Fake New Lawn

P90512A new lawn is getting installed at work. Yes, installed. It will not be grown like lawns were decades ago. It will be unrolled and fastened into place, not like sod, but more like carpet. It will be synthetic artificial turf. After considerable deliberation, it was determined to be the most practical option for the particular application. The real turf that was there before succumbed to excessive traffic above and very sandy soil below.
The contractor who will be installing this lawn sent a sample piece of it prior to the final installation. We actually do not know why we got a sample, since we already know what the particular artificial turf is like. There was some concern that it would get too warm in sunlight, but it arrived with no explanation. It was unrolled onto the asphalt driveway at our maintenance shops, and surrounded with cones to protect it from getting driven on.
Rhody wasted no time in trying it out. Obviously, he found it to be quite satisfactory. He rolls around on it and tried to dig into it like it is real grass. With all the fallen locust flowers and cottonwood fuzz, it even looks like a real lawn in need of raking. I certainly hope that it does not expect to be watered and mowed as well.
You might think that all horticulturists would automatically dislike artificial turf. Yet, I am not the only one who prefers it to real turf grass in some situations. You see, real turf takes so much effort that those of us who enjoy horticulture would rather put into other more interesting and productive chores. After all, lawn is the most demanding feature of most landscapes, but is also the most monotonous and boring. Many of the best get no use.P90512+

By the way, this article was intended for yesterday. The article that should have posted today got posted yesterday instead. I am sorry for the glitch of chronology.

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Gophers Go For Roots And Lawns

80509thumbWho do they think they are?! This ain’t ‘Caddy Shack’! They have such attitude! Gophers move into our gardens and lawns, take what they want, and build their messy volcanoes of loose soil. They do not care how much work we put into our gardens, or how much we spend on nice plants, or how much we crave our first zucchini of the year. They are safe in their subterranean tunnels.

Or so they think. There is more than one way to . . . well, you know. There are also several methods that either do not work, or are not practical. For example, gasoline poured into a tunnel may volatilize, and then explode if ignited, killing gophers below, but can very easily start a fire anywhere the fumes happen to seep from the tunnel, and there is no way of knowing where that might be!

Poisons are dangerous either because gophers do not eat them, leaving them to be dug up by someone else later, or because gophers do eat them, and then stagger from their tunnels in search of water, and then get eaten by someone else who gets poisoned as well. Putting razor blades in the tunnels is just plain wrong. Even if it actually kills gophers, who wants to dig up razors later?

Traps are still the most efficient way to eliminate gophers. This is of course more easily said than done. It must be done properly and VERY carefully. Gopher traps are dangerous! It is safest to learn how to set traps from someone who is experienced with them. Safer modern types that fit into holes that gophers are expelling soil from only work if gophers happen to be active at the time.

Conventional gopher traps are set and placed in a pair, with one trap in each direction of an excavated and cleared main run. A main run is found by following a surface tunnel below the freshest volcano of expelled soil, to where it splits into two direction. The paired traps should be attached by wire to a stake that stays visible at the surface. A bit of crushed vegetation can be placed behind the traps before the run gets buried firmly. If set properly, a gopher springs a trap as it returns to clear the run.

Halston

P80421KHalston, with the help of several friends could make a nice pill box hat. That is the origin of the name; from pill box hate fame. This might help clarify, https://tonytomeo.wordpress.com/2018/01/27/caution/ . Yes, Halston was a gopher.

Halston was causing some significant damage that was more of a concern than fashion. Halston started by making several large volcanoes under an already distressed ‘Yoshino’ flowering cherry tree right on the edge of the main road. I really did not want any more of the roots to be ruined. I dug into the main tunnels and set traps; but Halston was very elusive, and pushed traps out of the tunnels, and left them unsprung at the surface of the soil.

Halston was very busy last weekend, creating a chain of volcanoes like the volcanic islands of Hawaii. They were right along the edge of a paved walkway, so were both unsightly and messy. Halston had to go.P80421K+

Halston would not go easily though. Excavation into the tunnels was getting to be as damaging as the tunneling had been. I dug to follow the tunnel from the volcanoes for several feet without reaching the main lateral tunnel. I did not want to dig any farther. I had already cut a few small roots, and did not want to cut any more.

Halston compelled me to do something that I had never done before with gopher traps. I was always taught to dig down from the tunnel that comes to the surface, to find the main lateral tunnel, or ‘run’, that continues to the left and right of the tunnel to the surface. Traps should be set in pairs, with one to the left, and one to the right, within the main run. If a gopher perceives a problem in a tunnel to the surface, that tunnel gets abandoned, and the gopher simply excavates a new surface tunnel. However, a gopher is not so likely to bypass a main run. Since I could not find the main run without damaging more roots, I set the first trap in the tunnel that I had dug up for several feet from where it came to the surface, and the second trap in another open tunnel with only a small volcano that was located several feet away.

I really did not expect to catch anything, but to my surprise, all excavation stopped, and Halston was in the first trap when I pulled it up the following morning. Also to my surprise, Halston was quite diminutive! Because of the extend of all the damage, I was expecting a larger gopher. Several more that I would have estimated would be needed for a pill box hat.P80421K++

The Lawn Is Always Greener

70419thumbTurf grasses are the ultimate in groundcover. They are very durable, and useful for covering large areas in a very user friendly manner. The toughest varieties are used for athletic fields because they withstand the wear and tear. In home gardens, all sorts of varieties are grown as lawns. Like other groundcovers, lawns limit erosion, and are cleaner than bare summer dust and winter mud.

