Another Newbie - Many questions

versstef1August 18, 2011

Hi. Thanks in advance for what you all have already posted and for any help you can offer me. I've read the Org Lawn FAQ and hours of reading here and I got a book from the library about organic lawn care, and so here's my situation. This might be too long, sorry if it is.

Orlando, St Augustine (not sure what kind, what everyone has, I thought, Floratam??). I bought the house in April. Lawn looked OK, not great. They had a chemical service here, which I used for one treatment in April, before firing them to because I wanted to do it myself, organically. In June damage crept up which I thought was chinch bug so I panicked and got Green Light w/ Arena. This did stop the damage. The sales guy at the nursery convinced me to put down some fertilizer at the same time, which was probably a big mistake in the middle of June! Ever since, I have committed to going totally organic. That's not negotiable. I felt awful after that fertilizer. But I am a perfectionist and determined to do it right.

Anyway, here's what I already do: mulch-mowing on highest setting, usually once a week right now. It might need it more often, but I just don't have time twice a week. Did the tuna can test to know how to water 1/2 to 3/4 inch as needed. Kind of hard this time of year because even though I have a rain gauge, you never know when it will rain. I know about grain fertilizers and was going to do an application of alfalfa or soybean meal in September, then corn gluten in spring (March?).

Here are my numerous problems. I'm having at least six kinds of weeds, some of them pretty heavily infesting certain areas. I don't know most of there names but there's pusley, somethign that looks like sedges (my wife grew uop here and calls these "stickle burrs") - these are extreme on the low-sun east side between mine and my neighbors house. Last time I mowed (last Saturday) I bagged hoping this would lessen the spreading, but now it's Thursday and the seed heads are back all over the place. In the same area there is also a grass like weed that is really green that seems to be taking over the St Augustine. Not sure if it is related to the "stickle burrs", but it's freaking me out that it's takign over the whole lawn. In other areas I also your standard crab grass. I also have another low-growing weed that I don't know the name of, it's spreading on the ground with thin leaves that are green-reddish. Very common around here. I also have acorns sprouting little trees all the time, but that's just cute. Then are are a variety of other green things, many of them flowring, growing here and there.

There are plenty of dead spots from the chinch bug damage, where it's just exposed dead roots. I suppose this area will have to be removed and resodded next spring? Then there are other areas that have been bare that are just not filling in, bare spots. And lately there's been a different kind of thinning that is new - I thought this might have been me burning the lawn with that fertilizer, but it's been two months. Now I think this might be sod webworm because I've seen moths while mowing. Oh, and now I have fire ants, while we're at it, too. It seems where the crabgrass and the bare spots are that the soil is really compacted, if that's the right word. I got some composted chicken manure from my egg farmer (yes, I let it sit for it not to stink too much anymore and it rained that day) and spread that over that area, with some coffee grounds, last weekend. Not sure if this will do anything yet.

It's not helping that my other neighbor's house is a foreclosure with an abandoned lawn - it's nothing but a weed incubator. Furthermore, we're backed into a natural conservation area, which is also full of weed grasses and such.

I'm trying to relax, but I'm really worried because everything just seems to get worse. Maybe that's just panic. When I look from afar, it looks pretty good in many places, but when I look up close, especially at these weeds and the thinning... I'm not a happy organic lawn man. On top of all that my other neighbor, who just moved in, somehow didn't understand our property lines and just today mowed over a good bit into my lawn. WAY TO SHORT, to the point of almost scalping. I just about had a heart attack when I came home. Now I'm worried about that pretty large junk, too. Like I needed more worry.

I would be grateful for any and all advice. Thank you! I have a feeling I will hang out here often!

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How much organic matter is in your soil?
How well does that soil drain?
How well does that soil retain moisture?
What is the tilth (workability) of that soil?
What kind of life is in that soil?

