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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
At the risk of being leaughed off the forum with my very first post I'd like to share my 2017 Lawn "rehab" story. It's not by any means a traditional way of going about it so let's see how you pro lawn guys react to it. But first a little back story.

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I purchased my first house in 2015. It sits on 3/4 acre and was built in 1980. As far as I can tell everybody who lived here cared little for the outdoors and the landscaping obviously suffered. We don't have an HOA so there really isn't an incentive to get out there and make it look good if you don't really care.

the first year I made an attempt at growing fescue but it was an epic failure. I hadn't yet learned what preemergent was and didn't realize it was a bad idea to plant fescue in the spring time in GA. I figured since Home Depot packed their shelves with fescue seed in the spring time it must be a common practice. Needless to say the weeds took it over within a couple months.

With that failure behind me I spent most of the fall and winter of 2016/2017 digesting YouTube videos and reading evrything I could find on Google. I learned a lot about what I did wrong and what different grasses had to offer. I decided that Bermuda was my best choice.

I chose TifTuf Bermuda mainly because seeded bermuda seemed like it would be too aggressive in the sun around my flower beds and not aggressive enough under my two dogwood trees. TifTuf boasts excellent shade tolerance and superior drought tolerance. Both of which I need.

I was never going to convince my wife it was worth spending thousands of dollars on Bermuda sod after she saw what I had done the previous year, so it was all on me to devise a plan to take the lawn back by myself, and for as little money as possible.

I decided the front yard was going to be my focus again because it's only about 2400 total square feet. Unfortunately again, doing the whole lawn by myself was probably going to be too much for me to take on. Last year we had our second kid and work was picking up again. I was looking at another summer of lots of travel.

As I looked around at the other 100+ housed in my neighborhood, I'd say maybe 5 have "nice" lawns. The others are either mowed but weeded, or not maintained at all. My immediate neighbor to the south mows maybe once a year and nobody within 10 houses around me has a maintained lawn. I took this as a license to experiment. Nothing I did would look as bad what's around me.

I decided I would plant the Bermuda in the center of my lawn where it got the most sun. It would encompass about 700 square feet total which would be a small enough area I could water it via two sprinklers and could maintain it easily enough with my travel schedule.

I'd always wondered what would happen if you spaced out the sod pieces instead of laying them together to make a cohesive area. How long would it take to grow together? Well, given the cercumstances, I decided to find out.

I purchased 20 pieces of TifTuf and laid them out in a brick pattern, but spaced them about 8" apart.
The idea was to cut them into the lawn to make it level but then a last minute trip took me out of state for a week.



I set the water and left town. When I returned they had mostly rooted so I opted to fill the gaps with lawn soil rather than rip them up.



This obviously wasn't ideal because I ended up with a lot of the soil running off leaving gaps between the sod pieces. Sand might have been a better choice but I'll bet it would have eventually run away as well. The lawn slopes in two directions so runoff is a bit of a problem for me. Rains were really heavy that year so that didn't help either.

As time went on a lot of the soil washed out. I hit it with Milorganite at about 5lbs/1000 on the first of every month or as close as I could get it. Weed control was just me picking springs out of the gaps every morning as I drank my coffe. No doubt the neighbors were talking.



In mid June I decided to start plugging the surrounding area to increase the square footage. I had killed off a lot more area than I thought the sod was going to spread to. I bought a pro plugger and took a couple plugs from each piece of sod. Realizing I needed way more plugs than I was willing to take from my existing sod, I then turned around and bought another 5 pieces of sod and plugged another section every couple days when I found time until I fully surrounded the sod.









After the plugs got settled I resumed mowing as best I could will all the bumps. I would come close to scalping some parts while other parts maxed out at about 2". I continued the same fertilization plan and kept plucking weeds as they came up. This continued for the rest of the season.









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The TifTuf lived up to its reputation and didn't really go dormant until early November. I got lazy with the pictures at this point but what you see at 5 months is about as far as it spread and as thick as it got.





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So I guess I found out why people don't spread out pieces of sod. It's because it's stupid and looks weird all summer. Resist the urge to save time and energy if you're going to try to save money too.

I was most impressed with the plugs. For the first and second round of plugs I used my homemade sifted leaf compost as the hole filler under the plugs. The third and fourth round I used Scott's Lawn Soil. The compost massively out performed the Scott's. I'll definately be doing the plugs from here on out.

I learned a ton with this little experiment and there is definitely a ton still to do to get this whole lawn looking good but for my first attempt I'm pleased with the results. This year I plan on leveling last years grow while I plug another 300 square feet.

Total cost of this was about $300 all in on sod, plugger, and Milorganite.

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May 2018

 

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I am not laughing at all. I am a pro in the business. One of my options if I have a lawn where the type of grass is not going to be viable in its present situation is to insert plugs of what will work right into the existing, failing lawn. Not everyone I work for has the kind of money to rip out and re sod their entire lawn.

It is my understanding that high Nitrogen fertilizer other than Milorganite will make Bermuda grow like crazy and cause Fescue to burn out in the summer heat and humidity at the same time. There are also a lot of herbicides selective to Bermuda that will stunt and eventually kill Fescue. Other thing you can do is mow low. Bermuda loves reel mowers.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks Doc,

The fescue from the previous year was nowhere to be found. My lawn was nothing but clover And various grassy weeds when I killed it off for this project. This year I'm armed with a bag of 34-3-3 urea nitrogen, proper preemergent, and a slew of selective herbicides to work with.

I used a Fiskars reel mower on it last year but am still not able to mow very low due to the uneven soil. After I sand it this year I plan on going back to it.
 

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@MHalpin Solid approach on your reno project. We all have budgets to work in. I did a full sprigging project due to the financial comparison of sod. Also, I'm also glad to see a fellow TifTuf fan.

Out of curiosity, what was your fert plan during grow-in? All milorganite?
 

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Colonel K0rn said:
Holy cow, you did a fantastic job. Nice write up. We love to see success stories, especially when we have failures of our own. Be sure to calibrate your sprayer *cough* @Tellycoleman *cough*
:nod: Dancing to the music while spraying always seemed risky. I am from the Ozzy and def leppard on the Walkman era.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Movingshrub said:
Out of curiosity, what was your fert plan during grow-in? All milorganite?
The first year was all Milorganite. I was deathly afraid of burning it with synthetics and figured Milo was a good product to learn on because it's idiot proof. This year I'm putting on my big boy pants and working with synthetics. I have a 50 lbs bag of 34-3-3 I got for free from Solutions Self Chem. I'll be dropping 1 lbs N per 1000 with Milo as a carrier every month.
 

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Looks awesome! One thing I would recommend, depending on your comfort level is spraying this area with PGR. A lot of people on the forum use it to create horizontal growth without the mowing frequency of low bermuda. I've just started using it this year and already seeing benefit after one application.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
cnet24 said:
Looks awesome! One thing I would recommend, depending on your comfort level is spraying this area with PGR. A lot of people on the forum use it to create horizontal growth without the mowing frequency of low bermuda. I've just started using it this year and already seeing benefit after one application.
Thanks! That's a solid tip. I'll have to look into it!
 

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When I bought my first house after college I had to add about a foot (in height) of dirt to my back property line and sod it to fill in the air gap on the privacy fence (previous owner/builder didn't take the top soil all the way to the property line). I was broke and decided to spread St. Aug sod out like you did your Bermuda. It definitely works - just need patience and several leveling jobs. Congrats on the yard.
 
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