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Mr. Smarty Plants - Help with Habiturf from Bertram TX

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Monday - March 24, 2014

From: Bertram, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Planting, Seeds and Seeding, Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Help with Habiturf from Bertram TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I am a resident of Bertram..about 45 min northwest of Austin. I have 1.33 acres of land with my home on it. My front pasture is pretty nice native grass but my backyard is full of weeds. I'm guessing when the house was originally built there was a lot of construction in my backyard for the house and drilling for the well. I want to plant your Habiturf seed in part of my backyard. I have read online about soil prep and starting the Habiturf from seed. I have a tiller and was wanting to till an area of approximately 1500-2000 sq ft. to plant the seed. I read that you should till as deep as possible however with all the weeds it makes me nervous that I will till them under and they will germinate when conditions are right. I really want to get the seed in this spring. What is the best way to approach planting the Habiturf so I will get good seed set this growing season? Sorry for the lengthy email. Any help would be much appreciated. Thanks.

ANSWER:

Since you are gardening in Burnet County, you are right in the middle of Central Texas, where Habiturf was developed. Since all the research information from our Ecosystems Group on Habiturf is online, you apparently have already read about it. We will highlight some information that we think answers your questions.  Here is an article from Ecosystems Design Group showing comparisons of native and non-native grasses.

First, you said that your property probably has a lot of compaction from construction, a very common problem. From our Ecosystems Design Group, here is an article on installing and maintaining Habiturf. From that article:

"Soil.
A well-textured, well-drained soil is essential for long-term lawn success. Normally, after construction, developers spread a couple of inches of imported soil over soil compacted by heavy construction machinery. A sustainable lawn needs deep roots, so rip, rotovate or disk your soil to at least 8 inches - the deeper the better. Then incorporate a ½ inch layer of living compost with a low nitrogen and low phosphorus content into the top 3 inches of your prepared soil. Ask your local plant nursery for recommendations. DO NOT use tree bark, wood shavings or mulch. Grass won't grow in this. The soil surface should be finished to a fine granular texture and free from large stones. "

Of course, you will want to rake up and dispose of whatever grasses, roots and weeds this deep rototilliing will produce. The research on this process indicates that you will, at the very least, severely disrupt the regrowing of any weeds. Our favorite quotation from that same article is on weeds:

"Warning.
* If you do not prepare the soil adequately, your lawn will suffer and you will get weeds
* If you mow too often and too short, you will get weeds
* If you over-water, you will get weeds
* If you over-fertilize, you will get big weeds"

On the subject of when to plant, from the same article:

"Sow.
Sow the seed — the small, hand-cranked seed broadcasters are great or by hand — and rake and press with a garden roller or your feet. Seeds need good soil contact. Spring is the best sowing time once soil temperatures warm up (day time temperatures constantly above 85F). Later in the growing season also works well but will require more water. Avoid sowing in late fall and winter (October through mid-March)."

That means that if you get a wiggle on, get the rototilling done, the trash cleared away and good compost tilled into the top 3" of the soil, you should be able to get that seed in this Spring. Happy lawn!

 

 

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