Lawn Care Forum banner
1 - 20 of 407 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,284 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I wanted to transition a thread from another forum to this forum documenting my effort to replace/renovate my lawn.

My wife and I bought a house April 2015 from the estate of the original owners. The back yard had been neglected for at least ten years, if not longer. Cutting the grass seemed to be the extent of the maintenance. The side of the yard was so overgrown that I found two V-8 engines, one still attached to the transmission, hidden in the brush.

Photos of house at time of purchase are below.

We are in a transition zone, USDA hardiness zone 7b 5-10F.

The existing turf grass looked like Tifway 419 Bermuda with a bunch of weeds and some common Bermuda as well.

The side of the house was covered with English ivy to where the ivy had grown into the roof and into the HVAC units.

I spent the last two years pulling up the ivy, cutting down trees, and just generally removing unwanted foliage.

There was a flower bed in the front yard that I removed. I tried filling in that opening with Yukon seed in August of 2015. It was total mistake for me. The Yukon color and growth habits didn't match that of the existing Bermuda. I do wonder if something like Princess 77 or Riviera would have blended better. The Yukon was a much lighter green in my yard than the other Bermuda.

The house has a separate water meter for irrigation but no irrigation system at the time of purchase.

I performed soil tests in 2016 and 2017 to see how I was on N-P-K and pH. I did not test for micronutrients; That is on the agenda for my the soil test this year.

Also, I was persuaded to pass on the seed variants and go with a vegetative propagation type of Bermuda or Zoysia.

Furthermore, the house had more shade than I realized. As I understand it, Bermuda needs two things - sunlight and nitrogen. As a result, I removed more trees. There are five trees left in the yard - two in the front and three in the back - The canopy of each tree has been raised to maximize the amount of sunlight while also maintaining the aesthetics of the trees.

I read multiple posts suggesting to photograph the lawn throughout the day to see if you are getting enough light for your desired turf grass cultivar. In my opinion, that approach is insufficient in two ways: 1. All shade isn't equal - Shade under a pine tree at noon and shade under at magnolia tree at noon are not the same thing. 2. How much light do I really need?

I turned to turfgrass experts at Auburn University for some help answering those questions. I was advised to get a light meter. I purchased the LightScout DLI 100 which measures light over a 24 hour period. I placed the light meter in the full sun part of my yard for a few days to see the max amount of light that spot would receive this time of year. Each day I was getting a reading of 35+ DLIs (daily light integral). I also measured the light in one area of concern. On a partially cloudy day I was getting 20-25 DLI, 10-14 DLI on a cloudy day, and 35+ on a sunny day, all in the same shady area. I was advised that Tifway 419 Bermuda looks best at 25+ DLIs, TifTuf and Tifgrand can do well at 18+, while some Zoysias can do just fine at 12+ DLI.

I attached a DLI map below.

As another reference provide a breakdown of the light equirements of different Turfgrass cultivars. http://floridaturf.com/quantifying-light-requirements-of-turfgrass-using-daily-light-integral/

I made sure to avoid applying pre-emergents in areas where I planned to sprig. I did apply dithiopyr to the other parts of my yard where I intended to keep the existing Bermuda.

Early March I rented the biggest Toro stump grinder I could find locally, the STX-38 (38hp). I ran the machine for ten hours and only managed to get rid of half of my stumps. I ended up contracting out the removal of the remainder of the stumps. The contractor had a 70HP machine and it still took them several hours to remove the remainder of stumps.

I LIKE Bermuda grass. I spend a lot of my free time on a soccer field. Bermuda feels like home. I didn't really want to switch to Zoysia unless it was the only choice for my yard. I am sticking with a warm season grass. Fescue is a four letter word in my house; I just do not like the texture of how it feels to walk on barefoot. Furthermore, I have dogs and kids so I thought Bermuda would be the most resilient selection. Considering the amount of light I'm getting is right on the line for Bermuda in a few spots, I was torn between TifGrand and TifTuf. I reached out to a POC with the University of Georgia who suggested that I base the decision on mowing height and method of cutting. The UGA Turfgrass expert suggested I use Tifgrand if using a reel mower and cutting at 0.5"-1" and to go with TifTuf if using a rotary mower and cutting at 1" or higher. My backyard had pecan trees, so a reel mower is no-go for me, as a result TifTuf it is, especially considering the drought last year.

