Fixing Bad Lawn

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bagelhead
Posts: 183
Joined: Thu Mar 17, 2011 12:20 am

Fixing Bad Lawn

Post by bagelhead » Thu May 16, 2019 11:52 am

Looking for yard experts to give suggestions on how to fix a bad lawn. A timely fix is not important. Least cost and aggravation is important.

The yard is 4000 square feet. 1/3 of the yard is moderately shaded by a tree. There is a mix of St. Augustine and Bermuda, extensive weeds (especially clover), and several small to moderate patchy dead spots. Climate is Southern/Gulf.

Sodding the entire yard is very expensive. Seeding is somewhat costly due to tilling labor. Bermuda can be seeded but may not grow well in the shaded part of the yard. St. Augustine can only be sodded.

Thank you for any advice.

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neilpilot
Posts: 2563
Joined: Fri Dec 04, 2015 1:46 pm
Location: Memphis area

Re: Fixing Bad Lawn

Post by neilpilot » Thu May 16, 2019 11:55 am

My advice is to contact your local (county) agricultural agent for advice that's specific to you & your locality

foamypirate
Posts: 104
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Re: Fixing Bad Lawn

Post by foamypirate » Thu May 16, 2019 12:38 pm

Here's my recipe for reviving a St. Augustine lawn:

  • Mow as tall as your mower will go
  • Water deeply once a week, about 1"
  • Hand pull weeds (weed a small patch each day)
  • Fertilize with organic fertilizer (Milorganite, Texas Tee, Medina Growin' Green) on the following Holidays (follow directions on the bag for application): Easter, 4th of July, Labor Day
  • Mow as tall as your mower will go - Yes, listed twice. This is important!
The time in between watering is critical, this helps promote deep root growth, and kills off shallow rooted weeds. Don't worry if you can't quite stretch the watering to 1 week at the beginning, just water deeply when the grass looks slightly stressed. In addition, St. Augustine needs height to grow well. This tall blade height will help insulate the soil, and help keep weeds from germinating. It's also necessary for the health of the plant, as it helps protect the stolons the blades grow from.


The above worked well for me. I did zero sod, zero plugs. Just good horticultural habits and elbow grease.
2011:
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After a few years:
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LiveSimple
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Joined: Thu Jan 03, 2013 7:55 am

Re: Fixing Bad Lawn

Post by LiveSimple » Thu May 16, 2019 2:44 pm

:sharebeer

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Elsebet
Posts: 715
Joined: Mon Feb 08, 2016 2:28 pm
Location: Washington state

Re: Fixing Bad Lawn

Post by Elsebet » Thu May 16, 2019 2:49 pm

Good general advice here even if it is tailored a bit for Washington state:

http://gardening.wsu.edu/lawns/
"...the man who adapts himself to his slender means and makes himself wealthy on a little sum, is the truly rich man..." ~Seneca

megabad
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Joined: Fri Jun 01, 2018 4:00 pm

Re: Fixing Bad Lawn

Post by megabad » Thu May 16, 2019 2:58 pm

We have done it all: the overseeding/aeration, chemical killing/reseed, tilling/reseed, and tilling then sod. The sod was by far the most effective but the most hard work. I had to roll out these huge bales and it was back breaking trying to cut it around circular beds. You have to get rid of the weeds, so in my opinion you can either use chemicals, till, or hand pull. foamypirate's yard looks amazing but it appears he/she hand pulled all the weeds. This is admirable but I am lazy, and this would have taken me years. I rented a huge tiller and had the whole yard shredded and sodded in 2-3 days. I have a sod guy so this was pretty cheap (I work with him). Otherwise I would have tilled, then seeded, then covered in bird screen. My soil was tested and it came back fine so I didn't add anything to it.

rj342
Posts: 297
Joined: Tue Apr 30, 2019 12:21 pm

Re: Fixing Bad Lawn

Post by rj342 » Thu May 16, 2019 3:06 pm

bagelhead wrote:
Thu May 16, 2019 11:52 am
Looking for yard experts to give suggestions on how to fix a bad lawn. A timely fix is not important. Least cost and aggravation is important.

The yard is 4000 square feet. 1/3 of the yard is moderately shaded by a tree. There is a mix of St. Augustine and Bermuda, extensive weeds (especially clover), and several small to moderate patchy dead spots. Climate is Southern/Gulf.

Sodding the entire yard is very expensive. Seeding is somewhat costly due to tilling labor. Bermuda can be seeded but may not grow well in the shaded part of the yard. St. Augustine can only be sodded.

Thank you for any advice.
I am in the exact same boat here in Mobile, except I have centipede. Full sun through most of the day, it can get baked. Tolerates sun IF it gets enough water. No sprinkler system. Half the front yard looks great, other half has about a 10x12 dead spot with some moss on it and a bunch more around that that is puny and sparse.

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Bengineer
Posts: 506
Joined: Sat Dec 03, 2011 12:25 pm
Location: NC

Re: Fixing Bad Lawn

Post by Bengineer » Thu May 16, 2019 4:51 pm

What foamy pirate said.
If they're getting what they need, warm season grasses will cover the lawn.

I''ve had good luck with enough water, mowing regularly to make sure no weeds get to seed, a little fertilizer and a selective broadleaf herbicide once a year.

Grass needs about an inch a week in the hot months. Watering frequency depends on the climate and soil - clay will hold water longer than sand.

