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Mayor's 2018 Journal

8143 Views 37 Replies 13 Participants Last post by  Rackhouse Mayor
Hey folks. I'm a long time lurker of this site, and love what you're doing here. I probably should've started over in the "Introduction" section, but I'm diving head first with my 2018 journal.

So, my lawn is a mess. I just bought this place late last summer from a friend. He built the home 12 years ago, sodded the entire acre with centipede, and did nothing but mow it until he moved. I take that back - he told me he put down weed-n-feed *once*. The lawn is 75% weeds in places. It really could use an entire renovation, but the irrigation system he installed doesn't work. Maybe next year. In the meantime, I have a lot of work on my hands. So, here we go:

First order of business is to get a pressure washer and clean the 200' of driveway.

The place is loaded with mulch beds and landscaping. It'll all need a refresh in two or three months. Here's one that's in the center of my lawn. I'd like to remove these oaks and replace them with Dogwoods or Magnolias, but that's a lot of work that requires permits. I'd like to try Connor's way of sculpting mulch beds but I'm concerned that runners will get in the bed. The beds surrounding the house are covered in centipede runners. Also, notice all of the bare spots in the lawn.

The biggest issue with the property is that it is not level. There are ruts from the riding mower, low spots where water sits, and just weird dips/holes in places. Here are some examples of low spots that stay soggy and prevent me from mowing.

The two dark circles in the middle of this photo are the low spots. We have had a lot of rain and freezing weather so this place is a mess right now.

Here's another example. The home has Acadian architecture, and I haven't figured out how to put gutters on the front the way the roof runs. As a result, the water comes off the roof and gathers in one spot right in front of this sidewalk:

Moving to the backyard. A portion of the yard still has decent centipede. However, a lot of it was nothing but dollarweed and spurge when I moved in. I have yet to spray any post emergent. I was afraid that if I did so that I would kill the weeds and have these nasty bare spots without time to regrow seed. However, I sprayed Prodiamine in September and as it did it's job throughout the season I was left with thin areas. Now, when it rains it becomes a big mud pit for my corgi to destroy.

This area was probably 95% weeds. Mostly, it was dollarweed because the gutters on the back of the house dump in this area. I have to install some sort of french drain or daylight a pipe to the drainage ditch along my property. That'll happen soon. It gets so wet that I can't mow for at least 3-4 days after a rain event. I imagine I'll have to reseed later this year.

Moving to the "Back 40". This is an area beyond my fence line that encompasses about .3 acres. I plan on cutting a lot of these trees down and planting an orchard of citrus (meyer lemons, grapefruit, some type of orange), apples (granny smith, pink lady), peaches or nectarines (undecided), and pears. The idea is to plant a minimum of two of each species but will plant as many as space allows. On the left side of this photo is the previous owner's Square Foot Garden from years ago. I'll remove it soon. The pump house supplies the irrigation system and bathroom in the shop. The bare spot is from a picnic table the previous owner left upside down. Those trees to the right of the pump house will come down in the next month or so to make more room for the orchard. Also, I have a good bit of "buffer" trees and brush behind the pump house that I can clear to plant more trees. I'm tempted to clear everything off and replace it with a better looking buffer. I hate paying taxes on property that I don't get to enjoy, if that makes sense. However, I understand the point of buffer.

If you've stuck around this long I really appreciate your time. My property is a bit different than the majority of the ones I see on here, but I hope you'll have me. If nothing else, entertain me. I don't see many centipede lawns on here. I may eventually switch to bermuda but 1) I need a triplex and 2) I'm covered in shade.

Here's a summary of what I need to get to in 2018:

  • Fix drainage.
  • Level yard.
  • Try to fix irrigation.
  • Plant orchard.
  • Follow Auburn's Centipede Calendar.
  • Get the beds presentable.

Stay tuned.
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Mightyquinn said:
Welcome to TLF!!! Looks like you have your work cut out for you :) I wouldn't worry too much about leveling as Centipede doesn't fill in too fast, it's called "Lazy Man's Grass" for a reason. If/when you decide to redo the whole lawn, that would be the optimum time to level.
Thanks for the info. I'm not opposed to doing a full reno this year, but I dread fixing the irrigation system. The pump wasn't designed for sprinklers, and this website just makes my head spin: I'm tempted to hire it out but that same website doesn't instill confidence in me for the local professionals. Any advice is welcomed.
Ware said:
Welcome to TLF! :thumbup:

You're definitely on the right track with the Irrigation Tutorials website. I used it extensively when designing my system, but ultimately hired out the actual install. It really helped me communicate to the contractor exactly what I wanted, and I knew what was going in would meet my expectations.
Thanks Ware! Your Christmas light thread has motivated me to tighten my game up next year.

