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Archive for the ‘Tips & Advice’ Category

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.

UC Verde lawn owner and certified desert landscaper (and did I mention Lazy Gardens blog writer) gave us some advice to pass on to other UC Verde 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 UC Verde 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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We had an email come our way from a customer who was concerned about the “barbed shaped extensions” coming out of the UC Verde plugs he had installed 4 weeks prior. He thought they were most likely weeds, but wanted to double check before he yanked them out. So, just in case the same thought may have crossed your mind – worry not! These are actually runners that the grass sends out in order to spread itself. The runners root into the ground as they go and from that more grass will grow!

Check out this old sample flat we used for a demonstration that’s been sitting in the greenhouse – it’s runners are trying to find a place to root! 

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The other day we had some contact us asking if UC Verde would work well in a septic leach field and to be honest I had to google what the heck a septic leach field even was – I’m still not quite sure I understand… So I forwarded this question on to Wayne at Todd Valley Farms – the ‘OG’ on UC Verde – and he replied that it was a-ok! He responded that septic systems would not be a problem and he’s in fact done several similar installations. He said that UC Verde’s roots are very fine, not like a tree root, and when they get to the saturated area they will grow quickly.

So just in case any of you were wondering about septic leach fields, you’re good to go!

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Is your UC Verde lawn coming out of dormancy and looking a bit shabby? Maybe a quick mowing is in order to knock off the old and bring out the new!

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Niko sunbathing at work – our UC Verde is coming out of dormancy woo hoo!

Remember when I posted awhile back wondering about the effects of dog pee on UC Verde (hey, just because we grow it doesn’t mean we run dog urine trials on it!)? Well I got a response from Will – a UC Verde and dog owner:

“We have ucverde buffalo grass in our backyard with a full time dog and dog pee will definitely kill/make the pee areas yellow. We water it 2x a day so it waters it down pretty well but there are two spots in my yard that were definitely killed by the dog’s pee. It might be water wise but it doesn’t know what to do with pee.”

So there it is folks…the dirty low down on dog pee. Just like most grasses, UC Verde isn’t feeling it either.

Oh well, I guess you can’t win them all…

***Update y’all! We recently had someone inform us on our facebook page that she really doesn’t have an issue with burn spots from her dog – who happens to be 75lbs – so I imagine it has a decent amount of pee! Maybe it all depends on the size of your lawn and the number of dogs you have…perhaps smaller yards get “hit” more often in the same spot than larger yards do? Well, it looks like the results are back to being inconclusive for now!***

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Dog Pee and UC Verde?

We’ve yet to hear a complaint about dog pee on UC Verde. My brother has a small patch of UC Verde in his back yard that doesn’t seem to get affected, but i think since it’s such a small patch, it only gets peed on about once a day or so. So I’m not sure how accurate of a representation of dog urine on UC Verde, it would be.

Not too long ago, someone called wondering specifically how female dog urine affected the grass – I guess girl’s have stronger pee???

Do any of you out there have first-hand experience on how dog urine has affected or not affected your UC Verde lawn?

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We often get calls asking for UC Verde Buffalograss in sod or seed form. And simply put, you can’t get UC Verde in either of these forms anywhere due to the way it grows.

This variety sends out deep roots once it’s established, which help to make it drought tolerant, but also prevent it from being used as sod. Once it gets going, there’s no easy way to cut a patch from the ground to roll it on up to sell.

UC Verde is also not available in seed form, because it doesn’t really produce seed heads. Which makes it a great grass for allergy sufferers!

So there you go! That’s why we only sell UC Verde in plug form (which is like a tray made up of many small containers of UC Verde). It’s the only way it can be grow for distribution. To install these plugs, you dig a small hole or you can use our custom auger attached to a drill to make small holes (this will save your poor back), about 12″ apart – center spaced. Pop the plug in and cover up the hole!  – Ok, well there’s a bit more to it, like making sure you pre-treat the area to be installed and properly watering during establishment, but you get the point. For more details on installation visit our website here!

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Weeds and UC Verde?

We recently got an email from a UC Verde-er regarding what to do with weeds in your UC Verde lawn:

…I planted buffalo plugs in the spring ’10.  I’ve had some setbacks with weeds.  I’ve mowed but have read that mowing should stop before the onset of winter.  I’ve been planning to use roundup in winter during dormancy.  I live in the Central Valley and wonder if I can be assured that the grass would go dormant enough to apply the roundup. Also, can pre-emergent herbicides also be applied at other times?

Thank you, Eric

Here is what we suggested: Depending on the weed types most should go dormant during the winter months and those that don’t can be spot sprayed with Roundup, though you might do that now as Roundup is not as effective when the temps get colder. When the temps get colder you can use a contact weed killer. Prior to spring put down your pre-emergent to prevent as much weed seeds from germinating and continue to spot treat. Fertilize the grass and monitor the weeds as best you can. Once the UC Verde can get established you can hold back the water and this should discourage any more weed seeds from germinating in your lawn.

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Last week the weather was in the 90’s and this week it’s in the low 70’s – go figure – that’s Fresno for ya! At least I got to wear my new – lower cost Costco version of Ugg boots!

With the cooler weather rolling in, it reminds me that it’s about that time of the year again for UC Verde Buffalograss to go dormant. In a few weeks most lawns will begin to lose their coloring with the decrease in daylight. Some of you lucky people in Socal who don’t experience much of a winter may not lose your green coloring or only see a slight yellowing of your UC Verde lawn. But alas for most of us we have to go through the cold gloominess of winter.

While UC Verde is in its dormancy period (for most of us that is from November to February/March) you do not have to water or mow it. It will just sit there frozen in time, waiting for the sun to come out again before it starts growing.

If you’re not a fan of having a yellow lawn, you can easily apply a grass colorant to “fake the green” until spring. We recommend Green Lawnger from Gemplers.com. It’s super easy to do, inexpensive and for us it lasted all winter until the green came back into the grass! You’ll probably want to play around with the ratios in an inconspicuous area until you can get your mix just right. Check out the user reviews for some tips. One user adds yellow food coloring to lime up the coloring a bit!

We played around with the ratio of Green Lawnger to water, to find a blend we were happy with! The last test square is fully concentrated undiluted Green Lawnger – just to see what it did…needless to say, it’s not the most natural look!

When have you noticed that your UC Verde lawn began to lose it’s color and how have you handled it?

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