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mhadden1
Posts: 695
Joined: Tue Mar 25, 2014 8:14 pm
Location: North Alabama

Re: Fixing Bad Lawn

Post by mhadden1 » Thu May 16, 2019 4:56 pm

foamypirate wrote:
Thu May 16, 2019 12:38 pm
Here's my recipe for reviving a St. Augustine lawn:

  • Mow as tall as your mower will go
  • Water deeply once a week, about 1"
  • Hand pull weeds (weed a small patch each day)
  • Fertilize with organic fertilizer (Milorganite, Texas Tee, Medina Growin' Green) on the following Holidays (follow directions on the bag for application): Easter, 4th of July, Labor Day
  • Mow as tall as your mower will go - Yes, listed twice. This is important!
The time in between watering is critical, this helps promote deep root growth, and kills off shallow rooted weeds. Don't worry if you can't quite stretch the watering to 1 week at the beginning, just water deeply when the grass looks slightly stressed. In addition, St. Augustine needs height to grow well. This tall blade height will help insulate the soil, and help keep weeds from germinating. It's also necessary for the health of the plant, as it helps protect the stolons the blades grow from.


Wow you rock! I'm taking St. Augustine advice from you.
Oh I can't, can I? That's what they said to Thomas Edison, mighty inventor, Thomas Lindberg, mighty flyer,and Thomas Shefsky, mighty like a rose.

ronno2018
Posts: 115
Joined: Sat Apr 14, 2018 9:31 am

Re: Fixing Bad Lawn

Post by ronno2018 » Thu May 16, 2019 5:35 pm

For weeding we really like the Fiskars 339950-1001 39" 4-Claw Weeder. :sharebeer

Grt2bOutdoors
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Joined: Thu Apr 05, 2007 8:20 pm
Location: New York

Re: Fixing Bad Lawn

Post by Grt2bOutdoors » Thu May 16, 2019 7:51 pm

If you want to eradicate the clover without resorting to hand pulling - you can use this and wait 2-3 weeks for it to work: https://www.homedepot.com/p/Ortho-Weed- ... /205563801
"One should invest based on their need, ability and willingness to take risk - Larry Swedroe" Asking Portfolio Questions

JBTX
Posts: 5161
Joined: Wed Jul 26, 2017 12:46 pm

Re: Fixing Bad Lawn

Post by JBTX » Thu May 16, 2019 8:01 pm

bagelhead wrote:
Thu May 16, 2019 11:52 am
Looking for yard experts to give suggestions on how to fix a bad lawn. A timely fix is not important. Least cost and aggravation is important.

The yard is 4000 square feet. 1/3 of the yard is moderately shaded by a tree. There is a mix of St. Augustine and Bermuda, extensive weeds (especially clover), and several small to moderate patchy dead spots. Climate is Southern/Gulf.

Sodding the entire yard is very expensive. Seeding is somewhat costly due to tilling labor. Bermuda can be seeded but may not grow well in the shaded part of the yard. St. Augustine can only be sodded.

Thank you for any advice.

Image

Bermuda won't grow in shade at all. Needs something like at least 6 hrs sunlight a day. StAugustine will withstand modest shade but not constant shade.

If both Bermuda and st Augustine are healthy in the same area the St Augustine will generally take over.

Bermuda is more prone to weeds, and needs preemergents and post emergents. It is near impossible to keep a weed free Bermuda yard without pre and post emergents. St Augustine, when healthy, chokes out most weeds.

Bermuda is pretty indestructible and it will grow deep roots, which will make it more drought tolerant.

I'd say give it time. Use preemergents and post emergents on the Bermuda. You can mow it lower, although you'll need to mow more frequently. If Bermuda is sparse mowing lower and more frequently will look better (similar to being bald and buzz cutting/shaving head!) and the growth is horizontal vs vertical. Also use fertilizer but make sure you are fertilizing grass and not weeds. You really have to stay on top of weeds. Space out watering such that the roots grow deeper in search of moisture.

The St Augustine advice in above post is good. Mow higher St Augustine can die due to lack of water in severe heat so don't stretch it too long. There is no way I could get a week in TX in the summer. More than two day gap and it is looking stressed. I didn't think st Augustine grew deep roots like mentioned above, but I may be wrong. Bermuda grows very deep roots.

If you don't want to wait for the st Augustine to spread st Augustine spreads very well with plugs. The kind you buy in trays. They are between 1 and 2 Sq inches. Plant them about 12 to 18 inches apart. A simple garden small hand shovel and some starter fertilizer at the bottom of hole and water liberally. About half of our lawn is st Augustine and it is all from me plugging. Plugging by itself will fill an area in 2-3 years. I put st Augustine where the Bermuda wouldn't go due to tree shade. I have no gardening skills at all so if I can Do it anybody can. Just takes a little effort and a few hours.

Good luck.

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jabberwockOG
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Re: Fixing Bad Lawn

Post by jabberwockOG » Thu May 16, 2019 8:39 pm

Get soil tested for both front and back yard. Southern lawns tend to need lime applied on a regular basis particularly if there are lots of pine trees around. If your azaleas are going great your soil is likely too acid for good grass growth. Apply very light coats of fertilizer 3-4 times a year along with lime on only the grass twice a year. Use a broad leaf weed killer like Atrazine twice a year when it is warm and the weeds are coming in strong. Like others have posted cut the St Augustine as high as you can set your mower and water twice a week in the heat of the summer. Cutting St Augustine short will kill it very quickly. I'd rather put concrete down if my only choice was going to be Bermuda. It is unbeatable in dry hot sun, but it is uncontrollable and extremely invasive. If you have lots of trees in the grassy areas, use selective pruning to bring up the canopy to give the grass adequate sunlight each day. It will die off in heavy shade no matter what you do.

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sunny_socal
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Re: Fixing Bad Lawn

Post by sunny_socal » Thu May 16, 2019 9:36 pm

I'm in the same boat OP. I'm going to use this stuff, about $30 for a large bag at HD

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