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Need Some Professional Help...

Discussion in 'Pesticide & Herbicide Application' started by tarheelbuc, Sep 26, 2005.

  1. tarheelbuc

    tarheelbuc LawnSite Member
    Messages: 5

    and not just with my lawn but, my head according to the wife! :)

    Anyway, I am in the Piedmont area of NC, I believe it is considered a transistion zone for grasses. I have a TTF lawn, with 4 small trees, 90% full sun 90% of the day and a septic system. I have 2 sprinklers that I make sure to get down a minimum of 1" of water a week. Right now in my area, we are in a "moderate" drought according to the NWS. By my calculations, we are over 10" below normal in rainfall, and that is within 1/2" of what the weather man just acknowledged on the 5pm weather.

    Ok, here goes..and let me apologize for such a long winded post. I figure if anyone takes the time to read it, they will understand I try to be pretty detailed so everyone can analyze everything going on with this yard.

    Last year, I completey "nuked" my entire 28k lawn because the previous owner did not take very good care of it AND Bermuda was taking over. I took my pull behind sprayer, used a knock off of roundup and went to work. Killed it once, killed it twice and sprayed areas I THOUGHT even looked a little green a third time.

    When I finished that, I had a soil test done, applied the suggested amount of lime and then waited for the temps to cool and rain to fall before I core aerated VERY well and reseeded the entire lawn using Lesco's Tri-Gold TTF and Lesco's 18-24-12

    The grass started to come in within 2 weeks and looked beautiful come spring time. It was amazing how it looked and well, it still is the talk of the neighborhood even though right now, it is lush and dark green but, several issues are taking place. Thats why Im trying to make a "call" on what is the best thing to do at this time.

    Move forward 4 months and instead of having a buddy of mine who buys from Lesco get my fertilizer, I went with what I have always used and that is Scott's. Yes, its a little expensive but, for the average homeowner, I dont think there is a better way to go. I am a firm believer in "you get what you pay for" This is why years ago I went from using the local "feed and seed mill" crap to Scotts. There is a difference from one to the other and Im sure all the pros here know that. Its the average homeowners that usually dont understand this and throw any and everything out on their yard and expect a miracle.

    Anyway, winter ended I began the 4 step program and all was going pretty well until.....Mid-summer, we got a bad case of dollar spot/brown patch. I "cured" that with some horribly expensive products from a local nursery. I think THAT may have been caused by me watering too late at night and possibly too much nitrogen or a combo of both. Regardless, it took a toll on my yard and it only now has recovered somewhat. I THINK that when I applied the fungus treatment, I also laid out a lot of weeds with it because I have a variety of any and all kinds growing like mad right now.

    Thats not my main concern. My main concern, and Im sure that all of you are familar with the same problem, Bermuda grass has come back in a huge way. Bermuda in a tall fescue lawn just doesnt look good and really irritates me knowing how much time and money I have spent on it.

    Today, I went out and bought some Ornamec which the gentleman at Nivek assures me will kill off the bermuda after several treatments. It is also supposed to NOT kill the fescue but, I am aware that it will cause a lot of stress on the "good grass" There is a list a mile long with it that I have not read yet to see what else I can use it on

    Oh, and Im not done yet. :sleeping:

    It took me forever to try and figure out why around the 4 small Cleveland Pear trees, the grass grows very thin and is always the first to show signs of needing water and stress. According to what I have read and after talking with the local Co-Op agent, if I understand correctly, the trees are sucking all the nutrients out of the soil and this is causing thin/brown/dead areas. I had a "vision" that maybe if I planted a different type of grass (say a shade tolerant grass) that it might help those areas. Then I thought if I do that, the yard is going to have several types of fescue, weeds and so on going on and Im not sure thats a good idea.

    So, what questions do I need help with you ask? Well, here goes.

    Given the fact that its prime time to overseed again, should I do anything at all to the weeds that are growing or should I simply let them die with the first frost and then apply preventive around the middle of Feb? I will be overseeding again within a month...sooner if and when the temps dip and if we get some much needed rain.

    Ornamec, is that going to be my best option for this bermuda...other than "nuking" the yard again and throwing away all the time and money I have already spent and having it show up again next year?

    Any ideas of what I could do around the 4 trees on this big lot? It sickens me to see the yard when it is at its best and then look over at the trees and see thin and dying grass.

    I am open to any and all suggestions. I joined this forum over a year ago and have read and read and read and learned quite a bit. I have even considered starting my own lawncare business but at this time, its impossible. I also know that if the members here cannot come to a good conclusion to these problems, then I am pretty much SOL! :realmad: There are many, many smart people here that know what you are doing and not just pretending like I do! Yes, my yard is the tops by far in the area but as you know, if you dont keep after these things, they will get away from you fast.

