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Welcome to the Sod Blog

West Coast Turf was founded in 1990 with the aim of providing the best sod and service in the business. Along with sister company in Arizona, Western Sod, we offer more than 30 different varieties of turfgrass, sod and stolons in California, Arizona, Nevada, Utah, and around the world.

Mr. Wise Grass is our blog where our turfgrass pro Jay posts information on how to select and care for the sod that’s best for your environment and uses.  He answers common questions regarding issues surrounding grass and more technical issues that can be resolved with the right know-how.

If you’ve got a grass issue, Jay’s the answer-man!


Latest Blog Posts

 

    New Turf Course Debuts at Churchill Downs - BloodHorse

    Churchill Downs kicked off its opening night on April 30 for a season of horse racing. Not just any horse racing - turf racing. This newly revamped track has a $10 million lawn debuted and was a huge improvement from the old turf, which many say was not holding up well. The old mix was four-inch high Kentucky 31 Fescue (90%) and Bluegrass (10%) grown in a three-inch topsoil layer over a 13-inch course masonry sand base. The new turf course is Tahoma 31 Bermudagrass overseeded with ryegrass. Tahoma 31 is a variety we have at West Coast Turf and is the most water-saving of all the varieties we use. Currently, we have Tahoma at Dodger Stadium, Angel Stadium, and Dignity Health Sports Park (home of the L.A. Galaxy soccer club).

    A little trivia: John Foster had the #2 horse in the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on the dirt surface last year, Hot Rod Charlie, and just got a horse named Tahoma! This Saturday, the country’s most elite racehorses will make their “run for the roses” during the Kentucky Derby. 

    Why is the Tahoma 31 such a huge improvement on the turf course? Award-winning jockey, Julien Leparoux, says, “For some reason in the spring, the turf course was actually good and by the time we come back in September it was... the opposite of this (new) turf course now. It felt like, even if we didn't have any rain, it felt we had like 10 inches of rain the day before the races. It was crazy. The horses were going down pretty deep. A lot of kickback. So, I'm glad they fixed it.”

    Said jockey Declan Cannon, “With the old course the roots system was dead and there was no growth. And basically, it needed redoing. It had run its course. It just really needed to be replaced.” Churchill jockey Corey Lanerie concurred, “I'm happy to see them invest money in it and redo it because the other one was getting pretty chewed up, and it wasn't holding together. So, it'll be safer for the horses and the jockeys."

    In addition to the new mix of grass, they have improved drainage, and the removal of a crown on the outer part of the old course. The crown was there for drainage, but effectively eliminated that part of the course for running. Providing this new turf for the efficiency, and especially safety, of the jockeys and horses is crucial.  For more information, visit our website at: https://www.westcoastturf.com/

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    Changes in Water Restrictions in California

    We have all read an article or two lately about the need to cut back on water used outdoors for lawns, trees, and shrubs. We are in a time when water supply is low, and we are caught between trying to keep our homes cooler by having a lawn and using too much water to keep it green. There will always be two sides to this issue as some see lawns and plants as a waste of water and others understand the benefit to the environment. As is the case in politics a blog post or article is not going to change one’s mind one way or the other but being opened to change and learning from each other will help us find a middle ground. Today I am going to talk about ways to reduce water for your turfgrass while keeping the grass healthy, and still providing the benefits to the environment. 

    Grass selection is becoming more and more important. Let us start by examining the difference between warm and cool season grasses. Here in the southwest you can expect to use 30% more water by using a cool season grass when compared to a warm season grass. Cool season grasses grow best between 60-75 degrees whereas warm season grasses grow best between 90-105 degrees. Picking a warm season turfgrass for your area can save a significant amount of water and allow you to curtail water use longer during hot, dry periods. Swapping out a tall fescue lawn for a drought tolerant bermudagrass is much cheaper than you think and it will save water and put money back in your pocket. 

