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Bermuda Crowns and Thatch

Posted: Tue Aug 13, 2019 1:28 pm
by Obi-Lawn_Kenobi
First post about my 'lawn' after extensive youtube research. Here's what I know:
1. I live in So. Cal and have about a 1500 sqft lawn.
2. I just bought this yard (ok the house as well) in Nov. of last year and the previous owner had it 'professionally maintained'
3. Did a little research and bought the manual reel mower from greenworks. Keep it at 1.25-1.5" tall
4. Stressed the grass out a little during the rainy months (until April) and added a little fertilizer at the beginning of April.
5. Was really happy with it until the hot summer months hit.
6. Added more water and it got more yellow.

Brings us up to date.

From my youtube research it looks like I have rust or melting out (not sure if either of those are the correct terminology) and an EXTENSIVE crown/thatch layer. It's 2 to 3 inches thick in some locations. Most of my stolons are growing horizontally and not vertically. I also think that since I haven't added enough nitrogen on the lawn it has gone into a little bit of stress dormancy in places.

Where do I go from here? Do I do a dethatch and try to pull up all the dead material and crown? I'm worried that I'm going to pull out anything that is alive as well with that since the thatch is so thick and everything growing sideways...and it being the middle of summer. Or do I leave it till the cooler weather and take it all out and reseed. Not sure if I will be able to scalp it with my reel mower before I start the dethatch. You can see how tall it is even on the 1.5" setting. Pictures taken right after mow and clean up.


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Re: Bermuda Crowns and Thatch

Posted: Tue Aug 13, 2019 1:32 pm
by ktgrok
That is a lot of thatch. No idea what you should do, but impressive.
Also, have you fertilized it since April? Bermuda likes heat, but also is hungry and wants to be fed. The difference in mine when it gets the Nitrogen and Potassium it needs is night and day. And the more rain the more the nutrients get washed out.

Re: Bermuda Crowns and Thatch

Posted: Tue Aug 13, 2019 4:54 pm
by Obi-Lawn_Kenobi
ktgrok wrote:
Tue Aug 13, 2019 1:32 pm
That is a lot of thatch. No idea what you should do, but impressive.
Also, have you fertilized it since April? Bermuda likes heat, but also is hungry and wants to be fed. The difference in mine when it gets the Nitrogen and Potassium it needs is night and day. And the more rain the more the nutrients get washed out.
I just hit it with some scotts weed and feed a couple weeks ago, got a little bit of forced growth out of it, not sure how much is making it down to the soil though with that thatch layer. Nice thing about socal summer weather...it never rains

Re: Bermuda Crowns and Thatch

Posted: Tue Aug 13, 2019 5:56 pm
by viva_oldtrafford
Verticut, core aerify, topdress it. What thatch you don’t remove you’ll dilute with the topdressing.

Re: Bermuda Crowns and Thatch

Posted: Tue Aug 13, 2019 6:41 pm
by Greendoc
Scalp it down to the dirt. Remove whatever debris comes from that operation. Most people's idea of a scalp is only down to 1/2" or 3/4" I do not call a scalp a scalp unless I see dirt.

Re: Bermuda Crowns and Thatch

Posted: Tue Aug 13, 2019 6:55 pm
by FlowRider
The two learned gentlemen above, @viva_oldtrafford and @Greendoc, have given you the best advice about how to fix your turf.

That is a matted mess. Be prepared to haul away a lot of dead thatch, because you will create a lot fixing that.

The good news is once it is all cleared away, your lawn will begin to thrive and will grow very healthy and green...!

Re: Bermuda Crowns and Thatch

Posted: Tue Aug 13, 2019 7:12 pm
by FlaDave
That blade and those stolons look quite large. Pictures can be decieving though. I'm wondering if thats all Bermuda?

Re: Bermuda Crowns and Thatch

Posted: Tue Aug 13, 2019 7:16 pm
by viva_oldtrafford
Greendoc wrote:
Tue Aug 13, 2019 6:41 pm
Scalp it down to the dirt. Remove whatever debris comes from that operation. Most people's idea of a scalp is only down to 1/2" or 3/4" I do not call a scalp a scalp unless I see dirt.
This might be the better option, though the most labor intensive. It’d almost be akin to a light fraze mow.

Re: Bermuda Crowns and Thatch

Posted: Tue Aug 13, 2019 7:20 pm
by Greendoc
viva_oldtrafford wrote:
Tue Aug 13, 2019 7:16 pm
Greendoc wrote:
Tue Aug 13, 2019 6:41 pm
Scalp it down to the dirt. Remove whatever debris comes from that operation. Most people's idea of a scalp is only down to 1/2" or 3/4" I do not call a scalp a scalp unless I see dirt.
This might be the better option, though the most labor intensive. It’d almost be akin to a light fraze mow.
Conventional verticutting does little for incorrectly maintained Zoysia. Everyone in Hawaii knows that converting incorrectly mowed Zoysia to reel mowing involves the equivalent of a fraze mow. Bermuda is not that terrible as far as amount of debris generated. I got 160 gallons of debris from cutting down 50 sq ft on a parkway strip yesterday. Emerald Zoysia

Re: Bermuda Crowns and Thatch

Posted: Tue Aug 13, 2019 8:14 pm
by TN Hawkeye
FlaDave wrote:
Tue Aug 13, 2019 7:12 pm
That blade and those stolons look quite large. Pictures can be decieving though. I'm wondering if thats all Bermuda?
I agree. The blades and rhizomes look more like kikuyu.

Re: Bermuda Crowns and Thatch

Posted: Thu Aug 15, 2019 11:59 am
by Obi-Lawn_Kenobi
Did some more research on my grass type, its looking more like Zoysia to me now too. Vernation looks rolled to me. Pulled this guy trying to make a run for it across my sidewalk.

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Re: Bermuda Crowns and Thatch

Posted: Thu Aug 15, 2019 12:49 pm
by FlaDave
It does look more like zoysia to me but I'm not sure. @Spammage has a good eye for grass id.

Re: Bermuda Crowns and Thatch

Posted: Fri Aug 16, 2019 10:34 pm
by Spammage
@Obi-Lawn_Kenobi yeah, the grass looks like kikuyu to me. That close-up pic is definitely not zoysia. Kikuyu is popular in Socal, so I would research that to see if you can confirm.

Re: Bermuda Crowns and Thatch

Posted: Sun Aug 18, 2019 12:26 am
by Obi-Lawn_Kenobi
Spammage wrote:
Fri Aug 16, 2019 10:34 pm
@Obi-Lawn_Kenobi yeah, the grass looks like kikuyu to me. That close-up pic is definitely not zoysia. Kikuyu is popular in Socal, so I would research that to see if you can confirm.
Thanks! I checked out kikuyu when @tn hawkeye mentioned it earlier and didn't think that was correct. Checked out the seed heads photos and this definitely looked liked my lawn in early spring. Actually the whole neighborhood was covered in these seed heads.
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But I'm also getting these seed heads a bunch right now. These look like bermuda seed heads from what I've seen online.

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Now to decide if I want to try and push one over the other.

Re: Bermuda Crowns and Thatch

Posted: Sun Aug 18, 2019 12:58 am
by smarchandiv
Rule out chinch bugs also. They are very common this time of year and love a thick thatch layer