Tips on Installation, Care and Feeding

Installation

We hope you have made a detailed plan of your yard and know exactly where, how much, and of what type of turf you are looking to install. Remember that St. Augustine is the only shade “tolerant” variety with Texas common, Flora-Tam and Palmetto being the better types for our area. The best turf choice for areas with high foot traffic are the Bermudas, which require full sun. Some Bermuda varieties can also be seeded when the weather warms up, usually by May. {A pallet of sod covers 450 Sq. Ft.}

Initial Instillation is a fairly straightforward affair. Rake the intended area free of large sticks and stones. Weed-eat or mow intruding vegetation as low as possible, you may choose to follow with an application of a vinegar and orange oil based herbicide. You may also choose to add to your existing soil at this time; St. Augustine grasses will do best with at least a total of 6” of soil under them while all other turfs will fair with at least 4”of soil base. If you will be laying sod it is not necessary to choose a pasteurized or ‘weed free’ mix for this purpose, but we do suggest whichever quality of mixture you choose it be well screened to ease in the leveling process. A cubic yard of any soil or composted mix will cover 324 square feet an inch thick or approximately 100 square feet 3” deep. After the area has been prepared and new soil has been raked and leveled it is time to lay your sod.

When laying down sod place the pieces end to end and then stagger the next line starting with a piece cut in half. Resist the urge to ‘cheat’ with another practice called “checker-boarding” which involves skipping every other piece and letting the grass grow over the bare soil between. This practice is far more trouble than it is worth. The result will be a lumpy lawn full of pockets of happy weeds. Sod the areas completely even if you only do a pallet or two at a time as finances allow. The results will be much more gratifying. Be sure to “roll” your lawn or in some way tamp the grass firmly to make contact with the loose soil underneath. Applying a thin ¼” layer of a pasteurized, weed free soil mix over your new sod (and in between any gaps in the sod) will expedite the rooting process. At Barkley’s Nursery we can also offer you ’Espoma Bio-Tone, Starter Plus’ a fantastic ‘New’ product that at this point isn’t even on their web-site! It is a product containing mycorrihzal fungi and other beneficial microbes, which is mother natures’ ‘root stimulator’ which can rocket the root growth and help to ensure a healthy turf.

m. fungi – http://www.dirtdoctor.com/view_question.php?id=2118
Espoma – http://www.espoma.com/content.aspx?type=p&id=37&intCategoryID=2

If you choose to seed your lawn we would highly suggest that at least the top inch
of any soil added in the desired area be of a weed free mix and freshly applied. Bermuda seed needs warm night temperatures to germinate, so they are usually sown after mid-April up thru mid- September. Rake the seeds lightly into the soil and keep evenly moist for the first two weeks. This may require you to lightly water two to three times a day. Once your seeds sprout you can gradually reduce the frequency of your watering, while increasing the volume to establish the new seedlings.

About a month or so after laying your new sod, or your seeds have sprouted, you can apply any good organic fertilizer.

Care and Feeding

The most important tool in the upkeep of your lawns health is your mower. Keep the blades sharpened monthly, and use it regularly! You folks with St. Augustine lawns know to keep your turf cut thick, about 3-3 1/2” tall. Zoysias and Bermuda types always look there best short, less than 2”. And always leave your clipping where they lay; Mulch It!!!

Occasionally, the first mowing in February which collects all the brown foliage from winter can be a little thick; we will allow you to ‘bag’ this time, but use this material as mulch under your shrubs! It is far too valuable to waste.

The most frequent mistake concerning most lawns involves watering. The proper method is to apply a large amount of water equaling 1” at one setting or ½” each time over two consecutive days, then skipping a week to ten days before watering again. This encourages a deeper and healthier root system. Watering less and more frequently encourages fungal diseases and creates stress by keeping your turf grass’ roots too close to the surface.
Feeding and Amendments
This schedule should be applied to your trees and shrubs as well, from fence to fence.

Here is a simple loose time line to follow which will cover most fertilizing and frequent soil amendment applications:

February/March Fertilizer – Check brand for application rates.
Compost (a thin ¼” layer) 1yrd / 1000 sq ft
(spring or fall, once a year)
Medina Plus (Microbe stimulator!!!) 1gal / 4000 sq ft
- Or Compost Tea 1gal / 2000 sq ft
Corn Gluten Meal (Pre-Emergent Weed Control) 20lbs / 1000 sq ft

April Greensand (Slow release Iron) 10-20lbs / 1000 sq ft
Beneficial Nematodes (For control of Fire Ants, Grubs, Fleas, etc…)
A One-Million ct. sponge covers @ 2-3000 sq. ft.
Corn Meal (Anti-Fungal if necessary) 10to20 lbs/ 1000 sq ft

June/July Fertilizer (Optional)
Medina Plus (Optional)
- Or Compost Tea

Sept/ October Fertilizer (Fall is THE most important time to feed your
landscape!)
Medina Plus (Absolutely!)
- Or Compost Tea
Greensand (if necessary)
Beneficial Nematodes (If necessary) 1mil/ 2-3000 sq ft
Corn Gluten Meal
Other Options

There are many little ‘tweaks’ we natural gardeners can use that will benefit our lawns as well as our shrub and flowers.

Lava sand – Applied at a rate of 40lbs. per 1000 sq. ft. Has the amazing ability to absorb moisture from the air, just spread it over the surface and rake it in, before you mow.

http://www.dirtdoctor.com/view_question.php?id=489

Espoma Bio-Tone Starter – Applied at a rate of 4# per 100 sq. ft.
Starter is an all natural plant food enhanced with biostimulants and beneficial bacteria and mycorrhizae. This proprietary formula works naturally within the soil to help plants establish fast, withstand environmental stress, promote deeper roots & better blooms, and improve soil structure.Recommended for use with new sod, trees and shrubs.

http://www.espoma.com/content.aspx?type=p&id=37&intCategoryID=2

More to come…

A great thing about natural products is that they can all be applied at the same time without worry of a negative interaction, but it is not necessary to do so. It doesn’t matter which you do, or what order, just commit… “drink the Kool-aid” and don’t go back; One synthetic application is hard to overcome. If you’ve been on the ‘Commercial’ bandwagon for a while your results may not be as sudden. If you have any doubts just try a small section of your yard for a year. I promise, it will convert you!