Landscape Update – Scalping, Overseeding, & Irrigation

About the turf scalping: Niguel Shores has kikuyugrass (Pennisetum clandestinum), a warm-season grass brought to Southern California in 1920 for erosion protection and as a pasture grass, a classic example of misdirected virtue. It grows on slopes, in pastures, on golf courses, in parks, on sports fields and in home lawns. Kikuyugrass is an exceptional plant—it is aggressive, highly competitive, spreads easily by several means and tolerates drought, over-watering and poor soil. It is also on both the California and Federal noxious-weed lists and it is illegal to plant it deliberately. Once established, it is tough and strong and you cannot get rid of it. Some jokingly say it grows so fast you’re afraid to leave a small child in it for too long. So, what to do about this turf? Harvest engages in a process called scalping and over seeding.

Scalping is a process by which the thick layer of thatch is removed all the way to the bottom exposing it and looking bare. The grass is cut at the lowest mower setting. Due to the biomass (mostly thatch) building up fairly quickly, the spongy, deep mat becomes very difficult to mow without creating rutting in the turf. The key to scalping lies in the key transitional months when the warm season grass begins to go dormant in cooler temperatures around September. Also, during this time, the irrigation is shut off in all turf areas to allow them to dry out.

Over seeding is the application of a combination of cool season grasses: tall fescue and perennial rye which are then topped with steer manure. The perennial rye germinates quickly giving a beautiful lush green look. The fescue supplements the rye because it is a hardy turf grass that is drought and cool season tolerant. Within two weeks this seed will germinate and new grass begins to grow.

Irrigation: The irrigation will be on several times a day in small increments to allow the seed to germinate as it needs to stay wet to thrive. Please note that the system is not malfunctioning when it is coming on frequently during the day. After one month, the results speak for themselves; lush green grass adorns all turf areas and there are no traces of the kikuyugrass.

—Steven Schinhofen – Harvest Landscape