CARE AND MAINTENANCE OF TURF
Clear and rough grade the
Determine if control of broad leafs or grassy species would be appropriate.
Till the soil to a depth of at least 6 inches.
If needed, incorporate organics and nutrients into the prepared soil.
Soil testing will help determine what is needed if you are unsure.
Smooth grade the site.
The seedbed should be firm.
Select the proper species in accordance with site conditions i.e. soil
type, amount of sunlight, and desired use.
Seed the area by hand, hydroseeding, or mechanical means.
Seed/Soil contact is crucial. If hand seeding, lightly rake in the seed
or roller pack the area.
Water is critical during
this stage. Irrigate at short intervals multiple times per day. The
exact timing is variable and site specific, so there is a need to gauge
watering so that the surface remains continually moist during germination,
but not so much water to cause erosion or runoff.
Gradually decrease watering as the plants become more established and
develops root structure.
Mowing can occur when the grass reaches 150% of the desired mowing height.
If weeds are persistent, many annuals will mow out. If desired, other
weeds can be controlled with herbicides. Herbicides may be applied after
turf is established, approximately after three or four mowings.
Cool season grasses such
as Kentucky Bluegrass, Fescues, Bentgrasses, and Ryegrasses should be
seeded at the appropriate rates when soil temps are 55-80 degrees Farenheight.
Spring seeding in Northern latitudes and high elevations is successful
provided the growing season is allowed for establishment.
Late summer and fall seeding are good for those species susceptible
to heat stress.
Summer seeding is acceptable as long as seedlings receive extensive
Warm season grasses, such as Bermuda grass, Zoysiagrass and others should
be seeded in the spring at the proper seeding rate. Seed only after
all danger of frost has passed (soil temps should be 70-90 degrees Farenheight).
Be careful to not seed too late in the season, as at least eight weeks
of establishment before the first frost is needed to ensure healthy
Mowing at appropriate height for the species.
Aerating-allows the nutrients and moisture to enter the soil more freely
when compaction becomes a problem.
Removing thatch, as thatch inhibits nutrient and water penetration into
Overseeding-thickens an inadequate turf stand.
If the homeowner wishes
to fertilize, 3-4 lbs of Nitrogen and Phosphorus per 1000 square feet
is the recommended application rate.
FOR GERMINATING SEED
Due to the increased use
of our seed by homeowners for establishing yard landscapes, we drew up
the five step procedure below for improving their chances at germinating
a flower bed, grass cover, or a meadow containing both.
Unlike native seed, common vegetable and crop seeds have been genetically
"constructed" to provide a uniform, relatively easy germination,
which produces plants all similar in nature, such as our row crops. This
homogeneity has made farm production and harvesting so successful over
the years. Native seed however, has genetically evolved to create a diverse
crop of plants. Even though plants of any one species are similar, upon
closer examination you will find any or all of the following differences:
1) Germination timing of
individual seeds spread out over a variable period of time, even years.
2) Flowering, seeding, dormancy timing of individual plants.
3) Structural variation between plants. e.g. height, leaf vs. stem,
and color variation.
|These and many more such characteristics
protect the survival of the species. Indeed, genetic diversity is the basis
of our evolution and survival as well. This partly explains the dynamics
of an established meadow. Your meadow is always changing as plants are coming
and going in a constant state of flux. These changes are typically subtle
and only noticed by observation over time. Part of the advantage of this
dynamics is the stability that is created by such a garden to survive through
drought, infestation, fire, flood, etc.
These steps therefore, do not insure that all seeds will come up. Instead,
they insure that you will be giving all the seeds the best chance to come
up when they are ready.
Decide whether you want
a grass or flower meadow, or mixed meadow. Typically, sod forming grasses
are too aggressive and will crowd out flowers. However, small quantities
of the less aggressive bunch grasses will coexist with flowers. In our
area, these grasses typically come up in the spring, flower and seed
in early to mid summer. After a summer dormant period, they generally
resume growth for a period in the fall. In contrast, annual weedy grasses
generally die by summer, creating the flash fire hazard, which we experience
along the Sierra front. The native bunch grasses provide some protection
from this hazard. The important decisions regarding flowers include,
color preference, timing of flowering period, and height. Our flower
mixes generally have a broad flowering period. In fact, we tend to create
mixes that maximize that period.
First, identify the plants
already on your site and decide whether you want them. If you have a
weed problem, it is much easier to deal with them prior to planting
your garden. Most annual weeds can be killed simply by mowing them before
they produce seed. Unfortunately, this can take time, possibly a whole
year. Some recommend that you go through several tilling-watering cycles
to stimulate further weed growth which you continue killing prior to
seed production. Alternatively, use chemicals as recommended or with
advice from professionals such as the Cooperative Extension. If you
choose not to remove existing plant material, clear small areas where
the seed can be planted free from close competition.
The most important rule
of seeding is close seed-soil contact. This contact is essential to
get the seed to absorb moisture to stimulate germination. Generally,
a uniform sandy-loamy soil with good drainage is most favorable. On
a clean site, disturb the top inch or two of soil. We recommend mixing
the seed mix with dry sand, three parts sand to one part seed. Mix the
seed well before this process because the mix will settle between the
time you receive it and planting. Once mixed, uniformly broadcast half
of the seed over the planting bed and repeat the process in reverse
with the other half. This will insure that your entire area is covered
without running out of seed. Hand broadcast tends to work best because
mechanical devices allow the seed to settle and concentrate by density
in the bin. This effect might be favorable if you want to create a meadow
with concentrated areas of color, height, etc... Once broadcast, the
surface needs to be lightly raked in to about 1/16 inch in depth for
flower and at least 1/2 inch for grass seed; some seed will show on
the surface but don't worry. Burying seed too deep will prevent germination.
For larger areas, planting may require dragging a device behind a truck
or ATV. The device can range from a harrow on a tractor to a piece of
chain link fence attached to a 2x4. Last and most important, good seed-soil
contact must be achieved by packing the surface down. Rollers can be
rented cheaply or for larger areas you can drive over them. Use your
imagination but get the seedbed well firmed.
We recommend late fall sowing.
Natives tend to germinate better after being in the ground through the
winter. This process is called cold stratification and in effect, wakes
the dormant seed and prepares it for the spring precipitation and germination.
Don’t sow too early in fall. If fall rains germinate the seed,
many will die off from the cold winter. If planting in the spring, plant
as early as possible to take maximum advantage of soil moisture prior
The seeds will not germinate without water. Seed can remain in the ground
for many years waiting for water or other environmental conditions necessary
for germination. Whether spring rain, ground precipitation or your watering
stimulates germination, it is very important to keep the seed bed uniformly
moist until their roots have developed. This may require light watering
two or three times a day at first, slowly cutting back as the plants
develops. The drought resistant advantage of a native plant really begins
after the plants reach maturity. Know the water requirements of whatever
you plant. You may choose not to water at all in the following years
if you find some blooming and seeding each year. On the other hand,
once a week watering can significantly extend the flowering throughout
Annuals in your mix will
germinate earliest in the spring. They are programmed to flower and
seed by early summer and die off before the summer heat. They also provide
the initial color because most perennials tend to produce more vegetation
the first year and flower in subsequent years. Likewise, perennial grasses
develop their vegetation first while flowering and seeding the second
and subsequent years. Once established into a healthy cycle, all these
species will reseed themselves over many years. In the early years,
the annual weeds may still be common but over time, the perennials will
establish themselves and out compete the weeds. You are free to combat
weeds manually or with the assistance of mulches or chemicals.
In the end, patience is a virtue!