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Old 06-18-2009, 04:42 PM
 
Location: North Carolina
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For all of you wishing for those lush bluegrass lawns that you might have enjoyed back in the Northeast, I'd take Native_Son's great advice to heart. I moved here in late 2005 and I'm sure some of my relatives in NJ could here me scream, when I found out that the sod they were laying down in front of my new house was Bermuda grass. I have since gotten used to it and even have come to like it....with reservations of course! Bermuda grass is great during times of drought, like the summer of 2007. Many of my neighbors who had removed it and replaced it with fescue sod, watched their expensive new lawns die because of severe water restrictions. My lawn, that summer, while not looking like the centerfold of a Scott's brochure, remained green throughout. I started to appreciate the tenacity of Bermuda grass after that!

You can have a beautiful lawn in the Piedmont, but it is going to be an investment of time and money to maintain it. During a drought, when they raise the water rates, your water bill (on an acre or so) could resemble your mortgage payment! Bluegrass-based lawns don't really do well here, especially if the area is in full sun. It's just too hot for bluegrass, although there have been several varieties that have been bred for hotter Southern summers. Fescue-based lawns look more like lawns up north, but they tend to be a little more clumpy than a mostly bluegrass lawn.

That nasty clay soil tend to be on the acidic side with a ph of 5.5 to 6, so a treatment with lime every so often is necessary for most people. I dug out beds around the house and replaced the clay with decent topsoil down about a foot, so I could grow my old favorites!

You should only fertilize your lawn twice a year. My mostly Bermuda grass gets a dose in late March and early September. If you have a fescue lawn you might want to change that to February and October. Don't fertilize in July!

You might want to do fescue in the more shady parts of your yard and Bermuda grass in the flatter full-sun areas. In a race between Bermuda and fescue in a full-sun area, the Bermuda grass eventually crowds out the fescue. But like Native_Son said, if you want to have a green front lawn for winter, throw some rye grass down for color!
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Old 06-18-2009, 05:08 PM
 
Location: Indian Trail
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Fescue does take time. It took me 2 full seasons to finally establish a nice healthy green lawn. It is costly to water (around175/month) for typically 3 months, but I feel it is worth it. I fertilize 3x/yr. 1x with halts, 1x with weed and feed and 1x winterize. I never fertilize past mid May. I also use lime typically 1x per year. Every fall I aerate/thatch and over seed again. What I suggest doing between now and the fall is walk your yard as many times as you can and remove all rocks you come across. Then in the fall, aerate, over seed, fertilize and water. It takes time but is worth it.
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Old 06-18-2009, 05:33 PM
 
Location: North Carolina
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Quote:
Originally Posted by car421 View Post
Fescue does take time. It took me 2 full seasons to finally establish a nice healthy green lawn. It is costly to water (around175/month) for typically 3 months, but I feel it is worth it. I fertilize 3x/yr. 1x with halts, 1x with weed and feed and 1x winterize. I never fertilize past mid May. I also use lime typically 1x per year. Every fall I aerate/thatch and over seed again. What I suggest doing between now and the fall is walk your yard as many times as you can and remove all rocks you come across. Then in the fall, aerate, over seed, fertilize and water. It takes time but is worth it.
If your backyard bears more than a passing resemblance to what one of the Mars Rovers is seeing, you're not going to have a picture-perfect lawn for your first summer in the Carolinas. car421's remarks about removing rocks from the soil is especially prescient. If, after removing rocks, it may help soil, that is nothing more than baked clay, to have some topsoil roto-tilled into the first couple of inches, before any seed is thrown down. Many builders will sod the front yard, while just throwing down seed and straw in the backyard. This results in haphazard germination in most cases, unless it's very carefully tended to. If this is what has happened in your yard, you might as well bite the bullet, rake up the straw, rototill and re-seed!

Last edited by TheEmissary; 06-18-2009 at 06:38 PM..
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Old 06-18-2009, 08:11 PM
 
Location: Moon Over Palmettos
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Go easy on the fertilizer. Make sure you follow instructions on the settings of your broadcaster as bermuda burns bad and takes a year to recover if burned bad. Ask me how I know. Also, we have been experiencing japanese beetles the second year now. They will start off as grubs killing your lawn...you'll notice them as brown spots on your grass. Get some grub killer right away as they are darn ugly, plus they hatch into beetles which then will eat your knockout roses if you happen to have some. Em is right...it will take a year or so before the sod takes full root and then they will be nice and cushy under your feet.
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Old 06-19-2009, 03:31 AM
 
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We have owned our home in NC for 2 years now and our lawn suffered very badly the last 2 summers as we weren't living there till we had almost bare earth-although our lawn service were continuing to charge us $40 a cut until we saw it and told them to stop cutting.

Last Autumn we used weed and feed, which seemed to kill off even more ,however there was a lot of weed in it (mostly all the bits that were green!) I noticed on the weed and feed that it said it shouldn't be used on certain types of grass, but as we were ignorant as to what grass we had, and the lawn was pretty much wrecked anyway,we just got on with it.

