As many of you know, we spent much of last summer's heat and drought on our hands and knees planting buffalo grass plugs that I'd ordered with a complete lack of 20/20 foresight. We've been thrilled this spring to see that most of those plugs survived both the bad timing of their planting and the winter. I'm sure that this spring's more normal rainfall has helped immensely.
Unfortunately, this spring's more normal rainfall has also given the weed population a good start...and I've found myself feeling the necessity of hand weeding much of our buffalo grass area.
It's not that the buffalo grass won't make it just fine, as long as we don't water or fertilize. Sooner or later, with no supplemental care other than mowing when the weeds get too high, the buffalo grass should triumph. It's just that I want it to fill in as well and as soon as possible, because the areas we plugged are right by the house.
So I've been sitting on my rear end, hand pulling henbit and assorted other weeds for several hours a day over the last week or so. (This is, by the way, too much weeding even for me, despite my like of the process!) I thought I'd share a little of what I've been seeing as I weed, though, and in the process maybe encourage a few other hardy souls to resist the blandishments of the weed killers so sweetly advertised on television.
As I weed, I work on one small area at a time - about 30 inches by 30 inches. Here is a shot of one such area as I'm about to begin weeding. Note that there is a little area already done on the lower right-hand side of the photo.
One thing that has really surprised me as I've worked is all of the ladybug beetle larvae I've been seeing. If you look closely, here is one (almost in the center of the photo) trying to escape to calmer ground....
In the long run, I'm not too worried about their presence, because my experience leads me to believe that their predator will come - whether that's a bird, scrounging for food to feed its young, a predatory wasp, or even a mole. Sometimes you have to let a population of prey build up enough to attract in its predator(s).
When I got done weeding this little patch (and I didn't think to time myself, so I don't know how long it took), here is what it looked like. The buffalo plugs are the fine-leafed, lighter green grass; the big, thick, dark clumps are leftover fescue. I really ought to be weeding those out too, but Greg wants to leave them in and see how they do compared to the buffalo.
After this experience, though, I would highly recommend against any attempt to jointly grow buffalo grass and fescue - they are just too different in appearance to gracefully co-habitate. Truthfully, the combination of the two looks ratty at best.
The last shot to share is this picture of a solitary bee hole, an earthworm and the weeding tool I like best. I've wondered what these perfectly round, little holes in the ground were from and, after all the research I did last year on solitary bees, now I know! It's great to think that I have such a thriving population of native pollinators living so unobtrusively in my (soon-to-be) lawn!
So, after this spring's weeding and last summer's plugging and watering, what conclusions have I come to about putting in a buffalo grass lawn? It's a little early yet but, as of right now, my biggest regret is not hiring some young, healthy landscaper type last summer to plug it all in for us at one time. Not only would that have saved us a lot of time, sweat and knee pain, it would have gotten the plugs in the ground while they were still in their prime. By the time the plugs in the area I'm currently weeding were put in, they were at least half dead from being in a flat for almost 2 months - no matter how much I watered, I couldn't seem to keep enough water on them to keep them healthy. It's truly amazing to me that the buffalo grass in the front lawn survived at all!