As part of the replacement, I blasted everything with glyphosate. My first application was April 1st, then April 15th, then April 30th, May 8th, and May 23rd. My plan was three applications, then bringing in screened topsoil and sand, and then to apply glyphosate for any weeds that popped up in the new sand and dirt.

Unfortunately, no plan survives contact with the enemy. In this case, my enemy was time/scheduling. I planned to plant mid/late June. That time line was driven by my own availability as well as sprig availability from a supplying farm. I was booked all of May with personal obligations and most farms weren't willing to sell TifTuf sprigs at all, and the ones that were said it would be mid summer. The supplying sod farm told me on May 30th that I would need to pick up the sprigs on June 2nd, unless it rained on them. I had three days to do all my grading, bring in topsoil and sand, and install an irrigation system, by myself.

Tuesday May 30th and May 31st - I brought in three yards of screened topsoil and three yards of sand to fill in the low spots of my yard.

May 31st - I rented a tracked Toro Dingo along with a powered Harley rake to smooth out and do the surface prep.

The dingo with the Harley power rake worked great. It took me a while to figure out to really use the equipment to accomplish what I wanted. I ended up going across the entire yard three times. Right to left, top to bottom, then right to left again. I had high spots to remove and this was the best method for the layout of my yard to smooth it out and minimize the amount of hand raking afterwards.

I operated the dingo and Harley power rake for about 5-6 hours of operational time. I was working with three different areas adding up to about 10,000 square feet. The spaces involved a lot of different angles and fences versus a wide open rectangle shaped lot.

I had two separate equipment failures which caused a half-day delay. My rented Harley rake broke, twice; once was a bearing and the replacement had a hydraulic coupling that was spraying fluid.

June 1st - I hand raked and cleaned up the piles of soil and debris left at the end of the rows by the power rake.

I was really lucky that it rained May 31st-June 2nd at the sod farm.

June 2nd - I rented a ditch trenching machine to being my irrigation installation. I started off with a Ditch Witch 1030 that was 11HP. It is rather heavy (900lb) and extremely challenging to maneuver. I spent almost a whole day trying to trench with it without making much progress.

Call before you dig! 811. Make sure to call almost a week before you plan to dig. I called May 26th.

June 3rd - I ended up upgrading to the Ditch Witch C30X. Also, I had a challenging time getting all of the necessary pipe fittings cause I am using 1 1/4" sized Schedule 40 PVC; this is due to the number of tree roots and chipmunks in my area. I ended up having to piece together the 1 1/4" components between six different stores. All I did this day was trench and rough-in the pipe locations. My yard had substantial tree roots which caused delays and rerouting my irrigation plan. I ended up using my chainsaw to cut some of the really big (pie plate) sized roots. It was totally worth it to me to just sharpen the chain versus spending the time hacking away with an ax.

I had a rough idea where my sewer line was but I was not exactly correct. I managed to locate it with the trencher but stopped the machine before it did any damage. I was using the smaller trenching machine at the time. My sewer line happened to be only 18" below grade. I had expected it to be at least 24"+. Furthermore, I found the electrical line to my mailbox lamp. I was not too worried about hitting that electrical line since I plan to replace the mailbox in the near future anyways. My plan was to just install conduit in one of the irrigation trenches if I happened to cut the wire. As a result of cutting the wire, I am going to use SCH 80 conduit for the new run.

It may be of value to use a locator with a pipe inspection camera to ensure you know where your sewer line is located. Same thing applies to the electrical line locators. I opted to take my chances on both.

June 4th - Finished trenching all of yard and also installed/glued all of the PVC in the back yard and north side of the house. I lucked out and managed to avoid rain all week until 9pm on June 4th.

I worked dawn 0530 to dusk 2000 every day, starting May 31st through June 4th, and had some help from my father-in-law and my wife along the way.

