Lawns Gone Wild - Notes


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Lawns Gone Wild - Notes

  1. 1. 1/6/2013Out of the Wilds and Into Your Garden Lawns Gone Wild C.M. Vadheim and T. Drake CSUDH & Madrona Marsh Preserve Madrona Marsh Nature Center Gardening with Western L.A. County Native Plants January 8, 2011 Project SOUND – 2011 (our 7th year) © Project SOUND © Project SOUND The two most important tools in the mindful gardener’s toolkit 2011 Theme: Mindful Gardening 1. A thoughtful (question posing) attitude (understanding options/choices for your garden) 2. Time spent watching and thinking about your garden © Project SOUND © Project SOUND 1
  2. 2. 1/6/2013A traditional sod lawn may be the best Many benefits of a healthy conventional lawnsolution...  Reduces soil erosion  Tough – stands up to kids, dogs, play  Filters contaminants from rainwater and even worse  Absorbs airborne pollutants  Evergreen – and a like dust and soot nice medium green  Great at converting carbon color dioxide to oxygen.  Smooth – good playing surface  54 million Americans mow their lawns each weekend.  5% of U.S. air pollution comes from traditional gas-powered lawn mowers.  Gardener’s can  manage them 80 pounds of carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere each year by the average gas-powered mower.  800 million gallons of gas are consumed each year by gas mowers. © Project SOUND Source: Environmental Protection Agency Project SOUND Machines © and People PoweredSo, ideally you should choose a conventional turf lawn You may conclude that you do need some lawn…but based on conscious weighing of pros & cons… can reduce it’s size …rather than simply going Giving you more space to use with the ‘usual’ solution as you desire (whatever that © Project SOUND may be) © Project SOUND 2
  3. 3. 1/6/2013What do you really want from Your first answer mayyour ‘lawn area’? be ‘drought tolerant’  Cities/water districts are promoting incentive programs  Beautiful Long Beach Lawn- to-Garden Incentive Program  Also programs in Santa Monica, City of L.A., other areas  These programs may give you the extra incentive to re-think your lawn space – but they can’t tell you what’s right for your yard © Project SOUND © Project SOUND Just because it’s drought-tolerant doesn’t What things don’t you like about your mean it’s right for you current ‘lawn are’?  Too water-thirsty  Needs too much fertilizer & pesticides  Time spent mowing could be spent more enjoyably  Cost of gardener to maintain  Not used any more – kids grown  Poor habitat value  Boring  Full of weeds  Lawn doesn’t grow very well – too shady or too hot  Doesn’t reflect the natural heritage of western L.A. co. What can I do to avoid these pitfalls in my ‘new lawn’? © Project SOUND © Project SOUND 3
  4. 4. 1/6/2013 What do you like about your current lawn? Your lawn – before you removed it  A place for kids to play  Green most of the year  Cool in summer  Mowing – it gets us outside and working/exercising  Looks good with the design of the house  Easy to maintain  Reduces erosion; allows water to infiltrate The good things The bad things  Takes up CO2  Green in Spring/Summer  Requires too much water  Whatever it is you like about  Looks neat & tidy  Not local native – would your lawn  Can be walked on prefer that  Mowing – enjoy occasionally © Project SOUND © Project SOUND Your personal lists will help you make a Saltgrass – Distichlis spicata choice that’s right for your gardenThe good things The bad things Green in Spring/Summer  Requires too much water Looks neat & tidy  Not local native – would Can be walked on prefer that Mowing – enjoy occasionally © Project SOUND © Project SOUND 4