    Bookmark   August 19, 2011 at 7:21AM
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thanks, I re-read some posts and I knew you would ask me that. The soil is Florida-typical extremely sandy, with a really thin layer of soil on top of sand. Drainage is fine, I believe. Organic matter is extremely low, and I've yet to see an earthworm in any diggings. The tilth I believe varies. It's quite compacted in some areas, in others rather soft. Is is imperative to get a soil test? County offers $2 ph tests.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2011 at 7:38AM
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One thing I would need to know immediately for my weekend mowing - should I keep bagging because of weeds w/ the seedheads? Or mulch?

    Bookmark   August 19, 2011 at 10:16AM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

You need to relax, as you said. I mean really relax. LOL

This is not hard to do but you have just barely started. And with your plan, you are not going to get very far very fast.

I wrote the Organic Lawn Care FAQ years ago. Since then, and especially more recently, I have learned a lot more about making this work. This year I got inspired from several different angles to seriously increase the amount of fertilizer I was using. Rather than applying 10 pounds of corn meal (very weak organic fert) on the National Holiday Schedule, I have applied 20 pound of corn GLUTEN meal (the best organic fert) on a monthly schedule. By golly the difference is incredible. I thought it might improve but not this much. With that in mind, and with the season being were it is, timewise, I would suggest you start pounding it with fertilizer. If you have both soybean and alfalfa available, I have a strong preference for soybean meal because it will flow through a spreader and because next to corn gluten meal, it is the best fertilizer. I would apply that at 20 - 30 pounds per 1,000 square feet right away and every 3-4 weeks for 3 months. Heavier fertilizer makes the St Aug spread faster and farther. You might not notice it while its happening but it will happen in a month. Then, "Suddenly," you will see it.

What scares me about your yard is the creeping grass you have not identified. There are some, like coastal bermuda, that will sweep in very fast. If you could get some pictures and post them here (we can show you how), that would really help. If you can get a photo with the weedy grass long and preferably with seed heads on it, that would help to identify it.

Sticker burrs are a sign of poor soil. Fertilize more heavily there and be sure that area gets watered once a week. The grass will move in and take over. In the mean time, get some old carpet or old knit fabric and sweep it across the stickers to collect the burrs. Scrape them into the trash and keep after it until you aren't getting any more stickers. Then put the fertilizer on and water.

You don't say how frequently you water but it should be on the order of once every 7 (or 5) days. More often and you are encouraging weeds. Don't even worry about your neighbor's lawn or the wild area. When your lawn is well fertilized, the weeds will stay out. You do need to come to an understanding with the new neighbor about mowing height. Put up a string or something to mark the line until he gets the idea. Maybe you can convert him to organics???

    Bookmark   August 19, 2011 at 2:17PM
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Hi David. Wow, thanks for the answer. I was specifically waiting to fertilize because of the "holiday schedule." I put on some Milorganite that I had left over last week. But I can get any of it, either corn gluten meal, or corn meal, or alfalfa, or soy bean meal. Is any of it better at a certain time of year, or what other criteria to choose the fertilizer? Or always CGM for you? Or vary it up sometimes? After the three months of doing it once a month, will I keep going through the winter?

Is fertilizer the cure-all for weeds, bare spots, chinch bug damage (should I remove the dead stolons and will it spread back? I removed some in a cerain arae and all there is is weeds now), webworms, fungus, whatever else there is? Or will anything be needed beyond, ever?

As for water, yes, no more than every 5 days up to 7. I try to look for some wilting and then put it on. This week, of course, totally over-watered because it needed it bad Saturday so I did full amount and it's rained 2 inches since then. And yes to the neighbor, I will have a talk with him asap! He's from up north, and I will need to teach him some things. He did his whole lawn like that, looks awful.

The spreading grass ... I described that wrong. I don't think it is a grass as much as a grassy weed. You can see this kind underneath the backflow preventer on one of the pics, it has spread much since I took that pic though. So here are some pics via Flickr, let me know if this works.

Does it work for you to click on this and see the pics?

