Successfully reported this slideshow.
We use your LinkedIn profile and activity data to personalize ads and to show you more relevant ads. You can change your ad preferences anytime.

Lawns Gone Wild - Notes


Published on

  • Be the first to comment

  • Be the first to like this

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