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GARDEN NEWS

Roll Out a Lawn That Can Grow on Concrete

June 04, 1989|ROBERT SMAUS | Times Garden Editor

SuperSod is a new product that looks a lot like the padding put under carpets. It is a 1/4-inch-thick mat of jute and hemp, and inside is a layer of grass seed. To plant a lawn, you prepare and level the soil, roll out the mats, lightly cover them with some kind of mulch or amendment (such as Gromulch), and then water frequently to keep the mats and seed wet.

In a couple of weeks, the seed germinates and you have a lawn. In time, the mat disintegrates.

Because everything the seed needs is contained in the mat, you can even grow this sod on top of concrete, and SuperSod, in fact, sells a "repair kit" for lawns--little squares of seed and matting that you sprout on the patio or driveway and then use for patching bare spots in existing lawns.

The seed inside SuperSod is a blend of tall turf-type fescues, which are the current favorites for a lawn in Southern California. They are deep-rooted, tough and somewhat drought resistant, and they do not spread into flower beds or creep over paving.

They also have a natural, almost meadow-like look, being thick-bladed and tall (they should be mowed a least two inches high).

Those who have grown lawns in the conventional way from seed know some of the drawbacks: Seed is hard to spread evenly so it tends to come up thicker in some areas that others. When you water, the seed floats and tends to collect in low spots.

SuperSod neatly avoids these problems, and it is also easier to keep wet while you're waiting for the seed to sprout. Trying to start a lawn on any kind of slope is nearly impossible, but SuperSod is much like the erosion control netting used on slopes, so it should have no trouble here.

The mats also suppress weeds, at least those that sprout from seed. And, birds will have a devil of a time trying to eat the seed. Its one drawback is that you will have to wait a little longer before walking on your new lawn than you do with conventional roll-out sod.

SuperSod is available at Builder's Emporium, Home Club and Home Depot stores, and comes is rolls measuring 2-by-20-foot (40 square feet), 4-by-50-foot (200 square feet), or 6-by-100-foot (600 square feet).

Pest Protection

There are some reports of success controlling the tiny little psyllids from Australia that are plaguing eugenias. This is the one that causes strange bumps on the leaves, and eventual defoliation.

The control is Orthene, but because it is not registered for the job, nurserymen are reluctant to recommend it to customers. Psyllids are on the label, but eugenias are not, though Chevron is in the process of adding eugenia and pepper trees to their label, pending approval by the EPA and the State.

Those who have had success--in the South Bay area where the psyllid was first a problem--sprayed the eugenias, using the dosage recommended for psyllids on the label, two times, two weeks apart, and report that so far, the psyllid has not returned, though control will probably only last about 10 weeks.

In some parts of town, nurseries are completely sold out of Orthene, but Isotox currently contains the same materials.

Botanical Art Alive

Botanical illustration is not a dead art, found only in old prints and manuscripts by past masters, such as Redoute, botanical illustrator for Marie Antoinette and the Empress Josephine. It is very much alive and you can see for yourself how well at Biota, a new gallery in Brentwood that is dedicated to botanical and wildlife art.

June 4-July 1, "Botanical Interpretations: State of the Art" features some of the best and freshest work, including Susan Fox, watercolors; Deborah Giannini, photographs; Carol Goldmark, drawings and paintings, and Irina Gronberg, whose precise drawings illustrate the posters for Quail Botanic Gardens in San Diego.

July 11-Aug. 5, the "Sixth International Exhibition of Botanical Art and Illustration" from the Hunt Institute will prove conclusively that botanical art is more alive than ever before, with the most amazing drawings by today's best artists and illustrators, from the unexpected works of English master gardener Graham Stuart Thomas to the stunning drawings of Chao-zhen Ji of China.

Biota also has a large collection of 18th- and 19th-Century botanical drawings housed in old pine chests that you can buy or browse through, including works by Pierre-Joseph Redoute, with framed examples on the wall. Located at 11740 San Vicente Blvd., it is in the San Vicente Plaza, which provides free parking. (213) 826-3494.

Liquid Nails for Plants

In the wild, these epiphytic plants grow attached to trees and rocks, often in the upper story of forests, so they can get out of the shade on the forest floor and into the light.

In the garden, small epiphytic plants, including many bromeliads and orchids, are not grown in the ground but attached to slabs of cork oak bark, tree fern fiber, or simply pieces of wood. There can even be grown on tree limbs, if you can figure out how to tie them there.

In a recent issue of the American Orchid Society Bulletin, a solution was suggested, a product called Liquid Nails, commonly available at hardware stores and used to fasten building panels. It reported that this glue-like substance, is strong, waterproof and non-toxic.

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