    Bookmark   August 19, 2011 at 3:51PM
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I've been looking around and I believe the sticker burrs might be Green Kyllinga! Can you tell from the pictures? Or how can I tell? What to do either way?

    Bookmark   August 19, 2011 at 5:33PM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

If you can find a way to address your photos and make them end with .jpg, then they could be posted here. Not sure how Flickr prevents that.

Green kyllinga. Yup! That is the dryland version of nutgrass. They are both sedges. GK grows in dry soil and nutgrass grows best in continually moist soil. I believe GK is easier to get rid of. In that sand it should pull right out. Does it have a nut in the roots? If so then you will need a sedge killer. Unfortunately there are no organic sedge killers so we can't talk about that topic much in this forum.

The grass you have labeled as crabgrass looks like bermuda. Crabgrass has blades as coarse as St Augustine. Bermuda is very fine blades. As far as I know you cannot simply kill bermuda except by smothering it or shading it out. There are chemicals that might work but that's a discussion for a different forum.

I used to use corn meal exclusively because I could get it for $3 per bag. This year China is buying all the corn they can get and the price has skyrocketed. The rest of the grains are all about the same price now, so soybean meal would be preferred unless you want to spring for corn gluten meal. As far as I know there is not any one grain preferred for the season. Corn gluten meal is said to have preemergent weed control properties, but I'm not convinced. Ordinary corn meal has fungal disease control properties, I am convinced of that although there are others I trust who have not had the same good experience.

The organic control for chinch bugs is beneficial nematodes. These are not the root knot nematodes so famous in Florida. These things carry a disease that kills many insects within a day or two. They are a little tricky to apply, especially in sugar sand, but I think they can work there.

The fast organic control for webworms is called Bt. It is a bacteria that stops the webworms from feeding on contact. They sit there paralyzed for days and die. There are lots of products with Bt in them. Spelled out it is bacillus thurengienses. Look for that on the product label. It is sometimes called BT Worm Killer. For a longer term approach to webworms (or any other type of caterpillar including tomato horn worms) let the wasps into your home. Well, not inside but the wasps you see building paper nests under the eaves are the ones you want. They catch caterpillars and seal them inside the nest as food for the young when they hatch. If you leave the paper wasps alone, they will leave you alone. No matter what, don't swat at them, though. That takes some will power at first because sometimes they are inquisitive, but they are not least until you start waving your arms around.

As you start to reclaim your dead St Aug areas, there is no need to rake up the old runners. Do not let the grass dry out in those areas. I would go 5 days maximum on watering in the heat. There are some who believe mowing the grass shorter will increase stolon (runner) speed and distance. I don't know, but you have an excellent proving ground to test that theory. I do know that more fertilizer and more water are necessary, though. Organic fertilizer works fantastic for the grass to spread.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2011 at 7:53PM
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thanks again. I have to admit it seemed easier after your first answer. I was going to get some CGM or SBM (depending on price) tomorrow and continue what I was doing. Now you're saying I have dangerous Bermuda and sedges that need more than just grain fertilizer. But I won't give up, lol. I want you to know that I can be patient, if things are on the right track. My panic stemmed from the feeling that every day it was something else, that things were getting worse. I heard of $5,000 resodding jobs, and I'm not in the market for that.

If you don't mind, here are my specific questions:

1. Did you think that was sod web worm or a fungus or something else in that larger thin area?
2. You think it's Bermuda not crabgrass. Does that match that it has V-shaped seed head after growing for a few days? This is very common in our area right now, even in the "professionally" managed HOA area - those V-heads stick out everywhere after a few days. Will grain fertilizing be enough to have the ST Aug crowd out the Bermuda over time?
3. Ditto for the Green Kyllinga - will I be able to overtake it slowly or do I need to post something in the regular forum to get some chemicals? I would if it's the only choice. I've tried to hand pull these suckers since June, and they just get more of them, no chance. Not sure if they have a "nut", I try to check tomorrow. For tomorrow's mowing - bag or (mulch and spread these seeds?)
4. There is this other grassy weed, the one under the backflow. It's really taking over, coming from the dead areas around edges, like the pool screen and fence. It's low growing, different dark green looking, larger blades. I'll try to get a better pic tomorrow as I believe this is a major danger, lol.
5. Fertilize throughout the winter months or stop at some point and continue in Spring?
6. Don't think I have chinch bug anymore, I hope. Nematodes anyway, preventatively, each spring? Is that a good idea.
7. What about the soil questions from kimmsr? Do I need a soil test?