J_nick said:
What makes you think the pump wasn't designed for sprinklers? Do you know any specs on the pump and well?
It's a jet pump with a small pressure tank. It cycles on and off so it isn't constant pressure. I think it's doable, but it's not optimal. I imagine it would get a workout having to irrigate an entire acre. We'll see soon enough. Another pain about it is that I have no idea where the sprinkler heads are buried. They're all grown over, there's no sketch anywhere and the previous owner doesn't remember.

wardconnor said:
Looks like a nice place you've got there Mayor.

With some elbow grease and a year or 3 I am certain that you can get that landscape looking awesome.
Thanks Connor! Having the shop has been a dream come true. I binge read your 2017 Journal over the holiday break. You have quite the place yourself. It's very well landscaped. I'm stealing your potted plant feeding schedule next year.
J_nick said:
MasterMech said:
That pump can be tamed. But first a question.....

Is this pump dedicated to irrigation or does it supply your domestic water too?
It supplies the irrigation and a bathroom is his shop.
Thanks, J_nick. Backstory on the pump - the neighborhood didn't have city water when my friend started construction on the home. The foundation guys needed water for the cement, so he put in a pump. Before construction was done the city tied the whole neighborhood in to municipal water. So now the heaviest workout that pump gets is when i wash my cars. It also serves as a reserve during hurricanes (I can backfill the house should municipal water lose power).
Due to weather and some work travel I wasn't able to get my pre-e down in February. I think I missed my window but I did it anyways. I needed an excuse to be in the lawn.

  • The "Back 40" (future orchard) received Prodiamine WG (.41/1k) and Talstar P (1oz/1k) on 3/5.
  • Cleaned up all of the agapanthuses on 3/5. They'd started greening up already.
  • The front yard received the same (plus marker dye) on 3/10. Everything is cockeyed with this property.
    Marker dye helped substantially.
    • Doing this I learned why my Chapin 20v backpack sprayer was losing it's prime and how to fix it. Would like to make a video of this soon.
  • I skipped pre-e for the backyard. It's so full of weeds that I foresee a complete reno on it this year. Don't want pre-e messing with it.

Weather permitting, I'll begin fixing my backyard drainage issues next weekend. Plans include a channel drain where the concrete pad slopes to the yard and catch basins at each gutter downspout. Each basin will get a 4 or 6" PVC pipe with a pop-up emitter to the drainage ditch running the length of the property.
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Began working on the drainage issue in the backyard last weekend (3/24-3/26). I rented a trencher from HD 3/24 to dig about 200' of trench (I ended up hand digging half of this because of shallow electrical lines in the yard).

I have 3 gutter downspouts that I *think* are causing my problems. The original plan included 9x9 basins at each downspout with 4" sched 40 pvc and a 10' channel drain at the end of a concrete pad. When I showed up to lowes they didn't have enough sched 40 or the cheaper "landscaping" pipe (don't know what the technical name for it is) in 4". So, I had to step down to 3" pipe. All of my math says this should still be fine.

Here's the general setup. Since taking this photo I've installed a flexible corrugated pipe from the gutter to the basin.

I went with basins so that I could clean them out. I also went with pvc for this same reason instead of corrugated pipe.

The electrical and sewer for the shop was in my way. It was a pain working around it. I actually hit the electrical with the trencher. I damaged the well casing but not the direct burial cable thankfully. Here's what it looked like:

You can tell by all of the dollarweed that I really need to fix the drainage. It's a swamp back there.

I wore the dog out. I was pulling twelve hour days for three days straight.

I ordered the pop-up emitters that @Ware recommended from grey dock. My plan is to install them today. I may get a photo of it. Here's a finished run:

We got about 2" of rain in an hour a few days after the install and both the wife and I agree that the system dramatically helped the yard. Next step is to start killing the weeds. I ordered Celsius last week. It should arrive soon.

I learned a lot from the project and feel I could do it in a fraction of the time if I had to do it all again, but I hope I never have to dig another ditch. My father in law was over here yesterday for Easter. We walked the front lawn and tossed around a few ideas to level/grade it. If we get a dry spell he's going to bring his Kubota tractor over here. That'll make it a lot easier on me.
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Colonel K0rn said:
Nice job on the drainage install, and cute doggo! You're lucky that you have a FIL with a Kubota tractor, that's definitely going to make working the land a lot easier when you do your renovation. What suggestions for installation would you care to share that would help someone who is considering doing this on their property?
Thanks! I don't mind sharing everything, but I could talk for hours on it. Most importantly, know your flow rates. Know how many GPMs your system will need to handle. I used this drainage calculator and pipe calculator here. Also, don't directly tie your pipe in to your gutter like you have now (I know you said this was just temporary). The gutter needs to feed in to a basin that then feeds in to the pipe. The theory is that all of the debris that comes from your gutters will settle in the bottom of the basin. Then you can just clean it out a few times a year. If you direct tie your pipe to your gutter you're sort of SOL.