June 5th - Sod farm told me due the rain, the earliest chance of harvesting would be June 8th or June 9th.
After work on both June 5th and 6th, I continued working on the sprinkler install.

June 7th & 8th - Took off work to continue with irrigation installation.

June 9th - Sod farm told me to pick up sprigs on June 15th.

Continued working on irrigation system solo after work and the remainder of the weekend.

As of June 11th, I have water in every zone. I have got the front, sidewalk, side, and half the back fully configured and the trenches refilled.

June 12th - I plan to aim the radius of the remaining rotors, refill the remaining trenches, and install the irrigation controller.

June 13th - I am considering renting another powered harely rake to smooth out the trench lines.

June 15th - Planning to pick up sprigs and a sod roller to ensure contact with the soil once broadcast. This date may shift to the right depending on weather. This approach calls for a heavy amount of nitrogen. All of the documents I read suggested using Ammonium Nitrate which has been impossible for me to find. As a result, I'm using Ammonium Sulfate and also using dolomitic lime.

Lesson learned - Everything takes longer than you expect it too.

Get rid of the tree stump debris. Some of the stump debris was too large and did not blend very well into the topsoil. I spent too much time raking and picking up the large pieces of debris by hand. It would have been easier I think to use the bucket on the dingo to more easily move the debris to a trailer for disposal.

Rent the biggest trencher possible from the git-go. Time is the one resource we never get back.

Get all your materials in advance and plan to need extra due to mistakes or rerouting. I had to reroute around some stumps/roots that I couldn't dig/cut through. I am using approximately 1600 feet of SCH 40 PVC pipe; that stuff adds up fast.

Cost Breakdown
Screened Topsoil - $120 - 3 yards at $40/yard
River Sand - $40 - paid by the ton, about 3 yards worth
Harley Power Rake and Dingo - $250 for 8 hours of use on the machine; due back within 24hours
Large Ditch Witch Trencher - $200 for 8 hours of use on the machine; rented over a weekend
Gasoline and Diesel Fuel - $30
1600 feet of 1 1/4" SCH 40 PVC Pipe and Fittings - $1500.
Rainbird Sprinkler Components (5004 - SAM rotors - qty 14ea, 3504 - SAM rotors - qty 27ea, 1800 SAM PRS pop-up sprayers - qty 11ea, DFV 100 valves - qty 5ea, 6" swing pipe in both 1/2" and 3/4", two valve boxes, and a ESP-ME controller - $750.

I expect return $100-$200 worth of left over PVC and fittings. I used unions on each side of each valve in hopes of making serviceability being easier in the future, if necessary. I don't know if this was really needed or not.

I still plan to purchase 3/4" SCH 80 conduit to route the power for the controller and I also intend to run the valve wires in SCH 80 as well. I need to purchase fertilizer, the sprigs, dolomitic lime, rent the sod roller, and, potentially, purchase Carfentrazone-ethyl (Quicksilver) to help control any weeds during establishment. I was advised multiple times to use Oxadiazon (RonStar-G) as a pre-emergent.

I expect to pull off this entire project, excluding the tree removal, stump removal, and water, for about $4,000.

I would recommend coordinating people to help you rake up the debris and refill the trenches. This is a good time to hire high school kids in the neighborhood who want to make some money.

The high temp and humidity definitely takes its toll. I run outside regularly and had stocked up on water, Gatorade, and sunscreen and still was smoked from the work and heat.

Pictures of the front and back at time of purchase






 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
2,272 Posts
Btw I just Harley Raked my yard a week or so ago and I also broke the Rake. In my case I hit an abondoned water well casing (6" .250 wall pipe) it busted a hydraulic line for the angle control.

I installed my own sprinkler system last year and man is it tough work. I applaud you for doing it yourself. It's back breaking but trust me it's worth it to just hit a button and water the lawn for years to come.

Looking forward to reading more updates. Welcome to TLF
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,284 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I had considered top dressing with 1/8th inch of sand. I am hoping the sod roller and regular watering does the trick. Otherwise I am going to need 3-7 yards of sand depending on whether I topdress at 1/8th or 1/4th an inch, respectively.