I had known about your wasp theory and wouldn't kill them, never have. I'm surprised you think it will spread back to the totally dead-stolon area, but glad to hear there's a chance. I'm sure I'll have more follow-ups once you answer me. Let me know if it gets too much for you!!! Thanks!

    Bookmark   August 19, 2011 at 9:04PM
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Knowing your soil means getting a good, reliable soil test that includes a soil pH with the Calcium/Magnesium numbers as well as where the major, Phosphorus and Potash, nutrients are. The second thing is getting the amount of organic matter in the soil up to between 5 and 8 percent, which can be tough to do in Florida. Organic matter, in your sand, will fill in the spaces between the sand particles and help hold both moisture and nutrients in the root zone where they are needed. Very often, once the soil is fixed the "weed" problems are greatly lessened.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2011 at 6:56AM
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kimmsr, thank you. I will get that soil test asap. In the meantime, isn't it safe to assume that I have extremely poor soil, lacking all major and minor nutrients, as well as lacking in organic matter. Either way, what are the solutions you suggest for getting organic matter - compost? It's hard to find around here. And will the grain fertilizer help w/ the nutrients? What are some other things that you suggest for particular soil deficiencies? I'm sorry if you addressed this already somewhere, send me a link if so.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2011 at 8:01AM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

1. I suspect a fungus killed the large areas. That or just dryness.

2. Below is a crabgrass seed head.

Below is a bermuda seed head.

Below is a bahia grass (also called paspalum) seed.

3. I would bag the green kyllinga and bahia seed for now. The rest I'm not so worried about.

4. Need a picture. I'm praying for crabgrass somewhere because it is very easy to handle in St Augustine.

5. Fertilize until the grass stops growing. This is the fastest way to improve your entire situation. In the spring you can go to every other month fertilizing and see how that goes. What you're looking for is color and density. I don't care about how fast the grass grows but density is very important to keeping the weeds out.

6. Nematodes don't live that long in the soil. That is because the quickly destroy the population of insects that they breed on. So you cannot apply in January and be done for the year. These are the one's I use.

7. Soil test can't hurt, but if you ask anyone nearby what your soil is like, they can help. Yours is different because it has a layer of something on top of the sand.

As for compost, I prefer to spend my money on fertilizer rather than compost. Since you can get fertilizer and not compost, then your question is answered. I would not spend a ransom to have compost shipped in.

If you get your soil test done locally, you likely will not get a complete description of your deficiencies. If you sent it to Logan Labs in Ohio, then you would get what you are expecting. I believe the test everyone gets costs $13.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2011 at 11:14AM
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Alright, a full day's work behind me. Mowed - like an idiot, I put the bag on but forgot to take out the mulching plug, so I guess I spread the suckers around. See below for some images of my invaders. I also got the SBM and put it down, 100 lbs (lawn is maybe 4500 sqft). I still don't really know what a soil test would tell me. Yes, I need organic matter. I need everything. I have a tiny layer of real soil up top, in certain areas, but not everywhere. In fact, I have deadspots along the sides of the house where it's pure sand. Not sure anything (good) will ever grow there. So here are the pics. Let me know if you see anything else you can help me with. Thanks!

