Planting grass can be challenging in Colorado’s arid climate, where you must use special care to ensure germination and continued growth. The state’s heavy, alkaline clay must be amended, and you have to choose your seed wisely to promote healthy root systems. Read on to learn the best way to plant and nurture grass in Colorado.
Doing the Prep Work
Untreated Colorado soils can have a pH as high as 8.5, which isn’t ideal for grass. Before you do anything, it’s best to take a soil test to determine how your lawn should be amended. Remove any large stones, rocks and other debris to help loosen the upper 12 inches of soil.
Till up some organic material, such as sphagnum peat, composted manure or other compost, into the upper 6 inches of soil. Ideally, you should use four cubic yards of organic matter per every 1,000 square feet of area. You may also need to add fertilizer based on the results of your soil test. If so, it’s important to do so according to the manufacturer’s directions. While you are treating the soil, you will also want to adjust the grade of your landscape to drain away from your home and any other buildings.
Choosing the Right Grass
Cool-season grasses are generally best for areas of Colorado at higher elevations. Seed them in the early spring or fall when the young grasses will not be exposed to strong sun and hot weather. If possible, seed your grass just before a light rain shower, but not if the weather forecast predicts a heavy downpour that might wash away the seeds. If the weather won’t provide enough irrigation, water your lawn to keep the seedbed moist without allowing water to pool up on the surface.
Hardy Kentucky bluegrass is the most commonly found lawn grass in the Denver metropolitan area. Good quality seed mixes will generally contain a blend of a minimum of five cultivars, which create a more disease-resistant, high-quality lawn.
Colorado’s state grass, blue grama grass is also a nice drought-tolerant, low-maintenance grass. Although it doesn’t hold up very well to constant foot traffic, blue grama is a native warm-season option that will grow in Colorado’s warm summer climate. It thrives at elevations as high as 7,000 feet and remains hardy in areas as cold as USDA zone 3. Plant blue grama grass in areas that receive full sun no earlier than late May and no later than mid-July, when temperatures are at least 65 degrees F.
Desert and Mountain Regions
Different grasses are necessary for dry, elevated Colorado climates. Fescues and native grasses are much better adapted to the state’s mountainous regions, where temperatures can plummet to minus 30 degrees F in the winter with most precipitation coming as winter snowfall. Tall fescue remains hardy in USDA zones 5 to 8; while fine fescue stays hardy in zones 1 to 7. Both grow pretty well in shade and are somewhat drought tolerant.
Tall fescue is capable of developing a deep root system; however, Colorado’s clay soil prevents this unless it has been amended and cultivated to a depth of at least 12 inches. Fine fescue is a good choice for mountainous regions because it can go dormant at temperatures below 50 degrees and above 90 F.
In addition to choosing the right grass, you need to know how to properly prepare the soil and nurture your seedlings to ensure healthy root systems. Too often, homeowners waste money on failed DIY projects, when they could have gotten healthy carpets of flourishing grass with the help of a reputable landscaping company. It takes years of experience and expertise to promote a healthy landscape in Colorado’s challenging climate. For this reason, it’s best to work with professionals who know how to get optimal results.
At RMPS Landscaping in Castle Rock, we provide a diversity of landscaping services, from hardscaping and stonework to plants, trees, sod and full-scale landscape renovations. Visit our featured projects page for a little inspiration, and contact our experts to learn how we can help turn your vision into reality.