  5. 5. 1/6/2013 Saltgrass Keys to a successful Saltgrass lawn  Stiff perennial grass  Lawns usually started from plugs or with numerous long cut sections of rhizomes stems  Best done in winter  Warm-season grass  Bury rhizomes 1-2 inches  Keep ground moist until established  Sod-forming – spreads  Needs full sun by rhizomes  Needs winter moisture; can water  May grow flat or more in summer to keep green erect (4-16 inches tall)  Mow infrequently  Looks somewhat like  Needs no/little added fertilizer Bermuda Grass © Project SOUND © Project SOUND Benefits of Saltgrass Perhaps you’d like something a little less  Can withstand harsh conditions – tough – but more refined looking salt/alkali soils, seasonal flooding, seasonal drought  Good habitat for birds (seeds and cover) and butterflies (Skippers)  good for controlling wind or water erosion  Highly resistant to trampling – even for playing fields  Looks like Bermuda Grass – and can be treated like itBut….1. It really does best – and is most water-wise – with summer-fall drought2. It is coarse-looking – and feeling (like Bermuda-grass) © Project SOUND © Project SOUND 5
  6. 6. 1/6/2013 Creeping Wild Rye - Leymus triticoides Creeping Wildrye is quite versatile  Any soil texture, but should be well-drained  Tolerates alkali soils & salty soils  Low/no fertilizer needed  Full sun to light shade  Water: it takes what it gets – will stay green with some summer water © Project SOUND © Project SOUND Mowing your Creeping Wild Rye (or Uses for Creeping Wild Rye other native grass)  Nice, green native lawn grass –  Mowing is tolerated well and takes well to mowing  Mowing changes how it  Good for erosion control looks - will look just like a turf grass (Bermuda  Suited for washes, riparian Grass) areas – probably our best native for vernal swales  Mow every 3-4 weeks during growth season  Good bank stabilizer and weed only suppressor Hint: this grass spreads by runners – may want to grow in  Set mower high – as high contained area or limit water as it will go is best © Project SOUND © Project SOUND 6
  7. 7. 1/6/2013 Dune (Seaside) Bentgrass – Agrostis pallens Dune (Seaside) Bentgrass – Agrostis pallens  Cool-season perennial bunchgrass that also spreads via runners & reseeding  Summer dormant in nature – turns an attractive golden brown  Native to dunes – does great in sandy soils  Full sun to part-shade  Water: Zone 1-2 to 2-3 (for summer green)  Use as an ornamental grass, meadow grass or (small) mowed lawn © Project SOUND © Project SOUNDWeighing the pros & cons of locally native‘lawn grasses’ Native Fescues can  Pros make nice lawn grasses  Locally native  Tough  Easy to grow  Can be very drought tolerant  Can be mowed occasionally – or left unmowed  Cons  Some (like Saltgrass) are coarse looking  Really best – and most e=G880 water-wise – with some summer/fall drought But they ARE from northern CA – so need some summer water to look good © Project SOUND © Project SOUND 7
  8. 8. 1/6/2013 The really ‘lawn-like’ native grasses are from Your personal lists will help you make a further North (and require more water) choice that’s right for your garden  Festuca rubra ‘Molate’ - ‘Molate’ Red Fescue  Spreading/bunching – the most lawn-like of CA native grasses – fine texture  Can be mowed occasionally (and high – 4-6”) for more lawn-like appearance – take some foot traffic  Shade or sun The good things The bad things  Needs occasional summer water – best as Zone 2 or 2-3 for ‘green  Evergreen – ‘swath of green’  Requires too much water lawn’ appearance  Low maintenance  Doesn’t look great in the  Reminds me of being out in the shady areas of the yard  Widely available as seed or plugs – woods (which I like) easy to grow on many climates © Project SOUND © Project SOUND Does it really have to be ‘all grass’? Choices from the N. CA Coastal Prairie tend to be green looking with some water  Other options for shady areas:  Coastal prairie conditions are  Yarrow (Achillea) sunny and mild, with fog and cool breezes.  Native strawberries (Fragaria spp) – native to Central CA coast, local  Red fescue (Festuca rubra), a mountains grass that expands by underground rhizomes  Benefits  Interesting – ‘woodsy’ look  California Oatgrass (Danthonia  Good habitat value californica), a plant that  Tough – and more water- doesnt mind being stepped on wise than grass  Can be combined with A native lawn of Pacific dune sedge  Pacific dune sedge (Carex pansa), a lush green looks lush with just monthly grass-like species for more watering (in N. CA) interest groundcover. © Project SOUND © Project SOUND 8