    Again, I apologize for the length of this post and appreciate anyone that reads it and can lend a helping hand. If I left anything out or my rambling was not clear, please advise and I will do my best to clarify things.

    Thanks so much! I think this is in the correct forum but if it is not, please make one of the mods aware of it so it can be moved.
  2. Mscotrid

    Mscotrid LawnSite Bronze Member
    from USA
    Messages: 1,456


    1st things 1st, the only way to really get rid of Bermuda is too move. There are chemicals that offer suppressing control but I have yet to see one that can guarantee to eradication. Continue to over-seed and you might want too increase your fertility late into the season. Bermuda does not care for high N going into the winter and you might be able to nitrogen kill it went winter dormancy tries to set in.

    I'm sure there are quite a few opinion on this and that one is just mine.
  3. tarheelbuc

    tarheelbuc LawnSite Member
    Messages: 5


    Appreciate you taking time to read the novel I wrote and the advice. Only problem is, I have too much money in my lawn to move now so, guess I have to stay and battle the demon that is Bermuda grass.

    Whats amazing about that "grass" is the fact that after being killed and killed again, it just comes back. When I saw it appear after doing what I did last year, I almost cried. I could not believe it. Then I started hearing people tell me just as you did "you cant get rid of it forever" and my favorite, which I did try was to kill some of the bermuda, pull the runners up, place the runners in an airtight plastic bag, close bag, place whereever, I chose a dark closet and check on it in the spring. Guess what? It had multipled and was as green as ever.

    You would think with all the advances in technology, medicine and everything else, someone could make something to get rid of bermuda for those of us who dont want it.

    Heck, if someone lived in a warmer climate, the would be crazy not to have a Bermuda lawn. It grows anywhere and everywhere, fills in dead spots nicely and no matter what you do, it keeps coming back.

    My problem, as is most anyone who wants TTF and lives in the transition zones is that until about mid-april, early may, that bermuda looks awful when its brown and everything else is in full bloom.

    I know, Im preaching to the choir but, Im just wondering if any others have had any luck with ornamec, or a combination of anything else. I like your idea about adding more and more nitrogen late into the season but, if all I have read is correct, doesnt that lead to other problems later on? Well, besides mowing 2-3 times a week unless there is snow on the ground! :help:
  4. shiveslandcsaping

    shiveslandcsaping LawnSite Member
    Messages: 93

    I am not real sure about the ornamec. Is there as much bermuda now as there was when you sprayed it out last year or is it just patches? It would be real easy to just keep spraying the patches that may appear every year with round up and overseed it. A chemical is suppose to come out if it hasnt already that will kill bermuda and not hurt the fescue but you will have to apply it in phases. As far as around the trees I would mulch them because the trees suck up all the water as well and you will never be able to change that without cutting them down.
  5. tarheelbuc

    tarheelbuc LawnSite Member
    Messages: 5

    Thanks also to you shives for your response!

    There is nowhere NEAR as much bermuda as there was last year, not even close...maybe 10% from what was there last year BUT, it is coming in fast and furious. I had thought about killing, reseeding those areas over and over again but, I just would hate to have 2 dozen dead spots all over the place and then be constantly reseeding it. Then again, I hate seeing it taking over the lawn as it is now.

    I had read and thought that if I seeded heavy enough and had everything nice and thick it would crowd it the bermuda out but, thats nonsense..its the other way around.

    All 4 trees are mulched to a depth of at least 4"...maybe a little more since I added to it again 2 weeks ago!

    Maybe I will come up with a combination of all the ideas you guys have given and find some "balanced fix"

    As for the ornamec, according to the bottles instructions, it does kill bermuda and leave the fescue...we shall see about that and Im not holding my breath. :cry:
  6. Runner

