Get your grass while supplies last!
• VERY drought tolerant
• VERY resistant to dog urine
• LOVES full, hot sun
• GROWS happily on dry slopes
• DOESN’T wear thin in the winter like buffalo grass
• RECOVERS from excessive foot traffic quickly
• HONEYBEES love the pollen
• Not tolerant of shade
• Not green until early June (in the Colorado Front Range)
• Not green after October 1st (in the Colorado Front Range)
• Not useful in USDA zones colder than zone 5
Long-time Colorado-based horticulturist Kelly Grummons, co-owner of Prairie Storm LLC, is working with David Salman of High Country Gardens to promote a new, super low-water turf grass. It’s called Dog Tuff™ African Dogtooth Grass. Because it is a seedless, sterile hybrid grass, we propagate it from stem cuttings and sell it in 70 count plug trays. It requires a fraction of the water of traditional turf grasses and is much more durable than native buffalo grass. It's a very fine strain related to Bermuda grass and is a gorgeous bright green color. One of the main desirable characteristics is that it is highly resistant to dog urine and foot traffic. Kelly’s been testing it for 10 years with his many dogs. It's a warm season grass that is green from June through October in its recommended zones, 5-9. Two years ago, Kelly only watered it 3 times all summer! Last year he had to water it 8 times due to the extreme drought. It only grows to about 3.5 inches high but if you choose to mow it, do it weekly in July and August. A bonus that we’ve found is that honeybees love the pollen of this grass. It’s one of their favorite foods! For best results, kill the existing high-water turf then plug the new grass into the dead grass on one-foot intervals. The dead turf acts as a mulch to conserve moisture and reduce weed seed germination. I often apply a pre-emergent herbicide (such as Preen, Freehand, or Surflan just after planting time to further reduce weed growth. In the first year as the lawn establishes itself, you will need to weed. By year 3, the turf is so thick that virtually no weeds can exist. We're very excited about this new product and are looking for public places to display it. It requires full sun (at least 6 hours of direct per day) and will grow in any type of soil. Do not plant it where it receives significant shade.
For the best aesthetics we recommend killing your existing turf grass. Whether you have Kentucky Blue Grass, Tall Fescue, Bermuda grass, Saint Augustine, Perennial Rye or some other thirsty grass, you will receive best results if you first kill the existing turf grass. Although we always prefer natural lawn and garden products, the most efficient means would be to use a chemical like Glyphosate (Various brand names exist. Check with your local garden center or hardware store). These chemicals only work on grass that is actively growing (not dormant). Which means you must water the existing lawn to ensure there is no dormant grass, otherwise if you don't, it will be lying in wait until conditions are ideal, such as after planting when you are soaking the ground regularly.
You are more than welcome to plant in your existing turf, which is definitely the easiest route but also the least aesthetically appealing.
If not opposed to glyphosate, make sure your existing turf is not dormant and actively growing by giving some good waterings prior to spraying. (IF it is heat dormant you will need to spend a good week or two watering to ensure there is ample leaf surface to absorb the glyphosate.) It is many times easier to kill your existing turf prior to planting than after. If you are confident that there is no dormant roots then one application will do, but to be 100% confident give yourself enough time prior to planting Dog Tuff ™ grass (with waterings) to be sure no grass is going to reemerge after planting. If you see some grasses reemerging, then spot spray.
For those of us who are not comfortable with glyphosate; if you think of it as a 1 time application of chemicals to bring your yard to a water-wise standing it is a little easier of a pill to swallow.
Applying a pre-emergent after the glyphosate application will make the process much easier. This will aid in the periord prior to planting but through the process of planting and the neccesary disruption to the soil it will be rendered inactive; therefore we reccomend an application after planting. But this can be avoided if you have many hands to aid in manual weed removal. (This is no small task..)
