Gulley Greenhouse and Garden Center in Fort Collins Colorado has a great supply of grass seed, lawn fertilizers, and everything else to take care of your lawn.
Learn how to take care of your lawn year round and find tips and solutions to keep your yard looking great.
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Get to know your yard
Measure the area from north to south and east to west. Multiply these two measurements to get your square footage. Your square footage will determine how much seed, fertilizer and soil additive to get. While you are measuring the area you should also make note of how much shade and direct sunlight your yard will get. Will that change in the summer once the trees have all their leaves or the house shades the lawn?
Test your soil
Do you remember your school science classes? All plants like certain types of soil to grow in. Grass tends to like soil with a pH of about 6.5. Dandelions seem to like a pH of 7.5, which is what most of our soil here is. To find out what your soil is made of you can buy a test kit at Gulley Greenhouse or if you would like a more detailed report call the Colorado Extension Office, they offer a more intensive kit (Available at Gulley’s). If you are concerned about your results, ask our helpful staff for the solution.
Choose the best seed
Gulley Greenhouse selects the best quality seeds available for our area. You will need to choose the best seed to meet your needs. Most lawns here are “Cool Season” grasses, meaning they grow best when it is cool (think light jacket weather) and the plants rest when it is too cold or too hot (think July through August). The best time to plant this type of grass seed is in spring or fall. In full sun, bluegrass offers lush lawns with deep color and the ability to fill back in if damaged Fescue will tolerate heat, shade, drought and traffic from children and pets. Buffalo grass is a warm season grass that needs very little maintenance or water but is not very good to play on.
Prepare your soil
The soil is where the lawn receives its food and water. If there are weeds in the area, remove them now. Our expert staff can help you find the answer which will work best for you. Loosen up that soil and mix in Soil Pep or Eko Compost, which will also help correct high pH. Adding New Lawn Fertilizer now will give the little plants just enough food without burning their tiny roots up. Once you have mixed everything into the soil, use a rake to create a level area, also add to the soil some pre emergent weed killer, this will avoid weeding in the future, Corn Gluten is one of the best solutions and it is organic! Find it at Gulley Greenhouse.
Spread the Grass Seed
There are two types of lawn spreaders and you can use either to distribute grass seed. Following the directions that come with the spreader, adjust the spreader settings for the type of grass you purchased.
The best way to evenly spread the seed is to divide the grass seed into two halves. Walking at a steady pace, spread the first half of the grass seed walking from north to south or east to west. Spread the second half walking diagonally so the seed crisscrosses the whole yard. Lightly rake to cover the seed with a thin layer of soil.
Lightly water the newly planted seed with a fine spray of water, making sure you aren’t washing away any of the seeds. You must keep the soil evenly moist, which means you will need to lightly water 2 or 3 times a day, depending the temperature and how sunny or cloudy the day is. Depending on which variety of grass you have planted it may take 2 to 4 weeks for new grass blade to appear. You will need to keep the soil evenly moist until most of the new grass is at least half an inch tall. Afterwards you can cut the watering back to once every day or every other day. Water slowly so the water soaks into the soil 6” deep. (You want to make sure the soil doesn’t dry out but too much water will rot your new pride and joy).
Once the new lawn reached 3-4” high, mow. Never cut more than one third off any plant including a grass plant. With some exceptions, most lawns do best when mowed to a height of about 2-3” with a sharp blade. Mow when the soil is on the dry side so you don’t tear the new grass. Once you have mowed your new lawn a couple of times, you can cut back on the water to twice a week, making sure each watering soaks in deeply. You may also use a slow-release fertilizer at this time, such as Fertilome Classic Lawn Food or Scotts Super Turf Builder. Organic gardeners will want to use Natural Lawn Food from Espoma.
After planting, water each plant thoroughly. 6pm to 9am is the best time period, but if you don’t have a timed sprinkler system water during a cool day. Water in the evening or early morning so moisture will not evaporate out of the ground, but don’t let moisture remain on the leaves or powdery mildew could develop.
Always water deeply, slowly, and for long periods of time, do not sprinkle your plants. It may look like moisture is getting into the ground but many times its just running off in rivulets. When using a hose keep it on low so your plants aren’t harmed. Water at least 15 to 20 minutes if not for a half hour. This will save plants from the stress of dehydration.
Sowing seed is the cheapest method of lawn production. Choosing seed is very important for the aesthetic look and health of lawn.
Make sure the seed matches the climate conditions and your own expectations. You know exactly which types of grass you are planting. It is very important to research your choice of seeds for your particular site.
You need to decide what types of grass you want: fine or coarse-textured, slender or broad-leafed.
Feed the soil a week before the seed dispersal
Seed during early-mid Sept. or April if the summer will not be too hot and dry. The topsoil should be dry with moist soil just below the surface. Use 5-8 lbs. per 1000 sq. feet.
