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Old 05-27-2014, 11:00 AM   #1
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help bermuda grow into patchy spots


Hey all,

I live north of Atlanta and have bermuda grass. It grows quite well and thin/bare spots fill in quickly. I've had depressions and fill them with sand, and they level out nicely. But I have a few areas where there is not grass and the dirt is now really hard-packed. Is there an easy top to help here so the grass can more readily grow into and fill this area?

Should I just take a shovel tip and loosen up these area, perhaps mixing in a little sand?

In other areas where the grass is thinner - will sand help there and/or somehow loosening the dirt?

I know I could aerate - but these are smaller areas. Should I get those aeration shoes and walk around?
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Old 05-27-2014, 03:37 PM   #2
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Sand is for making concrete, mortar and sand castles.

Mix compost in with the soil and add a light dusting of 46-0-0 then keep it moist so the nodes of the above ground stolons can root until the area is covered.
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Old 05-27-2014, 04:46 PM   #3
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Grass is not going to grow in sand.
Done a soil test to see what's needed?
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Old 05-28-2014, 09:59 AM   #4
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You should never use pure sand to level a lawn. Since you are near the Atlanta area I'm guessing you have a lot of clay in the soil, adding pure sand on top of the clay only creates further problems by turning the soil into a nearly hardened cement-like consistency, as drainage abilities are worsened. Sand also dries out rapidly in summer, causing any grass that may be growing to suffer in the heat. Grass growing in the sand is also more susceptible to drought and cold injury. Avoid putting sand on a lawn by itself.

Now the good news is that you have Bermuda grass. Bermuda grass is also known, as a weed in lawns not planted with it. It can spread very quickly if left unchecked, even little parts of this grass can regrow into mature plants. It is an attractive looking grass that handles heavy foot traffic well and it repels most diseases and tolerates drought and heat. Bermuda grass does not grow well from seeds so if you have to replace parts of your lawn it is best to use sod. From your post it sounds like most of the lawn is doing well and there are some small thin areas that need help. Not a problem the Bermuda grass will take off and fill in these areas quickly if taken care of properly. It needs regular watering and frequent fertilizer feedings to retain its color.
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Old 05-28-2014, 10:04 AM   #5
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Here is a generic calendar of lawn care practices for Bermuda grass, adjust it for your geographical location.

March-May

Pre-Emergence Weed Control
Depending on your location apply pre-emergence herbicides and repeat 8 weeks later in between fertilizer applications as to extend protection through summer months. First application is done before first mowing if timed properly because the Bermuda will still be dormant. Weed-n-Feed products are not recommended because the fertilizer contained in these products will only stimulate what weeds exist, and the Bermuda cannot use it at this time.

Mowing
For the first mowing in the spring when you first see green spring, mow very short, some may use the term scalp. Bag the debris and clippings. The idea here is to mow as short as possible to remove all the dormant (brown) material without cutting all the way down to the dirt. Don’t worry it will look terrible at first, but this sets up every thing for a thick healthy lawn. For subsequent mowings practice mulch mowing for heights greater than ½ inch (aka grass cycling, which means simply leaving grass clippings on your lawn). Lower cutting heights required for dwarf and some hybrids varieties will require bagging as the clippings are unsightly, will lay on top, and can smoother the grass. Grass clippings decompose rather quickly and can provide up to 25 percent of the entire lawn's fertilizer needs. If prolonged rain or other factors prevent frequent mowing and clippings are too plentiful to leave on the lawn, they can be collected and used as mulch.