    Runner LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 13,497

    Ok...let's get to the "root" of the problem. First thing to remember, is that you have alot of time and money already wrapped up into this lawn.
    So, FIRST thing you need to do is forget about the name "Scotts" and get yourself some REAL fertilizer with the PROPER nutrients that YOUR lawn needs. Just look at the analysis' you're getting from your overpriced fertilizer in the pretty little bags, and this will tell you your story right there. Warwick Hills, home of the Buick Open does NOT use Scotts fertilizer from the local Ace Hardware or Home Depot. As I said, look at the analysis' your getting on these bags, and you are going to find numbers like 29-3-3 (and this is even their "super" turf builder), 29-3-4 and similar numbers. These are geared for Joe Homeowner, who as long as he gets some green color and the leaf is growing to beat the band, says. "Gee! This stuff must really be working, because this stuff is really growing!"
    Well, this stuff is junk for your turf. Good name, just junk food. If you want your kids to grow and develop healthy and properly, you don't keep feeding them sugar and junk - even though that stuff gives them energy, do you? Well, your turf needs the same - especially YOUR turf! Now, I'll tell you why.
    Your lawn is a cultivar called Turf Type Tall Fescue. There are two types of turfgrass plants. There is what is called a bunch type growth habit, and there is what is called prostate growth habit. With the prostate growth habit, the turfgrass plants spread by stolons and rhyzomes, and thicken and spread much more rapidly than other turfgrass plants. With the bunch type growth habit, the turfgrass plants grow more in bunches, and do NOT spread as easily and fast as other cultivars (such as as Kentucky Bluegrasses, Creeping Fescues, etc.).
    So, to counter this, your turf needs are far different than some others - this is not a bad thing, though. TTTF is an EXCELLENT cultivar for other reasons. Your grass needs higher phosphorus and potassium rates than what it is getting (ALL turf grasses need higher potassium rates than what the fert. your using provides). The potassium will stimulate root growth - allowing a THICKER root system which will in turn grow thicker grass, and help grow a DEEPER root system whick will make it much more drought, disease, and insect damage tolerant. The thicker grass will deter weeds and unwanted grasses from coming in so bad. The potassium also helps the VASCULAR aspect of the plant which will give it much more rigidity and trigger pressure. In other words, it won't stress so easily. The phos. will also help in the root structure a bit. Ifg you want some more green, go with something that has some iron in it (2% will do).
    You had mentioned a fungus? It wouldn't suprise me if this was attributed to the excess nitrogen which can lead to too much top growth and make it more prone to fungus. The idea of giving it a bunch of nitrogen before winter is bad advice, too. You do NOT want too much top growth before it goes into dormancy.
    So, overall, what you will want to do is find a fert, that has a higher potasium rate, perhaps around a 24 5 11 or 24 0 11, and go from there. It is also best to find a slow release nitrogen fert. This gives it a much better balanced feeding. I will guarantee you will grow a much healthier stand of grass than you are growing now. Get with your friend that goes to Lesco.... he is on the right track. :)
  7. runner is a track

    i have found that roundup really hurts common bermunda, looks like you killed it, but it comes back, just don't get it all. the oronmec will work, but keep applyong it, follow direxctions.

    the scotts program gives too muck quick nitrogen, and no where enough potash, and your using the 4 step program!

    You where doing a much better job of feeding the bermunda then the tttfescu!

    2/3 to 100% n should be available in the fall for cool season turf, apply only 0 to 25% of n in spring, keep coo;l season turf lean and mean going into summer in zone 7, then push hard as soon as weather turns cool

    bermunda doesn't like 24d, especially when comming out of dormancy.
    yes, their is a new chemical coming out to remove bermunda from cool season turf! when???
  8. Mscotrid

    Mscotrid LawnSite Bronze Member
    from USA
    Messages: 1,456

    [ The idea of giving it a bunch of nitrogen before winter is bad advice, too. You do NOT want too much top growth before it goes into dormancy.
    So, overall, what you will want to do is find a fert, that has a higher potassium rate, perhaps around a 24 5 11 or 24 0 11, and go from there. It is also best to find a slow release nitrogen fert. This gives it a much better balanced feeding. I will guarantee you will grow a much healthier stand of grass than you are growing now. Get with your friend that goes to Lesco.... he is on the right track. :)[/QUOTE]


    I've always appreciated your info, but on this one I'll differ. Tarheel is concerned with his Bermuda trying to re-establish in his TTTF lawn. You said hold off high nitro to prevent top growth but you recommend a 24% N. At which rate? A pound of N or two of slow release N over a couple of applications will not have a negative effect on TTTF in Oct thru Dec. With that said it can have a huge negative impact on Bermuda. Not sure how much Bermuda resides in Michigan but in areas where you have mixed lawns or establihed Bermuda, winter kill can be accomplished with the late season application on the Bermuda trying to go dormant. You extend out the season and the turf can be damaged by frost when the cooler temps hit the green plant tissue in the Bermuda

    To re-affirm your thought I'm not a big fan of excess N on cool season in the spring. Coming out of spring I might apply a total of 1-1.25 actual N over two applications. I might apply a 1/2 lb N in the summer but have always relied on the higher rates of N in the later part of the program. Warm season turf generally receives it's N from May thru August. I have in the past spiked the warm turf with Higher potassium and inflated iron to enhance the color a little longer into the fall. Lately i've been looking to use higher rates of calicum which has proven very beneficial to all the turf I've applied it to. Labs studies where I have sent tissue sample are showing increased cell structure and I've seen less disease pressure on those lawns.

