Have you been waiting with bated breath for an update on the UC Verde grass alternative lawn I planted? I’ve now rounded the corner on week 8 and the grass looks great!
First, to recap, I planted more closely than would be desirable for a larger lawn – 6” apart vs. a more economical 12” to 18”. As anyone who reads my blog regularly knows, I’m a pretty lazy gardener, thoroughly devoted to a survival-of-the-fittest style of gardening. Other than mixing in a little compost, nothing special was done to prepare the soil for the plugs, although I have replanted this little patch of lawn several times over the past three years, so the soil is more pliable than typical clay would be.
For the first two weeks I watered the lawn 3 to 5 minutes, once or twice a day, then tapered off to letting it have the same amount the rest of the moderate water plants were getting. Not that I know how much that is as my magical ET controller makes those decisions for me. One to three times a week I would turn the sprinklers on for an extra 3 minutes, but did not follow any specific schedule (see lazy gardener reference above).
Close up view - have yet to mow
I weeded for about twenty minutes at week 3 and again at week 7, but otherwise, the grass has been on its own.
And if you are wondering how effective sheet mulching has been at keeping the grass contained, the short answer is, not very:
UC Verde grass making a run for the border
I think the key to my success has been several weeks of really hot weather. In fact, the day I planted was followed by a week of 100 degree plus temperatures. One of my clients who wants a lawn to complement her newly installed California native and mediterranean garden primarily so that her dogs will have a place to romp, decided to try out a UC Verde lawn as well. Here’s a picture of hers at week 4.
As you can see, not as far along as mine was at week 2, most likely because the weather has been cooler than usual for much of the time.
Susan's Concord lawn at week two, planted just prior to a heatwave.
A quick round up of other testers: Shirley at Eden Maker’s blog has also had disappointing results with her Southern California experiment, even though she planted earlier. Meanwhile, Lazy Gardening blog (hmmm, a kindred spirit?) in Arizona reports steller results. My conclusions so far are that supplemental water for the first couple of weeks plus hot, hot weather are the keys to quick expansion.
Is this what winter has in store for me?
I figure I have about two months until the grass goes dormant. I’m thinking of following Troy from GardenNative’s suggestion and interplanting with miniature crocus bulbs to create some winter interest. Pat, my Orinda client is considering sowing wild flowers in hers. And for those who just cannot stomach the idea of winter dormancy, here's an MSNBC video on the fine art of painting your lawn green.Me? I draw the line at painting walls purple.
Crocus photograph courtesy of White Flower Farms