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Gardening with Laurie: Bermuda grass a drought-tolerant choice for lawn replacement

By By Laurie Garretson
Aug. 23, 2012 at 3:23 a.m.


More and more homeowners seem to be converting their lawns from St. Augustine to Bermuda grass.

The ongoing drought the past few years has been very hard on many types of trees, plants and, of course, lawns. Keeping enough water on St. Augustine lawns during the hot, dry summers is hard enough, but last year's summer was the hottest in recorded history. Many people lost entire lawns and many others reported near losses.

Bermuda grass is a great alternative for sunny areas. Once established, it is very drought tolerant as opposed to the commonly grown St. Augustine lawns. If you are thinking of converting to Bermuda grass you still have time but will need to get it seeded soon.

Before seeding Bermuda grass, take the time to prepare the area. First clean out any weeds or unwanted vegetation that may be in the area. If the soil is compacted or maybe not leveled, it will be to your advantage to correct these issues before seeding.

To loosen a compacted soil, lightly till the area. After tilling, use a stiff garden rake to rake out any dirt clods and to smooth out the ground. Bermuda seed can then be scattered evenly over the area at the rate of 1 to 1 1/2 pounds per thousand square feet of area. Spread half of the seed vertically and the other half of the seed horizontally. It helps to roll the seeded area with a lawn roller to achieve a good soil to seed contact.

After seeding, keep the soil consistently moist until after the seeds have germinated. This time of year, you might have to water it two to three times a day to keep it damp enough. After about a week, the seeds should have germinated and watering can be done less often.

This would also be a good time to spread a thin layer of compost over the entire area. When watering, do be sure to water slowly and longer to get deep into the soil and encourage deep root growth. Any of the organic fertilizers can be used at any time on the new lawn.

If you like having a green lawn year-round, you can plan on repeating this process again in the middle to late October with rye seed as the Bermuda grass begins to go dormant. Then, next spring as the soil warms, the rye will die off and your Bermuda will again start to grow.

Until next time, let's try to garden with nature, not against it, and maybe all our weeds will become wildflowers.

Laurie Garretson is a Victoria gardener and nursery owner. Send your gardening questions to laurie@vicad.com or in care of the Advocate, P.O. Box 1518, Victoria, TX 77902.

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