I overbuilt mine with Schedule 40. If this isn't your "forever" home or you're not going to drive anything heavier than a lawn mower over it you can buy thinner pipe. However, I did stay away from corrugated pipe for a reason. I read that over time corrugated pipe will collapse or get tree roots in it. Also, PVC allows you to put a plumbing snake in it should you ever get a clog.

Some must haves/dos: call 811 first. If nothing else, to limit your liability should you hit something. Rent a trencher - make sure it's the right size. HD gave me a 4" trencher for my 3" pipe... but 3" Sched 40 is actually 4" total diameter) - it was a tight squeeze all day. You'll need extra hands. I didn't the whole time and could've really used it. Make sure your math is right. If you need help with the math just let me know. Feel free to continue to ask questions as you get closer to your project - I don't mind sharing at all.
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Here's an overdue update on this thread. Everything has greened up, and the drainage is working well (although we haven't seen rain in 3 weeks).
  • Swapped mulch 4/29
  • Bought a Stihl 131R powerhead and bed redefiner 5/2ish and redefined all beds that week
  • Fertilized all non-acidic flowerbed perennials 5/5 with a Scotts triple 10
  • Welcomed home a new Kubota ZTR 5/11
  • Fertilized Camellias, Gardenias, and Hydrangeas 5/12 with Pennington Ultragreen 10-8-6 w/ acid
  • Potted plants 5/13 with help of @wardconnor
  • Scotts Turfbuilder for Southern Lawns 32-0-10 (30M) 5/15-16
  • Roundup and cotton defoliant on centipede in flowerbeds 5/19
  • Celsius is TBD. I haven't seen rain in a few weeks and the weeds are in drought condition. I'm waiting for it to rain, which should happen this week
  • Still need to buy a pressure washer

Swapped out mulch on 4/29. This was a massive project. Wife wanted to change the color of the mulch so I pulled out the old, bagged, and dragged to the road for pick up. Then spread 150 bags of black mulch. Lowe's had on sale for 5 for $10.

Here's a photo after the install. Beds weren't edged yet.

Lawn greened up. This is a shot halfway through the mulch transformation and the lawn wasn't completely greened up. I have a large leveling project that I need to undertake this year. I don't know whether I get sand and smooth it out or if it's a bigger project than that. I may need to regrade the whole thing.

A few shots of the pots. @wardconnor was super helpful, otherwise it may've turned out to be a #realpisseroffer. I'm using his fertilizer plan except I'm doing Miracle-Gro All Purpose 24-8-16 and Scotts Super Bloom 12-55-6. I have 6 planters and 2 hanging pots so far.

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jayhawk said:
Great points. Smooth pipe also doesn't require as much of a slope's more efficient, clearly. Those trenchers are a workout, makes aerators feel like push mower :)
I never would've guessed a trencher was that much work! The hardest part is getting it to turn when you're trying to move it. It's still better than using a shovel though! :lol:
I haven't updated this journal like I should have, but I've been putting in a ton of work around the property. Here's some of what I remember:

  • Dropped the celsius bomb (2.4g/M) around Memorial Day. Added Talstar P and Marker dye to it. It probably killed around 85%. I sort of wish I went heavier.
  • Bought a Stihl Wood Boss Chainsaw and Kombi Pole Saw attachment. Started clearing out orchard and cleaning up property lines. Lesson learned - do this during winter months. It's hot.
  • Bought a pressure washer and did the driveway. All 250 feet of it. Jesus.
  • Drainage project has paid off. There is a drastic change in the backyard @Colonel K0rn. All the weeds in that area went away. Surprisingly, bermuda showed up in those areas. That's a curveball I'm dealing with.
  • I've tried to follow @wardconnor's feeder plan for the pots. Work got in the way some days and so did the Mississippi heat. I've lost some plants. The ones surviving look fantastic.
  • Hit the hydrangeas, gardenias, and camellias with pennington 10-8-6 again today (7/7).
  • That's what I can think of for now. On to the progression pics.

I tried to take similar photos to the original post. Here are two shots of the backyard where the drainage was installed.

Here's what the front yard looks like as of today (7/7)

Low spots in front yard are still visible. I made them worse by spraying with Celsius. I'm considering a level project in the next week or two. If I do, I'll use my ProPlugger in the bare spots.

Any comments or recommendations? I have a long way to go. This is definitely a multiyear project.

