Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Grass, Glorious Grass

I love grass! There's nothing better than squishing your bare feet in some soft blades of grass.

That's a little hard in the high desert. You can squish your toes in lots of hard dirt and rocks. Not so comfy.

For the last year we've been attempting to grow grass that is low water and low work. DIY grass growing. DIY heartache and happy dances all over blades of green.

We started with our fenced in area at the back of the house. Fenced to keep coyotes and bears out. Fenced to keep kiddos and a cat in. It doesn't keep the bunnies out. Here's what it looks like after we got the fence up and before grass.

Here's what it looked like in July. We planted Bermuda grass seeds. They took forever to germinate....more than a month. It grew in really spotty. Then an allergy test told us our son is allergic to Bermuda grass. A search began for a different type of grass that can survive at 6700ft, in hot sun and cold weather.

We have recently planted fescue seeds and covered with straw and this is where we are at now:

Since our backyard attempt at grass has been slightly successful, we decided to move onto the stark side yard. See a few of my previous posts to get a glimpse of the before.

This is where we are at now, the seeds haven't even been in a week and they are already germinating! I'm daily doing a happy dance!

We planted 'Low Work and Water' dwarf fescue lawn seed mix from High Country Gardens. They're becoming a favorite of mine! Next year we are planning to attempt planting the blue grama grass seed from High Country Gardens over our drain field.

As far as priming our clay like dirt for grass, it's been a learning process. Here's some lessons we've learned about different prepping products.
  • Horse Manure - plentiful from our neighbor (free!). But it is our least favorite as it tends to produce a lot of weeds in our yard. Perhaps the horses aren't fed weed free feed or somehow weed seeds got into the manure that's been piled up.
  • Top Soil - okay. The kind we bought at Home Depot (I won't mention the company), tends to have lots of sticks.
  • Steer Manure - slightly better than the top soil. It was the same company as the topsoil and had lots of twigs and sticks in it. It smells. I got 10 bags of it for Mother's Day last year.
  • Chicken Manure - slightly better than steer manure. It doesn't smell as much. As before, the same company and it had lots of twigs and sticks in it.
  • Organic Mushroom Compost - my favorite! It's dark, rich, and doesn't have any sticks or twigs. It's basically the leftover substrate the mushrooms grow on. The stuff we get comes from a farm in Alamosa, Colorado and we buy it at Home Depot. Great stuff!
  • Omni Planting Compost and Seed Cover - We haven't tried this yet, but are planning on mixing it with the mushroom compost when we seed the blue grama next spring. We'll keep updates on it.
  • Straw - The best thing we've found to cover the seeds and keep them moist in this dry environment. It keeps the birds and bunnies at bay for a little while. That's the lovely golden stuff you see in the photos.
Any grass growing tips to share? Any high desert or lowland grass growing sagas? Allergic and asthmatic children? Manure tips? It's time to get dirty!

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