At this time of the year there is not a warm season grass that is going to have time to root into the ground without having ryegrass to help it establish itself into the soil.  We are just beginning to get into the season of having cool nights and mild days, but that doesn’t mean you can’t put down sod. 

Sod is the best way to establish a lawn during the winter season and with the many turfgrass options that are out there these days it is often tough to make the right choice when they are all overseeded.  At our farm we have test plots that consist of 16 warm season turfgrasses that are left to go dormant in the winter and 16 warm season turfgrasses that are overseeded to help us better understand spring transition, winter color, and fertilizer options.  We set up these plots about 5 years ago at our farm and we monitor them closely so we can supply you with the most up to date information on each grass and to help get you some tips on how to have the best looking turf. 

I put together a slide show of the non overseeded plots in both pictures and a short video showing the transition and color between each variety.  Many of the varieties that you will see are not available for sale and are solely placed in the plots for research and comparisons.  Below I have listed some of the most popular grasses on the market today and you can compare the attributes with the pictures you will see below.  Remember when you take a look at these pictures that it is November and cooler temperatures have arrived bringing dramatic color changes in each variety.  These pictures will give you an idea of what grasses lose their color first in the fall, and which grass has the best color at this time of the year.

Platinum TE/Sea Spray Seashore Paspalum – Paspalums have been around for years and they have become popular in recent years because of how eco-friendly they are.  Yes I did say “eco friendly,” and that’s definitely true.  Paspalums are different in that they use 66 percent less nitrogen than any bermudagrass, have excellent drought tolerance, and can handle water that is high in salts or fresh water. 

Do you prefer to use organic fertilizers for your lawn?  Paspalums prefer you do and they only need to be fertilized twice per year with a product such as Soil Burst or Milorganite.  Many people don’t like to overseed and want as short of a dormancy period as possible and this is the best grass for your situation.  Let it go dormant after we receive our first hard frost and watch it start to green up in February– not April– like most other grasses.   

Take a look at the video and the pictures of the Platinum and you will see there is virtually no difference in color in mid November between overseeded turf and non overseeded turf.  The color on this grass is truly amazing and every day we learn more and more about what a great grass this is for the Arizona/California environment.  As you regular readers know I am a huge proponent of paspalum and I love the look and feel of it in my backyard.  I don’t think my daughter or three bulldogs could be happier than they are out playing on the lawn. 

Take a look at the deep green color of the paspalum.  Platinum or Sea Spray can be mowed with a rotary or reel mower and can tolerate heights of 1/8 inch to 2 inches.  Paspalums need to be grown in full sun.  In the picture below you will notice that the three striped up lanes in the front of the picture are non overseeded turf and the far end of the picture is overseeded turf.  Take a good look at the color and I am sure you will be as amazed as I am that there is virtually no difference in color.


Bull’s-Eye Bermudagrass (BOBSod) – This is by far the most popular grass on the market today and is used at Chase Field–home of the Arizona Diamondbacks, and at the Padre’s PETCO Park.  BOBSod is a grass that has the most shade tolerance of any of the bermudagrasses and has a deep blue-green color.  It has a medium coarse leaf blade and is an extremely dense grass which provides a soft cushion for playing sports on, or for playing with your dog.  BOBSod can be grown in full sun or in partial shade as long as you receive at least three hours of sunlight during 10 AM and 3 PM in the summer months.   BOBSod has virtually no seedheads and can be mowed with a rotary or reel mower between ½ inch to 2 inches. It’s ideally mowed around 1 inch. 

EZ-Turf –   A very homeowner friendly grass with a open turf canopy and coarser leaf texture.  EZ- Turf is often used for low maintenance areas such as parks and playgrounds, but is not the best choice for a yard that will be used for sports or for an athletic field. 