Mowing height and frequency greatly depends on the variety of Bermuda grass you have and climate conditions. General rule is the same for any grass as you never want to remove more than 1/3 of the blade height. Hybrid varieties like Tifway I (aka 419), Tifway II, Celebration, Tifsport, are the most commonly found varieties used in upper end lawns, new construction, and are laid as sod and sprigs only. These hybrids should be maintained between ½ to 1-1/4 inch depending on your level of commitment. Mowing frequency depends on height of every other day for ½-inch to every 3-to-5 days at 1-1/4 inches. Remember the 1/3 rule as it will dictate mowing frequency. Reel type mowers have to be used at the lower heights because rotary types cannot go below 1-inch to 1-1/4 inches. Otherwise rotary is OK. Common types or seeded varieties are best maintained between 1 to 2-1/2 inches, and some of the pasture types can go up to 3 inches. Note some of the seeded varieties like Princess, Rivera, and Yukon are treated like hybrids and mowed shorter. At these higher cutting heights mowing frequency is less frequent of every 4-to-8 days or so. 1/3 rule still applies. Lastly depending on you grass type the mowing height is maintained through out the rest of the year up until fall. If you live in a colder climate where you experience cold freezing winters you may need to raise the height to add insulation and freeze protection. (If you have a Dwarf variety hopefully you live on a golf course, where they are normally used, because it will need to be mowed on a daily or every other day basis. This variety is not normally used for home lawns, but more for informational purposes.)

Fertilization
For the first application in spring, or last application in fall but not both, apply 1 pound of nitrogen per 1000/ft2 when the grass is about 50 to 75% greened up. It is best to get a soil test done to determine nutrient and lime requirements for exact application. In lieu of soil test use a complete nitrogen-phosphorus-potassium (N-P-K) turf-grade fertilizer with a 3-l-2 or 4-1-2 ratio (for example, 15-5-10 or 20-5-10). To determine the amount of product needed to apply 1 pound of' nitrogen per thousand square feet, divide 100 by the first number in the fertilizer ratio. For example, for a 20-5-10 product, divide 100 by 20. The result is 5.0 pounds of product per thousand square feet. (If soil test was done apply lime if needed.)
For subsequent applications during the active growing season, apply a nitrogen only product like 39-0-0 every 30 to 45 days through out the growing season at a rate of every 1-pound of nitrogen per 1000/ft2. If you see the color start to fade and you know water is not a problem it is likely your grass needs a nitrogen application. Best results are obtained by using a slow release urea based fertilizer. They come in many ratios of slow release like 50, 75, and 100% slow release urea. I would recommend 75% as that will contain 25% fast release for immediate needs, and the 75% should keep it fed for 30 to 45 days depending on water frequency and rain.

Irrigation
Is a widely misunderstood concept, and is one of the most important aspects to a healthy happy lawn. Improper irrigation is the heart of most problems like weed infestation, disease, insect, and fungal problems. I cannot emphasize this point enough but remember this: WATER ONLY WHEN THE GRASS NEEDS WATER (automatic sprinklers are a convenience for people not for grass). This may sound foreign to many but is very easy to recognize all you have to do is pay attention and learn the signs. There are two easy methods to determine when it is time to water. One is the walk test, and the other is by observing a slight color change.
Walk Test: Bermuda is a very soft subtle grass, and when it has adequate moisture it will spring right back after you walk on it. But when it dries out and you walk on it your foot prints will remain. So all you have to do is walk on the grass and look back. If it springs back quickly it has plenty of water, if not it is time to water. If it is crunchy and brown, you waited too long, however it can quickly recover with water.

Color Change: Mother Nature gives Bermuda grass a defense mechanism to defend itself against drought and dry conditions. If you ever look closely at Bermuda grass blades you will notice the grass blades on the top visible surface area is dark green and shinny, and the under side of the blade is dull (matte or flat) and more bluish-gray in color. When Bermuda grass roots dry out, the leaves will curl up in the heat of the day to minimize surface area and conserve water. When this happens the underside of the grass blade becomes visible and there is a noticeable color shift from shinny dark emerald green to a duller bluish-gray. When you see that happen it is time to water. Pay attention and the first spots will be on high spots or hills where the water drains faster and is more exposed to the elements.

When it is time to water, water very early in the morning to minimize evaporation and give the grass time to dry during the day so fungal problems do not occur. Water to a soil depth of 4 to 6 inches which should take about an inch of water depending on soil type and conditions. You can probe with a screwdriver to determine moisture depth. Watering frequency will depend largely on climate and soil type. As a general rule of thumb you water about once a week, let the grass tell you when it needs water.

