Seeding a lawn in downtown Denver

arwaso(5a/6b)March 26, 2012

Hi. I'm relatively new to lawn care and have had several failed attempts over the last few years to get a full, green lawn. My lawn usually looks okay for a downtown yard, but there is definitely room to improve. I'm not very well educated in the lawn care department.

To further complicate things, I've heard conflicting information (online versus Denver Botanic Gardens) about when to seed. It's now late March and the bulbs are popping up already in the city. The daytime temps here have been in the 60s - 70s (down to the 40s at night). We even hit 80 in the city over the weekend. I aerated two weeks ago and am now being told its time to put seeds down. I'm planning to broadcast (overseeding) by hand using BOSS (Bio-Organic Fertilizer).

So my questions are:

1. What time of day and under what conditions should I apply the seed?

2. Should I put the BOSS on before or after I seed?

3. Does this mean that I now need to water every day? People usually don't even set their lawn sprinklers to come on here until mid- May, and we usually get another big snowstorm this time of year. I know: 80 degrees one week and snow the next sounds ludicrous, but this is Colorado. Are there any locals with some knowledge to share?

I just joined the forum because I want to really get my lawn looking good this year. I figure I can get a head start by getting some good advice early in the season and keeping up with the care throughout the year. I'm using organic fertilizers but I'm open to all advice on how to get a full green lawn.

Thanks to all who can help.

- Josh

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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

Here comes more conflicting information. Our local botanical center gives out information that conflicts with other information given out by the same botanical center. It all depends on which person you're listening to. What you're going to get here, or from me anyway, is the accumulated wisdom, such as I remember and emphasize it, from the past 10 years of success and failure reported on this and other forums. There are others who disagree with me, but that's fine. We'll see where this goes.

If your lawn can make it until fall, then wait until then to seed. The only time worse than spring to seed grass is summer. They are both bad for the same reason. New grass cannot take summer heat. A second reason spring seeding is bad is that when you do the daily watering, you are going to sprout every crabgrass seed in the lawn. After the new grass dies from the July heat, the crabgrass will wash in like a rising river. In the mean time we can improve your lawn greatly by proper use of water, mowers, and fertilizers.

Water deeply and infrequently. This time of year your lawn needs deep watering about monthly. As the heat comes in (yes, even the dreaded Denver heat '-) ), increase the frequency of watering until you are watering no more than once a week. If you get an inch of rain, then you can skip the watering for whatever duration you are in. Deeply means a full inch to start. Then judge where to go from there. You can measure an inch by setting out tuna or cat food cans. Time how long it takes to fill them and then water for that amount of time.

Assuming you do not have bermuda, then set your mower to the highest setting and leave it there all summer.

Since you are already on the golden path to enlightened lawn care (organic!!!), you can really improve your lawn. You cannot do this with chemical fertilizers without hurting the lawn. First, find the Organic Gardening Forum on Gardenweb, then find the FAQs, then find the one on Organic Lawn Care at the bottom of the list. Read that for an orientation to modern organic gardening. That document has been the genesis of thousands of successful organic lawn care conversions since about 2002. Maybe tens of thousands. I know it has been downloaded over a hundred thousand times from websites that keep track of that stuff. You might not learn anything but then again, you might. One thing I have learned recently is that you cannot over apply the organic grain type fertilizers. In 2010 one of the moderators on another forum applied 40 pounds per 1,000 square feet of either Milorganite or soy bean meal EVERY WEEKEND throughout the entire growing season. That was well over 1,000 pounds per 1,000 square feet. He should have won the prize for yard of the year for the entire country. It was awe inspiring. So last year I did something similar using corn gluten meal. I applied about 40 pounds per every month. My lawn has NEVER looked that good. I had been following my own ritual as laid out in the Organic Lawn Care FAQ. Turns out that is a starvation diet. Grass will live but won't thrive like it will with the over dose. We have always talked about using as much as you want up to 80 pounds per 1,000 square feet. At that point you are smothering the grass under a pile of grain. The other issue when you get up there with the poundage is that the decomposing grain gets a little whiffy. The smell goes away in a week. Next time you apply, though, the smell is not nearly as bad. It gets better every time you apply after the first. When you go outside and don't smell it, then you know it is time to apply again. It is nothing like a manure smell and certainly nothing like a chemical smell. It is just a smell of old grain.

What ever time of year you decide to seed, you can apply the organic fertilizer 2 weeks prior. The by the time the roots are kicking in, there will be healthy microbes waiting to care for them. I would not use any corn products when seeding. Stick with alfalfa, soy, or any other choice.

What time of day? Here you are missing the forest for the trees. Time of day is 1,000 times less important than what time of year. Wait until August in Denver. You may find that by taking care of the lawn as described above, you don't need to seed. But if you are locked into a fescue lawn, then you will need to seed almost every fall.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2012 at 11:47PM
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Okay. As expected, two weeks later it is now 36 degrees and snowing. Only two days ago I was in my shorts and t-shirt pulling the first weeds from the lawn after watering in the fertilizer. Hopefully this is a good sign, though, since those 80 degree days brought zero moisture and people were already had their lawn sprinklers out. Of course, we did end up having to frantically cover the bushes, which were already in bloom. And I wonder if the buds on our trees will be impacted. At least I got the fertilizer on the ground. After the snow melts, I think I'll thrown down some seeds (and cover with BOSS or topsoil) in the thin spots of the lawn. Any reason why this would NOT be a good idea? Thanks for any insight people can offer.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2012 at 4:41PM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

Not topsoil. The world is full of lawns where people used a "thin topdressing" with topsoil and have ruined their lawns. The build up is permanent with topsoil. Before you know it you have water flowing into your basement instead of down the gutter. Mud streams out of the lawn onto the sidewalk. I have pictures of one sidewalk where the mud has been there so long, the grass actually grows from the lawn to the hell strip.

What are the ingredients of BOSS?

    Bookmark   April 4, 2012 at 12:25AM
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This is from a local garden shop website: "B.O.S.S. stands for Bio Organic Soil Supplement and it�s a peat moss � compost mix, fortified with mychorrize. Mychorrize are tiny micro-organic fungi that form a unique partnership with the roots of plants. The fungi get a steady supply of carbohydrates from the plant and the plant gets to use the large surface area of the fungi to absorb more water and mineral nutrients from the soil. Mychorriaze can help any kind of plant survive in harsh conditions like dry, nutrient-poor soil and even in times of drought. B.O.S.S. will also introduce beneficial organasims that will enrich the soil for the coming year."

Here is a link that might be useful: O'Toole's

    Bookmark   April 4, 2012 at 11:24AM
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hi, i live in denver/wheat ridge, and also started my grass from seed two years ago. i had done a lot of research and with the help of this forum the seeding turned into success.
here is the link for the thread i posted back than

and some more recent images from last summer

i also started organic lawn care last year and my lawn seems to love it.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2012 at 1:02PM
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