  9. 9. 1/6/2013 Sedges (Carex species) can be a good Which ‘lawn sedge’ is it? evergreen alternative to grass  There has been some confusion in the past  Relatively easy to establish & maintain  Carex pansa (north coast)  Shorter, bent  Evergreen – look  best for sandy soils ‘grass-like’ to most  ‘Lawn-like’ even when not people (including your C. pansa is left, praegracilis is right mowed (on slopes) neighbors)  C. praegracilis (local native)  Can take a little  More upright more water – good  best for clays/ likes more for wet areas near water neighbor’s lawn  C. tumulticola (local native)  More mounded  Slow-spreading; plant closely  Some can be mowed (for a more formal look) or left for meadow or lawn unmowed (for a more informal look)  Slightly more drought © Project SOUND C. pansa lawn, on the coast tolerant © Project SOUNDGreen & easy-care – the Carex pansa solution Carex praegracilis can be mowed for a ‘lawn-like’ appearance – or spaced more widely as a pleasing accent or shade plant Mowed Carex praegracilis pansa is the most lawn-like, butit’s from N. CA and it does requiremore water © Project SOUND © Project SOUND 9
  10. 10. 1/6/2013 Grasses & sedges can soften modern Carex species combine well with other native grasses, architecture groundcovers and shrubs to give and interesting a varied appearance Sedges Deergrass Fescues © Project SOUND © Project SOUND Your personal lists will help you make a choice that’s right for your garden The good things The bad things  Evergreen – sort of  Requires too much water –  Prevents erosion on slope would like to be slightly more  Discourages people from water-wise walking on it  Hard to mow – steep hillside © Project SOUND © Project SOUND 10
  11. 11. 1/6/2013 Do I really need to mow? If not, the options Grass-like natives as accents or background expand dramatically  Many ‘lawn-like’ species can be left un-mowed (‘ornamental grasses’)  Carex species  Juncus species  Fescue species  Many local & other CA Native bunchgrasses  Many other groundcover species  Herbaceous species  Even low-growing woody species from N./Central CA coast [Manzanitas; Ceanothus] © Project SOUND © Project SOUND no-lawn ‘lawn’ What is really important to you? © Project SOUND © Project SOUND 11
  12. 12. 1/6/2013 Your personal lists will help you make a The California Coastal Prairie choice that’s right for your gardenThe good things The bad things Changes with the seasons –  Requires too much water green in winter/spring  Too boring – not enough going on The Northern CA Coastal Prairie  Poor habitat value  No sense of place © Project SOUND © Project SOUND Where do I go to see what a S. CA The California Coastal Coastal Prairie looks like? Prairie – clues from other native grasslands © Project SOUND © Project SOUND 12
  13. 13. 1/6/2013 Shares some grass The S. California Coastal Prairie and other species with  Grasses N. Coastal Prairie  Bromus carinatus  Koelera macrantha  Melica imperfecta  Nassella cernua  Poa secunda  Elymus glaucus  And others  Forbes  Annual wildflowers – most of the RAIN_ID=CoyEJZ39 ones we’ve discussed in previous classes And with vernal pools  Other ‘weedy’ annuals  Perennials (mostly small and incl. bulbs & corms)  Shrubs © Project SOUND © Project SOUND Many aspects of S. Project SOUND will focus on Coastal Coastal Prairie are Prairie research the next several years currently unknown  What is the natural succession  Collecting plant species of plant species? How long not readily available – does it take? and propagating them  How best to restore native  Research on prairies restoration methods  How to combat weeds (note:  Work on restoring a native prairies don’t have native prairie at natural mulch) CSUDH  What species are best suited for home gardens? How  Trying gardening should they be used? methods focused on prairie species  And many more Would you like to participate? © Project SOUND © Project SOUND 13
