Turf Grass Selection Pt 1

bison-buffalograss_600By George Altgelt

At Geo Growers we get so many questions about turf grass it’s hard to know where to begin. The best place to start is to ask what you want to end up with; how easy is it to maintain, and, most importantly, how much water will it require?  Quite often, the most recommended grass is the most disappointing. Here I am speaking of Buffalo grass. Yes, it’s the most drought tolerant of all grasses but it will not take foot traffic, it will not grow in the shade, and the soil you plant it on top of must be relatively fertile and weed free or the weeds will take over. You must also be prepared not to mow it. That may seem like a strange drawback for a turf grass but here’s what happens: A few weeds show here and there in a stand of buffalo and the caretaker makes a decision to mow rather than pull, this is the beginning of then end. Once the grass is cut it loses its competitive advantage of shading the soil. The weeds can handle the hotter drier soil and they quickly make use of the increased light. After a few more mowings it will not look like the original vision of a prairie.
This weed problem can be avoided of course with the placement of a two-inch layer of a weed-free, fertile soil blend. This excludes Sandy Loam, which has no water holding
capacity, leaving it a mud pie under wet conditions and a brick when dry. This material is so totally dead and infertile that it becomes a waste of money to amend it. Living soils
must have organic matter in them in order to support microbial life, hold water, and recycle nutrients, especially nitrogen. Sandy Loam’s high PH rating, 9.4 in some cases,
destroys organic matter. The caretaker winds up having to fertilize often, use toxic substances to control pests and weeds, as well as water all the time.

With the correct soil none of this would be necessary. A living soil enables a lawn to go long spells between watering, never needs fertilizer, and never ever needs toxic rescue chemicals which will poison our well water and stock tanks. Next month
more on turf grass selection.

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