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Monday - May 19, 2014

From: Walburg, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Seeds and Seeding, Soils, Grasses or Grass-like
Title: How does Habiturf spread from Walburg TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford


How does HabitTurf spread? - by seed only? - when/how often must you let it go to seed to insure a permanent stand?


We always begin by making sure the plant we are being asked about will grow successfully in the area from which the question comes; in your case, Williamson Co., TX. Since Habiturf is a mixture of grasses native to Texas and developed at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin, we can assure you that Williamson County is a place where you should be able to grow Habiturf successfully IF (there is always an if, isn't there) you have the proper conditions, including 5 hours or more of sunlight and properly prepared soil.

Since we don't know if you have already read our research information on this grass, we are going to link you to it, and ask that you read it all, comparing the actual conditions you have with those conditions favorable to the growth of Habiturf. Then, we will try to answer your question by quoting, and thus emphasizing, the material germane to your request. An article on how to prepare install and maintain this native lawn can be found here.

Although the ordinary mode of propagation of this grass is by sowing seed, here is some information on sod for Habiturf from a previous Mr. Smarty Plants question:

"For others who maybe missed this Central Texas Gardener broadcast, here is a link to it. On that broadcast, Mark Simmons mentioned turf being developed by DK Seeds. The  company is Douglas King Seeds - that is a link to their website. Since you are in Uvalde County, virtually next door to Bexar County, where Douglas King  Seeds is located, it should be relatively easy for you to get what you need."

Obviously, you are not close to Bexar County, we just wanted you to know there are alternatives to seed. Whether you plan to employ seed or sod, be sure to pay close attention to preparing the soil before you do either. Here is another extracted piece of information from our articles on the grass:

A well-textured, well-drained soil is essential for long-term lawn success. Normally, after construction, developers spread a couple of inches of imported soil over soil compacted by heavy construction machinery. A sustainable lawn needs deep roots, so rip, rotovate or disk your soil to at least 8 inches - the deeper the better. Then incorporate a ½ inch layer of living compost with a low nitrogen and low phosphorus content into the top 3 inches of your prepared soil. Ask your local plant nursery for recommendations. DO NOT use tree bark, wood shavings or mulch. Grass won't grow in this. The soil surface should be finished to a fine granular texture and free from large stones. Note: If you are on undisturbed, uncompacted native soils then till lightly and add ¼ inch compost into the top 1 inch or alternatively add a compost tea."

Now we are ready to talk about seeding, again from our research:

Sow the seed — the small, hand-cranked seed broadcasters are great or by hand — and rake and press with a garden roller or your feet. Seeds need good soil contact. Spring is the best sowing time once soil temperatures warm up (day time temperatures constantly above 85F). Later in the growing season also works well but will require more water. Avoid sowing in late fall and winter (October through mid-March)."

And, finally, how often to allow the grass to seed out:

We suggest a 3 to 4 inch cut for a great-looking, dense turf, resistant to weeds and light to moderate foot traffic. However, a 6- inch cut will produce a beautiful deeper lawn with a few seed heads if watered. Mow once every 3 to 5 weeks when growing and not at all when drought or cold dormant. Mowing shorter —2 inches or less— will damage your lawn's health. Conversely, not mowing at all through the growing season will produce a longer turf (8 inches or so high) with a lower density. This may be acceptable depending on how you use your lawn. However, allowing the grass to seed-out once a year, perhaps when you go on vacation, guarantees a good seed bank - insurance against drought, heavy foot traffic and weeds. It also provides high habitat value."

Best of luck with your new lawn!




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