Asked February 14, 2013, 4:41 PM EST

I know that grass is not "green," environmentally speaking--but some amount of it is required for large commercial developments. My company has attempted to quit using pesticides and herbicides on our properties, but the grass appears to be dying and our groundskeepers cannot keep up with the weeds. What suggestions do you have? What types of grass grow well in Douglas County, and how can I nourish it without chemical fertilizers? What are some natural ways to combat weeds that don't involve tons of man-hours? I'd appreciate whatever tips you can give! Thank you.

Douglas County Oregon lawns and turf

1 Response

Turf grass can be grown in a sustainable fashion in our Douglas County climate. To begin with it is important to know what varieties of turf grass are drought and pest hardy. The variety that is the toughest for use in our area would be tall fescue. Cochise is a good hardy named variety of tall fescue. This grass is deep rooted, and if you dont water it with frequent light irrigations but instead infrequent (once or twice a week put on .75 inch of water) it will be very resistant to the crane fly larvae that often eat off the roots of perennial rye and other grasses. When the grass develops deep roots the larval feeding does not kill the turf. If you allow the turf to dry out a little in August and September (cut the watering by half) it makes the lawn less appealing to the adult crane flies looking for places to lay eggs.
If you lime the turf and get the pH right for grass (6.0-6.5) you rarely need to fertilize. If you decide you need to supplement the turf, use one application of commercial fertilizer in April. That will give the tall fescue all the push it needs. If you want to spread some compost over a weak turf area you will see a big improvement.
Another beauty of tall fescue is that it will crowd out most significant weeds. And sustainable turf nowdays has blends that include clover, yarrow, english daisy, and a turf grass. There are a few weed killers that you will find in the marketplace that are organic, but most have oils in them that will not be selective within a lawn. They will kill out everything. So just get the turf healthy and it will be the dominant species, then dont worry about a few other weeds that enter in. If customers want weed free and sustainable with no herbicide, advise them that over time all turf will get native weeds, and other grasses trying to move in. If they want weed free they will need to herbicides.