Also, I am working with a space of about 9,000 sqft. I intend to use 200 bushels of sprigs to encourage rapid fill-in.

I am confident the people who install sprinkler systems earn EVERY penny of their paycheck.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
859 Posts
Movingshrub said:
I had considered top dressing with 1/8th inch of sand. I am hoping the sod roller and regular watering does the trick. Otherwise I am going to need 3-7 yards of sand depending on whether I topdress at 1/8th or 1/4th an inch, respectively.

Also, I am working with a space of about 9,000 sqft. I intend to use 200 bushels of sprigs to encourage rapid fill-in.

I am confident the people who install sprinkler systems earn EVERY penny of their paycheck.
Top dressing would definitely help and give you faster coverage but if you can't, just roll them REALLY good and keep it moist. If you could run a disk over them, that would increase survival rate. Good luck!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,284 Posts
Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I turned to a lot of publically available material from Clemson University, The University of Tennessee, and Mississippi State University.

Univ of TN had good information on timeline of when to plant
https://extension.tennessee.edu/publications/Documents/W160-F.pdf

How to prep for planting
https://extension.tennessee.edu/publications/Documents/W160-A.pdf

Methods of sprigging and the associated fertilizer and water requirements
https://extension.tennessee.edu/publications/Documents/W160-D.pdf

Clemson University had the most comprehensive document I've ever seen on what herbicides play well with one another, for what pests, for which turfgrass, etc. The document is the "Pest Control Guidelines for Professional Turfgrass Managers." It covered sedges, fungus, etc.

http://media.clemson.edu/public/turfgrass/2017%20Pest%20Management/2017%20Pest%20Control%20Recommendations.pdf

Clemson also has a substantial amount of information on their extension website
https://www.clemson.edu/extension/hgic/

http://extension.msstate.edu/sites/default/files/publications/publications/P2892.pdf
Seleting and Managing Turfgrass for shade - MS State University

If someone knows how to embed this PDFs, rather than using the URLs, please do so.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,284 Posts
Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Also, an area where I am seeking input - Do I need to put down a fungicide before/during/after broadcasting the stolons?

I figured warm weather, watering small amounts every hour to keep stolons from drying out, plus 1LB of Nitrogen every 7-10 days, would potentially lead to a good environment for a fungus.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
859 Posts
Movingshrub said:
Also, an area where I am seeking input - Do I need to put down a fungicide before/during/after broadcasting the stolons?

I figured warm weather, watering small amounts every hour to keep stolons from drying out, plus 1LB of Nitrogen every 7-10 days, would potentially lead to a good environment for a fungus.
I sprigged without fungicides with no issues.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,284 Posts
Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I ended up renting the dingo and Harley rake again to smooth out all of the areas where I had trenched. It had rained a few times since I trenched and the ground was too hard to separate the removed dirt to back fill the trenches.

I should have planned for more time for the trenches to settle back in before planting.

June 15th - I went and got the sprigs from the sod farm. I purchased 200 bushels. The math I had seen is that the planting rate is 10-20 bushels per 1,000 sqft. I'm planting an area a bit over 9,000 sqft, so 180 bushels would be on the upper end of the guidance. A bushel is 0.4 cubic feet. I transported 200ish bushels in 16' by 6' trailer, stacked 1' high, so 96 cubic feet worth of sprigs, so I left with over 200 bushels worth.

Right when I got home, the sky opened up with rain. I live in North Alabama. I got 1" of rain before I got anything on to the ground.

Yesterday, My FIL and I managed to unload and spread all of the sprigs onto the lawn. I also put down a Lesco 18-24-12 starter fert at a rate of 5.55LB per 1,000 sqft. The goal was 1LB of Nitrogen per 1,000 sqft. I used the entire bag; 5.55LB x 9,000 sqft = 49.95LB.

Upside to rain and clouds - it dropped the temperature significantly from the 90s down into the 70s and got water onto the sprigs before I even unloaded the trailer.

Downside to rain - my yard is soaked and there is mud everywhere.

Here is where I need some help on how to move forward:

It is challenging to use the lawn roller to push in the sprigs. The mud keeps clogging up the roller and picking up the sprigs although it is also pushing in other sprigs, think the equivalent of using a lint roller on your clothes but your lawn instead.

