Have you put off installing grass over the last few seasons or has your turf become a little weak over time?  Did you know that there is not a bad time in the southwest to renovate your lawn.  We are lucky to have a year round grass season here and there are several options depending on what works best for you.  

While you often see most golf courses and landscaping jobs installing the majority of their grass in the summer months, it is attributed to a slower time of the year for them.  There is very little play on a golf course during the summer months and it allows them to tear up areas and redo them before the majority of people come back to the club for the season.  The other reason we often see summer renovations is because it is optimal bermudagrass and paspalum planting weather, and before they get golf cart traffic, players, and the everyday wear and tear it is necessary to have a nice bermudagrass or paspalum base.  Golf courses can struggle a little bit with overseeded grass because of the traffic, while homeowners don’t have to deal with these issues.  So why do I bring all that up?  My point is that when these projects are not going on in the summer it leaves many more contractors available to do good quality work at your home.

Now I have been asked questions recently if it is still okay to put summer grass down at this time of the year that is not overseeded.  The answer is yes, as long as you don’t plan to overseed it this fall.  If you were to plant your grass now you would have less than 50 growing days before the end of the season and the grass would not tolerate being scalped down and seeded into.  If your lawn has been in for more than 100 days you are in the clear to overseed as you have established a good root system. 

A typical sodded lawn can last anywhere from 7-15 years depending on the amount of time and TLC you give your lawn.  The average lawn is going to need to be replaced around 8-10 years and maybe a little sooner if you consistently overseed every year.  We overseed for winter color in our areas, but we also need to recognize that it puts a strain on your warm season grass the next year.  The ryegrass producers are making a higher quality seed every year and they naturally last well into the spring before dying off, so knowing your seasons and your lawns limitations will help you have a longer lasting yard.  It would be great to give your lawn a rest every other to every third year from overseeding, but most of us are not allotted that option and therefore renovation becomes a fact of life at some point.

So how do you know when your lawn needs to be replaced?  This is a very subjective question and the answer will weigh heavy on how important growth, color, and having a beautiful yard are to you.  It ranks extremely high on my priority list so I do make it a point to renovate when necessary and make changes.  If you have had your lawn for 7+ years and you are seeing several off types in the grass, lots of weeds taking over, and insects making their way into your weak turf canopy, then it may be a good time to look at starting over.  Turf problems are directly correlated with poor maintenance practices, and also the weather can play an important role.  When I say poor maintenance practices it usually starts with the prep and the prep starts with the company you choose.  Choosing a landscape company can be a difficult process but if you know what you want to do ahead of time, your life will be much simpler. 

Now I have no background in plants, trees, or concrete, so I will only be discussing the turf portion of your yard.  I suggest starting at the bottom and working your way up.  This means you have a couple options, and they are to remove your existing soil material and put in a new soil profile or rototill your yard, put down your amendments, and use sand to do any leveling.  You need to ask yourself a couple questions before your landscaper starts and these are: 1) Is there any common bermudagrass, nutsedge, crabgrass or other noxious weeds present, and 2) are there insects causing turf problems? When you have noxious weeds present don’t be fooled into thinking they will go away if you till the soil or remove a little of it.  They are so deep in the soil that complete profile excavation is required or several repeat applications of Round Up and Diquat are necessary before starting your project.  If you choose to spray,  spray, then water the area for a week, and repeat this step 3-4 times until no more weeds come up.  You are only killing what is present in the ground so don’t listen to anyone that tells you that these will keep new weeds from coming up.   

If you are in a situation where you have been hit by pearl scale you need to excavate down about 12-14 inches to remove the pearls from the area and at that point you will build your new soil profile.  I am not suggesting from this point to build a USGA golf green for your grass, but the idea is the same.  Know your drainage and which way the water will move through your yard.  Are you planning on putting native soil back over top of the drainage?  If you are you should consider water percolation rates, and if the material is going to bind up quickly.  If you don’t have the right material, you will typically have a nice swamp on your hands and you will often handcuff yourself from being able to water deep into the soil.  I would suggest bring in a sandy loam mix so you get some nutrient holding capacity, but you will not be holding water on the surface.  I try and avoid mulch for the upper crust of the ground because it has a tendency to hold too much water up top never allowing the roots to grow deep.  

If you choose to rototill your existing soil you want to do so to a 6-8 inch depth and add your amendments prior to the tilling process.  Your amendments will be based upon a soils test and these can be done at several locations throughout AZ and CA.  

Now that your yard is starting to come together it is time to put in your sprinkler system.  Have this designed out by a professional landscaper and make sure you are getting full head to head coverage.  Your normal pop up sprinkler does not hit the area directly in front of the head so you do need a head shooting back at that one.  Hence, head to head coverage.  Your system should be designed with your water pressure in mind so that each valve has optimal performance.  When your sprinkler system is designed right you will have very few issues with the summer heat besides the occasional clogged nozzle. 

After the system is put in and you put down your sand mix over the irrigation, make sure to water for a week to get rid of any settling.  The last thing you want to do is pull up your freshly laid sod.  The easy part is choosing the grass and laying it, so take a look at my previous posts for grass types and what would work best for you. 

I know I started this rant by saying I was going to tell you how to choose a landscaper, but what I actually telling you is how to educate yourself before choosing a landscaper.  Don’t let them skip these fundamental steps and put your new lawn in jeopardy.

As I said earlier you can renovate your lawn anytime here and still get great results.  By doing it at this time of the year you may just save yourself some money.  Remember to keep your lawns “green” and keep the plastic grass on the shelf.

****TIP OF THE WEEK****   Do your homework before doing any renovations.  Have a step by step process on how to complete the job in the least amount of time and makes the most financial sense.  Cheaper is not always better and often results is missed steps before a lawn is planted.  Putting sod down is not going to cover up soil mistakes, as it is like a newly laid carpet and anything that is underneath will show.

And now–college football…..

For those that are interested here’s my quick breakdown of week one of college football.  I only do this because I love it as much as grass and I am getting lots of other people emailing me about their teams.

Let’s start at the newly renovated Big House and say it was a dominating performance over the UCONN Huskies.  Denard Robinson “Shoelace” is the real deal and has proven himself to be the standout of the three highly touted QB’s at Michigan. 

 The Sun Devils looked good in their opener versus the power house known as Portland State and they appear to be heading in the right direction with former Wolverine Steven Threet at the helm.  U of A fans, I have to pose one question.  Did you really travel to Toledo to play a MAC team?  You are aware that you just became the first PAC-10 team ever to do so and for what gain?  You can generate any revenue for the school by traveling there.  None the less a decent performance, and you look to be solid with Nick Foles as your QB.  I would have to say that you are probably going to get at least two more wins than the talking heads have predicted because you get to practice on a new West Coast Turf field at your facility. 

How about them Trojans?  Matt Barkley is finally living up to his potential and now that the party trip to the Hawaiian islands are over a expect to see some hard hitting and solid football on your way to a 10-2 record with no Bowl game thanks to former Heisman winner Reggie Bush. 

I will leave off today with that team that plays on the blue plastic grass. I have no comment except to say really a blue field and you play in the WAC.  Virginia Tech has been a nobody since Michael Vick left for the NFL. 

Enjoy a great week of football and look out Irish because the Wolverines are hungry! 

Until next time,