Archive for the ‘Tips & Advice’ Category

A nice heavy layer of wood chips is a great way to smother out weeds and retain moisture in your soil.

And with this being the case, one would think the “kill two birds with one stone approach” would work well for installing California Buffalograss…Lay down a thick pad of wood chips over some cardboard or newspaper to kill any existing greenery and then later after the paper has decomposed (but the wood chips remain) install your plugs and the wood will help the newly planted California Buffalograss to hang onto more H2O. It seems perfectly logical doesn’t it? But sigh, it in fact is not the case.

While the smother method could possibly assist you in the exterminating part of the process, the wood chips do not lend a helpful hand to getting your California Buffalograss plugs to grow. Actually, it sort of hinders it.

At first glance the lovely wood chips seem like they would be a great mulch, but in fact they tend to block California Buffalograss’s runners from getting to the ground to root!

If you are going to mulch make sure it’s something fine that the runners can penetrate to reach the soil!

(image s0urce)

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The Easter Bunny has come and gone and although he may be oh so cute, the last thing you probably want is for all his little furry relatives nibbling away at all your hard lawn work!

One of our California Buffalograss Facebook fans, Muhammad, has had such a dilemma in the past and he’s contacted us to try to prevent his new California Buffalograss plugs from being the Hare Family dinner again!

There are some options out there that will deter the adorable varmits, while still being safe for other wildlife, pets and kids. Here are some of our suggestions you may want to try:

  • Rabbit fencing
  • Deer and rabbit repellent pellets
  • Deer and rabbit repellent concentrate
  • Blood meal
  • Predator urine

The fencing will help you to block out the little buggers from getting to your lawn in the first place. The other methods help by keeping rabbits from wanting to go near your lawn. We’ve found for most people the fencing did the job!

If you have any questions regarding your California Buffalograss lawn or are thinking about installing one, feel free to contact us!

(image source)

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With March just around the corner I thought I’d share some tips about prepping your California Buffalograss lawn for a season of loveliness!

  •  In early spring, mow your buffalograss to a height of 1 inch. This will remove the old grass debris and allow the sun to warm the soil faster so your buffalograss will green up earlier.
  • Apply a pre-emergent or a fertilizer with crabgrass and/or annual grassy weed control at this time. Any product available at your garden center should be okay to use. Read and follow the label.
  • Repeat this application at a ½ rate in 6-8 weeks for season long control.

And if you’re looking to install California Buffalograss for the first time this spring I can’t stress enough to you how important it is to properly prep your space before you plant!

  • It is extremely important to treat your space prior to installation to make sure that an exisiting weeds, plants or lawns have been killed off so that they do not overtake your young plugs when they are establishing. Take extra time and extra care to make sure you’ve killed off everything before you install your plugs and save yourself some major stress!
  • Often, this is a 3-4 week process. After killing off your existing lawn or weeds with a product such as Round-Up, you will want to wait several days and then begin to regularly water your space to encourage existing weeds and grass to come up.
  • Apply another application of Round-Up to anything that pops up.
  • Repeat this process until everything is eradicated.

Taking the time to do this before installation will save you from the headache of having isolate the weeds or old grass from the establishing California Buffalograss plugs. Here is a list of helpful advice from the Lazy Gardens blog on what to do before your installation!

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As promised our very first how-to video is here for you all to see!!! In it, I’ll show you how to apply a turf colorant to your dormant California Buffalograss lawn!

It’s a tad cheesy, but what can you do? – it’s hard to give a demonstration and not sound a bit cheesy! 🙂

So watch our little clip here or go over to our brand spanking new Youtube channel and check it out (and you can even subscribe if you want, wink wink)!

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Fall is Here!

Well fall is definitely here – we had a bit of a rain storm yesterday and it was actually a nice change of pace from the dry summer heat that’s swallowed us for the past several months. Now that the weather is cooling down and the length of daylight is shortening, your California Buffalograss will probably begin to go into dormancy towards the end of the month. And with California Buffalograss going into hibernation so will my blog posts – no grass news equals no blog news! I’ll check in here and there, and I’ll be back in full next spring when the grass is green again!

Be sure to get subscribed to us some how (blog, facebook, email – all accessible on the right hand column our blog or via our website) so that you can stay updated on the latest happenings! I’ll be creating a short demo video later in the winter to show you how to apply a colorant to your dormant lawn for a natural look that will last all winter long! Stay in touch to be notified 😉

An old pic I just found on my desktop of a California Buffalograss lawn that has never been mowed. I think I kinda prefer the look of it natural!

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End of the Season Tips

Here we are looking at fall now…towards the end of October many of you will see your green California Buffalograss lawns begin to transition to into their golden dormancy shades. Here are some seasonal tips to get you through until spring pops up again:

  • Fall maintenance should be minimal. Water if needed. The late fall is an excellent time to control any broadleaf weeds. During this cool weather any broadleaf weed control may be used, including 2-4D products.
  • In the late winter, you can repeat the fertilization process to encourage the grass to begin growing again or you can just sit back and relax until spring rolls around!

A couple of Saturdays ago we also hosted the Fresno Master Gardeners at our facility for a tour about the whole process of how plants get to market. There were 98 Master Gardeners and friends, that’s a whole lot of plant people!

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Pesky Bare Spots?

Are you almost there, but battling with some bare spots in your California Buffalograss lawn?