Do I continue to attempt to use the lawn sod roller in hopes that it manages to push in enough sprigs?

Get a disc and try to disc them in? I expect the tractor is going to sink-in to the ground if I try this.

Apply less and less water in hopes of the ground drying out, and then using the roller? How do I do this while preventing the sprigs from drying out and dying?

Top dress the $#!& out of the yard with sand? If so, we're talking 7+ yards of sand which is more than I'd want to attempt by hand - so, top dressing machine, which is probably going to sink in to the ground as well.

Walk around and hope I can step on enough sprigs to cause contact with the dirt?

I am open to suggestions on how to proceed.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,284 Posts
Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Update as of June 28th.

On June 20th I applied a 34-0-0 fertilizer, at a rate of 1 pound of nitrogen per thousand square feet. Five days later on June 25th, I applied Lesco 18-24-12 starter fertilizer at the same rate; 1lb of N per 1k SQFT.

I plan to apply another pound of N per 1k SQFT today, if the weather cooperates, otherwise as soon as it's viable.

I do have areas that are starting to green up.

Also, I've been walking the yard every other day to hand pull any weeds. I've seen just a few things of Crabgrass and Goosegrass and then a handful of broadleaf weeds around the perimeter.

I think the planting would've gone better had it not rained on me the second I tried to plant, had I disced in the sprigs, and/or if I had top dressed the sprigs. I did none of the above. With that being said, I'm pleasantly surprised and eager to see how it looks at week 8.

This photo was taken the evening of Wednesday June 28th.

 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,284 Posts
Discussion Starter · #17 ·


I feel like it has rained every day since I sprigged, which has probably helped. I did apply one pound of nitrogen per thousand square feet on Thursday June 30th.

Once the ground isn't wet, I plan to put another 1LB of N per 1K SQFT using an all purpose fertilizer. I hope to cut the grass for the first time in the next few days once the ground isn't soggy, otherwise I'll just cut it with a trimmer.

Also, I am trying to locate a pH test kit to make sure the ammonium nitrate and urea haven't pushed the pH too acidic.

I've been walking the yard every few days and hand pulling any weeds I find.

Has anyone sprigged Bermuda before? I am trying to find info on what pre emergents are safe for the first fall season.
 

·
Super Moderator
Tifgrand—7,500 sq/ft—Baroness LM56
Joined
·
5,476 Posts
Just go to your local county extension office to get a soil test done, it's usually pretty cheap.

You might want to look into Ronstar for your needs of a PreM for your stolons. It's expensive but I've heard it works really well.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,284 Posts
Discussion Starter · #19 ·
I've gone the extension office route in the past. Here it gets mailed to Auburn University's soil lab for processing. As a result, it's usually 2-3 weeks before you get the results. Considering how much Ammonium Sulfate I've been spreading, I wanted to know the pH sooner than that so I could decide whether or not to apply dolomitic lime.

I used a home test kit and I'm at about 6.5pH.
I'll test another part later in the week after I water in the next application of fertilizer.

Also, I cut the grass for the first time today. I set my rotary mower to the second highest setting. Tomorrow or the next day, I'll lower it a notch and cut it again.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
859 Posts
Movingshrub said:
I've gone the extension office route in the past. Here it gets mailed to Auburn University's soil lab for processing. As a result, it's usually 2-3 weeks before you get the results. Considering how much Ammonium Sulfate I've been spreading, I wanted to know the pH sooner than that so I could decide whether or not to apply dolomitic lime.

I used a home test kit and I'm at about 6.5pH.
I'll test another part later in the week after I water in the next application of fertilizer.

Also, I cut the grass for the first time today. I set my rotary mower to the second highest setting. Tomorrow or the next day, I'll lower it a notch and cut it again.
Don't worry about the ammonium sulfate, i use it on 7.5 ph soil and my soil ph hasn't changed. It's only a temporary acidifier. As long as your Bermuda keeps growing nice and strong, I wouldn't worry about it.
 
1 - 20 of 407 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.
Top