mclane reel mower 25" in ok condition. Needs some work but runs, and I got it for 180 bucks. For those who are curious, I did some research on them today. The one I went and picked up was listed as a commercial grade (and its all red). I called Mclane before buying the mower, and they said the red ones aren't any different then the red and yellow. There are no commercial grade parts that are different from their other ones. In fact, they even made some for John deere at one point, and they are Green and Yellow with the John Deere name on them. And there is another version that is all black.

    Anyways, it doesn't have the catch bag, and its missing the side chain cover. For 180 bucks, I don't think I did too bad for the 25 inch model. Ill try it out tomorrow and see how well the initial cut is. Im guessing it will need to be back lapped as well.

    OH..and now for a question; Ive been reading about yall leveling the yard with river sand and then allowing the grass to grow thru it. My question is this: is that the same as Concrete sand? I called a local sand supplier, and they said the concrete sand is a coarse sand. IS river sand the same thing? They said it would be about 15 bucks of concrete sand for 1/4 yard of sand. I have a half ton truck, so that's about all I want to put in there (figure its about 700 pounds on a guess). I may try adding another run of Sahara over it if I can get the sand and level the yard. I don't expect my yard to look as good as some of the lawns ive seen on here, but while we have cooperating temps, and a bit of rainfall, Id like to improve the quality of my lawn as much as possible. Once we get into July, and 100 plus temps with the dry heat, Ill have to raise the height again a bit, and go back to that, but for now, I want to take advantage of the aggressive spreading habits of the Bermuda while we are in the peak of growing season.
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2013
  10. agrostis

    agrostis LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,539

    Coarse or sharp sand (same thing) is what you want. It has pore's that microscopic water particle's can cling to. River sand and coarse sand are not the same thing. River sand has had the pore's rubbed away from the agitation of being underwater.

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