These first four are of the "grassy weed". This one is scaring me, as it is really taking over, first from the edges where there is no St Augustine at all. In fact, I had cleared an area of dead roots and such and put some compost there a while ago, in hopes of St Aug spreading in, but instead THIS is growin there and now IT is spreading and now to be found all over the lawn in the middle of it, seems to be choking out the St Aug. It pulls out pretty easy, but it's just so much to attempt to get it all by hand.When you pull it, a ton of soil is stuck to it:

This is a shot of what we call green kyllinga as well as the grassy weed that I've been referring to. They occur in the same area, as if they are either the same thing or belong together!

This is the sedge or green kyllinga or whatever it is in detail:

From the same plant... At first I thought there were no nuts, but then I peeled back lots of soil stuck to the root and uncovered this, which could be a nut, right? Implications?

Finally, a closeup of the weed grass, can you identify from this? Based on your pics, this seems to be crabgrass, no?

Shot at 2011-08-20

    Bookmark   August 20, 2011 at 10:36PM
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david_tx(7a North Texas)

dchall, your "new and improved" organic fertilizing suggestions sound a lot like the method I use for my Tiff419 lawn. I read your Organic FAQ back around 2004 or so and that's what convinced me to try organic fertilization on my 4000 sq ft back yard.

At the time, there was considerable debate on Garden Web about using organics on bermuda because of the high need for nitrogen. I decided to try it to see if it could be done. I stepped up from corn meal to CGM/cottonseed meal/soybean meal for the added nitrogen needed. I also fertilized every 4 to 6 weeks instead of the holiday schedule.

Due to cost, I use 10 lbs per 1000 sq ft when using CGM. With cottonseed or soybean meal, I'll use closer to 25 lbs per 1000 sq ft.

You know, I really can't tell you my exact routine because I don't have one. I operate by the seat of my pants. When I can't recall exactly when I last fertilized, I fertilize again and that's about every 4 to 6 weeks. I buy whichever meal suits my fancy when I make the purchase. IMO, that's one of the beauties of organic fertilization. It's hard to go wrong. I've been more than satisfied with my results.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2011 at 10:10AM
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Man, I'm checking this way too often, lol. I'm extremely eager to find out if anyone knows anything about the weeds pictured above! Thanks in advance for your time!

    Bookmark   August 23, 2011 at 11:40AM
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Is there anybody here? What can I do to get some answers? I would love to get some help with all my pictures, but since last week the weedy stuff has grown immensely and is spreading like crazy. Is this early stage crabgrass? Does SBM feed it, along with the St Augustine? I can live with some weeds, but this spreading is freaking me out. What if i remove by hand, what about the bare spots? St Aug cant be seeded, so what to do? Thanks.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2011 at 8:15AM
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I live in Orlando too and went organic about 18 months ago. I fired my lawn spray company after getting hit with crabgrass and cynch bugs last year.

- those last pictures are crabgrass and you just need to rip it out. You can spray it, but still you have to put something down. We get a lot of rain this year and cg loves rain. Rip it out, replace with sod. It will spread fast so rip or spay asap.

This is what I did and worked ok for me.

- March - Depending on the ground temp, above 50 for a few days I put down 60 lbs of CGM. You can get this at Palmer's Feed store (2 locations - one downtown and the other close to Baldwin Park - look in the phone book and call them before going over there. They might have to order the CGM. It is expensive 54 dollars for 40 lbs. Also, the bag I got a few days ago really stunk because it was wet. I wish I had not bought it since it stunk up my garage. But it was their last bag. If that stuff is not wet there is no smell. I did get great results preventing crabgrass for about 3 months. Then the rains hit and I have crabgrass on the low spots. I just rip it out by hand. But for me CGM worked pretty well.

- Soybean Meal - I put down in June. Good Results. Dark Green grass. I get it from Farm City downtown. Call them and they will order it if not in stock. (50 lbs for 18 dollars)

- Alfalfa Meal - I get it from Farm City too. They usually carry it. (50 lbs for 18 dollars). It comes in a pellet form so you just toss it around on your yard. It has a very nice smell to it.

