Calvin R. Finch, Ph.D., Conservation Director, San Antonio
Week of November 19, 2001
Q. Buffalo grass is native and survives
on less water than the other grasses. Why doesn't everyone use
it instead of St. Augustine grass?
A. Buffalo grass evolved in areas of low
rainfall. It is native to Central and South Texas but is not
a dominant grass here. Buffalo grass requires a site with full
sun and heavy soil. If mowed low, over-watered, or over-fertilized
it is prone to weeds. Pick the right site and treat it like
a xeriscape groundcover and it does fine, but it does not perform
well as a manicured lawn grass.
Q. I applied Bayleton to the brown patch
in my lawn twice over the last four weeks but it has not healed?
How long does it take?
A. The fungicide will stop the spread of
the disease, but healing may not occur until the active growth
period next spring. Our hot weather grasses (St. Augustine,
Bermuda, zoysia and buffalo grass) are in a stage now where
they are reorganizing the chemistry in the plant to deal with
cold weather and storage of nutrients for a fast start next
Q. Can we plant English peas now with any
chance of success? How about the flowered sweet peas?
A. The peas you mention can be grown in
this area, but the performance is not always predictable. They
do not like hot or cold weather. Peas planted now often freeze
before they bear blooms or fruit. If you wait too long into
the spring, the hot weather wipes them out. Try a planting every
month through February.
Q. Are shade tree leaves good mulch? We
have Texas red oak and pecans now. How about live oaks when
they fall in February?
A. Leaves are wonderful mulch. Apply them
four inches deep over the roots of newly planted trees and shrubs
to conserve water, control weeds, and keep the soil cool. Use
leaves in the vegetable garden between the vegetable rows for
the same beneficial impact. When they are incorporated into
the soil, they improve its texture.
We used to think pecans and oaks were not desirable because
of tannins and other acids, but they work great in our alkaline