HabiTurf: the Ecological Lawn - Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center
Texas born and bred, Habiturf™ is the ideal solution to Texas’ extreme weather conditions. This native turfgrass was developed through years of research by the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at The University of Texas at Austin into native grasses mixes that would provide the best performance.What is HABITURFTMYears of research at the Lady Bird JohnsonWildflower Center has produced a mixtureof native grass species suitable for Texas anddry regions of the Southwest. Look insidefor instructions for establishing a native lawnusing this mix. Habiturf™ is dense and attractive, soft to the touch and comfy on bare feet. It establishes quickly and, best of A mix of native grass species that grow all, conserves precious resources once in Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico and established. Our research shows it Arizona developed and tested by compares favorably to commonly-used the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. non-native turfgrass species in its ability to thrive with minimal watering. It requires less mowing and weeding to retain its eyeBuffalograss vs. Bermudagrass. appeal and stands up well to moderateThe native mix (LEFT) grows much slower and foot traffic.has fewer weeds than bermudagrass (RIGHT).
The Mix. will require more water. Avoid sowing in late Mowing.HABITURF™ is a mix of Bouteloua dactyloides fall and winter (October through mid-March). We suggest a 3 to 4-inch cut for great-looking,(buffalograss), Bouteloua gracilis (blue grama) dense turf, resistant to weeds and light toand Hilaria belangeri (curly-mesquite). It needs Irrigation. moderate foot traffic. However, a 6-inch cutless mowing, watering and weeding and also The lawn area should be irrigated every day will produce a beautiful deeper lawn. Mowreplicates nature’s shortgrass prairies. Although for the first 10 days or longer, up to 15 days, once every three to five weeks when growingthe species are different, these grasses have under very hot, dry or windy conditions to and not at all when drought or cold dormant.almost identically shaped leaves and color and prevent the soil from drying out. Thereafter, Mowing shorter — 2 inches or less — willproduce a great-looking, even-textured, dense damage your lawn’s health. Conversely, notlawn that does well in full sun but also tolerates mowing at all through the growing season50 percent shade. The mixes are available from will produce a longer turf (8 inches or so)native seed suppliers such as Douglass King with lower density. This may be acceptableCompany and Native American Seed. For every depending on how you use your lawn.1,000 square feet you will need about 3 to 4 However, allowing the grass to seed-out oncepounds of HABITURF™ a year - insurance against drought, heavy foot traffic and weeds.Soil.A well-textured, well-drained soil is essential Make sure that the lawn overwinters as afor long-term lawn success. Normally, after think lush turf greater than 4 inches high.construction, developers spread a couple Observations have clearly shown that thisof inches of imported soil over existing soil dramatically reduces weeds the followingcompacted by heavy construction machinery. spring — such as clover, dandelions andA sustainable lawn needs deep roots, so rip, two soil-wetting (top 4 inches of soil) events thistles. This mean that the last mow shouldtill or disk your soil to at least 8 inches - the per week for the next month, then two soil- be a high (> 4 inches) mow and no later thandeeper the better. Then incorporate a ½ inch wetting (top 6 inches of soil minimum) events mid-October.layer of living compost with a low nitrogen and per month for the remainder of the growinglow phosphorus content into the top 3 inches season which is March through November. Feeding.of your prepared soil. DO NOT use tree bark, Remove weeds as they appear before they If you return the grass cuttings directly to thewood shavings or mulch. Grass won’t grow in go to seed or become too established. Once soil, annual feeding should not be necessary.this. The soil surface should be finished to a the lawn is established in three to four A healthy, living soil with live compost plusfine granular texture and free from large stones. months, you may opt to stop irrigating to the natural ‘rain’ of airborne nutrients will save water and allow the lawn to go ‘drought be sufficient to keep your lawn at ecologicalSow. dormant’. The native grasses will go brown equilibrium just like a natural prairie. But forSow the seed — the small, hand-cranked seed and temporarily stop growing but, adapted high-use lawns with children and/or pets, orbroadcasters are great or by hand — and rake to drought, will green up once rain returns. on freely-draining soils, a fall dressing withand press with a garden roller or your feet. In prolonged drought (say over 6 weeks in a low-nutrient, living compost or compostSeeds need good soil contact. Spring is the best summer with no rain) irrigate (if allowed) tea plus aeration with a garden fork willsowing time once soil temperatures warm up once every five to six weeks. This will not certainly help.(day time temperatures constantly above 85F). trigger “green-up” but will keep the dormantLater in the growing season also works well but turf alive.
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