Its open canopy does not allow for the same footing of some of the other grasses, but it does tolerate wear and drought very well.  It is ideally mowed with a rotary mower at 1-2 inches in the summer and fertilized monthly to maintain color and turf vigor throughout the season.  When it comes to overseeding, it is as the name implies EZ-Turf.  It has an open canopy so it doesn’t need to be dethatched as much as other bermudagrasses and this also allows for excellent seed to soil contact.  EZ-Turf needs to be grown in full sun.  You will notice from the pictures and slide shows that EZ- Turf is the first grass to lose its color in the fall so if you are not going to overseed and want to keep nice fall color I would suggest another grass.

Tifway 419 – Tifway is the most popular choice for golf courses because of its upright growth habit and vigorous recovery from wear.  Tifway is the hardiest of all the bermudagrasses and has a medium fine dark green leaf blade that makes it a soft durable grass. It’s ideally maintained with a reel mower and mowed 1-2 times per week between ¼ inch and ¾ inch. 

Tifway needs to be dethatched at least once per year because of its density and fertilized monthly throughout the growing season. If you are looking for a grass with great wear tolerance, and don’t mind a little more maintenance this is for you.   Tifway must be grown in full sun.  Tifway does relatively well at holding it’s color in the fall but now that nighttime temperatures are in the low 50’s you will see it start to lose color quickly.

Tifgreen 328 – Tifgreen has all the characteristics of Tifway 419 but has more leaves per square inch and a little finer leaf blade. Tifgreen can be used for putting greens or for your backyard and should be mowed between 2-3 times per week with a reel mower at 1/8 inch to ¾ inch.  Tifgreen must be grown in areas with full sun.

St. Augustine – This is a coarse grass that is most often found in areas with high humidity such as Florida, but it does very well in full sun or shaded areas in hot or humid parts of Arizona or California.  St. Augustine holds up very well to high traffic and can tolerate mowing heights from 1 inch to 3 inches.  It can be mowed with a rotary or a reel mower but it does not tolerate close mowing or overseeding well.  It is best to let go dormant over the winter months and grows best in full sun but can tolerate moderate shade in the summer months.

TifSport – TifSport is the first university certified bermudagrass that mirrors Tifway 419 except that it does provide a denser turf canopy.  TifSport maintains good color throughout the fall and greens up quicker than 419.  It should be mowed between ¼ inch and ¾ inch and grown in areas with full sun.  TifSport is often the choice of sports professionals as it has excellent wear tolerance and recovers from damage extremely quick.

Tifway II – Tifway II has a deep green color with a medium fine leaf blade that has a slightly coarser leaf than Tifway.  Tifway II can tolerate heavy traffic, heat, and grows excellent in full sun areas.  It is an excellent choice for coastal California and can tolerate close mowing heights from ¼ inch to 1 inch.  Tifway II is a great choice for the sports professional or for a home lawn that you can let go dormant for the winter and will green up quicker than any other bermuda in the spring and hold its color the longest in the fall. 

Take a look at the slide show of pictures and video and pay close attention as each plot is replicated and you can also see how they transition from one grass to another and which grasses are more aggressive than others.  Keep sending me in your questions and I will get you answers within a day.

College Football Week 10

 Who doesn’t love this time of the year in the college football season when everything is starting to come together in conference play?  The BCS is blowing up, and controversies are brewing in the SEC over the eligibility of Cameron Newton.  It’s weeks like this that make Auburn’s football coach Gene Chizik wish he was still coaching at Iowa State where no matter how much money a booster or agent offers a recruit they are not going there unless they have no other options.  The question for Auburn right now is what do they do?  It is definitely too late to sit Newton down and say you had nothing to do with his past problems but not sitting him down may cost them the championship.  This story is breaking so fast every day that I don’t think Auburn is going to get a choice in the matter soon and the NCAA is going to take some swift action. Who would have known that Auburn was going to be the next school to possibly be hit with infractions, and during an undefeated season? I can only imagine this is causing some internal issues that will probably lead to a loss in the very near future.  

