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Excel Formula Solutions
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My backyard is barren and needs a facelift. I think I want to grow grass instead of doing a zeroscape. I might start growing grass within a few months, but what should I do first to prepare my yard?
 

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Re: Getting Started

What type of soil?? Size of yard?? Available equipment?? Budget??

Final grade will be the first step....followed by rock removal. Unless the yard has a hard layer of crust on top just sow the seed that is most suitable for your area....cover with straw and give it a drink of water. Windy areas will need a mesh cover to keep the straw in place.

I have 5 acres and planted very little grass....what I have is green but not golf course quality. Timothy and clover look fine from the road as long as it is kept cut....:grin:

How about a big veggie garden in the backyard?? That'll keep you busy and the rewards are worth it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Re: Getting Started

Well, I'm not opposed, however I was thinking of preoccupying myself with other landscaping touches--but first I've got to get grass underway. I'm sure I'll keep coming to you though as I make progress, as I have a great place for a garden if I do start one.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Re: Getting Started

What type of soil?? Size of yard?? Available equipment?? Budget??
Sorry about forgetting that. Hard, probably not very fertile soil. 20' x 50' (1 large oak tree in middle). I'll have to purchase yard tools and hand tools (nothing motorized should suffice) and I'll need your advice on some of that (like tiling up the soil). Not counting grass-seed, probably $200 to start out with--more maybe if I had a good plan together.
 

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Re: Getting Started

1,000 sq ft is do-able without power equipment. If you catch the soil with the right moisture content you can scratch the surface with a garden rake and sow some seed for shade tolerant grass (Oak tree....yikes). A hand held spreader will come in handy for sowing the seed...and applying fertilizer after the grass is established. I only cut 3 acres but I sure don't apply fertilizer.....my grass grows fast enough and I don't need to create more work.
 

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Re: Getting Started

Didn't know this TSF had such a forum as this. Good to see!
What part of TX and how much precipitation does your area receive annually and when?
Buy a pulaski and contact your local agricultural extension agent about a good, native grass and when to sow. Or you could go with a drought-tolerant annual rye.
I don't want to steal anyone's thunder, but I've a degree in Agriculture with Rangeland Science and Botany majors. Good to see you're willing to do it the hard way!
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Re: Getting Started

West Central TX; 18-24" Annually; I really don't mind what grass you recommend, but I am a fan of lush, thick blades (like a type of bermuda I guess). I do know that many lawns in our region use this type. There may be many others but I am not familiar--so I'll let you do the recommending. Because of the lack of precipitation, our ground is not very fertile. I specifically want advice on optimizing soil conditions in preparation for planting. My best resource right now is time, so I want to get an early lead.
 

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Re: Getting Started

If the soil's that bad you may want to work some organic matter into it. Manure should be readily available and some livestock owners give it away if you come and get it.....extra bonus is it's election year and more manure is being spread....:laugh:. Some gardeners will plant winter rye after harvest and turn it under in the spring....works for gardens so it should work for a lawn. If you don't get a great deal of run-off you can top dress with fertilizer and allow natural moisture (rain/dew) to leech it into the soil before attempting to plant grass.

The only problem with working organic matter into your soil is that it will involve work.......lotsa work. My soil is so bad that if I decide to plant a garden this year I will pay my neighbor to come over with his tractor and prepare the plot........a tiller is a killer (unless it is mounted on the PTO of a tractor).
 

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Re: Getting Started

As SABL recommends, OM is the key and hard work is how it's done (hence the pulaski).
TX is so big and variable, my next question is what county?
Depth of soil to rock or hardpan (caleche, isn't it?)?
Goal -- a lawn does not sound practical -- ? Buffalograss is hardly a lawn and looks nothing like bermudagrass.

Also, chapter of Native Plant Society may be a place to rub elbows

Aside -- didn't I see that guy in a movie about Scotland, aka SABL?
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Re: Getting Started

well, for such a small yard I want to attempt a lawn, as many nearby neighbors and subdivisions are flourishing. Hard Work makes for busy and fulfilling weekends. I'll disclose that I live in the Concho Valley, which sees infrequent rain in 1/2" sporadic spurts...we haven't had a traditional rainy season in a while. Our state and our region has been in exceptional drought (highest level) for what has to be several years now. My back yard is entirely shaded by the very large oak tree (covers mine and part of 3 other neighbors backyards) thus allowing moderate amounts of light and I am prepared to up my water bill some. I can't tell you depth, but I would assume it'll suffice for a decent yard given nearby successes.

Aside -- Every time I see it I think of "FREEDOM!!!"
 