    The next part of grass selection is determining the right warm season grass for you. Breeders have been working overtime for years to come up with more drought tolerant grasses and they have been very successful. Some of the grasses on the market right now for reducing water are Kurapia (best drought tolerance), Tahoma 31 (second best), Tiftuf (3rd) Santa Ana, Paspalum, and Zoysia (coming soon to WCT). Kurapia is a ground cover that can be maintained on 50-60% replacement of evapotranspiration and even less if you want to slow the growth and put the grass into a state of dormancy during the hot summer. Studies have shown Tahoma 31 to use slightly less water than Tiftuf its closet competitor in the drought market and 20% less water than older bermudagrass varieties. Selecting the right turfgrass will enable your lawn to use less water and maintain drought tolerance through the hot summer.

    How much water does grass need to survive? This is a loaded question, and you will get several different answers but on average 1.25” of water per week during the hottest part of the summer will keep your lawn healthy, thriving, and growing. Can you water less than 1.25” and have a good lawn? Absolutely! You could maintain your lawn with a once-a-week deep irrigation cycle during the summer months to keep the plant healthy and alive. The drought tolerant varieties will put your lawn into a state of pseudo dormancy, but the turf will still provide the same environmental benefits. I know for many having a green lawn is important but sometimes its not possible based on available water. In this situation I advise using a product like Endurant Turf Paint to give the lawn the desired color during periods of water reduction. Since the lawn will not be growing much the paint should last 45-60 days. 

    Raise your mowing height during the summer. The shorter you maintain your lawn, the shallower the root system will be for the plant. Most warm season grasses can be maintained between half and inch and one and a half inches. These are the optimal ranges but do not be afraid to raise the height to two inches and save even more water.

     Water infiltration is extremely important. If your soil is a hard pan and water sheets off the ground every time you water, there is some work to do. Grass loves a deep watering which can happen all at once or broken up in the cycle/soak method. This means running 10-15 minutes and then letting it soak for an hour or more before running the second half of the cycle. If you cannot run more than a few minutes of water without runoff its time to aerate and open the soil. This will relieve compaction and allow water to freely get into the soil. 

    Irrigation systems save time, water, and money. Putting in a smart timer that calculates evapotranspiration and tests soil moisture will help keep water use down and drastically lower your budget. These smart devices calculate real time weather, plant needs, and soil data. You can set them to use 70-80% of ET to keep your lawn growing. Many cities offer free irrigation clocks and soil moisture monitor tools so check with your city and see what is available. 

    There are so many great options on the market right now to save water and allow you to have a healthy lawn. Remember that a lawn does not have to be bright green to be healthy. No one wants to give up their lawn and no one will have to if we all use some conservation methods. If you have any questions on any varieties send me an email and I will be happy to help you out. For more information about us, visit: westcoastturf.com

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    -Jay, Mr. Wise Grass

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    Spring Cleaning Your Outdoor Space

    The sun’s out, but it’s not too hot yet - now is the perfect time to get your home, garden, and outdoor spaces ready for spring. Here are some simple steps to getting the spring cleaning done.

    1. Clean, clean, clean. Wash windows and floorboards, dust off any cobwebs, sweep surfaces, and clear away any debris from fallen leaves and trees. Power wash your patio or deck. Wipe down patio furniture. Clean or replace any outdoor furniture as needed. 
    1. Update your green spaces. Mow your grass, trim your shrubs, redefine garden beds, make sure your natural grass is healthy and in a good routine for watering and mowing. Have fun with it - add pops of color in planters and herbs to your garden for cooking.
    1. Aerate your lawn, if necessary. If your lawn gets heavy traffic, such as lots of running and playing in the same spot, this can cause soil compaction. A lawn aerator creates openings in lawn turf that allows water and air to penetrate the soil and reach the grassroots. You can rent a lawn aerator at a big box hardware store, or, if you have a small lawn, use a hand aerator to do it. If you must aerate in the spring, consider doing it around Memorial Day, after weeds have started growing but before they go to seed.
    1. Weed your lawn. If you prefer weed-free lawns, spring lawn care is as much about weed prevention as it is about fostering healthy lawn growth. Depending upon whether a weed is annual or perennial, you will use either a pre-emergent herbicide or a post-emergent herbicide. 
    1. Service your lawn mower. Spring means it's time to get out the lawn mower and make sure it’s in working order. Start it up - stubborn start-ups are a sign that it might be due for a tune-up (mowers should be given tune-ups once a year). If your lawnmower needs more than a tune-up, then consider getting a new one. Among the key tune-up tasks is sharpening the mower blade. A regular sharpening will ensure the blade severs, rather than tears, the grass, leading to a nice green lawn rather than one with ragged brown tips.

