Mixed lawn? May be asking the impossible...

bookwyrme(9)January 28, 2012

I'm going to be moving shortly to a house in zone 9 that has a biggish front and back LAWN. Having gotten rid of my lawn here several years ago, I'm not really sure what to do with the green stuff. Removing it right away isn't an option--too much to do overall & I think some family members are in favor of a stretch of green somewhere.

Anyway, I read a while ago that older, pre-weed-killer lawns used to have more of a mix of seeds & I was wondering if it would be possible to find out more about what they were and, maybe, to add some to the existing lawn, sort of mixed in, to keep it more interesting (seriously; not in favor of grass, but I'm going to be the one tending it, so I'd better find some scrap of fondness for it). Anyway, I was wondering: Anything small, pretty, sturdy, and willing to duke it out with grass? Seeds I can scatter?

I hope to be using a push-mower & not chopping super-short, and it won't be high-traffic.

Also, while the back yard has a bumper crop of dandelions, the front has been treated with Roundup at some point in the not-too-distant past (months? I am not sure), and I don't know how long that lasts or what it will do to anything else I might *attempt* to mix in.

Also, I confess, I have no idea what sort of grass it is. I can link to a picture if anyone thinks it will help. It just looks like "standard city grass" to me.

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The glyphosate products are kill everything it touches material that is known to be much more persistant in the environment then the manufacturers will admit, at least according to the EPA ground water researchers who have found it in ground water. However, the glyphosates do not have long term killing affects once dry.
Now, Ma Nature would never plant a monoculture lawn as we have been doing for the last 70 years because it invites many problems. However, which types of grass to grow depends on where you are, what your soil is like, how much rain you can expect normally, etc. The USDA Plant Hardiness Zone tells us nothing except which plants will most likely survive the winter in your area.
Your state universities Cooperative Extension Service probably has a lot of the information you seek.

    Bookmark   January 28, 2012 at 7:37AM
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Sorry--my what?

Not much rain most of the time, I know that (Southern California & all). The charts I looked at said 12.94, but it does vary quite a lot year to year.

    Bookmark   January 28, 2012 at 8:17AM
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Your University of California maintains Cooperative Extension Service offices in every county of the state and can be a valuable resource for many questions gardening, farminmg, or home economics related. The link below may be of more help then the telephone books if you even have one.

Here is a link that might be useful: UC CES

    Bookmark   January 29, 2012 at 7:11AM
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Has anyone here tried mixing new seed into an old lawn? Any success?

    Bookmark   January 30, 2012 at 3:54PM
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try mixing new seeds with old and applying this new organic fertilizer called soifertil.they are located in south florida and are having great results with lawns...check their web site www.soilfertil.com

    Bookmark   January 30, 2012 at 11:28PM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

Could you be very specific about where your house is? SoCal has every zone and many of them climb all over the foothills as well as the valleys. SoCal soil is all over the map, too. Zone 9 isn't enough. Name the town.

Dutch white clover was one of the seeds that made the old time lawns much different than today's lawns. Now clover is a weed, but back then it was a staple of every lawn. When you sow clover seed evenly it looks very plush. When you let parts of it die or sow it unevenly, it looks clumpy and unkempt. Clover flowers also attract bees, so keep the kids and pets off of it. The other issue with clover is that it stains clothing, so don't put home base in the middle of a clover patch. The other benefit of clover is once you have it established, you never need to fertilize again. Clover seed is almost always inoculated with a bacterium which "fixes" nitrogen from the air and turns it into fertilizer for the grass.

How much are you willing to water, mow, and fertilize? Are you interested in an inexpensive organic approach to lawn care?

    Bookmark   February 6, 2012 at 10:08PM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

Oops! I just realized I was still in the organic lawn forum. So I guess you want to go organic. Nevermind about that last question.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2012 at 10:09PM
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Mixing different seed species is a very good idea, this has nothing to do with mixing old seeds with new. Just which grass seeds to consider depends on your climate and soil, things we cannot tell too much about just from "Zone 9" and southern California because there are too many differences in that area.
Having different grass species in your lawn means a healthier lawn because if one species does have a problem there are others that probably will not.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2012 at 7:56AM
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It's in Long Beach.

Also, I realize now they definitely didn't use Roundup on the lawn as that would have killed it (Told you I'm new to this lawn thing!). There is a lawn there. The front is suspiciously clear of weeds, the back has dandelions. It will probably be 3-5 years of lawn care for me before it's gone, maybe more in back since some members of the family like it.

So--looking for interesting stuff to mix in that won't make neighbors or family members unhappy.

Also, it *looks* large to me, but I think it's really more suburban-average, so butterfly meadows are out (alas!).

    Bookmark   February 7, 2012 at 1:19PM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

Climate is coastal with a 65 degree sea breeze every single day of the year. He gets early morning low clouds which burn off about 11am. Sea breeze starts promptly at 2pm.

You are actually in an area where fescue grasses and even Kentucky bluegrass can thrive. Your zone is 9 because the winter temp only rarely freezes. Most zone 9s are hot in the summer but you are not. KBG can't grow in most zone 9s but it looks excellent in your area. Some years it will be cold enough for KBG to become dormant in the winter, but that would be rare. Here are two pictures of a KBG lawn in Huntington Beach near Sunset Beach.

Note from the aerial that it is the best looking color in the area. The aerial is a much more recent picture. The owner is not a lawn nut. When I took the picture he was not fertilizing at all. I suggested organics and I believe that is what he is using. He's got a great lawn with very little effort.

KGB is best planted in the fall...which is just about any time of year for you. The problem with spring seeding is that crabgrass seed is also waiting for enough water to sprout. When you apply enough water for KBG to sprout, the crabgrass will take off. However, if your KBG seed takes hold, and it will, the crabgrass will die off in the fall giving the KBG time to spread into a dense turf. Dense turf will keep the weeds out without doing anything else.

The secret to keeping weeds out of KBG is to keep it mowed at least 2.5 inches high and I would go to 3 or 4. Fertilize on Memorial Day, Labor Day, and Thanksgiving.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2012 at 11:54PM
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Thank you.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2012 at 4:19PM
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