NEW HOUSE, BAD LAWN - remove or save?
FIRST TIME HOME/LAWN OWNER - this is more difficult than I realized! Zone 9, hot, dry, and depressingly far from the beach. Grass looks like mixture of fescue and bermuda???
House was Foreclosure, but the lawn was in okay shape two months ago. Now it's filled with weeds and invading my adjacent beds. My neighbors have beautiful, clean lawns, so they must know something I don't. :furious: I now realize (HEAD HUNG IN SHAME) that mowing high is not the same as mowing once a month! How often should I be mowing at a high setting?? It's VERY HOT (triple digit temps). I am hoping more frequent mowing will help the weed problem.
Right now I water TWICE/WEEK ONLY in 3-5minute intervale to ensure water soaks in/good water levels. I mow twice a month at a high setting and use my mulch plug. I spent a lot of time on my hands and knees digging out weeds, but they keep coming back. I applied fertilizer with weed suppressor about two months ago. I have also reseeded some patchy areas (seed w weed suppressor). Looks like lawn has different types of grass growing because it varies in shade. There are still patchy areas and the grass coverage is not so good. Soil is HIGH CLAY/very compact.
QUESTIONS: Can I aerate now or should I wait? When can I apply sulpher and nitrogen? What can I do NOW DURING THE SUMMER! to encourage better growth and reduce the evil weeds? What type of grass do I have and would I be better off reseeding w St Augustine?
I am a big fan of composting, and I was planning to start adding regularly to the lawn. Any comments?
First off: I am in no way a proffesional landscaper, so hopefully others will correct any misinformation. All I know is what works for me. Keep this in mind as I attempt to answer your questions.
As far as mowing frequency: if you are mowing on the highest setting, you can mow anytime the grass gets taller. In hot dry weather, that could be once a month, in rainy season, that could be twice a week. I know that sounds like a smart-ass answer, but I don't know how else to answer it. As far as mowing helping to control weeds, it might keep some types from multiplying since you are giving them less of a chance to produce seeds, but It will do very little to kill of the ones that are already there ( depending of course on what it is)
I know of two types of weed killers on the market: contact killers, and pre-emergants ( forgive my spelling). For the most part: granule type contact killers get put on wet grass, which shouldn't be allowed to get wet again for a minimum of 48hours. Pre-emergants are usually applied in the spring, before the weeds have had a chance to emerge from the soil.
Make sure you know what you are using, and applying it correctly. Another thing is you really need to know what you are trying to kill, since some weeds are immune to the basic "garden variety" killers and require very specialized stuff. Take a sample down to your county offices, and they can help you properly i.d. Take some grass samples with you as well and they will tell you what you've got
Composting is great for your lawn, especially with clay. the organic material is the best way to break up clay and assist with drainage. Be prepared for you lawn to look pretty crappy for a couple weeks though...
Areating and dethatching are best done in fall and spring, when it's a little cooler and grass isn't so stressed. I usually add compost after I areate, as it helps it get into the soil quicker.
Finally, I was always taught that it's much better to water less often, for longer periods of time. when you water everyday, at 5 minute intervals, you teach the roots to say closer to the surface, making them more susceptable to insects, draught, mold, etc... I was always led to believe that deep running roots make healthier lawns, and it has served me well over many years.
As for your main question: Repair or Replace. This is your first time, so my advice is repair for now. If the problem with your lawn is an inexperienced owner, you are better off simply using what you have as a way to gain some experience.
Spray weed killers tend to work better for weeds that are established, granular does better as a preventative. I would get a sprayer (like the ortho dial-a-spray) and concentrated weed killer (make sure it is safe for lawns and wont kill the grass too). See if that helps.
I also agree with the first poster about water longer but less frequently, I too have read that promotes deeper roots.
Lastly St Augustine does not produce seed, you would have to use plugs or sod. I say repair it, lot easier and cheaper than replacing.
Any professionals out there have any advice?
I already water correctly so that is not the issue. I water deeply and infrequently.
The issue is that it's a hot summer and my lawn is more weeds than grass because it hasn't been taken care of by the previous owners. I don't want to use a ton of chemicals since it would mean burning at least half the area, and I've already discovered pulling them by hand isn't going to cut it.
I was out there this morning pulling crab grass and I'm wondering if there's any actual grass left or if it's just all weeds, and what my best bet is at this point? Should I wait until it's cooler and try reseeding? If I compost will it encourage weed growth? How can I determine where my grass ends and the weeds begin?
I am not a professional. =)
But just based on what you've posted, it sounds to me like you've got a lawn that's a mixture of a cool weather grass and warm weather grass. Personally, I think that's just going to cause endless expenses and problems and frowns. You have to water year round. You'll do double duty on maintenance. The grasses will probably grow in patches so that the yard always looks diseased. etc. etc. etc.
If you have bermuda, you'll likely always have it trying to grow in your yard so it makes sense to me to transition to just bermuda--unless your yard is shaded, which it didn't appear to be from the pics. Essentially, your efforts to care for your yard won't yield results you're happy with until you decide what kind of grass you want and establish it, imho.
What a pain!
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