    Once your outdoor space is ready, get outside and enjoy this beautiful spring weather! For more information visit https://www.westcoastturf.com

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    When Should I Start to Spring Transition My Lawn to Bermudagrass?

    I'd like to go over some common questions I have received through the blog in the last few weeks and see if it can help others with some of the same concerns. I always encourage everyone to send over your lawn questions and I will get back to you as soon as I can.

    When should I start to transition my lawn back to bermudagrass?

    I always recommend starting the process slowly in March and ramping up in April so your lawn has transitioned by May. I know that was a mouth full, but the truth is it’s not a short process unless you chemically transition your lawn. In March its ideal to start to gradually lower your mowing height and remove some of the turf canopy. This is not a scalp, this is lowering the height so the bermudagrass can breathe and get some sunlight. By mid-March you should be mowing two times per week and starting to see some thinning in the ryegrass. By thinning I mean bermudagrass leaves are starting to show between the ryegrass blades. Currently there is no need to fertilize the ryegrass, its time to back off on nutrition until bermudagrass season. In early April you can lightly verticut or even lightly power rake the lawn to remove some of the ryegrass giving way to bermudagrass. The more sunlight you can get in the grass, the faster you will transition. If the ryegrass remains extremely thick and lush you can expect it to provide excessive spring shade slowing down the bermudagrass. When soil temperatures reach 64 degrees (around April 15th) go ahead and apply ammonium sulfate 21-0-0 at 5 pounds per 1000 SF to jump start your bermudagrass. Continue mowing two times per week and gradually lowering your heights until you see the bermudagrass take over.

    Spring Transition, keep lowering the height.....

    Can I still put down pre-emergent for broadleaves?

    Most of the grassy weeds and broadleaves are now germinating so putting down the preemergent will not yield the results you’re looking for. At this juncture its best to spot spray weeds depending on the type. Make sure the product is labeled for the weed you’re trying to control and can safely be used on bermudagrass. Grassy weeds use different chemicals than broadleaves and not all chemicals are safe and effective so check with specialty stores for better products.

    What can I do to repair the urine damage from my dogs?

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    Natural Grass Trumps Artificial Turf for Sports Stadiums

    What does West Coast Turf have to do with Odell Beckham, Jr? A lot, actually. Most importantly, if OBJ had been playing on our natural grass, he may not have been sidelined for half of the Super Bowl game. Although United Airlines Field at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, former home of the Rams, is our client, the Rams now play at Sofi Stadium, which uses artificial turf. Something as simple as what’s beneath your feet can be crucial to an NFL player’s livelihood. 

    In a recent analysis, former NFL player, Chris Simms, says: “Can we get rid of field turf in football? Owners don’t want to spend money on anything. But owners, you will save so much money [if you have natural grass]. You won’t have to sign extra players on your roster. Maybe you’ll have to take care of the grass and cut the lawn, but can we get grass fields in every stadium? The great soccer players in Europe won’t even play - it’s in their contract - they won’t even play on field turf. We are ruining people’s careers. None of the players like to play on field turf over grass, none.”

    Simms expressed frustration as a former NFL player and remembered when he played that “If we had a day that we were going to go on field turf, the players hated it. Especially the linemen. It feels different. There’s less give in the ground when you make cuts. The cuts can be very jarring, there is no give. That cleat gets in there and gets stuck. The rubber sends forces into your feet, legs, knees. You’re more tired.”

    He makes many good points. NFL owners who have invested in their players don’t have their own interests at heart when they cut corners and use artificial turf. Any of their starting players can much more easily get injured on turf, possibly ending their season or career. West Coast Turf counts among our clients many sports fields in Major League Baseball, National Football League, Major League Soccer, College Football and many more and have a long history of providing natural turf to many sporting facilities. For more information visit our website at westcoastturf.com.

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