    Just my opinion, and in this business there are 100 ways to treat a lawn and 99 of them will probably work.

    Not criticizing your post just enhancing my previous statement..
  9. Runner

    Runner LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 13,497

    ...and I agree with that 100% with the warm season turfgrasses. There IS a big difference there, and I SHOULD've put more consideration into that aspect of it.
  10. tarheelbuc

    tarheelbuc LawnSite Member
    Messages: 5

    Thanks gentlemen! This is EXACTLY the kind of info I was looking for. I think I am starting to do get a grasp on things after reading the last few posts several times over.

    I cant argue with anything Runner, timturf, mscotrid said. I do agree 100% with the analogy of the Scott's program, nailed it to a tee!

    Given what was being said about a shot of N before winter and the higher potash, would you still suggest the same thing considering I will be reseeding soon? Or would you go back to the 18-24-12 that I used to seed before? If I can seed with the 24-5-11 or 24-0-11 and then hit it again with the same combo right before the start of winter...thats not a problem. I can tell you right now that is not close to what I was doing before and exactly why I came back here for some hard answers!

    Anyway, that front we were waiting on has made it through and the highs are in the 70's for the next few days, with lows in the mid-50's. The only thing that did NOT happen was the rain that is so badly needed. The ground is still too hard to aerate, and anyone familar with this red clay we have here will attest, I would be wasting time, gas and wear and tear on my equipment if I tried to do it now. The temps are there but the moisture isnt and I just cant put down enough water to get the ground where it would do any good. I am still sticking to my 1" a week as long as the well doesnt go dry but, thats not even close to putting a dent into this cement ground we have around here. So, Im in a holding pattern as far as starting my reseed/overseed program but, I want to be sure of what Im putting down and have it right here when the time comes.

    Also, getting things from lesco and/or nivek are not a problem and getting them through my buddy who is in the biz, brings the cost down to the same or sometimes LESS than scotts. I will heed the advice given here and give up my "idiot proof" scotts program. I have learned a lot the past couple of years dealing with this grass and one thing I did learn, is that scotts claim that "it wont burn your grass" is a lie....if you dont believe me, turn a spreader over like I did and see what happens :p Anyway, enough about Scott's.

    Here is what I THINK I understand that has been so graciously offered up and I will stick with the plan once I make sure I understood everyone correctly

    1 Not a lot that I can do about the trees sucking the life out of my grass that I have not already done.

    2 Ornamec may HELP with the bermuda after repeat applications...I figure I can start working on that now while I await for the clouds to open up.

    One other thing before I continue, timturf stated that bermuda does not like 24d when its coming out of dormancy. I have always heard it is best to attack that "grass" when its growing at its peak...true? false? Should I leave bermuda as it is now, let the frost knock it down in another month or two and then tackle it come spring or, attack with the ornamec now?

    3 I will use the 24-0-11 or 24-5-11 late into the season and it wont hurt my ttf and might help with the bermuda. So, between attacking it with ornamec and hitting it with N late, might HELP eliminate some of the Bermuda.

    4 Less is more concerning N in the spring and if it isnt as green as I like, a little iron will not hurt (one of the "brands" I was using claimed 2% iron and it indeed helped so I am aware of that) Would be interested in your thoughts on ironite if anyone cares to chime in.

    5 Thanks to Runner's indepth explanation of things. I tend to believe that the Tri-Gold I put down from Lesco..I would say I had the "bunch type growth habit" because it does grow in nice, thick clumps but, it fails to fill-in like I had assumed it would. When a spot would appear, the only thing that filled it in was...Bermuda! Stuff will fill in anywhere, anytime under any conditions!

    I wasnt clear on your statement "two types of turfgrass plants"...I THINK you are referring to different types of turf...ie bermuda, zoysia and fescue, kbg and NOT two different type of TTTF grasses. Please let me know if I am mistaken because if that is the case, instead of coming back over this with the Tri-Gold, I will find another blend of TTTF that does tend to spread out and fill in a little bit more

    6 Scott's who?

    I cant thank all of you enough for the responses and opinions you have given. I do appreciate them and look forward to showing off your hard work when I get this under control. Might take some photos for before and after so I can show you the difference....between now and then. Not sure if that type of thing is frowned upon here or not...probably is since everyone would be showing off their nice turf :)

    Anyway, if we can clarify a couple of things here, I will stop writing a daily novel and I can go back to reading this site and maybe even I can help someone!

    Thanks guys, its very much appreciated!

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