New Bermuda Frustrations

chris.yeeJuly 14, 2013

Help!

My wife and I recently built a new home in the Central Texas Hill Country (Leander, TX) 30-minutes outside of Austin. The home came with a sprinkler system and Bermuda sod in both front and back.

The sod was laid in the beginning of May. It was watered daily for the first 2-1/2 weeks to let the roots establish themselves in the ground (which is a very thin layer of builder-provided cheap top soil with rocky clay underneath). During that time, and about 3 weeks after, it looked FANTASTIC!

Late May, I switched the watering schedule to two days a week (Thursday and Sunday) to comply with our watering restrictions. I water 4-6 inches deep and early in the morning. Around late June the grass started to lighten and almost yellow.

I read that early July was a great time to fertilize so I purchased some Medina "Growin' Green" 4-2-3 fertilizer and applied it/watered it in on July 3rd. Since then, I've maintained the same watering schedule and have been applying Maxicrop liquid seaweed weekly to help protect it from the heat.

I'm mowing about once a week and keeping it between 1-1/2 and 2-1/2 inches long to prevent the surface roots from getting too toasted by the sun. I'm also letting the clippings fall into the yard as opposed to bagging.

It's STILL yellowish in color and barely growing but for some "good spots" here and there! (picture attached)

Due to the pitiful soil base my home builder provided, my gut tells me I need to wait until October - top dress for the first time/fertilize again and have more patience. But, I'm wondering if there's anything I can do to expedite the process to getting the lush, GREEN lawn I've dreamed of.

Thanks in advance for your much needed advice!

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tnjdm

Chris,

Not sure how you would know it's pitiful soil unless you had a soil test done. That should be the first thing you do. If I am reading this right, you have bermuda and have only fertilized it once with an organic fertilzer? How many lbs per 1K sq. ft.?

Without a test, it will be hard for anyone to make a recommendation as to why it looks like it does. If you don't want to get a test, I would suggest you get a high nitrogen slow release synthetic with some iron.

Bermuda needs a monthly feeding of this. I did this for the first year to get it established and now do nothing but organics. By the way, if you don't want to go with synthetics at all, hit it hard with Milorganite.

it works. My lawn a month ago.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2013 at 7:31AM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

Do you have a dog that might be causing those dark green spots? If so then you don't have enough nitrogen. I would guess you don't have enough but if those are dog spots, then that's all the evidence I need.

Milorganite is good. There are other products in Texas with Hou-Actinite. That is Houston's version of Milorganite. They do not sell Hou-Actinite in quantities that a home owner could use, but some feed stores will buy a truckload and bag it.

If you want to be dark green and dense, bermuda needs monthly doses of very high nitrogen fertilizer throughout the growing season. Usually that is accomplished with chemical fertilizers, so with organics you have to get the best stuff. If you can find corn gluten meal at a feed store, that is the best you can get. Soybean meal is second and Milorganite is probably third. Monthly apps at 20 pounds per 1,000 square feet will get you going. More frequent apps are fine and will not burn or otherwise harm anything but your wallet. One of the gurus on another forum was trying to get his soil's organic matter up, so he applied 50 pounds per 1,000 of soybean meal and milorganite every weekend for an entire growing season with no issues.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2013 at 4:10PM
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chris.yee

Thank you both for your suggestions!

I'm going to have a soil test done in the Fall when I topdress the lawn for the first time. Until then, I'm going to hit it hard with Miloranite!

Thank again!
Chris

    Bookmark   July 24, 2013 at 1:54PM
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chris.yee

The Milorganite seems to be working! Thank you both again for the suggestions. The plan from here is to hit it again with Militganite in September. After that, I plan to do a soil test, arreate, remove thatch, and top dress in October.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2013 at 9:39PM
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tnjdm

Looks good Chris. You may want to mix up the feedings a little for the next few weeks. Throw some alfalfa pellets or rabbit food down, Soybean meal if you can locate some, and of course, Milorganite for the iron (which most likely added in your green-up.)

    Bookmark   August 6, 2013 at 7:27AM
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