Help! Need advice on ground prep for Texas st aug sod

Warm season grasses like Bermuda, Zoysia, St. Augustine, Centipede & Paspalum
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Topic Author
hkfan45
Posts: 69
Joined: Sat May 11, 2019 1:50 pm
Location: south texas
Grass Type: St. augustine
Lawn Size: 5000
Mower: honda push

Help! Need advice on ground prep for Texas st aug sod

Post by hkfan45 »

Hi,

I’m a beginner looking to redo my backyard and need some help. My existing lawn was st Augustine. We didn’t take care of it and it died and weeds took over. It is irrigated but we didn’t use it in the beginning enough.

So, I killed it all with roundup. Then I mowed at the lowest level and then have weed whacked it even more to grind it down to the surface. However, as you can see, a lot still exists, especially root systems. It’s all dead but roots and stolons are there. With all of this said, what do I need to do to prepare it for new st Augustine sod? Do I have to till? I have a small electric tiller and it jammed up on the first go. Do I need to rent a commercial grade tiller?
Or, should we just order a lot of topsoil and place over the top of the dead grass/roots and then lay the sod on that? I’m looking for the easiest method but with a high degree of successful sod growth.

Your help is appreciated!
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FlowRider
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Grass Type: Bermuda
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Re: Help! Need advice on ground prep for Texas st aug sod

Post by FlowRider »

I would go rent a stand-on tracked mini skid steer with a soil conditioner:

I can grow weeds with the best of them...! :bd:

Topic Author
hkfan45
Posts: 69
Joined: Sat May 11, 2019 1:50 pm
Location: south texas
Grass Type: St. augustine
Lawn Size: 5000
Mower: honda push

Re: Help! Need advice on ground prep for Texas st aug sod

Post by hkfan45 »

Unfortunately, I live in a rather small Texas border town (Laredo) and I don’t think I have access to such a rental. Also, I’m a beginner and probably wouldn’t know how to operate such a sophisticated piece of equipment.

FlowRider
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Joined: Sun Apr 07, 2019 6:59 pm
Location: Southern Texas
Grass Type: Bermuda
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Mower: John Deere X350 and Honda HRX

Re: Help! Need advice on ground prep for Texas st aug sod

Post by FlowRider »

hkfan45 wrote:
Fri Apr 03, 2020 7:47 pm
Unfortunately, I live in a rather small Texas border town (Laredo) and I don’t think I have access to such a rental. Also, I’m a beginner and probably wouldn’t know how to operate such a sophisticated piece of equipment.
You may want to try and rent one of these if you can find one locally. Power rake, or dethatcher:

I can grow weeds with the best of them...! :bd:

FlowRider
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Joined: Sun Apr 07, 2019 6:59 pm
Location: Southern Texas
Grass Type: Bermuda
Lawn Size: ~17000 sq. ft.
Mower: John Deere X350 and Honda HRX

Re: Help! Need advice on ground prep for Texas st aug sod

Post by FlowRider »

I checked the local price at Sunbelt Rentals for one of these machines - $56 a day.

I have used a manual dethatching rake in the past to replace dead grass. It is hard work, but if you are in good shape and enjoy a good workout, you could try that. These cost about $35 at Lowe's.

https://www.lowes.com/pd/CRAFTSMAN-15-i ... 1000752696

The roots and stolons should have been killed by the Roundup if you left it on long enough to do that.

Rake it out, rake it up, bag it up, smooth it out, and lay your sod. Cold drink, and admire your work...!
I can grow weeds with the best of them...! :bd:

FlowRider
TLF Supporter
Posts: 1175
Joined: Sun Apr 07, 2019 6:59 pm
Location: Southern Texas
Grass Type: Bermuda
Lawn Size: ~17000 sq. ft.
Mower: John Deere X350 and Honda HRX

Re: Help! Need advice on ground prep for Texas st aug sod

Post by FlowRider »

I can grow weeds with the best of them...! :bd:

Topic Author
hkfan45
Posts: 69
Joined: Sat May 11, 2019 1:50 pm
Location: south texas
Grass Type: St. augustine
Lawn Size: 5000
Mower: honda push

Re: Help! Need advice on ground prep for Texas st aug sod

Post by hkfan45 »

FlowRider wrote:
Sat Apr 04, 2020 4:01 pm
I checked the local price at Sunbelt Rentals for one of these machines - $56 a day.

I have used a manual dethatching rake in the past to replace dead grass. It is hard work, but if you are in good shape and enjoy a good workout, you could try that. These cost about $35 at Lowe's.

https://www.lowes.com/pd/CRAFTSMAN-15-i ... 1000752696

The roots and stolons should have been killed by the Roundup if you left it on long enough to do that.

