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Old 08-16-2013, 01:49 PM   #1
Join Date: Mar 2013
Location: Conway, AR
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Dallisgrass Control

I've been in the house for about 5 months now, and I'm slowly but surely getting the yard whipped into shape. Previous owners had a Volleyball pit in the back yard. I got it corrected (mostly.. still some low spots that need to be leveled). My problem now is that about 60% of my back yard is dallis grass, with some crabgrass thrown in as well. I signed up for a lawn care company to treat the lawn (6 applications/year).. but I was too late for the first application of a preemergent, which I'm guessing is the bulk of my problem. So far, I haven't been too happy with their service, so next year I'm going to attempt to do it all myself. They're supposedly spraying MSMA bi-weekly right now, but it seems to have no impact whatsoever. Every bit of dallis grass in my yard is green as can be.

I can't keep a handle on on the yard right now.. my mower can only tolerate mowing about 1/2" at a time because of the density of the dallisgrass.. (granted, it's a relatively puny mower, 4.5hp B&S, push).. but the rate at which this dallisgrass grows requires that I mow every couple days.. and I just don't have time for that.. not to mention the weather doesn't always permit.
If I go more than 5 days without mowing, I have to take the trimmer and knock down the dallisgrass before I can mow.

I've read that with Bermuda, the best strategy is to mow low, and often to choke out weeds.. so that's my current strategy. What else can I do to help get this under control ASAP? Do I just have to live with it this season and get a pre-emergent down next season? Should I attempt to roundup the dallisgrass, or would it be a lost cause and waste of money? Should I just controlled burn the entire yard?

I mowed for two hours last night and only got this much done because of having to empty the bag and unclog the chute so often.

If you can tell, I do have healthy bermuda mixed in.. so I'm confident that if I can get the weeds out of the picture, the bermuda will thrive

Uncut part of the yard that I didn't get to last night


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Old 08-17-2013, 12:29 AM   #2
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Was a turfgrass manager and had a Bermuda front lawn myself. It ate and drank much more than I ever did. It was beautiful until dormant but at great cost. Turfgrass managers have no arguments about who is going to swing by each others homes and mow lawns so that was never an issue.

With well fed and healthy Bermuda? It was twice per week at least. It is very aggressive and you cannot let it go for long in its growing season.

Bermuda is a rhyzome grass and thatches up quickly so, as you are doing, you have to bag clippings. You have to practically buzz cut it to the ground to look nice. And then water it like crazy since, when you think about it is shallow rooted and you are only allowing 1/2" or so of it to grow.

Anyhow, if the mower is really dragging on you? Is the blade crisp and sharp? With Bermuda you should really run a file over it after each mowing. It will only take a second.

Also, most rotary mowers sold today are of the mulching, and not bagging variety. A real lawn or tractor company will have options the box stores do not carry. Most consumer mowers today are designed to grind up clippings and return them to the turf. This is the last thing you want for a Bermuda lawn. You can compost the clippings if you want but never return them to grass. Bermuda thatches up on its own faster than you can imagine.

You need to look for a rotary mower that spits absolutely everything in to the lawn collection bag. A heavy reel type mower would actually be a better choice for Bermuda to be honest.

Long term, you might think about whether you need so much turf. Why not think about alternatives like adaptive no-mow groundcovers for some of it?

Core areation never hurts any lawn but much is lost with Bermuda since it is so shallow rooted. De-thatching it annually during its dormant season though will make a huge difference.

Is it worth it? I cannot think of a higher maintenance landscape lawn and one like Bermuda save for bent grass on putting greens. I was in the business with equipment availed to swing buy and mow my piece of the Earth. I cannot imagine what it must be like to try and mow a five day old, in season Bermuda lawn, with the wrong mower for the job.

I do not think Bermuda and its cousins will survive coming water rationing. It just takes to much fresh water to keep it going.


Last edited by user1007; 08-17-2013 at 12:32 AM.
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Old 08-17-2013, 10:17 AM   #3
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It should be noted that the mower doesn't bog down when mowing just the Bermuda, it only bogs down when mowing the dallisgrass. The dallisgrass has much thicker blades, it's more fibrous, retains more moisture, and it's just too darned abundant... all of those things in tandem create for an extremely awful mowing experience. In the front and side yards, I can mow the Bermuda at 1-1/2" every 6 or 7 days and it looks great. As for caring for it, down here we get enough sun and rain that it thrives with little homeowner interaction. I don't irrigate my lawn at all (with the exception of the area that I just seeded in the back), and it's lush and green for the most part.

That being said, I certainly don't intend on keeping the back yard a blank slate of Bermuda for very long. In the not-too-distant future, we'll being having kids, I plan to dedicate a large portion of the yard to a play area (probably with rubber mulch), as well as a small garden and a few flower beds. In the coming 12 months, I plan on doing a scaled drawing of my property and planning accordingly. But for now, my main concern is how to deal with the dallis grass infestation. If I have to spend my time and energy mowing my lawn so frequently right now, I'd rather be mowing nice Bermuda than all of these weeds.

If I just keep mowing these weeds short for the remainder of this year, will a pre-emergent next year help out dramatically? Or am I better off killing the dallisgrass with a non selective herbicide? The MSMA that the lawn company is treating with doesn't seem to have any effect at all.
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Old 08-18-2013, 09:09 AM   #4
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I'm a retired Golf Course Superintendent in the southeast with over 25 years experience. I wanted to add a few comments on the Dallisgrass. It is extremely difficult to control! During winter months when the Bermuda grass was dormant I would actually have crew members remove the plants with shovels to control isolated spots. This of course won't work for you but it is an option to control small areas any time of the year. In your case a non selective herbicide may be your easiest option. I will say that it can be controlled with MSMA but you have to exceed the label rates. I believe the best rate is 1 gallon per acre applied with a surfactant at precisely 7 day intervals for a total of 3 applications. The Bermuda will tolerate this if done correctly. It literally takes dedication to control Dallisgrass but it can be done. By the way you're also on the right track with your comments on Bermuda grass. It doesn't require that much effort to have a beautiful lawn. It is very drought tolerant. One final note regarding pre-emergents, they will not control Dallisgrass at all. Use these in the spring and fall to control summer and winter annual weeds respectively. I hope this helps and I wish you the best.


Last edited by srb1194; 08-18-2013 at 05:52 PM.
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