All of these grains put down as soon as you get them. You don't need mice your garage. Then water it in after you put it down. The alfalfa gets big then breaks down after you water it.

- Corn Meal - I found the Carribean Store over in Pine Hills carries this product (50 lbs for 18 dollars, always in stock). We had a lot of rain and I put down 100 lbs to prevent fungus. No fungus problems.

- Milorgite - I got from HD - 12 dollars for 40lbs.

I just put down 40 lbs of CGM yesterday to see if it will control the "winter weeds" and crabgrass.

Dead Spots - Last year I had some dead spots from the cynch bugs and I just ripped out the sod and put down some black cow (4 dollars a bag) and then new sod. This worked very well. Also, put some milorgite down on the new sod too.

Weeds - My worse areas are the low spots and get swamp grass. I've been raising those spots by sand and/or ripping out the old grass and raising with black cow/dirt.

Water - I try avoid over watering. We had a lot of rain this summer so if you are careful you can time it right. Crabgrass loves the water so if you over water you will get Crabgrass. The swamp weeds are a real pain and you can rip them out or spray with weed killer. If you kill it, you have to replace it with grass or it will just grow back. You might notice some areas don't need water whereas others do. Just use your hose vice watering everything.

This past summer we got a lot of rain and my grass got a "lime green" color. I used milorgnite to bring it back. I don't really care for the ironite stuff.

One mistake I made was not getting the soil test. I just keep putting it off. I'll do it this winter.

My experience going organic has been ok. It is not cheaper than using the commercial lawn care companies, but my grass looks better than most of the lawns around me. I like the results of the CGM and soybean meal. I mow at the highest setting and obtain good results.

- SOD - A pain getting good sod. I call HD or Lowes and they usually get it twice a week. Call first. Then look at it when you get it. If it's dry, skip it and wait till the next shipment. Putting down the black cow then the sod works well. It is usually about 1.40 per piece.

- Some other things I played around with were spraying molasses on the lawn to see if it prevents/kills sod web worms. I noticed the moths flying around a few weeks ago and sprayed it down. I don't see very many moths now.

After I get the results of the soil test I'll make the necessary adjustments.

I would guess you can get used coffee grounds from Starbucks but that sounds too messy for me.

Next year, depending on costs, I will use more soybean meal since I like the nice green results.

It's a long process so just take your time and do it the best you can without losing sleep over it. If costs are a concern you could do the front first since that is what everyone sees and then work on the side as time goes on.

Good Luck!

    Bookmark   August 27, 2011 at 1:33PM
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Many people "go organic" by simply substituting organic fertilizers for the synthetic fertilizers and do not get the soil the plants they want to grow growing in a good healthy soil because they do not work on that part, and then stuff does not grow well. Start with the soil and work on that and eventually, not tomorrow, things wil fall into place. Organic lawn care, gardening, farming does not produce overnight results.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2011 at 6:58AM
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Thank you Totsuka. Very informative. I'm in Oviedo, actually, and I found a great feed store in Sanford, Horstmeyer. I got 2 bags of SBM for 16.50 each. Also had cracked corn, Alfalfa, cottonseed, and they can order CGM for $50/40 lbs. For sod, I heard Duda Ranch in Oviedo is good, and you might also check out Lucas Nursery - if those are not too far from you.

I'm definitely being overrun by crabgrass. I weeded it out for a couple hours yesterday, and that took care of quite a small area. I'm sure plenty of roots were left, too. It's unbelievable how much of that stuff there is, way more than I even saw - when you get down to it, it's all over the place. Young crabgrass on the side of the house, spreading like crazy, and more mature stuff up front, all woven into the grass and in one section nothing but it. I wonder if the St Aug can recover from this or will need to be replaced....