Yes, turf grasses and lawns are the most useful of plant materials; but they are also the most demanding. They require more water than almost anything else, except only aquatic plants and some bedding plants. A healthy lawn must be mown and edged regularly, and as often as weekly in warm weather. Weeds are difficult to control once established. Gophers can cause serious damage.

Regardless, for all sorts of landscapes ranging from athletic fields to home gardens, a lawn is worth the work it takes to grow it. Only Trona High School has a dirt athletic field; and only because the soil is too saline and the weather is too scorching for turf grass. At least home garden lawns are more modest than they were years ago, with larger patios and decks, and other groundcover.

Artificial turf still has a bad reputation. The first AstroTurf of the late 1960s was nothing like real turf grass. It had a coarse texture, and eventually faded and deteriorated. Its main problem was that it was so regularly compared to real turf grass instead of recognized for its own attributes as an alternative to lawn, like carpeting for outdoor spaces. Yet, it was popular for certain applications.

Modern artificial turf looks and feels a bit more convincing, and is more resistant to wear and weathering. It might be more convincing if it were not so perfectly uniform. It is already more popular than old fashioned AstroTurf was, even for playgrounds and athletic fields. Artificial turf is expensive to purchase and install, but not as expensive as the maintenance and watering of real grass.

Compared to the installation of real turf grass that needs irrigation and soil amendment, the installation of artificial turf necessitates less excavation. It is therefore less invasive to the shallow roots of established trees and shrubs that are already in the landscape. However, plants that are accustomed to generous lawn irrigation might need to be watered through newly installed artificial turf.

Six on Saturday: Weeds of Felton Covered Bridge Park

 

Although it is not my own garden, I have obtained some of my plants here, and have planted a few here too. I write about or mention Felton Covered Bridge Park too often to bother posting links to other posts about it. #1 and #2 are not exactly weeds, but were not planted here either. They were likely taken by the San Lorenzo River from gardens upstream, and deposited here.

1. Snowdrop! It seems that everyone else has been posting pictures of theirs, and I had nothing to brag about. I did not know they were here. However, these are Leucojum aestivum rather than a species of Galanthus.

P80210
2. Daffodil foliage emerges annually, but gets cut down by the ‘gardeners’ with their weed whackers. This is only the second time they have bloomed.P80210+
3. Periwinkle is a prolific weed throughout the Santa Cruz Mountains.P80210++
4. English daisy is a prolific weed in lawns in mild climates. Most if not all of the lawns in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco are infested with it; but it is too pretty to dislike.P80210+++
5. Dandelion is another prolific lawn weed that is easier to dislike.P80210++++
6. Dandelion seed is very abundant and very easily blown about.P80210+++++
This is the link for Six on Saturday, for anyone else who would like to participate:

https://thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com/2017/09/18/six-on-saturday-a-participant-guide/

CAUTION!

P80127Halston was quite the rage when I was a little tyke.

I did not know exactly what that meant.

I can remember elegant ladies wearing Halston pill box hats. From the back seat of the new 1967 Chevelle, I could admire my Mother’s, while my younger brother on the other side of the car got tangled in our flower child Aunt’s abundant and long hair blowing in the wind.

Although I had never seen a Halston before, I could determine from hats made from them that they were soft, fuzzy and cylindrical. I knew that apricots, walnuts and oranges grew on trees, so I would sometimes look into unfamiliar trees, including the silk oaks next door, to see if I could see Halstons ripening in them.

My older sister eventually explained that Halston was they guy who made the hats. He was very busy. His hats were very popular. Apparently, he made the hats from coats formerly worn by small rodents known as minks. The minks were not really plumply cylindrical. In fact, they were so small that the coats of several of them were sewn together to make each hat. The thought of so many small rodents scurrying about naked until they got new coats was quite disturbing. It made me ponder the origin of the cuddly stole that Redd Foxx gave to Aunt Mary.

I certainly did not believe everything that my sister told me. Heck, she once tried to tell me that the dead bugs in Aunt Mary’s amber jewelry were trapped in tree sap millions of years ago. I know cheap Lego plastic when I see it. However, I do believe that fur obtained from animals lost popularity through the 1970s. The minks must have protested or something. My sister got a stylish coat with a furry collar made of imitation fur. Splendid; so now little kids will be cuddling naked teddy bears!

I have a better idea.

The pelts of all those nasty gophers that ruin lawns and gardens could be recycled into pill box hats . . . or maybe something more appropriate to modern fashion. Perhaps they could be sewn into reusable grocery bags. What an exquisitely stylish expression of environmental awareness that would be! Because gophers get killed when trapped, they could not protest the use of their pelts later.

Using gopher pelts in this manner would:

Protect our lawns, gardens, landscapes and green spaces from environmental annihilation

Recycle by-products of environmental protection

Provide stylish accessories that express our concern for environmental stewardship

Promote the use of materials that are completely organic, natural, non-toxic, biodegradable, sustainable and very renewable

Help save the Planet!

We only need to learn to be more efficient with trapping. What is the point of setting traps if gophers are warned to ‘KEEP AWAY’?