Feb 13, 2013

The Lawn Regimen

So for years I thought it sounded neat to have a beauty regimen. I guess I have one now, but it's not very complicated. For years my dad has a had a lawn regimen (although he'd never call it that) and his lawn care has been quite a bit more successful than my beauty regiment in my opinion.

This is what my dad's yard looks like...

And really I need to take a picture of the actual grass up close next time I'm down there. My dad says you could drop a raw egg on his grass and it wouldn't crack. It's true... it's that thick.

So you can imagine me growing up with that kind of grass and then having a yard that look like this now... and I mean it is February so of course it's not perfect.

And for those of you who noticed the Christmas lights in the picture above. They're not there anymore, really we took them down Sunday. I mean no one in their right mind would leave their Christmas lights up until the 11th of February (although the 10th of February is totally acceptable...)

So I scoured the web and tried to figure out the keys to a happy lawn. Without going crazy and installing a $5000 irrigation system or anything (my dad doesn't have one). But with us being gone during the summer we have our share of challenges.

Challenges known to date:
 - No one watered our lawn for 2 of the driest summers known to Texas before we bought it
 - First challenge caused most of the grass to die, and now it's a weed-fest
 - The greenest thing in our yard in the summer are the stickers, known as sandburs or nutsedge.
 - We have both St. Augustine and Bermuda grass in different areas, and the popular "Weed and Feed" has 2 combinations: one that kills weeds and St. Augustine or one that kills weeds and Bermuda...
 - We're gone for the summer and we can't take care of our yard like crazy.
 - We're not millionaires...

So I did some research. Turns out lawn care should be pretty simple. I read somewhere in the mix of things that weeds don't create holes in the grass, that holes in the grass create weeds. So pretty much if you have healthy, dense grass the weeds won't have a chance. All the websites and people I've talked to gave me a few tips:

1. Water less often, but make sure to water about "1 inch of rain" every time you water. Apparently watering just a little every day only get's the very top of the soil wet where the roots of the weeds are. Watering deep every few days makes the grass roots grow deeper past where most of the weed roots can reach. No water, the weeds die.

You can measure 1 inch of rain by setting out an epty tuna can (about 1 inch tall) and timing how long it takes your sprinkler to fill up. (You can use any can and measure a 1 inch mark, but don't use a bowl, the container has to have sides that go straight up and down.)

2. Mow high. Like keep your grass a little longer, for us with St. Augustine it's like 3.5-4 inches. The grass will make the ground shaded and the new weeds won't be able to get enough sunlight to grow. Yes! And all you have to do is set the blade correctly on your lawn mower... pretty easy on ours.

3. Feed the yard. Which means every once in a while it may need a little fertilizer. The websites trying to sell fertilizer tell you to fertilize every 6-8 weeks... but they're also trying to sell fertilizer. My dad uses fertilizer in the spring and some people use it every 6-8 weeks like the bag of fertilizer says... We don't do that. We're not rich...

So I looked up the products and popular brands have fertilizer and then they have fertilizer for the summer that kills bugs too and fertilizer with week killer in it and all kinds of things. But for us it'll be more simple. Remember because of the we have St. Augustine and Bermuda. And with the little grass we do have I'm not about to kill half of it...

So for us February is Pre-Emergent time. Pre-emergent is an herbicide that you can put down to keep new seeds from germinating... in this instance we are tying to keep new weed seeds from germinating. I tried to figure out a more green way to do it. But since we have so, so, so many weeds and sandburs we needed a clean slate. (More here.) This stuff won't kill the weeds we have already, but we couldn't use weed killer because like I said before - it would kill our grass. The pre-emergent doesn't mess with our grass. We just can't put down any grass seed for a few months. Hopefully we'll only have to use this stuff this year... 

Here's the one we picked. The local store had it and it cost us about $15 for one bag to cover the entire yard. It's Scott's Halts and the active ingredient is pendimethalin (in case you're a herbicide nerd...)

We borrowed a seed/herbicide spreader from a friend and stuffed it into the back of my Saturn. Kyle was at work and he had the truck...

I highly recommend borrowing a spreader. They are super expensive to buy new ($150-200) and no one uses them enough to justify that. Find a friend who has one and then let him borrow your stuff sometimes too...

So we spread the Halts on the grass and made sure to follow the directions. We made sure to sweep it off our driveway because we heard the pendimethalin stains driveways a funny orange color if you don't sweep it off.

This is what we're starting with. It won't be a miracle overnight or anything. But our plan is to keep some of the weeds from sprouting (AKA help our feet not to bleed when we step on sandburs) and then to try steps 1-3 above to nurse the grass we do have to better health. Hoping to not give the weeds a chance. My plan is to fertilize in March or April once the grass turns green again, because I read somewhere that there's no need to fertilize St. Augustine or Bermuda before it greens in the spring anyway (which is why I didn't use the Scott's Turf Builder with Halts added right in the bag).

You thought the lawn had already greened didn't you... see all the green below, yep those are just winter weeds... that will stay throughout the summer too (crazy things).

Lawn Regimen so far:
 - February 10 (Mardi Gras Weekend): Scott's Halts Crabgrass Preventer (pre-emergent herbicide)

Next plan is to attack the weeds already in the yard by hand removing as much as we can as they emerge. (With gloves on of course since we just spread that herbicide).

Then once the grass greens we'll fertilize and water according to schedule and cut the grass like we should ans maybe we'll get somewhere this year. Maybe, just maybe this fall I can walk barefoot in my yard... or at least fall of 2015 or something?

Happy Yard Working. The time really is now to get ready for the spring. Spring seems to be coming a little early over here in East Texas. See our apple tree budding already?! :)

Sorry there was no picture of me in large rubber boots pushing the giant spreader... maybe next time... And the completed gallery wall really is on the way. Just remember, I'm indecisive. And I didn't want you to miss the window for pre-emergents on your lawn...

I was only thinking of you.  Gallery wall to be completed on Friday (woo hoo) ... unless of course I get distracted by Valentine's day...

1 comment:

  1. "...the popular Weed and Feed has 2 combinations: one that kills weeds and St. Augustine or one that kills weeds and Bermuda." Just can't win 'em all, huh? But I'm glad that you've managed to find several ways on how to take care of your lawn better. The difficulty is really getting in the time to maintain it. -Wilbur @ Southwest Greens


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