Rake it out, rake it up, bag it up, smooth it out, and lay your sod. Cold drink, and admire your work...!
I will look into a power rake since my lawn is about 2500s and doing it by hand seems tough (i'm only in OK shape). Would a power rake be enough to rip up the old, deep roots and stolons of the St. Aug?

FlowRider
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Joined: Sun Apr 07, 2019 6:59 pm
Location: Southern Texas
Grass Type: Bermuda
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Re: Help! Need advice on ground prep for Texas st aug sod

Post by FlowRider »

hkfan45 wrote:
Sat Apr 04, 2020 5:19 pm
Would a power rake be enough to rip up the old, deep roots and stolons of the St. Aug?
A power rake really gets only the top surface of the soil, depending on the machine; it will get stolons.

If you want to get into the root zone, you will need a powerful mini-cultivator, or a rototiller.

If you till up the dirt too deep, your lawn will potentially have problems with differential settling, and that can cause problems with making it lumpy or too mushy in spots, making the yard hard to walk on.

I have used a mini-cultivator to dig up flowerbeds, but it bounces all around on turf grass areas.

Stihl makes these - you may be able to find one to rent:

https://www.stihlusa.com/products/multi ... yard-boss/

Here it is in garden soil:

I can grow weeds with the best of them...! :bd:

Topic Author
hkfan45
Posts: 69
Joined: Sat May 11, 2019 1:50 pm
Location: south texas
Grass Type: St. augustine
Lawn Size: 5000
Mower: honda push

Re: Help! Need advice on ground prep for Texas st aug sod

Post by hkfan45 »

FlowRider wrote:
Sat Apr 04, 2020 6:49 pm
hkfan45 wrote:
Sat Apr 04, 2020 5:19 pm
Would a power rake be enough to rip up the old, deep roots and stolons of the St. Aug?
A power rake really gets only the top surface of the soil, depending on the machine; it will get stolons.

If you want to get into the root zone, you will need a powerful mini-cultivator, or a rototiller.

If you till up the dirt too deep, your lawn will potentially have problems with differential settling, and that can cause problems with making it lumpy or too mushy in spots, making the yard hard to walk on.

I have used a mini-cultivator to dig up flowerbeds, but it bounces all around on turf grass areas.

Stihl makes these - you may be able to find one to rent:

https://www.stihlusa.com/products/multi ... yard-boss/

Here it is in garden soil:

Do I need to get the roots or is removing the stolons sufficient?

FlowRider
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Joined: Sun Apr 07, 2019 6:59 pm
Location: Southern Texas
Grass Type: Bermuda
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Re: Help! Need advice on ground prep for Texas st aug sod

Post by FlowRider »

Roundup kills the roots. From the looks of your lawn, I’d say the roots are dead.

The dead roots will decompose and should not be an issue for you.

I don’t know how long you waited after spraying, or what concentration you used, but I think you killed everything from what your photos show.

If it was my yard, I would rake up the dead vegetation, bring in some screened top soil, spread it and level it by raking it smooth, and start dropping your sod down, making sure you get everything smooth, and tight on the seams as you place it. Add some starter fertilizer over the new sod, and water it in. About one inch of new good soil should do.

That will get your new yard off to a good start and go from there....
I can grow weeds with the best of them...! :bd:

Topic Author
hkfan45
Posts: 69
Joined: Sat May 11, 2019 1:50 pm
Location: south texas
Grass Type: St. augustine
Lawn Size: 5000
Mower: honda push

Re: Help! Need advice on ground prep for Texas st aug sod

Post by hkfan45 »

Does it make sense at all to say screw it with the sod and just seed it w/ Bermuda? I have St. Aug in the front so I wouldn't want cross contamination and infect my front yard. I also have all the chems for the St. Aug already.

Thoughts?

FlowRider
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Re: Help! Need advice on ground prep for Texas st aug sod

Post by FlowRider »

hkfan45 wrote:
Sun Apr 05, 2020 2:35 pm
Does it make sense at all to say screw it with the sod and just seed it w/ Bermuda? I have St. Aug in the front so I wouldn't want cross contamination and infect my front yard. I also have all the chems for the St. Aug already.

Thoughts?
It really is your choice in the final analysis. There are a number of variables I do not know. What your budget will allow, how much sunlight does your back yard get, will you be able to get the grass types separated with a physical barrier, do you have the time and patience to grow a lawn from seed, etc.

I am a person who prefers to see results quickly, so I prefer to use sod. Get it down and get it done....

St. Augustine and Bermuda are both aggressive grasses - they grow laterally with their stolons. You can keep them physically or chemically separated, but it is something that you would have to police.

I had St. Augustine grow in from only nine sprigs that were in the Bermuda sod installed by my home builder's subcontractor. Four years later, it has taken over about 500 square feet of my back yard.