Post Emergence Weed Control
If pre-emergence weed control was applied properly at the right time along with mowing feeding and watering this step should not be necessary. Nothing more than hand pulling of occasional weeds that pop up are needed. Otherwise apply post-emergence herbicides in May as needed to control summer annual and perennial broadleaf weeds such as crabgrass, knotweed, spurge, and lespedeza. Products containing two or three broadleaf herbicides usually control several different broadleaf weeds in a lawn more effectively. Be sure the product is labeled for use on Bermuda grass. Use only spot treatment on infected area rather than a whole lawn shotgun approach.

Insect Control
Bermuda grass can have insect infestations which tend to increase with higher input levels of management. Higher nitrogen fertilization rates, close mowing, and frequent irrigation tend to increase insect problems with Bermuda grass. Problematic insects that feed on the Bermuda grass are army worms, cutworms, sod webworms, Bermuda grass mites and Rhodegrass scale (mealybug). White grubs can severely damage Bermuda grass by feeding on grass roots. Nuisance type insects found on Bermuda grass include chiggers, ants and ticks. Bermuda grass can tolerate low population levels of most of these insects. When insect populations are high enough to cause significant damage, biological or chemical methods may be required. Most species of white grubs can be controlled with milky spore disease, a biological control that effectively controls white grub populations. Baccilus thuringensis or BT is a biological control for army worms, cutworms and sod webworms. When biological controls are not effective, chemicals can be used together with cultural and biological controls to reduce insect populations to an acceptable level.

Thatch Removal
When cultural practices (proper water, mowing, and fertilizing techniques) are followed thatch should not normally be a problem. If needed vertically mow or use a hand thatch rake in May or June after the Bermuda grass is actively growing to remove the thatch (layer of ½-inch or more of un-decayed grass)
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Old 05-28-2014, 10:06 AM   #6
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June through August

Mowing
Follow the same as above after initial mowing in the spring.

Fertilization

Apply 1 pound of a nitrogen only product per 1000/ft2 every 4 to 6 weeks using a slow release urea product. Something like either 34-0-0 or 39-0-0.

Irrigation
Follow the March through May irrigation guidelines.

Weed Control

Apply post-emergence herbicides as needed to control summer annual and perennial weeds like crabgrass, goose grass, dallisgrass, sedges, and sandbur. Two or three applications 7 to 10 days apart are required for effective control. Apply herbicides only when weeds are present and the weeds are actively growing, and when the lawn is not suffering from drought stress. Follow label directions and watch for the temperatures.

Insect Control

Follow the March through May insect control guidelines. August is the best time to control white grubs because they are small and close to the soil surface. 


September through November

Mowing
In colder climates where the ground freezes or extended cold spells below freezing are common, 4 to 6 weeks before the first expected frost, raise the mowing height 1 inch above normal... This will add some insulation value and some freeze protection in transitional areas.

Fertilization
Apply the last application for the season four to six weeks before the first expected frost or when you raise the cutting height in colder climates. You can use a balanced fertilizer for the last application of the year as indicated in the spring application, but not both spring and fall. In lieu of a soil test just like spring use either a 3-12 or 4-12 ratios. In addition you can apply lime or sulfur if earlier soil test indicated a deficiency and it was not practical to add the required amounts in spring.

Irrigation

Follow the March through May irrigation guidelines. Dormant Bermuda grass may need to be watered periodically when warm, or windy weather prevails.

Weed Control
Optionally you can apply pre-emergence in September or October, and again around the Holidays or post-emergence herbicides as needed to control winter weeds such as chickweed, blue grass and henbit. Pre-emergence herbicides do not control existing perennial weeds. Apply post-emergence herbicides only when weeds are present. Hand pulling is always preferred and less expensive.

December through February

Irrigation
Dormant Bermuda grass may have to be watered periodically to prevent desiccation, especially when warm, windy weather prevails.

Weed Control
Apply post mergence broadleaf herbicides as needed to control weeds such as chickweed, henbit, and hop clover, or hand pulled. If your Bermuda grass goes completely dormant in the winter, you can use non-selective herbicide like Round Up on anything that is green.
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