The end of the college season is drawing closer every week and we are starting to see the big powerhouses emerge in their respective conferences but this year we are also seeing horrible seasons out of USC, Bama is fading quick, Michigan couldn’t buy enough defensive help and Texas is so bad that Mack Brown may decide to look to Jerry Jones for his next coaching gig.  I hate to say it but it looks as though TCU is going to be playing the Ducks for the crown and they may have just enough defense to stop Oregon.  I am still going to say that is doubtful because Oregon scores about every minute and a half, but stranger things have happened. 

I have listed my picks of the week below and I have also readjusted my BCS projections based upon what I have seen in the last couple weeks.  My current record on the season is 18-8 and I see some picks that everyone should jump on board with this week.  Here we go:

Michigan -13 @ Purdue – I am not touching this line but what I do like is the over/under at 61.5 points.  Take the over and look for Michigan to have an offensive repeat of last week scoring at least 50 and that means there defense will give up at least 49 but it will still be a win.

Nebraska -35 versus Kansas – I know Kansas is horrible and the Big 12 is down but are the Huskers really going to win by 35.  I know the Huskers will win but take Kansas and the points.

Utah -4 @ Notre Dame – There is just something not right about this line and one has to wonder what the odds makers know that we don’t know.  What I can tell you is that Utah is coming off an embarrassing loss to TCU and ND is without Dane Crist and any reminisce of a team.  Utah is going to come into South Bend angry and put a hurting on the Irish to try and help their bowl prospect.  ND has nothing to play for except lame duck head coach Brian Kelly who can start counting his days till he hits the unemployment line.  I realize his record is the same as the last few coaches when they started but he does have some major off the field issues to deal with and that is going to cost him a job.

Stanford -7 @ ASU – Okay so ASU hung with the likes of Wisconsin and USC but let’s face the facts and that is they have no chance beating Stanford this weekend. The whole locker room knows they are not winning the next three games to make a bowl this year so they are going to lie down and show Dennis the door.  Take the Cardinal and give ASU at least 7 if not 15.

USC +4 @ U of A – Well Wildcats this is a make or break game and with USC struggling all over the field I see you taking the Trojans to the woodshed and beating them by 12.  Hopefully the stadium security is equipped for the students rushing the field UA is hands down the better team and will quickly show the Trojans where the exits are.


Auburn -8 @ Georgia – The Bulldogs are horrible but the Tigers are shaken and cam Newton may not even see the playing field.  I like Georgia to win on the field so take the money line and start counting your winnings.

Ultra Run #3

Well my body has managed to hold up through a couple of tough races so far this year so I am giving it another go.  I am running the 50K in the DTR race series in Mesa this weekend at Pass Mountain.  I went out and gave the course a test run last weekend and as I predicted it is just as hard if not harder than the previous track.  This trail is a 16.5 mile loop that starts off with a sandy and rocky trail followed by 7.1 miles of mountain running around Pass Mountain.  The problem for me is going to lie in the flat areas as most of the field will excel in the flats with sub 8 minute times while I specialize in the mountain portions.  The good news is that the course is ran twice and therefore I will get 14.2 miles of mountain running to hopefully slow down some of the competition. 

As always is the case with running this type of distance is trying to decide what to eat while running.  I can’t ever seem to find anything that looks good or has any taste but when you are burning 4000-5000 calories during a run it is imperative to force yourself to eat and drink.  If you have ever run an ultra race before you know exactly what I am referring to and so do they people that set up the races because a typical aid station is stocked with healthy food like salt tablets, Gatorade, melon, gummy worms, boiled potatoes with a bowl of salt to dip them in, chicken soup, pizza, Mountain Dew, and basically any junk food you can imagine.  It is hard to believe that people that can run so far fuel up on nothing but sugars and salt products to help them finish a race.  I am not a fan of most of most food while I am running, but for some reason I crave orange jelly beans like I am pregnant woman.

Well, hopefully I can hang somewhere close to the leaders this weekend and increase my overall trail score.  They take your best three scores out of six races and determine the trail champion.  I like where I stand as I type this today but I know I am in for a dog fight tomorrow with some really good runners. 

Hopefully you have a chance to spend some time with your family out on the lawn this weekend!