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Re: Getting Started

Aside -- didn't I see that guy in a movie about Scotland, aka SABL?
Aside -- Every time I see it I think of "FREEDOM!!!"
Aye.....it be 'Stephen the Crazy Irishman' from "Braveheart". 'Tis my true nature.....I act crazy and make little quips.....but am dead serious when need be.

Sounds like the double whammy of little sunlight and scant rainfall. It's going to be hard to get grass to grow under that large of a tree. At least your in luck and have a trained pro like Nizatidine to offer advice.....perhaps you may have to consider a different ground cover?? Even in dense woods/forests with loamy soil you rarely see any grass......not enough sunlight. The soil is high in OM but little grows (in the way of grass) except for areas where the sun can break through. In some woods that I roam there isn't any type of undergrowth except for mushrooms and a few wildflowers. indian pipe is a strange plant that you will find in dense woods.....didn't know what to think the first time I saw one. But they won't make good ground cover....:laugh:.

Speaking of roaming.......I think I have led this thread off of the beaten path....oops....:grin:
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Re: Getting Started

That Irishman is my favorite character in the movie--and probably one of my favorite movies.

I think that I'll have a chat with someone local that has plenty of experience with our climate, patterns, and types of cover that have proven well recently. I just can't get past the thought of seeing beautiful yards nearby that have every section of lawn as healthy as the next, most of which sits under a large shade tree. I'm sure it required a ridiculous amount of work and attention, but I still don't understand why it's so lush and vividly green even under the canopy. Once again, thanks for the help, and although you might not be able to guide me to what types of cover to consider, I am still looking for advice of the best prep-steps I should be taking in the next couple of months to get my yard ready. i.e.--someone told me to water the dirt daily, and let the ground saturate with moisture. I also got the advice from you regarding OM. So outside of this, are there any other steps to prep with?
 

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Re: Getting Started

How's the neighbors yards?? As barren as yours or have grass??

About the cheapest thing I can think of to work the soil is a sturdy pitchfork.....the easiest would be a friend/neighbor with a tractor mounted tiller. Once the soil is broken up it will be easier to work in some OM by hand. The biggest problem will be getting the surface leveled again. Back when I was gardening I used a plow and disc to prepare the soil......final leveling was done by dragging an old railroad tie behind the tractor. But my garden was 5 times larger than your yard......

If you have any ranchers nearby you may get your project started by asking if they have some manure they can spare or want to get rid of. You're only going to get one chance to get some OM worked into the soil....unless you want to dig up your yard again.
 

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Re: Getting Started

Sounds like SABL speeks from experience (I never used a pitchfork for this purpose)!

These publications and/or websites can aid in choosing vegetation species for various purposes.

http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/publications/pwdpubs/media/pwd_bk_w7000_0002a.pdf

TPWD:Vegetation

Your neighbors most likely paid big bucks to get sod laid from a commercial retailer in San Angelo or another city near you. Without photos or looking at the site, it is difficult to prescribe other than generally what is best for your site. So, here goes a most general plan which may or may only partially apply to your particular site --

1) Pickaxe--remove large rocks, place to side for future landscaping;
2) Mattock--dig up and hand remove medium-large rocks, wheelbarrow out to perimeter;
3) Pulaski or like tool--remove rocks and roots found after 1) and 2), also till soil;
4) Square-nose Shovel -- to aid in screening soil (if desired) to remove medium or or to remove medium-small rocks, as desired via mesh size of screen; to work out clumps of clay, possibly adding some sand if necessary in high clay soils; to spread organic matter such as sheep manure (better than cattle) and peat moss (lots of it);
5) Garden Rake--to level and spread, mix OM with soil.

Straw can be used as a top layer to cover all, once seedbed is prepared. If windy, some sort of organic adhesive may be desirable to hold straw down so as to keep seedbed protected from dessication.

Note that termites can be a problem in your area, carrying away seeds once sown and before germination. Pesticide may be necesssary, unfortunately.

Recommend hose-end spraying Nitrogen fertilizer at about 1/4 recommended rate once grass seedlings are seen and roots become established and continue doing this twice per week first two weeks and once per week thereafter. Up concentration to 1/2 recommended rate once plants mature and do this twice per month for first growing season.

Add straw to mulch to keep weeds down as needed.

Do not overwater. This can cause fungal infections of roots and other undesirable effects. Remember, OM was put there to help hold the soil water.

Once your vegetation base is established for a few years, small trees and/or shrubs may be added to, say, attract birds or other wildlife.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Re: Getting Started

Sounds like a good plan and great input from both of you. I look forward to this project and feel that I have enough advice collectively for "Getting Started," which will be marked as solved. Thanks.
 
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