Edit: After posting this I scrolled back through the whole thread and noticed how many weeds I once had and home much grass I now have. That's only due to one thing: this forum. Thanks to @Ware for starting this site and turning me on to many tools including the B&G sprayer, @wardconnor for the personal phone calls and hilarious videos, @dfw_pilot for the wand project, @Greendoc for the knowledge, and to many others for the help. You folks rock.
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Thanks folks. @Colonel K0rn I used a surface cleaner but when you're dealing with a little over 5k square feet of driveway it's a beast. Lesson learned: don't do it in the heat of summer.

I decided to do a little experimenting today. I still have some bare spots from my drainage project. I used a ProPlugger to transplant some grass. I'm calling it the Tom Brady Bosley Transplant Experiment. I'd already purchased the ProPlugger when I read that for centipede I should probably used a bigger hole cutter. We'll see if it works.

Here's an example:

Also, sprayed Immunox on hydrangeas yesterday due to spots on leaves.
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Darrell said:
I'm enjoying your journal. I particularly like Col Reb in the front yard. I graduated from there in 1986. I grew up in Brookhaven. I now live in AR.

I've learned a lot at TLF, too. Keep up your journal. It's inspiring.

Hey @Darrell, Hotty Toddy! I forgot to respond to you on the Crepe Myrtle thread. I'm a Rebel down on the MS Coast. Wife and I both went there for undergrad.

Your flowerbeds are incredible! I hope to get mine that way one day.

The Col. Reb.... That was a gift to my wife from her great uncle who's now deceased. It's handmade out of 3/4 ply and angle iron. We have to touch it up every year or so. I've noticed this year that it's starting to warp a little. It may be time to attempt a duplicate. I think it's 10+ years old at this point. Thanks again! HYDR.
I had a big day at the house for deliveries. These two items came in.... I bet you can guess what I have planned in the next week or two....

Also, I had a shipment of Zweigle's come in. If you don't know about these hot dogs I highly recommend you try them. My wife and I refuse to eat hot dogs (although we'll eat quality sausage dogs). I have a friend that's a yankee transplant, and years ago, he invited us over for dinner. After we committed, he sent me a text saying he was cooking hot dogs. We couldn't turn back after we committed, so we tried them. As it turns out, they were phenomenal.

Twice a year he would visit his parents in NY and bring a truck load of hot dogs and good beer back (it's tough to get good beer in MS). I now have them air shipped to my house. Any Zweigle's fans on here?

Lastly, my Tibres wooden grill scraper came in as well. Thanks @Ware!
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I sprayed Celsius around Memorial Day, and the weeds are now back in full force in certain places. I *think* it's Virginia Buttonweed, but I'm not good at identification. I wanted to spray this weekend, but I didn't get to it. Maybe next weekend. I didn't spray Prodiamine in the backyard b/c I thought I might be doing a full reno. That's exactly the area where I'm getting weed pressure.

  • Bought a straight shaft edger attachment for the Stihl 131R powerhead. Had to edge the driveway 3 times to get a good initial line. It hasn't been edged in years. Those of you that have paid attention to this thread know that was an undertaking due to my driveway size. I bought it from the Mom & Pop Ace that I buy all of my Stihl stuff from. Usually the regular Stihl guy sees me and says something like "does your wife know you're in here again?" Although I bumped in to him later, I saw a new guy. He sees me holding the edger attachment and says "You know you'll need something to power that, right?" :dunno:
  • Today, I fertilized for the second time this year. I'm done at this point. Some articles I read said you can do #1/M and some said up to #2/M. I decided to try 2#. Hopefully, I don't experience Centipede decline. I think I'll be fine, but I justified it by saying this grass hasn't seen fertilizer in over a decade.
  • Here are some screenshots from today. It was hot. I turned on my Activity tracker while I was fertilizing.

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  • Changed the oil in the Kubota Z122R @13.8 hours. Supposed to do it @8 but the filter was back ordered.
  • Sprayed the house with Talstar P today. Still loving the B&G Sprayer.
  • I'm not up for any lawn of the month awards any time soon, but I'm very happy with the progress I've made this year.

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I underestimated my doveweed infestation and sprayed Celsius on 8/18. Please withhold any September LOTM votes for me.
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CenlaLowell said:
Rackhouse Mayor said:
I underestimated my doveweed infestation and sprayed Celsius on 8/18. Please withhold any September LOTM votes for me.
Did this ever fill in? It's crazy what Celsius will do.
No, it's awful in my backyard, and I don't know what to do. Half the yard is a bare spot and a constant mud pit for the dog. Considering throwing down Rye to help suck up the moisture and deal with it in the spring.
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