"The grass is always greener on Jackson Madnick’s lawn in Wayland,
Mass.: green in a drought and green when it emerges from under the
snow. Yet, he barely waters and mows it, and he never uses chemical
pesticides or fertilizers."
Hmmm. It's a mixture of taller-growing varieties, so you have to mow
it to a minimum height of 3 inches. Doesn't surprise me, since tall
fescue is in the mix. For those who aren't familiar with what tall
fescue looks like, an awful lot of people confuse it with quackgrass:
fast-growing, long stem, coarser blade than bluegrasses. That longer
stem is one major reason why you have to mow it higher. Folks who like
a shorter, tidier-looking lawn won't care for that.
Recommended seeding rate is nearly 3 times that for most grass seed
mixtures (8 lbs/1000 sq. ft. versus 3 lbs./1000 sq. ft.).
Understandable, since it is mostly a variety of fescues, and fescues
don't multiply and spread the way bluegrasses do. Fescues tend to
clump, so you have to seed more thickly for good coverage.
Overseeding an existing lawn with this is asking for trouble, not to
mention a hell of a lot of work. It claims it will (eventually)
outcompete existing grasses and weeds, but to be on the safe side they
want you to undertake a significant amount of prep work. Even so,
grassy weeds/undesirable grasses are notoriously persistent.
Whether you overseed an existing lawn or start a new lawn, it calls
for another round of lawn prep and overseeding the following season. I
wouldn't be surprised if these lawns need periodic overseeding, as
fescues simply don't spread the way bluegrasses do (which is why you
tend to see patches or tufts in grass in shady spots, where
bluegrasses don't thrive).
Conclusion: this is a possibility for the highly-motivated and/or the
owners of small lawns.
Me, I'll stick with my traditional American mongrel lawn: blues,
fescues, clover, and bentgrass. As long as it's green, I'm satisfied.
I'd go one further. This sounds like one of those news
stories that gets blown out of proportion and has little
substantiation. Like the claim that he barely mows it.
As you point out, it has tall fescue in it. There are all
kinds of tall fescue, but I have yet to see one where it
doesn't need to be mowed about once a week. The
tall fescues tend to be among the faster growing,
tougher grasses, which is why they are used for
applications like parks and athletic fields.
Also, I'm wondering how John Q Public gets thousands
of grasses to experiment with. Most of the seed out
there that you can buy in a 7lb bag is a blend. And when
you can buy a specific seed variety, it's frequently hard
to find a supplier and then comes in commercial quantities,
ie at least a 50lb bag, wholesale only, etc. It's kind of
hard to imagine that JQP could stumble on some great
new blend of seed when you have researchers the world
over working on exactly that for decades. Not impossible,
but you have to wonder.
When his new miracle grass has been put through
a real evaluation, ie NTEP, where they grow it under
test conditions at multiple sites, then evaluate it under
the same criteria as all the other turf grasses, then
I'll be a believer.
The article contains these 2 lines, the first spoken by a professional
and the second by a consumer:
1 - "And if you don’t mow it, it flips over and becomes a meadow."
2 - "I mow it once a month, and my daughter never mows it because
they’re too busy.”
So what does the daughter's lawn look like, assuming it has "filpped
over and become a meadow?"
Yes, I can use Google images to see various meadows, but what does
"flips over and becomes a meadow" mean in this case, and would someone
want one as a "lawn"?
On 9/10/2012 12:57 PM, firstname.lastname@example.org wrote:
One presumes this guy was/is a fanatic wrt to this quest. Given that,
it's not at all unlikely he reads the sod/turf professional mag's, etc.,
and it's certainly not difficult to find the listings of the various
seed producers and their various varieties and there's a "veritable
plethora" of stuff available from the various universities w/ turf grass
programs and the annual evaluation summaries published, an so forth for
hints of what are potential cultivars to try...
I'd guess he did precisely that--order directly from the seed
producers--there's nothing in these that is at all exotic--the newest
cultivar I noticed was one release for commercial use in the early
2000's--the FC-11 fescue.
In an area such as he is, "drought" and lower moisture tolerance is
certainly a relative thing as compared to the mid- or west coast and
certainly the temperature is much more temperate than out here--you'd
have to water the dickens out of any/all of those to get them to survive
The ideal low-maintenance grasses here would include buffalo, blue- and
sideoats grama, etc., etc., ...
I didn't say they were exotic. Only that typically commercial
seed producers don't deal with JQ Public and have order
quantities that start with 50lb bags, if they will even deal
with the public at all. I've gone looking for a specific seed
variety that I wanted and it was extremely difficult to find it even
though I was willing to buy 50lbs. After much searching, I finally
found one sod farm that sold it.
Also, do you really buy that he planted and actually
evaluated 1000 different grasses on his lawn? Like
I said, when he has NTEP data that shows what it
does, then I'll be a believer. All this is to me is a cute
little story with little to back it up.
On 9/11/2012 9:27 AM, email@example.com wrote:
W/ appropriate tongue-in-cheek/fingers-crossed for advertising leeway,
sure I believe he did what it says--raised a bunch of pots of mixes.
