Iowa Stormwater Education Program

Design Details

There are two popular native turf blends.  The first is 30% Blue Gramma, 30% Sideoats Gramma and 40% Buffalo Grass.   Sideoats grama will grow to about 18 inches, so if you don’t plan to mow and prefer to grow the second shorter blend consisting of a 50-50 blend of Blue Gramma and Buffalo Grass.   PLS is a measure of the percentage of seed that will germinate. For example, if you order 100 lbs. of seed with 85% PLS, only 85 lbs. will germinate.  Typically seed at the rate of 1 - 2 pounds per 1,000 square feet.

Key to Native Turf Establishment 

  • Seed in late spring or early summer. 
  • Test soil to determine if starter fertilizer is needed. Usually, fertilizer won’t be needed. It’s safer to not fertilize or under-fertilize than to over-fertilize.
  • Eliminate soil compaction if possible and prepare a friable seedbed.
  • Broadcast seed, then pack the site for good seed to soil contact. Do not incorporate seed deeper than an ¼ inch.
  • Water as needed to enhance germination and avoid drought stress in the first year. Keep moist, but not saturated. Be careful not to overwater.
  • Mow to minimize weed growth the first year.
  • Native turf may be slower to establish than regular turf, so be patient.


Key to Weed Control

  • Avoid fertilizing with nitrogen
  • Avoid frequent irrigation
  • Control crabgrass with preemergence chemicals
  • Do not use 2,4-D during the first year or when temperatures are above 80 degrees 
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