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    « Blog commenters, this one's for you | Main | Lawn Reform Blog Contest: I used to have a lawn but now I have... »

    September 08, 2009

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    Matt

    Nice evaluation Susan. I was wondering if that grass was going to be best suited to warmer areas. probably great in the central valley, not so much by the bay.

    The hotter the better! Mike, the rep from Florasource agrees that the central valley is an ideal spot. It seems to work ok in the Bay but takes longer to fill in. Plus, they can grow lots of other groundcovers - it's us hot climate types that need a solution.

    VW

    I had a nice comment going here earlier today when my 19-month old hit the OFF button on the computer. I think I was writing about the crocus in the lawn - some of our neighbors have done it. I think it must look best with the smaller versions of crocus, as the large ones stick up so far above the grass that they look odd. Of course, your grass will probably be growing vigorously by then and might be tall enough to provide a nicer backdrop to the big blooms than what I've seen in my neighborhood. When crocus bloom here, the lawns are barely coming back to life, so they're still short. Something to consider, anyway.

    I am severely bulb challenged, and will take all the advice I can get. Troy suggested miniature ones as well and gave me a mail order source. The grass is actually mowed all the way down once it goes dormant, so short is the way to go. I was thinking all blue, but with a few tiny colonies or orange on the edges, not two colors mixed together. Do you think that would be too much and I should stick to all blue?

    Rob(ourfrenchgarden)

    Looks good result Susan. I know lawns are something of a thorny issue in your climate.

    presumably when you give it a first cut that'll encourage it to thicken up more???

    I'm curious, how short of rain are you over there? Needless to say I saw the wild fires in the news.

    I think the crocus would look quite incredible if you stick to a single colour as shown. Of course the words 'back' and 'breaking' might be entering your thinking as you contemplate planting all the bulbss. You could always get the local scouts to do it for you for a few dollars!!! Do you have scouts over there?

    _________________
    Where I live the average is about 18" a year and almost all of it falls between December and March, so there is basically no rain at all during the hottest months. It actually will thicken up without mowing - this is only 8 weeks in so it still has another 4-6 weeks of warm temperatures to help it fill in.

    'Fraid the only way to get scouts to pitch in is to declare my yard a charity so they can earn a public service badge. Unfortunately, the source for inexpensive day labor around here is cruising by Home Depot and hiring an illegal immigrant for the day. I'm actually going to tackle this one myself and hopefully overcome my bulb-phobia.

    gardennatives.blogspot.com

    Nice look. It's great to see a plant 'flip the bird' to the 100+ degrees of heat and dare to ask for more. How does it feel to walk on with bare feet?

    Your wish is my command! Just raced outside to do a barefoot test. Definitely soft, but a little sticky - I think because of all the stolons, which shouldn't be a problem once I mow it.

    Alice Joyce

    Following your posts.... Looking good!
    I wonder what other sorts of bulbs would work?
    Be low enough but not suffer - assuming you'd need to mow the bulb foliage - maybe before it's ready to die back - as the grass reimerges? Or would the dying foliage remain along with fresh grass?
    Thinking in terms of the freesias I have naturalzing - after 10 years - I get anxious to cut back the ratty looking foliage but don't want to lose the flowers for the following year. Alice

    Oh no, I KNEW this bulb thing would be harder than just digging a little hole and shoving things in! The grass stays dormant until March and probably won't green up completely until April. Ideally by then the bulb foliage has died back and be mowed. But that does make me think the earlier something will bloom, the better.

    Town Mouse

    That grass is quite impressive. Thanks for sharing. Now I'm really curious about the winter look of the reformed lawn...I wonder whether some early blooming annuals might do the trick? One question is most likely when does UC Verde become UC Marron, and when does it become UC Verde again...

    Townie you are too educated for me, but Daffodil Planter kindly explained that you meant my green lawn would turn brown and then green again.

    I do like the idea of bulbs and annuals so instead of dreading the dormancy period I actually have something seasonal to look forward to. Particularly in my small garden, where I don't really plant for winter interest, preferring to have a spring/summer/fall blow out.

    Shirley Bovshow "Edenmaker"

    Ok, less than ideal results with my UC Verde lawn test in Los Angeles, but mostly in growth rate, not condition of the grass. It looks great even with extremely hot tempertatures.

    2 weeks ago, I mulched the bare areas and am happy to report that the UC Verde is now, finally starting to run at a faster rate and knit together. My soil was drying out too fast and for establishment period, this is not good.

    I'll be posting an update tomorrow. Please check it out.