Do I have any doubts he could buy the various fescues and so on w/ only
a modicum of effort? None--all he's got to do is claim he's another
grower or whatever and there are enough seed houses if it's not really
far out like you'll he'll eventually find one.
Do I think there's anything really to it other than hype and marketing
and a typical news outlet making stories for to cover air time? No, but
that wasn't the specific area I was addressing...
Overall, no, I don't think there's anything to see here, folks, but if
he can start another Martha Stewart-like designer-grass business out of
it, power to him.
I found one that would sell me a 50lb bag of the tall
fescue seed I was looking for. One supplier in the whole
country and that was after hours of googling.
It cost me $100. They don't sell it by the pound to the
local JQ Public guy. That was my point. Now if
you had to do that with 1,000 varieties, it seems like
one hell of a stretch to me.
On 9/11/2012 11:11 AM, firstname.lastname@example.org wrote:
I think you're forgetting or at least overlooking that he apparently has
been at this for quite some time and was apparently pretty-much a
fanatic. Folks like that can accomplish a lot that "ordinary" folk w/o
the dedication don't.
I'd guess if you had known a local distributor well you could have
gotten it through them--or via conservation district of extension office
or land-grant university. Or the local golf course groundskeeper or
city parks/rec overseer or ...
Maybe because we farm and buy bulk seed all the time it doesn't seem
like any big deal to me--I'd guess he would have developed inroads over
time as well.
OTOH, going back to the article it doesn't say he bought thousands of
different seed varieties at all--it says he "gathered thousands of grass
samples". A miniature Charles Darwin on a specific path... :)
On 9/11/2012 11:11 AM, email@example.com wrote:
I don't know where you live, but I was in the trade for nine years,
the company I worked for is still in business, and a large part of the
business is selling a variety of grass seed mixtures, blends, and
straight seed varieties in one pound and larger lots. We weren't
unique, either - the only difference between us and our local
competition is that we were/are the regional distributors for one of
the seed companies, meaning that nobody beat our prices, since our
competition had to buy their stock from us.
Haven't you any decent garden centers or feed stores in your area?
Otherwise, go straight to the source. Find the company that grows the
actual seed, or produces the actual blend or mixture you're looking
for. They usually don't sell in such small lots, so in those cases
they'll give you the contact information for their distributors.
Oh, and ordinary tall fescue? Cheap seed. We sold it by the pound and
in fifty pound bags. We recommended it for back yards that got hard
play, athletic fields that got little or no maintenance (i.e. public
parks) and rural properties where the owners didn't care too much
about looks and didn't want to put in much upkeep. But, like I said,
the problem with tall fescue is that it looks weedy, and the problem
with all fescues is they clump, so you don't get uniform coverage.
That's why most lawn seed is sold as mixtures - combinations of
different grass types. The most common mixes tend to contain some
fine-leaf fescues, hybrid bluegrasses, and hybrid perennial ryes.
Fescues for shade, ryes for wear and drought resistance, and blues for
the nice appearance, feel, and uniform coverage. Grass blends are
mixtures of different varieties of the same grass type. For instance,
a bluegrass blend might contain two or more different strains of
hybrid bluegrass. Blends are only a little less risky than straight
seed mixtures, as they, like straight seed, can't cope with all lawn
conditions (sun/shade, dry/moist, cool/warm). Not to mention that
they're more at risk for sustaining major damage from a lawn disease.
That's another point in favor of seeding with a grass mix.
Clover has its place, too. A low growing legume, it provides its own
nitrogen and shares some of it with surrounding grasses. Clover was
traditionally considered a desirable element in lawns until the
dawning of the commercial herbicide era. Lawn weedkillers tend to kill
everything that isn't a grass, which is a problem if you value clover.
So the marketing campaign for lawn weedkillers simply named clover as
one of the 'undesirable weeds' that the product would eliminate. That
way, instead of angry homeowners complaining that the product killed
their clover, they were led to believe that they shouldn't have it in
There are new smaller clover varieties now - microclovers - which
blend in even better in lawns than the traditional white Dutch clover.
Nowadays most people aren't fans of clover. Being an oldtimer, I grew
up with it, so I appreciate it...plus, since I don't view it as a
weed, I don't spend time and money trying to get rid of it. Bonus: the
rabbits prefer eating the clover in the lawn to the vegetables in the
garden. So it works for me.
Indeed, I throw some out every so often--out here where it's hot and dry
it gradually dies out w/o some help...in moister areas, it'll wax and
wane as the soil N levels rise and fall--when it's low the clover will
flourish for a few years and the grasses will naturally fill in as the N
levels gradually return and the clover will tend to recede...
I would vote for crab grass, esp. after the recent drought. My son
always has the greenest lawn in the neighborhood and does nothing other
than mowing it; mows higher in the hottest part of summer. He has more
important things to spend time and money on. Whatever else is growing
in his yard, it is green again. Neighbor reseeded half his yard last
year, spends a huge amount of time on it, and now is redoing landscaping
because his professionally planted grass didn't sprout.
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