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Going Grassless

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In many ways the old tradition of having a rolling lawn around your house has outlived its time. For starters a lawn in our climate consumes about 48 inches of water to properly maintain each year. So imagine your whole lawn covered by four feet of water ...wouldn't that be a nice swimming pool ? Then there is the maintenance.. mowing, fertilizing, weed control and the downside of environmental pollution arising out of these activities. More and more people are thinking about alternatives to their front lawns and any lawn that is not used for kids, pets and adults to walk and play on.

But before you go ahead and let that lawn brown out, let me give you a bit of advice, based on many years of experience which includes some costly mistakes I have made in the past. First of all, it is better to keep the lawn green before you rip it out. The key to this seeming paradox is this: if your lawn isn't a very recently installed fescue, then it more than likely has a lot of weeds within it. You need to kill these weeds with Round Up or some other Glyphosate while they are actively growing, ie. while they are GREEN, not brown. If you let the lawn brown out, many of these weed like Bermuda and Kikuyu grass will simply go dormant and will escape your notice - until they come back like gangbusters in your new planting. There are also many annual weeds like Crab Grass, Oxalis, Dichondra, etc. that will show up later after you have killed off the lawn and stripped it off. This is because, unbeknownst to you, these weeds have been hiding out in your lawn for many, many years and have simply been waiting for an opportunity to thrive. So you come along, strip off the sod and start watering new plants and the weeds that have been lying in your soil below the turf come out and start to party.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 So here is my recommended procedure for replacing turf: while it is green, spray it with Round Up. Let it sit a couple of days without watering so you don't wash the Round Up off of the leaves. Then keep watering every couple of days while the lawn starts to brown out. Spray again with Round Up any spots in the lawn that remain green. If you have much Bermuda Grass in the lawn, keep up this regimen of watering and spraying for many weeks to ensure that you have killed it all DEAD. Ideally, you continue to water after removing the sod for several more weeks to bring up any weed seeds that have been hiding out below the grass and then spray them with glyphosate to get rid of them now and forever. In many cases you will STILL have some weed seeds hanging out and the way to deal with them is to install a heavy 3"  blanket of mulch on the soil after the plantings are installed. Believe me, based on my fourty years of experience, this extra care will save you countless headaches from weeds coming up in your newly planted beds.

Good gardening!

Communities served:
Pasadena, Altadena, South Pasadena, Sierra Madre,
San Marino, Arcadia, CA