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Sunday, May 19, 2013

Since We Cannot Burn Bermudagrass in Early Spring Anymore We Are Forced to Use Equipment to Keep it Looking Good

Q. (Response to an eariler posting I made regarding a bumpy bermudagrass lawn). I have a TruCut reel mower. I think the lawn is flatter than the impression I gave you in my earlier question. The bumpiness might be more from uneven thatch, thus thin spots. I aerated it several times last year. Maybe I need to feed and mow more often. It can also be due to weight imbalance with speed of the mover, thus with a front throw, I notice that when the basket is fuller, the bouncing is less. The lawn has never been as nice as I want. I feel the peak season is short in this climate.

A. Las Vegas sits in what educated turfgrass professionals might call the "Transition zone". The US has three major turfgrass growing regions; climate suitable for cool season grasses like bluegrass, a climate suitable for warm season grasses like bermudagrass and this odd area in between these two climates we call the "transition zone". The transition zone is capapable growing both warm and cool season grasses equally POORLY. Kind of reminds me of those tools that are 8 in 1; they can do eight different jobs but none of them very well. Kind of like a Swiss Army knife or a Leatherman.
I was just looking again at your response to my eariler email and question on bumpy lawns.  One benefit of overseeding is that the process of overseeding helps to eliminate some of the thatch because you must dethatch the lawn sufficiently so that the seed used in overseeding can make good contact with the soil for good germination.
Burning a berumudagrass hayfield primarily for weed control at the Batesville Station of the University of Arksansas.
Photo courtesy of the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension (http://batesvillestation.uark.edu/3_.jpg)
Many years ago common bermudagrass would be burned in the winter to get rid of the dead surface grass and in the process any thatch accumulation. It is still recommended that bermudagrass hayfields be burned for numerous reasons including thatch removal and reduction of insects and diseases.

Years ago bermudagrass lawns were also burned in the rural areas of Nevada and probably still are in some places. This is smart for several reasons that I will not get into here. We didn’t have thatch when bermudagrass was burned in the winter. Because we cannot burn dead grass any  more due to local ordinances and safety issues, this dead grass remains and adds to the thatch layer.
Dethatcher, vertical mower or verticutter. It can be used for several things but commonly used to remove thatch from
thatchy lawns or turfgrass areas. Bermudagrass can be a heavy thatch producer.

We now substitute a gasoline-driven machine (called a dethatcher, vertical mower or verticutter depending on who you are talking to) instead of burning the dead grass. This of course uses petroleum, adds pollutants to the air and leaves this bermudagrass thatch that we have harvested for dumping somewhere. Or burning. Aren't we smart?

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