Where to begin when I am starting with this?
This is my second post. The first was regarding June bugs, which I thought must be my only problem in trying to get a green, organic back yard. Now, after reading more of the forums, I am not so certain. I may be working with more than one issue. Nothing's easy, despite the button. ;-)
So, attached are pictures of what I am starting with, and tired of looking at when I exit my back door.
- live in Central Texas (Comal County).
- Area I am attempting to improve is approx. 14,400 sq. ft. of a 2 acre parcel
- Clay soil that quickly dries on top and develops large cracks, hotter it is, more cracks develop.
- Live in an area where they mine limestone, so pretty sure my soil is alkaline.
- Lots of rocks! Even after we pick them up, more work their way to the surface. I think I need to get some organic matter on the area but not sure what, exactly.
- Use a lawn tractor set at highest level to mow.
- Have dogs, alpacas and chickens
- Two of the alpaca graze in the area (until we fence in a paddock for them) but they do not pull out the roots, no upper teeth.
- Chicken coop is mobile. We move it and the run every 7-10 days.
- We try to let the hens run the yard every evening for 3-5 hours. It is good for them, helps with bug control and they are fun to watch!
- seeded with Bermuda seed last fall, some looks like it is trying to come up.
- Threw out some more Bermuda grass seed we got on clearance, end of last summer. (about 3-4 weeks ago)
- Just built a large compost bin and piled/layered it with the chicken bedding, alpaca manure and fall leaves so it is not ready.
- I can get free mulch from the county.
- Mow with the blade set at the highest setting.
- Sprayed horticultural molasses on half of my lawn last week, hoping it would help with June bugs, etc. Nothing of note yet, not sure how long it takes...
- Two large live oak trees provide a huge canopy over part of what I would like to be green
- Septic system is buried below the area
- NO sprinkler system. Water hoses and sprinklers and drip hoses are what I have to work with.
We want it green and growing, doesn't have to be the perfect lawn. I just do not want a dry, cracked, crispy dust bowl come summer, if I can help it. I seem to be losing top soil and the rocks keep rising. I can live with some clover, a few weeds, and do consistent watering. But, in the heat of summer we are usually under some kind of water restriction, so less is best. We know it is a long term effort and since we have more time than money, I expect it to take some time to set up a system.
I need some experienced advice because the "hit and miss" stuff I have done for two years is a bust. Are my expectations realistic? Where do I start? What can I do this month? Next month?
Thanks, in advance, for the help/suggestions/insight.
Here is a link that might be useful: cabtab503 yard photos