July 22, 2016
Sorry, I was a little slow getting this posted, but the information is still good!
Hot summer weather is not always good to our lawns, especially when we are in the midst of a drought. Although many of the lawns here at Norcross are looking pretty brown right now, I know that they will perk up once we get some rain. Lawn grass can tolerate some dry weather and droughty conditions. It looks very brown now, but if we get adequate rain in the fall, the plants will recover. I water the lawn very sparingly for several reasons but for me, the gardens are where I put effort and time into watering.[lightbox link=”http://norcrosswildlife.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/lawn-e1472231286701.jpg” thumb=”http://norcrosswildlife.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/lawn-300×200.jpg” width=”300″ align=”left” title=”lawn” frame=”true” icon=”image” caption=””]
In the field at the greenhouse, we have another kind of grass. Our native, warm season little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium) is just starting its active growth. In early May the little bluestem is grayish-brown and not growing while the lawn grass is lush, green and in need of mowing every week. Now, however, the little bluestem is lush and green. It is actually beginning its active growth period towards the time that it flowers in late August. Little Bluestem does not need mowing during the spring season. This rough clump forming grass greens up in late May and stays low (doesn’t need mowing) until summer. It is in its element in the hot days of summer. Its stiff and coarse leaves love the heat and the sun. Right now it is about 12” tall, the plant is now putting on height as it prepares to bloom. It gets a reddish color to the leaf blades as we move through August and the flower stalks are sent up. There are some bluish forms in the population – I come across them randomly in the field. Sometimes I select these plants and transplant them to a garden location.[lightbox link=”http://norcrosswildlife.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/schizachyrium_scoparium.little_bluestem-e1472231407795.jpg” thumb=”http://norcrosswildlife.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/schizachyrium_scoparium.little_bluestem-200×300.jpg” width=”200″ align=”left” title=”schizachyrium_scoparium.little_bluestem” frame=”true” icon=”image” caption=””]
Grass has its place in our landscape. We use it for a variety of reasons. In some areas the warm season grasses are perfect, staying low in spring and growing taller during the late summer. They can be mowed once every year or two and still look great during the growing season. We do need to have our lawn areas too, places to play and entertain. Next time you mow your lawn, think about places where the little bluestem might be a good replacement for the lawn.