    I'll stop by tomorrow to check out your update

    David

    I think that cool season growing grasses and Carex species will probably be a better fit for SF Bay Area gardens that don't get much summer heat, and I have had very good results with using Carex divulsa/Berkeley Sedge as a lawn substitute, planted out at about 4 inch centers, and still going strong 4 years later here in Oakland. This Carex tolerates deep shade, clay soils, virtually no summer water as well as poorly drained clay soils in winter, and always looks deep green.

    I've also used Carex pansa/praegacilis as a lawn substitute, but have found these two species more touchy about soil conditions, drainage and in general just much slower to fill in. These two Carex species seem to do much better with at least once a week watering here in Berkeley/Albany, as compared to the Carex divulsa looking great with just once every two weeks or even once a month irrigation. The advantage of the Carex pansa/praegacilis lawn are that it doesn't need mowing to stay below 6 inches tall, whereas the Carex divulsa definitely need mowing at least every two weeks in the warmer months when it is trying to flower. These two Carex species also spread by runners to form a sod, which the Carex divulsa never does. On the other hand, C. divulsa definitely grows well and quickly from seed which is more easily available, so is cheaper and faster to get an established lawn.

    I just don't see winter dormant grasses that prefer heat to be good solutions for the cooler parts of the San Francisco Bay Area, or why not just use a subtropical grass like Kikuyu Grass, Pennisetum clandestinum, which is an old fashioned grass that is widely common here in the East Bay, and stays green with just monthly irrigation and only goes brown when the temperatures actually drop to freezing? Much less weedy/invasive than hybrid Bermuda Grasses,(as long as you install a good wide mowband), not as deep rooting with rhizomes so it is easier to weed when it does get into flower beds, and has less down time than the Buffalo Grass.

    I also see that Delta Sod is promoting several new native grass mixes available as sod, which I recently checked out at a local nursery here in Berkeley. I do wonder if they are really that water conserving, however, as they are mostly mixes of Festuca: rubra/idahoensis/occidentalis in the Native Mow Free mix, or Agrostis pallens/Dune Bentgrass in the Native Bentgrass Mix. Delta Bluegrass Co. is promoting these as using at least 50% less water than a Tall Fescue Blend sod, which in my experience, is not drought tolerant in the slightest...

    Has anyone used either of these sod mixes to be able to say how much water they require to look good? I suspect that they might be on par with using something like Dwarf Mondo Grass.

    I have also found C. divulsa to be much more tolerant that C. pansa, but the downside is, it definitely looks like a meadow, not a lawn. How exactly are you mowing it? Where I've used it the gardener cuts it back, but I don't really understand how you can mow something this lumpy.

    I have heard about Delta Blue Grass' no-mow mixes and know a few designers in South Bay that are installing them, but don't think they have any specific feedback yet. The amount of water these substitutes require seems to vary widely based on site conditions.

    David

    Bulbs for a meadow...

    One suggestion for bulbs in meadow, might be to consider using Iphieon uniflorum, particularly one of the deeper flowered cultivars. I know that many people fear this as being invasive, but it works great in a low growing lawn. Another low growing bulb that would work well in an unmown meadow of dwarf growing Carex pansa would be the late summer flowering Nerine masonorum, which has grassy foliage, or Zephranthes candida or Z. 'Labuffarosea'. These last two would prefer not to be mown, as they are evergreen foliage plants. You might also consider using things like Blue-eyed or Yellow-eyed Grass/Sisynchrium species.

    My own patch is tiny and does not qualify as a meadow - it's only about 64 square feet so I'm thinking small bulbs that will pop up during winter dormancy. But I confess I don't know much about bulbs so am appreciating all the suggestions. My Orinda client is thinking about just tossing wildflower seed mix into hers and see what happens. Her approach has the charm of a low investment of time and money.

    David

    The Carex divulsa gets mown with a regular power mower every 2 weeks, minimum in the growing season, and if the Carex is planted at close spacing and mown at 3 inches tall, it is just like mowing a regular lawn. If you have let it get taller than that, you would need to crop it with a weed whacker first, and then follow up with a lawn mower, and keep on top of mowing it regularly to not let it get so tall. Four years and counting on the first Carex divulsa lawn I installed, and if you didn't know it wasn't grass, you wouldn't notice the difference.

    wholesale plants

    Yeah, both the flowers and grass is great. I love them.

    Nicole

    Actually, someone clued me into a house in the Oakland hills, near the Mormon Temple with a yard planted in UCVerde. I went to take a look and it looks great. I don't know how long it took to establish. The yard is actually pretty shaded, but still the lawn is lovely. The color is a bit faded, not a deep green, but then it was late fall when I saw it last and it might have been going in to its dormancy. I have a very small area in my front yard that I will attempt to grow this in first--a miniature meadow if you will. If it takes off there, then for sure the back yard is going that way too.

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