Kill the old lawn at least 2 weeks before the Dog Tuff ™ grass plugs arrive. If you don’t kill the old grass, it will compete with the Dog Tuff ™ and look unattractive. The ground should be deeply irrigated for a few days before installing the Dog Tuff ™. Alternatively, if you will be planting Dog Tuff ™ in bare, freshly cultivated soil there are some different steps. In this case, plant the plugs in damp soil, apply an organic lawn food (has lower nitrogen), apply a pre-emergent weed preventer chemical, then irrigate frequently to maximize growth.
You can plant Dog Tuff ™ grass plugs in the months of May, June and July in USDA Zone 5. August and September will work but may result in somewhat less density; April, May and June in USDA Zones 6/7. Planted on 12-inch centers, a tray of 70 will cover 70 square feet. At this spacing, the Dog Tuff ™ grass will fill in completely by August or September. When your plugs arrive, unpack them, water them and put them in a frost-free, shaded area outdoors for a few days to acclimate to your area. This is called “hardening them off”. Do not plant Dog Tuff ™ grass before the last frost as it may be damaged or delayed in growth.
Make sure that the ground is well saturated with water several days ahead of time so that the plugs don’t dry out during installation. Apply a light application of organic fertilizer such as an alfalfa meal, dried poultry waste, corn gluten, or sea kelp type fertilizer. Corn gluten granules act as good fertilizer and may also help to prevent weed seed germination. The most reliable and recommended organic option is to till the area and remove the unwanted grass w/ roots. This method will require repeated attempts to completely remove the high water grass. Punch holes in the ground using a metal rod (like a long pry bar or broom handle). If you are doing more than several trays, we suggest purchasing a 1 ½” auger-style drill bit. The longer the bit, the more they cost, but the less bending you need to do. Gently remove the plug from the plug tray by pushing it up from the bottom! Pulling it from the top may break off the roots. Insert the plug into the hole, gently squeezing the soil closed from the sides. Do this during the cooler morning or evening hours. Have a water hose with a mist nozzle handy and water in the plugs thoroughly within a half hour of planting. You may need to plant a section and water it before moving on to the next section. You may want to mark a nylon string every 12 inches with a marking pen to use as a guide in the installation, or simply create a 12” square cardboard jig to guide you. It doesn’t matter if the plugs are perfectly spaced, but it looks nice. After all the plugs are installed, water again thoroughly. Water the area lightly 2-3 times a day for a week (unless it’s raining). The second week, reduce the light watering to once a day. By the third week reduce watering to every other day and so on. By the next spring, water once or twice a week (depending on the weather). Dog Tuff ™ won’t be fully drought tolerant until summer of the second season. Once it has filled in and is very thick, it can be watered minimally.
Water Dog Tuff ™ grass by irrigating less than once a week (depending on the weather). Apply ½ inch to 1 inch of water per irrigation. It’s better to irrigate deeply, but less often to encourage grass roots to grow deeply and evade drought. Grass watered shallowly and frequently, will have shallow roots that are more prone to drought damage. FERTILIZE Dog Tuff ™ grass by using corn gluten (liquid or granular) or with a low analysis organic nitrogen source like fertilizers made with alfalfa meal, sea kelp meal, or poultry waste. Corn Gluten is applied in late October, late February and early May. Alfalfa Meal or Poultry Waste is applied in early May and again in mid-September. Don’t apply both Corn Gluten with the other recommended fertilizers as this may cause excessive growth. Corn Gluten and/or Alfalfa Meal/Sea Kelp Meal/Poultry Waste should be irrigated immediately after application. Apply at least ½ inch of water (or apply before a rain storm). MOW Dog Tuff ™ grass as needed, but it does not require mowing. In the Denver area, where the grass was developed, we only mow it every 5-7 days from that last week in June through July and August, and possibly in September. Left un-mowed, Dogtooth grass looks like gentle mounds of forest moss. If you choose to mow it, remove no more that ½ inch at a time as it will scalp the grass; making it susceptible to sunburn. Scalped/sun burned grass will eventually recover. Edge using a weed whacker or edging tool.