Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Watching Grass Grow: The Return of the Buffalo

We had heat-tolerant buffalo grass in Phoenix and loved the low maintenance and toughness of it.  The landscape plan in New Mexico includes a xeriscape "meadow" of grasses and wildflowers.  Instead of the plugs, I'm using seeds of a buffalo grass variety better adapted for high desert, mixed with blue grama grass and a small number of other native grasses for accents.
Buffalo cow and calf enjoying a stroll in Yellowstone National Park

The front yard was mostly neglected bare dirt. After the visible weeds were killed off, the seeds were scattered over the bare dirt and covered with jute erosion control mesh as a mulch to keep the seed from blowing all the way to El Paso. When the weather warms up, I'll be watering every few days until the grass is established. I'll also be pulling weeds.

Seed Sources

Western Native Seed of Coaldale Colorado
Xeriscape Lawn Mix, 70% buffalo grass/30% blue grama grass
Because the grama grass seeds are smaller than the buffalo grass, it's probably equal quantities of each seed.
Xeriscape Wildflower Mix  A whole bunch of stuff in this.

Prairie Moon Nursery was the source for some of the accent grasses and wildflowers. I'll be writing about them later.  I put about half of the grasses from prairie Moon into the main lawn mix and the rest will be planted as drifts or specimens

Also, I had grass and flower seed collected from along the roads here that I blended into the grass or flower seeds before scattering them. It will be interesting to see what grows. Read more!

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

4 Weekends = Improved Curb Appeal

No matter how great the interior of your house may be, first you have to convince buyers that it's worth it to get out of the car and into the house. That's what "curb appeal" is.  I'm assuming you have a short time to get ready to sell your house, so this advice concentrates on removing negative curb appeal quickly and cheaply, not adding positives.
This would take more than four weekends.

The typical suburban house will take about 4 weekends dedicated to yard work to remove the negatives from the curb appeal before the listing date. That gives the shrubs time to recover from pruning, and the lawn time to green up. If your landscape is exceptionally large or neglected, some steps might take more than one weekend. Evaluate what you can do for yourself and hire professionals for the rest.

Remember:
  • Dead plants don't sell houses.
  • If potential buyers can't see the house behind trees and bushes, they won't want to buy it.
  • Clean and tidy is appealing.
  • Well-maintained is appealing.
  • Closely mowed green weeds have more curb appeal than overgrown or dead lawns.

Read more!

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Late winter planting to avoid the spring rush?

The experiment - I'm exploring the possibility of starting leafy greens in late fall and "storing" them in the garden under a frost cloth during the winter so they are out of my way when I need the seed starting space for chiles (we have our priorities in this state).
If it works, I can have a three-planting rotation for leafy greens: Late fall for harvest in early spring, late spring for harvest in spring/summer, late summer for harvesting into the winter.

I planted out seedling butterhead lettuce in soil blocks December 3. Earlier plantings of chard, kale, bok choy and leaf lettuce - set out in beginning in early November - are looking happy and putting out leaves.  I've been harvesting since mid-January.  They are under a frost cloth tent, but it's not heated.
Bok Choi, planted as seedlings in December
Read more!