If it bothered me, I could get rid of it, but it actually looks pretty good, and it controls erosion on that side of my yard, so I have just left it in place. It is in peaceful coexistence with the Bermuda - it grows in the shade but struggles in the sun, and vice versa for the Bermuda. So a balance has been struck naturally, and I am fine with that. You call it "cross contamination" which I interpret to mean you want only one type of grass, and you have chemicals for St. Aug, which do differ from Bermuda.

So, seed would work, be cheaper than sod probably, but it may be more trouble than you want in the end, if growing two types of grass is more maintenance than you want to perform.

I tend to prefer to let nature take it course in certain ways. I let the mockingbirds kill insects in my yard, so I don't want to use insecticides which would harm the birds. They build a nest in my yard every Spring, and I enjoy seeing their fledglings learn to fly, and so does my wife. So I let it be....

Again, your call to make, your money and time to spend. If it was me, I would use sod, either way. It just looks so much better when you are done, and is much easier to take care of once it is installed.

That is why I like lawn work. If what you decide to do fails, you can fix it by doing things differently. But I have also learned it is better to research what to do first, and start with what works best now....

St. Aug does not like a lot of foot traffic; I see you have children's play equipment, so that is a factor.

I find people tend to overanalyze lawn care sometimes, too - it is just grass in the end. If you mess up, you can fix it this season or next growing season. It may be life and death for the grass, but....

My best advice is rake the debris up, smooth out your soil, add soil or not, and plop down some sod.
I can grow weeds with the best of them...! :bd:

Topic Author
hkfan45
Posts: 69
Joined: Sat May 11, 2019 1:50 pm
Location: south texas
Grass Type: St. augustine
Lawn Size: 5000
Mower: honda push

Re: Help! Need advice on ground prep for Texas st aug sod

Post by hkfan45 »

I just called my local rental place. They have a commercial grade walk behind tiller but given the size, I would need it delivered. I'm looking at $150/each way charge plus the rental fee of around $100. Not sure I want to fork over $400+ to use it. Nobody seems to have powered dethatchers/power rakes around here so that's out. I bought a dethatching rake from lowes but I think I would die doing my whole backyard with that thing :)

Topic Author
hkfan45
Posts: 69
Joined: Sat May 11, 2019 1:50 pm
Location: south texas
Grass Type: St. augustine
Lawn Size: 5000
Mower: honda push

Re: Help! Need advice on ground prep for Texas st aug sod

Post by hkfan45 »

Here's an update. I'm planning to lay sod right on top of this ground. I'm forgoing putting topsoil over this ground since the work is just too great to handle myself. Am I looking at failure with my plan?


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grassland
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Re: Help! Need advice on ground prep for Texas st aug sod

Post by grassland »

Looks like you did a really job of getting out the dead grass. That is more than enough exposed soil to lay down sod. The only thing I would mention is your soil looks very compact. Maybe spend some time with a bow rake and loosening up the dirt a bit. I wouldn't till up the yard but raking will give the sod a little cushion for roots to grow in. It is also a good time to level a little bit by moving some dirt around.

Once you put the sod down, the main thing is watering and preventing fungus. Keep the sod wet, especially St Aug. Water twice a day for a week, then once a day for a week, then every 3 to 5 days for a week, then normal watering. But, you might need to add more watering sessions based on the heat or how your grass is looking. You can check to see if the sod has been watered enough by gently pulling up a corner of the sod and checking the dirt on the back side. If the bottom layer of dirt on the sod is still dry after watering, you need more water. You will also be able to see if the roots are starting to push through.

If you are watering enough, the main enemy you will have is fungus. Heat and water equals fungus, and it can completely knock out and destroy sod quickly. I would put down a granular fungicide within 7-10 days after putting down the sod. You can pick up some azoxystrobin at a big box store.

I wouldn't worry about fertilizer just yet. The sod has been fertilized and well taken care of at the sod farm. With all the watering you will do, a good amount of fert will just wash down past those cut roots. Also, the cutting of the roots at harvest stresses grass and you shouldn't fertilize stressed turf. Just water, water, water and prevent fungus...the grass will do the rest. Once the sod has rooted in, that is a good time to apply fert. You will know when it has taken root when you can't pull up the corners anymore.

For your first fert, use something with phos in it. I think texas is like florida where alot of the fert has a "0" for the phos, so look for something with phos to push root growth.

Before you put the sod down, make sure you have good sprinkler coverage. Test out your zones and see how much water is being put down over the time that is set on your control panel. Your fan spray nozzles and you rotary nozzles put out different GPM, so the minutes per zone can be very different. Take into consideration that some parts or your yard might need extra hand watering. Places that are getting blasted by the sun will need more attention. If you aren't getting good coverage and you need to move a sprinkler or even add a sprinkler, now is the time to do it.

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