Not sure if I should be putting in plugs at this time of year. Isn't it too hot? Also, since I haven't taken care of the soil yet, is there any point now? If I don't, though, bare spots will fill in w/ crabgrass.

kimmsr, I appreciate your concern for the soil. I'm not impatient. I'm only concerned with the immediate threat of losing parts of the lawn. This crabgrass is insane right now! I am still a little bit lost though as to what it means to fix the soil. As you suggest, I will continue to mulch mow, I got some more composted chicken manure from the farm yesterday, which I'll spread around when it smells fresh. What else? I notice the crabgrass area being particularly compacted. Do I need to "mechanically aerate?"

I'll share my test results when I get the test done.


    Bookmark   August 28, 2011 at 9:56AM
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That is really good price for SBM.! How big were the bags?. I'm not sold on the cracked corn since some people say corn stalks come big are the cottonseed bags? how much?

I read people using that but could never find it down here.

Is the CGM "Bradfield" brand? I got "regular" CGM last year from Palmers before it burned down (they are working out of a trailer now) for 50 dollars for 50 lbs, but now they just carry "Bradfield" which is good, but more expensive...

I've heard of Lucas, I might drive over thing I try to do is keep the cost down on the lawn care...HD is 5 miles away...lousy service. ok sod, but close....Farm City is great...but only carry Alfalfa and SBM...but 9 miles to is easy to "run up the bill" when taking care of a lawn and I'm trying to cut corners where I can....

Yup..that will over run your lawn..either hit it with vinegar or cover it with black plastic for a week..then rip it choice...SA can't really beat it out once it starts growing..just rip it out...

I tried plugs..waste of time and money...also..when dropping sod..I found never cut the piece too small..I try to leave the sod in one whole better...

Hot...just have to use more water...for about 3 weeks on new sod...early in the morning...and again around 3 if you see it dried out....

Kill the weeds first..especially cg...white vinegar from WM works well..especially in the heat like now...then just pull them up with a hoe....I'm not a big fan of roundup.. If you really get mad you can rent a sod cutter and rip out the bad yard..I did that twice...(last home, South Florida, about died of heat stroke)..then I put down new's a "once in a lifetime experience"...actually the sod cutter works really well...a real mess to rake up and dispose of the old grass/weeds...then get the soil ready for new sod..if you plan on living in that home for a long's worth consideration..."do it right the first time"...

One thing about leaving the grass cuttings on the lawn..going organic is suppose to keep the thatch down..but I keep the grass clippings every third mow...

Check bestlawn dot info for some really good organic lawn care information too....

You might look at putting down some ivy in areas that just a pain or want to make the yard more manageable..I'm looking at that option this winter....

One good thing about starting over you can really get your soil up to snuff for new sod...

    Bookmark   August 28, 2011 at 2:50PM
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I don't know the brand of CGM they have, since they would have to order it. SBM was $16.50 for 50lb bag. Alfalfa was going to be like $13.. I was not sure about that one, though, because it had as ingredients "dehydrated alfalfa, and also something sodium b..." (don't remember what the word was). So I wasn't sure if dehydrated is normal and also whether the other thing was a kind of salt?! Cottonseed was probably 50 lbs, not sure of price, as I was set for my first feeding to use SBM. You can call them up, Horstmeyer Sanford. You should definitely call before going - last time, there was only 3 SBM left and I bought two, so they might run of stuff temporarily.

For sure I will try CGM in March, hoping for some weed prevention. But like dchall recommends, I will try another grain in September, maybe again in October? Do you when, as he says, the grass "stops growing" here? Does it really stop, ever? When is the last time to fertilize and when is the first time in Spring around here?

For now, I'll try to keep my lawn, what I have, in shape, I'm NOT in the market for major resodding costs and/or labor right now. I don't think it's THAT bad yet where I need to rip it out. Just bought the house a few months ago, and I didn't think it was all too bad to begin with. Overall, though, too much stress already w/ lawn. Great from afar all week long, but every weekend anxiety comes on when I go out there and see it in detail... lol. But compared to the neighbors, I'm still in the top 30%.

And at some point I have to start thinking about shrubs and trees and what not - boy, I'm in over my head! But I know I have to relax and I'm trying!