  14. 14. 1/6/2013 One-sided Bluegrass – Poa secunda This is more like what it would look like in South Bay prairie /3400158978/ Bluebunch wheatgrass with scattered One-sided bluegrass © Project SOUND © Project SOUNDTypical Bluegrass  Fine-bladed, dark blue- One-sided Bluegrass succeeds green perennial grass  In mixes with other, later-season  Cool-season grass grasses  Starts growth in early spring – one of the first grasses  In full sun to partial shade – fine under pine trees  Blooms Feb-Aug – early bloomer  On any soil texture – like a good loam  Matures, dies in mid-summer but succeeds in shallow, rocky, sandy or clay soils  Bunchgrass – but variable  Any local pH is fine – tolerates  Sometimes (harsh climates) moderately alkali and salty soils just a thin, small tuft  With more winter-spring  Needs average winter/spring rain – water, more developed then likes to dry out in summer. You tussock could experiment with some summer water  Relatively short-lived © Project SOUND © Project SOUND 14
  15. 15. 1/6/2013 Benefits and uses Planting One-sided Bluegrass from seed  Pretty, graceful and delicate – all the  Plant fall/winter in S. Bay usual positive points for bluegrasses  May have low germination rates – highly  Early to green up – often after fall rains variable depending on weather, site in S. Bay  Use 2-4 lbs seed/1000 sq. feet for  Will reseed on patches of bare ground lawn/meadow (more if broadcast) once established  Sow on well-prepared and firmed soil  Can tolerate moderate spring flooding – would be fine for a vernal swale  Rake in or cover to ¼ to ½ inch (deeper for coarse soils)  Well-liked by birds (seeds and nesting site), ground squirrels and domestic  Be sure to keep ground surface moist animals (horses) even when dry until seeds germinate (7-14 days); then every other day until established  Tolerant of fire when dormant  Will grow quickly in warm temperatures  Few (if any) insect, disease problems © Project SOUND © Project SOUND California Brome – Bromus carinatus (var. maritimus) California Brome – locally native bunchgrass  Perennial (may be short-lived)  Cool season  Bunchgrass  Usually erect when young, more drooping as matures – but coastal forms are more low-lying (prostrate)  Leaves broad, green, robust  Stays green into summer, even with no added water © Project SOUND © Project SOUND 15
  16. 16. 1/6/2013 Benefits and uses of CA Brome Blue Wildrye – Elymus glaucus  Grows rapidly (typical brome) - a great choice to get native grass covering the ground quickly  Can serve as a quick-growing “nurse” grass to longer-lived grasses like Needlegrasses, Melic Grass - lives only a few years (3-5 years here)  Deep, spreading roots make great for erosion control – quick  Does fine on slopes  Great insect, butterfly and bird plant – if left to go to seed  Very hardy – used on roadsides and mine rehabilitation © Project SOUND © Project SOUND June Grass - Koeleria macrantha Junegrass in nature: an accent rather than the main show © Project SOUND © Project SOUND Patrick J. Alexander @ USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database 16
  17. 17. 1/6/2013 Local Prairie grasses - lovely in gardens Would you like to help recreate native prairie in your yard?  Attend special classes featuring the S. Coastal Prairie/ shrubland  Grow seed - seed available for home propagation  Experiment with installation methods - grass available for demonstration areas in your yard  Grow the grasses/annuals as part of the One Pot Program  Experiment with different uses of the native species on your gardenHowever you choose to use – there are many possibilitiesthem, you’re increasing thehabitat value of your garden E-mail Connie if you’re interested © Project SOUND © Project SOUND htmlBringing Back the Natives – One Pot at a Time If you’d like to grow more native grasses from seed…. Your commitment:  You can help us by  Materials experimenting with the  Pot: 12-16 inches in diameter; following in your own 12-16 inches deep  Potting soil: Gardener’s Soil yard:  Time  Raising native grass plugs/plants from seed  Plant seeds; care for plants  After seeds are ripe/dry:  Direct seeding  Scatter in your garden experiments  Collect and share with others  Creating a ‘One Plot’ area in  Photos & feedback your garden to grow native grasses for seed  Provide us photos and (brief) written feedback about your successes and failures We’ll help you design a program that works for you © Project SOUND © Project SOUND 17
  18. 18. 1/6/2013 We hope you’re inspired to explore the options for your own ‘lawn’ © Project SOUND © Project SOUND 18
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