Help helping my son's daycare

bheron(6a PHL)April 4, 2012

Hi all,

I'd like to help my sone's daycare with their lawn renovation. They're close to a non profit so short on resources...and I seem like a certified lawn expert compared to what they're working with :-)

Anyway, tops on their list is a patch of land in a mostly shaded area, about 2,000sf ot grass and dirt. They've already purchased something called "Canada Green" lawn seed. Their website doesnt list ingredients but on amazon someone lists it to have:

53.2 % Creeping red fescue

23.4 % Annual Rye grass

14.1 Perennial Rye grass

4.4 % Kentucky Bluegrass

Doesnt seem like anything special.

Anyway, they already be stuck with this.

- Should I advise somethign different? I would even buy it for them.

- the area will be mostly shade and have lots of little feet running over it once its grown in.

- they'd like to use something safe for the kids, and go organic, for a pre-emergent for the rest of their play area. So I was thinking CGM?

Any other tips would be great!


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I would advise you against that mix. In shady areas most Kentucky bluegrass, and almost all perennial rye is going to thin out every year until there won't be much of it left. The annual rye will last one season and then die as it is an annual. So that leaves you with creeping red fescue, which is a good grass for shady areas, requires little in the way of fertilizer and irrigation, and doesn't need mowing as often as most turfgrasses. It isn't the most traffic tolerant however, so if it is going to be a playground area with lots of traffic, it can thin, but if it's just little feet it should be OK. Depending on the amount of sun it receives, there are a few options. Where is this daycare located, and how many hours of sun does the area receive on a sunny day when the trees are leafed out? Corn Gluten Meal has been shown to have some preemergent properties, but it has to be timed right, and from real life reports it doesn't work all that well, but I guess it's better than nothing.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2012 at 4:42PM
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bheron(6a PHL)

Thanks for the great feedback tiemco!

I think even though they've purchased it I'll go with something else for sure. Def doesnt sound like the right stuff. I think I'll go to my local seed supplier who I trust and find something better.

Here's some answers to your questions

- located in zone 6aPHL like me

- its tough say on the ours of sun. here's why: the area we're looking to see is under a bunch of huge trees, maybe 100' high. Some shed their leaves in the winter and some dont. I'm going there in a few mins so I'll get more of an idea. But to me it seems like there's never much direct sun b/c the trees canopy cover such a large area. So the sun shines through spots for sure when the leave are on the tree, but not sure how long.

Thanks for the feedback on the CGM too. I've never used it but was looking for something that they'd be comfortable throwing down.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2012 at 5:05PM
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Instead of 6aPHL, can you just give me the town? I am assuming it's philadelphia, but philadelphia is not in 6a.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2012 at 10:23PM
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ZoysiaSod(6a/6b St.Lou TranZone)

Bheron wrote:
They've already purchased something called "Canada Green" lawn seed. Their website doesnt list ingredients but on amazon someone lists it to have:

53.2 % Creeping red fescue
23.4 % Annual Rye grass
14.1 Perennial Rye grass
4.4 % Kentucky Bluegrass

Wow, that Canada Green gets around. My next-door neighbor bought the same Canada Green bag with the same percentages of fescue, rye, and bluegrass that you show above. This is his second bag. He bought the first last year.

I'm not an expert, but it seems like an excessive amount of annual rye to me, almost a quarter of the bag. And perennial and annaul rye together total almost 38 percent of the bag. Maybe the company increases its margin that way?

I was surprised to see that the bag didn't list the varieties of creeping red fescue contained in the bag. No varieties/cultivars were listed at all for any of the grasses. Maybe the rules are different for Canada. Not sure if it's a rule/law here in the U.S., but I've always seen the varieties listed on the bags here.

My neighbor's bag of "Canada Green" had a Quebec address on it.

Canadians are usually one or two steps ahead of us Americans, so I was a little tickled to see that we may have slightly better grass bag labeling laws :-)

Wish we had Quebec's laws regarding lawn herbicides, though.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2012 at 12:36AM
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Billl(z7 nc)

For 2,000 sq ft, I'd just buy some new seed. It really doesn't cost that much.

For shade, I'd stick with a mix of fescues. Any box store should have numerous bags labeled "shade mix" that fit the bill.

CGM is the only organic preemergent, so that would be your only choice if you want organic. Weed pressure tends to be much lower in the shade though, so I wouldn't be too concerned that CGM isn't as effective as the chemical versions.

In high traffic shade, they are just going to need to commit to annual aeration and overseeding. There really is not way around that.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2012 at 10:59AM
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bheron(6a PHL)

ok thanks all! great feedback.

tiemco - yes, the place is in the suburbs of phila.

I checked and it looks like the area may get a few hours of shade each day once the trees have leaves on them.

I'm not going to use the Canadian Green stuff and will get something else.

Will post pics of any progress. thanks!

    Bookmark   April 6, 2012 at 3:33PM
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There are a few things to keep in mind here. As Bill suggested, a mix of fescues would probably be the best choice. Now there are several kinds of fescue, but to make it simple let's say there is tall fescue and fine fescue (fine fescues are comprised of many different kinds, but I don't want to complicate things). Tall fescue is definitely more lawn like, whereas fine fescues have very thin blades, almost like coarse hair. If you decide you want fine fescues, and you go the big box store route, always read the contents of the bag. There are many shady lawn mixes that are very similar to Canadian Green out there, which you should probably avoid. If you go the tall fescue route I suggest you bypass the big box stores and purchase a cultivar that does very well in deep shade like 3rd Millenium SRP, Essential, Rebel IV, Falcon IV, etc. Of course you could use both, combining the attributes of both grasses.
Now when are you seeding? This spring? Well late summer would be better, but if you are seeding this spring then the area is question cannot be used for at least two months. The seeds will need to be watered daily, by daily I mean lightly at least twice a day, for at least two weeks. You will get better results if you topdress the seeds lightly. Applying starter fertilizer will also help. This is all very basic of course, there are a lot of little details I am leaving out, and to be honest a soil test would be a big help in determining what shape your soil is in, a key to growing good grass. Unfortunately the more you put into it, the better the results will be, but it sounds like there isn't a lot of money, or help for this project. Hope this helps.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2012 at 8:16PM
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And it might not hurt to lay down a light spread of pelletized lime. Since it sounds like this area hasn't been cared for in a while, you probably have acidic soil there (of course a soil test will tell you your ph). The lime will help provide a more neutral soil ph, which will help the seeds take in the nutrients it requires from the starter fertilizer. A bag of pelletized lime is really cheeaap.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2012 at 2:39PM
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Or it might really hurt and be a waste of money not knowing the current ph.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2012 at 2:48PM
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Or if you use the wrong type of lime it will cause your soil to become more imbalanced. GardenGuy is probably right about the pH, as a lot of east coast soils are acidic, but so is grasshole, you never know until you test. If you are going to lime without testing on the east coast I would use calcitic over dolomitic.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2012 at 9:16PM
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