It's one of the few ground covers that will thrive in the Sonoran low desert. The more you water it, the better it looks, but it will hang in there during your New Mexico drought if you are not watering it. When it gets drought stressed, it tends to leave lots of bare spots, but since the stolons are so deep, it can regenerate once it gets frequent rains or waterings.
Other possible ground covers are Abronia villosa, the Desert Verbena, which is not considered native to New Mexico, but which does well in the Sonoran desert. The reason I keep mentioning the Sonoran low desert is that with the anticipated changes in the climate, the high plains of eastern New Mexico may begin to look more and more like the desert between Phoenix and Palm Springs. If you select species from that area to plant, they will be used to 4"-8" of rainfall and will tolerate the drought you are going through.
Another possible planting is Curcurbita palmata, the Coyote Melon. Like other squashes, it covers the ground with big leaves and keeps the wind from blowing it away. It needs more water than the verbena, but where the water tends to puddle up after a summer thunderstorm, it can go off to the races. Although the flesh is too bitter to eat, you could try feeding it to chickens, they will go for the seeds and might even like the flesh.
These two aren't exactly garden center type items, but if you look online, you can find the seeds from places specializing in native desert plants.
The Cucurbita palmata requires a warmer climate.
I am zone 7a--so the abronia villosa would probably work and looks much more colorful than Bermuda, but I'm having trouble finding a source for bulk seed.
If anyone knows of one, feel free to mention it. I would definitely like to try some.
Is there anyone out there who has Bermuda and is happy about it???
mark andrews wrote:Is there anyone out there who has Bermuda and is happy about it???
Sure, it's great right up until you want to get rid of it. It makes a good low-maintenance lawn, generous source of green matter as you said. But if you can grow anything else in a spot, if you think you ever will want to grow something else in a spot, do your future self a favor and skip straight to the good stuff if you can, because getting rid of Bermuda grass is a pain. There's a reason seed is so hard to find.
Case in point: I'm finishing up my second year of trying to establish a community garden for a campus ministry group 2 blocks from my house. This project is ill-fated for a number of reasons, but number one is that I sheet mulched on top of Bermuda grass 2 years ago and underestimated how thorough I needed to be with the cardboard and the edging. Grass came through the cracks and was such a pest the first year that we had to give up on the garden entirely and sheet mulch it a second time (deeper) in the fall. This spring the newer, deeper, more thorough mulch was still too thick to plant most things in, so the garden was mostly a failure, but even with all that mulch, the grass still was a force to be reckoned with all year long. I've managed to keep it enough at bay that we'll be able to plant this fall (if the students ever come back from break), but that's 2 years lost due to battling with the grass, where anything else I've mulched on top of (with the exception of trumpet vine) just gives up the ghost.
If you have a chicken tractor at your disposal, maybe that can do the trick.
no, imo, there is nothing good about bermuda grass.
i have a very short list of plants that i think are to be avoided entirely, ivy, bermuda grass, buttercups, bind weed....those are about the only ones i can think of, besides that most of the other weeds and grasses are ok. theres this other kind of grass i have struggle against but i dont know whats its called.
even stuff that many people consider "invasive" i am into, i consider it to be more prolific and easy to grow....
in a lot of the places i have lived there were nurseries for plants locally, and they would sell some various mixes of grasses and clovers, vetch...stuff like that. they would sell it very cheaply and it would be something that was acclimated to the local climate.
actually thats a good reason for at least browsing your local nursery's selection of plants, they know what strains and varieties are proven to work in your local bio region.
mark andrews wrote: is there any reason not to start with Bermuda?
yes: it will completely choke out the roots of newly planted perennials. consider how easily it navigates tight "corridors" like paving and gaps between planks in raised beds--that will be happening around and within root balls. yikes! and because planting often requires disturbing the soil, any space where bermudagrass is prevalent is at risk of invasion.
that doesn't negate its beneficial properties. I bristle at the "bermudagrass sucks, all the time!" attitude common among growers. but a mere attitude-check won't change its detrimental effects in many contexts.
a change of heart or of values without a practice is only another pointless luxury of a passively consumptive way of life.
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