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Mr. Smarty Plants - Making sod from native grass seeds from Pflugerville TX

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Saturday - April 28, 2012

From: Pflugerville, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Seed and Plant Sources, Seeds and Seeding, Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Making sod from native grass seeds from Pflugerville TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I am trying to install a native lawn. A story on KVUE suggested 2 lb Buffalo, 1.5 lb Blue Grama, and 6 oz of Curly Mesquite. I have some seeds purchased from seedsource.com about 2 years ago. I can get the Buffalo grass to grow with little problem. The other two not so much. What is the magic incantation to get the other two to grow? Could the seeds be too old? I think my best bet is to try to make my own sod (I think I can get them to grow on my side yard which is in the shade in the afternoon and will not thus cook them). Any ideas where to find sod forms?

ANSWER:

Let's start at the beginning. You probably heard about Habiturf. Read the linked article through for instructions on planting it. It is recommended for seeding only on well-prepared soil. Another article on Native Lawns discuss the research that went into the development of this grass. Neither article mentions the precise portions of the three grass seeds that are combined, but your numbers sound like a fair approximation of the proportions.

From Native American Seed, you can see Native Sun Turfgrass, which is composed of 80% buffalograss and 20% blue grama seeds, no curly mesquite.

We heard that those who purchased native grass turf squares frequently found them pre-infested with nutgrass, not a desirable addition to the combination. We don't think making your own sod is really practical, and don't know a source for sod forms. Also, in your situation, you probably don't have enough sun in your side yard for the grasses to flourish; they need 5 to 6 hours of sun a day.

On the subject of viability of the 2-year old seeds, we could find very little hard information. This USDA Forest Service website on Hilaria belangeri (Curly mesquite grass) has only one short comment on the seeds:

"Curlymesquite has good soil binding qualities and grows on most soils, so it has potential as a rehabilitation species. Commercial seed is hard to get, so mulching with hay is the most economical seed source. Also, curlymesquite is not drought resistant, so revegetated sites need sufficient irrigation." The article also mentioned that the plant is shade intolerant and seedling vigor is "medium," whatever that means.

We had about the same luck trying to find out much about the seeds of Bouteloua gracilis (Blue grama). All we found on the USDA Forest Service on this plant about seeding was: "Blue grama is readily established from seed, but depends more on vegetative reproduction."

We did find an article on Maintaining Grass Seed Viability from Oregon State University. In summary, we do not have a magic incantation for getting those two grasses to grow; you might contact the original source for your seed to see what they recommend.

 

 

From the Image Gallery


Blue grama
Bouteloua gracilis

Curly mesquite grass
Hilaria belangeri

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