Here’s what worked for Mike:

“I ended up digging them out about 6″ deep and putting in topsoil from a bag, the wattered the heck out of it and mowed it about everyweek…that seems to be doing the trick…”

“…most of the spots are all but gone and the one remaining bad spot should be gone in a couple more weeks”

And here’s his lawn at 4 months:

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We’ve had some bewildered established California Buffalograss lawn owners contact us this season wondering what the heck is going on with their lawns! If your lawn too was once green and is now looking like it’s dying out, inadequate sprinkler coverage might be the culprit!

This Thousand Oaks, California resident sent us a picture of his lawn. It had been recently fertilized and he was watering it 3 times a week to try to get it to green up again. At first he thought it might have been burned by the fertilizer – but since half of the lanw appears to be green that didn’t appear to be the case. If it was a fertilizer burn the entire lawn would have been affected.

Immediately our thoughts were that the lawn was suffering from a lack of water, although the home-owner insisted that he was turning on his sprinklers 3 times a week. He further looked into his system and discovered that there was inadequate water pressure and some areas of the lawn were not get  reached.

Use a small hand shovel and check the ground to see if your problem areas are getting enough coverage. Your California Buffalograss lawn may not be getting any water at all in some spots due to low water pressure which can be caused from a broken sprinkler head or because the water is also being used in another area of the home or yard at the same time or due to blockage in the sprinkler heads from sand and minerals in the water supply, or your buffalograss or nearby plantings may also be getting too tall and might be partially or fully blocking the sprinklers.

If you have questions about your California Buffalograss lawn – don’t hesistate to contact us! 🙂

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We’ve had a couple of people contact us regarding a bit of patchiness in their new established lawns and it’s not exactly the hottest look in lawn trends right now! If your established lawn is also sporting bare spots, read on for what to do!

  • First you might need to increase the water to let the bare areas fill in more.  The runners may be going semi-dormant due to dryness. Sometimes this may mean hand watering certain areas because you may not be getting even sprinkler coverage. You should keep the soil moist till you are 100% covered then slowly start decreasing the water. Adding steer manure or humus to the area will also help the soil to retain moisture.
  • Second you can go ahead and mow to help simulate the runners and it would also be good to give them some fertilizer to get them growing more actively.

Those few things will get the grass to fill in and not look so patchy. We’ve notice that people sometimes start holding water back before the grass has had time to fill in. When they do that it stresses the runners before they have a chance to root in and establish themselves. You’ll usually see straw color grass blades on the bottom of the runners. Make these changes and it shouldn’t take more than a few weeks to for the bare patches to begin to fill in!

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Bermuda is quite the spreader, sending out above ground runners and underground roots. It’s also a tough guy, growing in concrete cracks and otherwise apparently inhabitable locations. While it’s great for some purposes, it can also be quite the nuisance in a garden.

California Buffalograss lawn owner and certified desert landscaper (and did I mention Lazy Gardens blog writer) gave us some advice to pass on to other California Buffalograss wanna-be’s before installing their lawns:

“I strongly recommend that anyone spend the first few warm months killing the Bermuda. If I had one do-over for this lawn, it would be the Bermuda killing… “

Read on to find the most common mistakes people make when trying to kill Bermuda and how to go about eradicating this garden foe!

The most common Bermuda mistakes:

  • Killing Bermuda grass is not difficult, but it’s not going to happen overnight.
  • No matter what the herbicide package says, it will take at least a month and several applications of herbicide to kill 90 to 95% of the Bermuda grass, then several months of spot application on surviving sprigs to get the remainder.
  • The most frequent mistake people make when they try to kill Bermuda grass is to yank out, mow down, or clip off as much visible growth as possible, then use an herbicide “to finish the job”. Herbicides must be absorbed by the leaves to be effective. If you remove most of the leaves before you apply the herbicide, very little of the herbicide will be absorbed. The grass will regrow from the roots.
  • The second most common mistake is to try to kill the Bermuda grass by withholding water, then resorting to herbicides when the grass refuses to die. This is a native of the African savannas, where 6 months without rain is normal. Bermuda can survive herbicides better when it is water-deprived because it absorbs less herbicide when it is dormant from drought.
  • A third mistake is trying to kill Bermuda grass during cool weather. The days and nights must be warm enough that the Bermuda grass is actively growing. Let it “green up”, and don’t start killing the lawn unless you have at least 6 weeks of warm weather left.

How to kill Bermuda (when the grass is green and actively growing, follow these steps):

  1. Water the Bermuda grass thoroughly to encourage it to grow. Herbicides work best when the plants are actively growing.
  2. Wait a week, water the Bermuda grass in the morning.
  3. The following morning, thoroughly spray the Bermuda grass with an herbicide that contains glyphosate. Make sure you follow the package directions for diluting the herbicide. Spray the grass thoroughly, making sure you cover all the leaves.
  4. Wait at least three days to give the herbicide time to be absorbed and spread through the plant tissues.
  5. Now you can yank, clip and mow, because the herbicide has spread into the roots.
  6. Keep watering deeply every few days, as if you were trying to grow the best lawn on the block.
  7. Give the survivors a week or so to grow some leaves, then spray them with the herbicide again.
  8. Repeat the cycle of water, herbicide, water, herbicide until the sprouts stop appearing.
  9. Patrol the area for the next two or three growing seasons and apply herbicide to any new sprouts. The roots of Bermuda grass can be as deep as six feet, and they persist for several years.

Be sure to read her full suggestions here, complete with precautions you should take with any herbicides you are using.

And in case you’re not sure how to spot the bermuda in your California Buffalograss lawn here are some pics from Andy in San Pedro, California who installed his lawn in 2009 and is now having a Bermuda invasion:

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