Anyone growing EarthTurf or Hobbs & Hopkins Rough & Ready?

artemis78April 19, 2010

We are getting ready to put in a drought-tolerant lawn from seed, and I wondered if anyone has any experience with either of these mixes. After a lot of research, we've pretty much narrowed it down to one or the other based on the composition---but can't find too many "real world" reports on them. Both mix microclover with fescues and ryegrass, but neither advertises the exact ratios so it's unclear what (if any) the differences are.

We're primarily interested in any experiences with foot traffic (we'll have a flagstone path but also have a dog who doesn't always use the path!) and drought tolerance (dry summer climate). We'll also be growing this in heavy clay soil with some shady areas; EarthTurf advertises that it can handle both of these, but not sure it's actually substantively different from the Rough & Ready given that the mixes seem pretty similar.

Any thoughts/experiences would be great---thanks!

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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

Where do you live? There is no zone 17 but even if there was, I would ask where you live? The zones don't say anything about soil type or summer climate. Location does. Is your yard in full sun or shady mix? Are you willing to water at all? How much area are you talking about?

I looked at the EarthTurf and it is as drought (in)tolerant as any northern grass mix. Not advertising a guaranteed analysis would send me off looking for another supplier immediately. Without the seed analysis you don't know what you're getting. If you don't want to start out growing a crop of weeds, look for 0.00% Weed and 0.00 Other Crop on the label. Good seed is worth the cost. All you need is one creeping bentgrass seed to germinate and you are headed for a bentgrass lawn. If you want something drought tolerant, look to native grasses. You'll see varieties like buffalo and blue grama. Some of them remain green all year. When mowed they look very nice. I do like the idea of mixing clover with it. You can get microclover without having to buy someone's mix. Let us know where you live and someone here can home in on a good drought tolerant mix for you.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2010 at 11:25AM
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artemis78

Thanks---we are in the San Francisco East Bay Area (Sunset Zone 17---small but does indeed exist!) So we get wet winters that hover just above freezing, and bone-dry summers that don't get especially hot (rarely breaks 80).

Our yard is partial shade, with some areas of full sun; traditional grass was growing quite happily throughout it, though. We are definitely willing (and expect) to water it often the first year; once it's established, we are looking for something that will need water once a week or less and will only need to be mowed a few times a season, if that. Summer dormant is fine, too. The area is relatively small---maybe 600 square feet total.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2010 at 11:34AM
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bpgreen(5UT)

Most people around here probably use the USDA hardiness zones, which don't go up as high as 17. I think Sunset zones actually include more information, but many people haven't heard of them.

KBG is actually very drought tolerant and is more tolerant of drought than tall fescue, although many drought mixes have a lot of fescue in them. The difference is that tall fescue will stay green longer with less water than KBG, but once it goes dormant, it dies soon after and it doesn't spread to fill in any dead spots when it breaks dormancy. KBG will go dormant sooner, but can stay dormant for a really long time without dying. When it does come out of dormancy, any spots that did die will fill in from the surrounding grass. Since you're okay with summer dormancy, this may be an option for you.

Rye is more tolerant of wet conditions than KBG, but I don't think it does as well at coming out of dormancy. It doesn't fill in bare spots, but it germinates very quickly so it's easy to get a full lawn by periodic overseeding.

Another option would be something with fine fescues. Fine fescues don't require much water (or fertilizer). They also do well in shade (and KBG does not). Fine fescues have more trouble with heat than dry conditions. Given your summers, that may not be a problem. They do better at recovering from dormancy than tall fescue does. One of the fine fescues (creeping red) will spread to fill in bare spots.

I think I'd be inclined to use either a KBG blend or a fine fescue mix. The fine fescue mix would probably stay green longer, but may need to be overseeded periodically (the mixes you list will probably need periodic overseeding, also). If you wanted clover in the mix, you could get some clover seed separately. Keep in mind that if you have clover, you can't use broadleaf weed killers. Well, you can, but you have to spot spray and be careful to avoid the clover.

I haven't used it, but a fine fescue mix I've read good things about is Bonny Dunes.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2010 at 11:59AM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

bp or others, with winter temps above freezing and summer temps in the 70s, will KBG ever go dormant? (this is one reason people want to live in California).

With a mix of sunny shade and shady sun, I'd do a mix with some fescues in it.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2010 at 3:26PM
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bpgreen(5UT)

"bp or others, with winter temps above freezing and summer temps in the 70s, will KBG ever go dormant? (this is one reason people want to live in California). "

Yes. It'll go dormant in summer if there isn't enough rainfall. It isn't the heat of summer that puts KBG into dormancy, it's the lack of water. Some fine fescues will go dormant in the heat of summer even if they get enough water, because it's the heat that hits them more than the water.

Around here, if you fertilize in late fall and water in the summer, it will stay green year round (although it'll be covered in snow for a few months).

    Bookmark   April 19, 2010 at 3:41PM
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