I’m a total newbie, but I’ve purchased 2 books about grass/lawn care and one of them was Scotts “Lawns”, a guide to a “beautiful lawn”. It’s a great book and I highly recommend it, especially for greenhorns like myself.
In December 2005, I purchased a home in San Antonio, Texas. During the Spring, we had a severe drought condition and, being new to this whole lawn thing, I neglected and did not take care of the grass. I’ve attached some pictures of my lawn in hopes that it will help provide some clues as to what is the best way for me to tackle this problem and how I can bring it back and have the “toe-ticklinest turf in town!”
My grass type: St. Augustine
Soil Test Results: Should be received this week! I am waiting for this before I make a move on feeding the lawn
Question: With my lawn condition, should I just do some lawn patching or do I need to renovate the lawn by killing the whole thing and then starting over? What would you do?
What's the fastest way to get this lawn back in top shape?
Thanks for any advice!!
P.S> I had Scotts do a free lawn analysis and they gave me the following info: Turf density: Thin, Moderate shade, Aeration needed/compacted soil, Clay loam, good mowing, drought stress, weeds: clover, dandelion, dollarweed, oxalis, crabgrass, foxtail, goose grass, chinch bugs(?)
I'm not one to use synthetic fertilizers or toxic chemicals in my garden so my approach would be different.* Having looked at your great pics (I love your doggie!), I would recommend you remove what is there with a power sod cutter.* It appears to be mostly weeds and annual grasses.* You could rent the sod cutter.
Then add 3" to 4" of compost and till it in.* Then you can seed or sod.* Here's how to seed or sod.* The prep is the same.* I'm also including a rake you can make yourself for leveling large areas.
How to maintain organically.* It's less expensive in the long run.
In looking at your pictures I would also recommend that you extend the areas under your trees both in front and back with either a circle of mulch or by replanting the groundcover you have.* If you look at this pic you will see there is no grass under the trees.* That's because of the shade and competition for water from the tree roots.* Do make sure the rootflare of the trees isn't buried.* Here's the pic.
Here's how to mulch trees and some info on rootflare and turf and tree roots.
You mention that Scott's did a free lawn analysis.* I would suggest you have them either proove you have chinch bugs or send a sample off to your local extension service for diagnosis before using anything on your lawn for something that is questionable.* I don't see any evidence of chinch bug activity as you would see brown grass.* You just don't have any grass.
I was looking for a post about lawns for someone else and was reading this post again.* In looking at that picture you posted of your yard, I was thinking it would be nice to extend the groundcover from the grouping on the right to the one in the middle where you see the street sign between them.* You could even plant bulbs in the fall to come up through the groundcover.* It would make the lawn less choppy.*
Just a thought.
Do you still need help with this? The photo is gone. By now you've probably found out you cannot seed st. augustine , it is only available in sod.* And I hope to god you did not remove it with a sod cutter! Newt, stop telling people to do that LOL!
QQ, why wouldn't you use a sod cutter to remove turf if you were going to start over again.* As I remember the picture there was practically no grass.
Well if there was no grass to begin with then what are you removing?* St. Augustine is not seeded, only sodded and plugged so if you wish to stick with St. Augustine, you wouldn't want to remove it. If anything, you'd want to stick more and more pieces of it in there because it is an aggressive spreader that will fill in the voids on it's own. (Unlike with Tall Fescue which you are accustomed to in MD)
As for the other topic, removing the existing vegetation with a sod cutter will definitely make for exposing more soil, however dead* & scalped sod does an excellent job of holding new seed in place and providing just the right amount of cover to keep it moist so it doesn't need to be straw mulched. That way a simple broadcast seeding will work fine.* Using a sod cutter is also not an effect means of killing weeds as it's only shaving them off the surface leaving deeply rooted grass and weeds' roots in place.* If you want to make the grass go bye-bye and plop down sod, then you would want to use a sod cutter but if you have an existing weed problem, you'd want to kill those weeds off first even though that may seem redundant.
QQ, thanks for the explaination.* I will keep that in mind.* :)*
I'll give you an example of one of the instances one might want to use a sod cutter because it just came up in another lawn forum.* Someone in the coastal southest asked if they could seed with [annual] rye grass because they want to sod with a warm season grass in the spring (They don't have to wait to lay sod, that can be done any time but for some reason they couldn't do it sooner) I told them yeah of course but then you're left with all this dead ryegrass (or possible live). You're not going to get good soil contact for your sod with all that dead grass. That could be one of the instances where using a sod cutter would save time however my understanding is the big-box-mart-rental-usa machines don't work that well and are very cumbersome to use.* It would really be a last resort.
Oh and one more thing. When you use a sod cutter, you have to dispose of all the "sod". You cant just put it out at the curb for collection. You'll need a roll-off or make multiple trips to an inert landfill.