    Bookmark   August 28, 2011 at 6:31PM
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It does get cold here in Dec/Jan/Feb so your grass won't grow much if at all. I seldom mow the lawn during those months. I will put down SBM next month and that will be it for the year. In March, I'll put down CGM as a prevent and wake up fert.

Did you get any lime green S/A grass? I have some areas on my lawn and noticed it on other lawns too. I read it can be a fungus or just not enough fert. I put down corn meal 6 weeks ago to prevent fungus and CGM a few days ago. Will wait and see. S/A can be a pain in the rear at times. We are getting a lot of rain which is good for Florida.

My HOA sent me a nasty note about my plastic edging sticking up a bit. I think it was up about 2 inches in one spot. I hate this HOA. Such a petty little infraction. They could have just called me and I would have taken care of it.

After my kids leave home I'm pretty much set on selling this home and moving into an apartment. Between playing with the yard, HOA, property taxes, takes the fun out of owning a home anymore.

    Bookmark   August 31, 2011 at 4:57PM
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Hey there! Yes, I know what you mean - I've rented my whole life until now, and I miss it in many ways. But the wife loves owning a house. I'm still getting used to it.

Back to the lawn, yes, I had some lime green color. But that was the least of my concerns. If you read above, I seem to have it all, weeds, insects. Fungus, too... which I haven't even mentioned yet, but just recently noticed yellow spots on grass. Each side of the house has its own unique issues. Oh well, I will stay on track and see if I can change things around. Rain should help, I guess, but I'm not seeing that. It grows high where it's healthy, but it's not doing anything to help it spread. We'll see, take it easy.

    Bookmark   August 31, 2011 at 7:31PM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

I sort of left you hanging here. I got a new job in a small town. Turns out the place I'm living does not have internet. Anyway...looks like the image I tried to link to for paspalum did not come through. Here is another link to images of paspalum. You said you have a V shaped seed head. Paspalum has a V shaped seed head and looks like that in the picture. In either case I think you could use baking soda to kill it and not damage the St Augustine. Here is a YouTube link that will show you how to do it. Watch the entire video because he explains how NOT to kill it, too.

That is definitely green kyllinga.

The reason the weeds are moving in so well is the thin stand of st Aug. Feed it more and it will become very dense.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2011 at 1:50AM
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Hi David... Thanks for coming back, I wondered what happened to ya! So no longer in San Antonio? Did you sell your house and lawn there? I also tried the bestlawn forum, also not very many responses. Which forum is more active? I'm having "thousand" of issues and would love to keep asking questions... I have newbie OCD...

My opinion on my grassy weed problem keeps changing. Now that you're showing me paspalum, that could be it, too. I thought it was young crabgrass. I'm not sure the V-shaped head is still characteristic, I really think the mature stuff is CB. The young stuff started having little flowers. Whatever it is, yesterday I spent 5 hours and got 5 huge bags of that stuff of the lawn. And that on an area of only about 800 square feet. It had really taken over FAST, spreading from dead sandy spots along a fence and pool screen. Now, my lawn looks awful, full of bare spots where I pulled out all that grassy stuff. It could also be different kinds in different areas. The young green stuff is really spreading in the same basic area where the kyllinga is, and they are spreading fast, too. I've been handweeding them for a couple months, but they've just been multiplying. Well, I tried to get it ALL out yesterday, but of course I didn't get it ALL. Now I wonder if the weeds will just come back or if my SBM (applied Aug 20) will help SA spread in. Somehow I'm pessimistic about this, as so much ground needs to be covered. What I don't clearly understand is this - won't feeding the lawn also feed the weeds? And they already grow much faster, so how can the SA catch up?

On top of that, I believe my front was just eaten by sod webworm, a week after I pulled out crabgrass there (the mature kind, which I believe was CB for sure). Trying to not get discouraged about that....

    Bookmark   September 5, 2011 at 10:20AM
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