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Old 07-19-2015, 11:26 AM   #1
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To Seed or Sod or a waste of time?


We have a backyard that can best be described as reclaimed jungle; 40 years of out of control trees and bushes. The yard has a grand total of 16 trees (palms, mangos, banyons and some kind of junk tree) that are all 30 -40 feet tall or more. As you can see in the pics there is an extensive amount of scattered lawn/weeds growing. Soil is all sand. We have removed about five huge dump truck loads of brush/trimmings so far, gives you an idea. There is a lot of shade in the yard, but sun moves from left to right across yard and so fair amount of sun at different times of day on most of yard. We get A LOT of trash fall from all those threes; leaves, dead branches, palm braches and seed stalks and mangos (god how I hate Mangos)

There are no sprinklers as of now in yard, but er have our own pump and well and two open zones on our valve setup.

So here is my multipart question to comment on. Part I:Should I sod or seed or maybe do a combination (we have a couple of large bare areas, and a lot of partially grassed area). The whole backyard is L shaped and about 400sf of useable space. Part II: Because we have so much trash fall - should we do nothing until we can do something about all the trees. Money is an issue in this little problem.
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Last edited by Splais; 07-19-2015 at 11:29 AM. Reason: mistake
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Old 07-19-2015, 12:03 PM   #2
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Sod is not cheap and hard work and seed could be your answer. Grass does not grow well in shade so just getting something established will go a long ways before the weeds set in. Open up the tree canopy set the seed with a little fertilizer toss down some straw to help retain moisture and shade and keep everything moist. Ass soon as you can start mowing get at it so that the grass will start to bunch and spread. After a few mowing's weed control is in order ... that is all that it takes. Working on a golf course for years well could grow grass on 100% clay and make it look outstanding with what I said here.
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Old 07-19-2015, 12:25 PM   #3
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I reclaimed a shaded backyard pretty successfully. It took a couple of years. I did not do the work myself as by backyard is pushing 6000 soft. I removed a couple of trees and has lower on others removed. The landscaper brought in a bobcat, removed all of the existing grass. Covered with a 2 inch layer of topsoil. Fertilized and seeded. Every year it looks better and better. On your size yard you can do the work yourself. I would not uses sod as most turf farms are in the open sun and those grasses don't do as well in the partial shade. If you some dense shady areas, plans some shade tolerant shrubs or flowers and mulch the area. Growing grass in deep shade is like teaching pig to sing.... It annoys the heck out of the pig and frustrates you.
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Old 07-19-2015, 12:48 PM   #4
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if you don't mind the cost of sod, sod is the way to go. It is instant grass. Just be sure it is watered properly and you choose the proper species of grass for the sun/shade issue as well as the climate.

You can even get away with a lot less ground prep. I have worked many construction jobs where they graded and raked the existing soil to remove rocks and debris and thrown sod on it and watched it flourish, even in what I thought was crap soil.

when growing grass from seed there is a long period where the grass is very susceptible to over/under water, over/under sun, too cold, to hot, and even general use (like walking on it) that causes it to be a less than desirable result and must be reworked annually for a few years to get the growth you want.


jimn01 did make a very good point of the sod being grown in a farm field. Yes, the typical sod is intended to be very sun tolerant, or even sun needy but that doesn't mean the species used is not also more tolerant of partial shading. Not a lot of grasses do well in full shade though. If you use sod, make sure the species is capable of flourishing in whatever exposure it will receive in your yard.

You may end up with some sod in the main area and seed around the perimeter if you cannot find sod able to deal with the amount of shade along the edges. That would still give you a more usable yard quicker and some "stay off the grass" signs around the edge and a lot of puzzled faces as they see the signs and realize they are in fact standing on grass.
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Old 07-19-2015, 01:32 PM   #5
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I'm just guessing, based on the sand, banyans, mango and palms....


Florida?


Bermuda, or Zoysia and LOTS of water. But, never, and I do mean never, fertilize.
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Old 07-19-2015, 03:10 PM   #6
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Yes, Boynton Beach Florida

And question - why never fertilize?
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Old 07-19-2015, 04:05 PM   #7
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Fertilizing Bermuda like you would with other grasses WILL burn it up.

Lived in Ft. Lauderdale for many years, and never fertilized. Had the sprinklers come on just about sunrise and gave everything a serious soaking, and my yard looked lush!

I had lots of palms, orange, banana, Lemon, and tons of tropical plants, with big grassy areas that were in shade too.
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