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Old 11-27-2017, 05:10 PM
 
Location: Phoenix, AZ
2,560 posts, read 1,804,182 times
Reputation: 2654

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I'm looking for advice from ranch owners or others who know a lot about Colorado's native prairie lands. I'm helping my brother restore the health of a 3 acre horse property on Aurora's east side (in the City limits.)
The prairie grass doesn't look healthy IMO. It's not thick, but sparse, and has plenty of invasive species like field bindweed and others (unknown species.)

I can probably get some good tips from CSU's website on range management. There are no horses or livestock on the property to blame. One thing my brother has done over the years (which I told him NOT to do) is mow the prairie grass. I've told him to leave it totally unmowed because I know from growing home lawns that the higher you allow the grass to grow, the deeper the roots grow. I'm correct, right?

Since the property is in the City of Aurora, he only has municipal water (no well for irrigation.) I think periodic irrigation of the prairie grass would definitely help it, but his water bill would skyrocket. Also, I don't know if it's advisable to put down some fertilizer (nitrogen) on the prairie grass. If I did this, I'd put it down lightly prior to an anticipated rainy period.

And finally, should I order some native plains grass seed and broadcast it everywhere? I just want it to be as native and healthy as it can be. Any native plains short-grass seed retailers you'd recommend?

Thanks for the advice.
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Old 11-27-2017, 09:49 PM
 
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I'd read what you can on the CSU site AND find one or more of the staff to talk to by phone or try to get a site visit. Researchers may or may not come out but I'd hope / think somebody (in Extension?) should. There "might" be some program designed to offer one time or on-going advice time and / or perhaps supplies / field work. I don't know that there is but might be worth asking. Good luck with it.
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Old 11-28-2017, 07:22 AM
 
Location: Cortez, CO
32 posts, read 24,809 times
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You can reach out to the Savory Institute: https://www.savory.global/institute/

They use properly managed livestock to restore land, they can give you more guidance on how to do that.

More info. on that in Allan Savory's TED talk: https://www.ted.com/talks/allan_savory_how_to_green_the_world_s_deserts_and_reverse_climate_change
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Old 11-28-2017, 09:40 AM
 
Location: Riley Co
245 posts, read 162,433 times
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I believe the 3 acres were shortgrass prairie prior to settlement. That's too few acres for horses. Here in the Flinthills of KS, w/~ 34" rain per year, it takes a mere 8 acres to raise a cow & her calf (cow-calf unit). I asked someone @ Thanksgiving about Cheyene. The answer was 23 acres (had to have been a rainy year!). New Mexico is ~ 40 acres.

Prairies have 3 types of grasses/forbs:

Decreasers => palatable plants grazers prefer & overgraze first = eventual elimination.

Increaser => plants that are present in smaller #s, but take advantage of new, barren soil to spread.

Invaders => plants that were NOT present, & can soon become the dominant plant. Snow-on-the-mountain, Euphorbia marginata, is an example. Often seen when a cable is buried in the prairie & the pretty Snow forms a show along the trench. Broomweed, Gutierrezia dracunculoides, is another. Beautiful little yellow daisies, the only thing green is the stem => no grazing value . . . . I've seen a complete section (640 acres) of tallgrass prairie overgrazed to where it was one giant field of little yellow flowers. That was 30 years ago, probably still in that state.

Your CDOT has a Shortgrass Prairie Initiative; that might prove helpful. Perhaps The Nature Conservancy, or local Audubon group.

Restoring prairie => is impossible. There are attempts in Iowa & Missouri. Any plants planted will not approach the diversity of the climax ecosystem in your lifetime. Eliminate grazing; allow nature to take its course. We have some Conservation Reserve Program crop fields in KS returned to "prairie" by planting a mix of grasses seed & small # of forbs. Watering is impractical. Perhaps broadcast Buffalograss seed in June (?); be prepared for $75/lb . . . but a lb should do! Sharp Bros Seed Healy, KS.
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Old 11-28-2017, 03:28 PM
 
Location: Phoenix, AZ
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Thanks, KS. Somewhat depressing news to hear, but then again ecosystems with limited water don't "self-heal" at the fast pace that a plot with ample moisture would.

One thing I know for sure is, I'm going declare all out 'war" on field bindweed this coming spring/summer. It's a weed born in Hell by Satan himself.
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Old 11-28-2017, 03:39 PM
 
Location: Gilbert, AZ
3,140 posts, read 1,928,700 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DougStark View Post
One thing I know for sure is, I'm going declare all out 'war" on field bindweed this coming spring/summer. It's a weed born in Hell by Satan himself.

Good luck, that's a tough one. I had it at every house I owned in Colorado and never could get rid of it all.
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Old 11-28-2017, 04:36 PM
 
20,836 posts, read 39,041,284 times
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Hey Doug...I'm in the Phoenix area and no more weed or grass problems like had in COLO trying to keep the bluegrass green and the weeds out. Now I have astroturf and rocks.
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Old 11-28-2017, 04:43 PM
 
Location: Gilbert, AZ
3,140 posts, read 1,928,700 times
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Here's a sobering quote I found...


The root system has both deep vertical and shallow horizontal lateral roots. The vertical roots can reach depths of 20 feet or more. However, 70% of the total mass of the root structure occupies the top 2 feet of soil. Most of these lateral roots are no deeper than 1 foot. Experiments on bindweed have shown that its root and rhizome growth can reach 2 1/2 to 5 tons per acre.
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Old 11-30-2017, 08:34 AM
 
384 posts, read 213,594 times
Reputation: 747
Quote:
Originally Posted by hikernut View Post
Good luck, that's a tough one. I had it at every house I owned in Colorado and never could get rid of it all.
I had the Canada Thistle , also known as creeping thistle. That was bad.
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Old 11-30-2017, 04:20 PM
 
Location: Phoenix, AZ
2,560 posts, read 1,804,182 times
Reputation: 2654
Re: field bindweed. Thanks for the info and tips. I looked on the CSU website for info on how to eliminate bindweed. They recommended a chemical (forgot its name now). i bought it online and will go to war with the bindweed spring/summer '18.
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