We completely weeded,tilled manually, and overseeded this Spring with a mixed seed that said it was contractor mix. I would need to ask my husband who is living over there now (myself and son still in the UK) what exactly the mix was.

With love and attention (we have well water so that's not a problem) it has apparently taken very well. We have an acre of a mix of lawn, landscaping and natural woodland-lawn is maybe third of an acre. We had some large trees taken out of the lawn last year, but some areas around the perimeter will get little sun because of the woodland. Other areas will get virtually full sun for the majority of the day.

My parents have a similar area of lawn, but with no trees-so full sun
There lawn stays around all year and didn't disappear during the droughts, but did turn a very dead looking color. Will this be Bermuda? Seems much denser that ours.
Can you buy Bermuda seed or just sod?

So the recomendation might be to put some bermuda on the areas that get full sun?

I also wanted to ask about mowing.What length should the grass be mowed to if it can be watered regularly if needed, and many people don't have mowers that collect the cuttings, so it's just left in the lawn (our lawn service didn't). That can't be good for the lawn?

Is it best to overseed in the Fall or Spring or both and when are best times to use weed and feed and lime etc.

Thanks for the help and sorry about all the questions, but we would like a decent lawn and aren't frightened of hard work!
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Old 06-19-2009, 07:52 AM
 
Location: Indian Trail
539 posts, read 1,401,739 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by susan42 View Post
I also wanted to ask about mowing.What length should the grass be mowed to if it can be watered regularly if needed, and many people don't have mowers that collect the cuttings, so it's just left in the lawn (our lawn service didn't). That can't be good for the lawn?

Is it best to overseed in the Fall or Spring or both and when are best times to use weed and feed and lime etc.

Thanks for the help and sorry about all the questions, but we would like a decent lawn and aren't frightened of hard work!
You want your lawn to be about 3" in height. This will help retail moisture in the heat and help prevent it from browning as you will not need to water as often. You only need about 1" water per week. I can tell you with all the rain we have had I have only used my irrigation 2x this year. Leave the clippings on the lawn as they provide natural nutrients to the lawn.
I over-seed in the Fall only. I do this so I can put crabgrass control(Halts) on in the spring. If you seed in the spring and then put down crabgrass control it will not let the seed germinate.
I use weed n feed around the 1st to 2nd week of May and that is the last time that I will fertilize till I put down winterizer. I usually lime 1x per year right around now.
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Old 06-19-2009, 08:56 AM
 
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If you have Bermuda grass you need to reduce the mowing height to about 0.75 - 1.5 inches. Fescue lawns like to be cut taller.
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Old 06-19-2009, 09:26 AM
 
Location: Indian Trail
539 posts, read 1,401,739 times
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Originally Posted by Native_Son View Post
If you have Bermuda grass you need to reduce the mowing height to about 0.75 - 1.5 inches. Fescue lawns like to be cut taller.
Good point, I was talking about Fescue.
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Old 06-20-2009, 06:53 AM
 
1,644 posts, read 4,306,523 times
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Thanks for the really helpful advice-much appreciated NATIVE_SON and car421.
i had better get up to speed as we accepted an offer on our house in the UK yesterday, and once I get over there I will be taking over from husband as chief groundsman!

Well the bit about the mowing is interesting because we only have a push mower (poor husband!) at the moment and it has a fixed height which I would say leaves about 3inches. So-if my parents have Bermuda that is too long right? How will that affect the lawn?

Is crabgrass that really coarse, spiky grass that appears in chunks in the lawn?
So it's Ok for us to put lime on now if we overseeded in April and it is growing well. I assume lime doesn't stop the seed from germinating-it's alakaline but can it burn?

Thanks again!
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Old 06-20-2009, 08:12 AM
 
Location: Indian Trail
539 posts, read 1,401,739 times
Reputation: 267
Quote:
Originally Posted by susan42 View Post
Thanks for the really helpful advice-much appreciated NATIVE_SON and car421.
i had better get up to speed as we accepted an offer on our house in the UK yesterday, and once I get over there I will be taking over from husband as chief groundsman!

Well the bit about the mowing is interesting because we only have a push mower (poor husband!) at the moment and it has a fixed height which I would say leaves about 3inches. So-if my parents have Bermuda that is too long right? How will that affect the lawn?

Is crabgrass that really coarse, spiky grass that appears in chunks in the lawn?
So it's Ok for us to put lime on now if we overseeded in April and it is growing well. I assume lime doesn't stop the seed from germinating-it's alakaline but can it burn?

Thanks again!
If you overseeded in April, any seed that has not germinated by now won't.
Yes, what you are seeing is crabgrass. If you see it going to seed (tall strands that come up with tiny seed clusters at the top typically about 1-2 inches of seed it is important to remove these by hand (yes it is a lot of work but important) and place in a plastic bag before mowing. Each one of these has thousands of seeds and will spread the crabgrass this season into next. Crabgrass will choke out the surrounding grass - it is a weed. But after a few seasons of your lawn coming in thicker and being aggressive with crabgrass preventer in the spring, (I put down 2 applications 1x with fertilizer and now scotts sells just the halts, which I put down about 1 month after the 1st application) it will help with the crabgrass control.
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