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PostPosted: Tue Mar 01, 2005 3:35 pm 
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Location: Buffalo,TEXAS
Texas native grasses and comment on Buffalo:
http://www.dirtdoctor.com/view_question.php?id=452

Killing Bermuda:
http://www.dirtdoctor.com/view_question.php?id=472

Grass, turf, prep, etc.:
http://www.dirtdoctor.com/view_question.php?id=82

excerpts:

St. Augustine is the best choice for shady areas but even it needs about a half day of full sunlight to thrive. It also has problems with a fungus called brown patch or Rhizoctonia when fertilized and watered too much. The organic program is a preventive measure and the use of cornmeal on problem spots is an effective cure. St. Augustine should be planted solid sod. Spot sodding costs about as much and gives a spotty, bumpy, weedy effect for several years. There are no hardy seed available at this time. It is the most susceptible of these grasses to freeze and drought damage.

Bermuda is planted by seed as well as by solid sod. It is best in full sun and requires less water and fertilizer than St. Augustine. Its flaw is its aggressiveness. It spreads fast. That’s good when trying to get it to grow and complete the turf, but it ’s bad when it spreads into the beds - which it commonly does. Bermuda is durable to traffic across it.

The hybrid Bermudas are finer textured selections of the parent grass. They are sterile (produce no viable seed) and require more intense maintenance because flaws and weeds show up so much. These grasses are primarily used on golf courses and home putting greens.

Buffalograss is my favorite grass. It is our only native turfgrass and must be grown in full sun. It has extremely low water and fertilizer requirements and no pest problems. Winter cold and summer heat stress just don’t bother this grass. The critics who love the high-nitrogen fertilizers and pesticides complain that Bermuda invades buffalograss and takes it over, making it a bad choice. Well, bermuda will take over buffalo if too much watering and fertilizing is done. The native buffalograss is planted from unhulled seed and takes about two full growing seasons to be thick. Hulled seed is also available that will establish much more quickly. The hybrids are the best choices if budget allows. They should be planted solid sod. They include Prairie, 609, and Stampede.

Seed Bed Preparation
The seed bed preparation for turf grasses is simple. All these plants like the same amendments - organic matter and rock minerals. Although all these grasses will respond well to compost, humate, organic fertilizers, lava sand and Texas greensand, bermuda and buffalo need very little of these amendments for establishment. Use anywhere from 5-20 lbs. per 1,000 square feet of each amendment for best results. The rates are not critical. That’s one of the nice features of the organic technique. When you plant solid sod of any kind, fill in the cracks between the solid sod pieces with compost. Don’t scalp anytime, mow at whatever height you like and use the basic organic program to maintain your turf with a minimum amount of troubles.

My (tater) comment: If you'd like to see buffalograss as turf and you live near Austin, check out the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center on the south side of Austin. There's a patch growing there. I started a very small patch from seed in Lockhart and it took a couple of years to establish but then was flourishing when I moved last year. The dominant grass there was bermuda and it was so agressive I had to pick it out of my rosemary bushes where it had climbed very much like a vine . . . it was a constant and losing battle to keep it at bay.


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 03, 2005 7:38 pm 
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Location: San Antonio,TEXAS
If you've read anything I've ever written about buffalo grass you know I don't like it. The reason I don't like it is that it seems to be weedy. I'll say that every stand of buff I've ever seen looked horrible. After reading this maybe I know why. It could be the people took too good of care of it?!?! I have always said that to "go organic" you have to forget almost everything you ever knew about gardening. Well it could be that to "go Buffalo" you have to forget the rest of what you knew. I'll reconsider buffalo in turf. I still need to see some good buff in person. Pictures of turf don't do it justice.

There's a detail left out of the excerpts. It is always said that bermuda and buff need less water than St Augustine. This is an important point. All three grasses will thrive on the same amount of water as long as it is sufficient. If you have an irrigation system, you would use it the same way for all the grasses. However, if you do not have an irrigation system or otherwise do not water your lawn, you absolutely cannot have St Augustine. Even if you try to have St Aug, you will have a bermuda lawn as soon as the next drought kills the St Aug. It will not spontaneously reappear like the bermuda and buff will. So ONLY in the sense that you can let bermuda and buff go without watering during a drought do they use less water.

Similarly with fertilizer on bermuda - it needs it. It will be yellow compared to almost every other grass unless you fertilize it plenty. It will live but it will not look dark green without fertilizer every 60 days or so.

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 05, 2005 10:02 pm 
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Joined: Wed Oct 06, 2004 10:58 am
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Location: Buffalo,TEXAS
OK, you live in San Antone, right? Take some time to visit the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center just south of Austin if you want to see turffed up buff.

I lived in Lockhart with heavy clay soil and bermuda grass for 7 or 8 years. Never watered, never fertilized, had to mow twice a week during mowing season, grass stayed green all year. Thrived waaaaay too much, climbed my rosemary bushes, ran rampant through my flower beds, sprouted through the asphalt . . . the only place it didn't thrive was in a high traffice area in the shade of a tree.

I see this is radically different from your experience. Could it be because of environmental differences between Lockhart and San Antone?

Also, the LBJWFC folk tell me that buff will die if watered or fertilized . . . I didn't do either to the areas that I seeded. It took the buff a couple of years to catch on, but then it did fine. I was sorry at the end that I didn't try it in larger areas of my yard because when it did finally come in, it came in gangbusters. So by the time I left, I had a tiny stand of buff. But as an experiment, it was successful because I learned a bunch of stuff about buff. At least for growing it in Lockhart, LOL.

Now I am located in Buffalo, TX (coincidence?) and am starting all over with lawn and garden here. A whole new experience, since the soil is very sandy and poor and the weather is not so wet as in Lockhart. So, long story short, I'll keep you posted on how the buff does in these conditions . . . at least how it does in my yard . . .


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 07, 2005 11:18 pm 
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Thanks for writing with your very interesting experience. The places I've seen it tried were all very urban with automatic watering and weekly manicuring by the gardener. They probably got regular fertilizer too. Hmmmm. Anyone see a pattern?

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