We live in Oklahoma, a place where we have 4 distinct seasons. Sometimes it can feel like we experience them all in one month! That makes growing things a bit interesting around here. I have never been a massive lawn guy, meaning I have basically focused on the bare minimum. My strategy has been to keep whatever is growing out there mowed and edged. The reality is we have had a disappointing lawn with areas where no grass grows and bright red clay soil proudly indicates my lack of a green thumb.
But no more…
Today our lawn looks like this:
Here are some tips for a green lawn that I gratefully learned from others.
Tip #1 Ask for Help.
I have a great friend at church, Troy, and he is a landscaping professional. Unashamedly, I confessed our situation to him and he agreed to come take a look. When he came out he gladly and generously gave insights to all I am about to share with you. Thank you Troy!
Tip #2 Install a Sprinkler System.
It would be a bit pointless to do the following steps to have a green lawn and not have a way to keep it hydrated. So the very first step was to address the fact that we had no way to irrigate the lawn other than me dragging out the sprinkler whenever I remembered to do it! Troy had a great guy he recommended that installed a thorough system for the yard and beds. He explained all the differences in the type of sprinkler heads needed for each area and they work great. The master system, Hydrawise, is WiFi based and I can run it from my mobile devices – anywhere on the planet – and access its schedule and any issues. It is totally cool. I can’t help but make the “Tim the Toolman Taylor” grunt when I fire this up when friends are over to visit!
Tip #3 Get Rid of What You Don’t Want.
Even before we had the irrigation system installed, Troy shared about weed control and fertilizer. Here’s the deal, for the type of lawn we are going for, you cannot use weed control. It will kill the grass. So about June before we panted seed in September, I called and canceled our weed and feed company. And that’s a good thing, since my water bill $ went up!
While this may seem like a weird thing to do, stopping the weed kill makes sense as I have experienced it. One, my taller, healthy grass is winning the battle over pesky weeds. Two, my healthier lawn is green – if there are weeds, they are now concealed in an ocean of green grass, not dormant brown bermuda.
We had to scalp the bermuda grass. We don’t want bermuda, that is, we want the new grass to overtake it. So Troy coached me up on an important and key date – September 15. Whatever I was planning to do with the grass, it needed to happen on Sept. 15. This date is when the summer grass, like bermuda, begins to go dormant for the winter. By the 15th, I had scalped and bagged my lawn a couple of times. Great thing, the shady areas were already bare! I broke up the soil in some spots with a stiff garden rake. I had used an aerator a summer or so back and the soil surprisingly is still not too hard.
Tip #4 Plant What You Do Want.
The next tip Troy gave was to make a trip to our local feed and seed store. I think local is important. No offense to the big box stores, but local pros know Oklahoma’s extreme soil conditions and extreme weather conditions. Sure enough, the good people at Eckroat Seed Co. know what they are doing. Troy recommended two blends they have to be able to address the two areas of my lawn that are really distinct – sun and shade.
Before we seeded and after a lawn scalping, I made a quick trip in the F-150 to get a bed full of fresh topsoil from our friends at Murphy’s products. We have made many a trip to get their rich mix. We have also used their mulches in the past. A few wheelbarrow loads later and we were ready for seed.
For the sunny areas which is the majority of my lawn, I used a blend they call “Premium Tee.” When I mention “plant” what I mean is I have gone around the yard with a garden rake or leaf rake to sweep up any debris or old grass clippings, and to break up the soil a bit. Then I loaded up the seed in a common spinning spreader and covered the lawn. I would go back and hand sprinkle areas that I could see needed more attention or seed.
For the shady areas, I used a blend they call “Endo-Shade.” Wow, this stuff is amazing. Through the years I had attempted coverage in some tough shady spots with other grasses, but this stuff has outperformed anything like that.
Tip #5 Maintenance.
First thing to address here is watering. Especially when the seed went down, we aggressively and frequently watered it. After just a few days, those tiny bright green slivers of life began to pop up. Now we keep it good and moist on a regular, every other night, cycle.
Second, fertilizing. Since I stopped the weed control, that also meant we stopped the feeding. Now I do the fertilizing using a mix from Eckroat. I actually put this blend down liberally right after seeding, and have done it numerous times since.
Third, mowing. I have learned to raise the deck of my mower. What I want is a deep thick lawn. Taller grass reaches further down in the soil and taller grass chokes the weed growth. I actually had my mower set on its highest position, but I have dialed that back one level now.
Some Final Thoughts…
I am so thankful to have the lawn looking great, and it is fun to talk about it when we have guests. This journey has reminded me of some principles:
- Ask for help in life, and then follow the direction.
- In life, get rid of the stuff you don’t want, and work toward what you do want.
- When healthy things are growing, bad things will diminish.
- Pay attention to staying healthy physically, emotionally, mentally, in relationships and most importantly spiritually.
Remember that we will reap what we sow. Galatians 6:7-8 says, “Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.” Biblegateway
Hey Troy, thank you, and everyone remember September 15!