Gently rake the soil in straight lines, distribute the seed (north-south, s-n, e-w, w-e), and add an extra 3” to each side of the lawn to fill in the edges
To protect the seeds from water shortage drag a rake over the area. To protect them from birds use bird repellants, but usually raking, a deep watering, a row cover and a mulch of soil pep will be sufficient in hot weather.
*Water well but not enough to wash the seeds away. Continue to water 1x a day if the weather is cool, or 3x a day if it’s a hot season, until new shoots appear(within 1-3 weeks). Keep the area moist not soaked.
Core cultivation and aeration are key before reseeding. Use 3-5 lbs. per 2,000 sq. feet. Lightly rake or drag the seed into the lawn and irrigate well. Use the original seed that was used to create a clean, uniform appearance.
Laying Sod (Turf)
May be expensive depending on the grass varieties, but it yields quicker results with instant gratification. Buy sod from a reputable source, sometimes you cannot return the sod if it looks unhealthy (brown patches or yellowing).
October and November are the best months to lay sod. March or April sodding may require more regular watering intervals if the weather is dry and could cause shrinking to the turf and death to the roots.
Fertilize the prepared site so it is readily available to the sod roots.
Get the plot ready a week before laying, it is as important as the sod itself.
Lay sod flat as quickly as possible, it may deteriorate fast.
Water the sod thoroughly after planting. Spot watering on the edges of the strips, along the lawn edge, and close to any side walks or driveways may be required.
Stresses such as heat, drought, over-watering, compacted soils and excessive thatch make grasses more susceptible to problems. Practices such as core aeration, proper watering, fertilizing and mowing can help damaged areas recover.
When to water
Supply is determined by precipitation and snowpack in the mountains, not what falls over the Front Range cities. Water when there is a loss of ‘springiness’ because if you wait too much longer discoloration and yellowing will occur as well as moss and weeds flourishing when the water balance is restored.
Always water during a cool day or late in the evening so the water will not evaporate and bake out of the ground, 9 pm to 9 am is the best time
Water once a week under normal conditions, 2 times during hot/dry conditions, and every 10 days when cool weather permits. There are many moisture devices to test the lawn’s watering needs, and always water deeply.
It is important to let your lawn dry out slightly to let air in to stimulate deep root development. If a lawn is watered too often it will lead to the spreading of weeds and a shallow root system.
There are many sprinkling devices with varying heads: portable, stationary, and underground.
Most prominent in Colorado. Grass becomes sparse and dies out in large patches. Two generations each season. Dingy or gray worms with dark spots on backs. During the day they are on the surface in web tunnels and at night they emerge to cut off grass blades.
Occasional infestation, are the grubs of May and June beetles, white or gray with 3 pairs of legs. Adult beetles feed on trees and shrubs and cut off the roots of grass causing browning and death.
Eggs laid in grass stems, create small dead patches, are present when grass is lifted and there is sawdust-like material at the broken ends.
Millermoth grubs, feed at night, hide under debris in daytime, eat leaves and crowns of grass.
Usually cause little damage, clean-up is more for aesthetic purposes.
Mites, chinch bug, slugs.
Apply herbicides when weeds are actively growing, on moist soil, and application should be in infected areas(using post-emergent). Don’t apply if hot or windy, don’t mow for 2 days.
Post-emergent herbicides include: contact(kills weeds aboveground), systemic(kills weed roots and is most effective), selective(kills certain weeds), non-selective(kills broad and narrowleaf weeds).
Pre-emergent herbicides don’t give the weeds a chance to grow, but might kill a newly seeded lawn.
Then there are the herbicides that will kill everything including your grass (Roundup).
Common Weeds in Lawns
Crabgrass spreading shoots with broad leaves, grows rapidly in uncared for lawns.
Dandelions spring/fall, yellow flower turns into a white fluffball, grow even from a leftover root piece.
Spurge light pink to white flowers, spreading habit.
Chickweed small leaves, sometimes hairy, with small white flowers.
Knotweed likes hard beaten paths, tiny white flowers on small-leafed shoots.
Oxalis upright perennial, clover-like, small yellow flowers, cucumber shaped seed pods.
Mushrooms appear with wet weather and can form a ring.
Others like Purslane, Tall Fescue, Canada & Musk Thistle, Bindweed, Bent & Quack Grass, Puncture Vine, Mallow, Clover, Violets, Bluebell, Annual Bluegrass, Tree Suckers(use Sucker Stopper).
Most diseases are caused by parasitic plants(fungi), which grow best in cool, moist conditions. Plant the right kind of grass to help long-term. Eliminate insect/cultural problems as the cause, then purchase the correct fungicides(Liquid, Systemic, Fung-Away, Triple Action) or use products with Daconil.
Brown Patch mid-late summer, large irregular circles, edges look water soaked. Occurs due to high temperatures, excess thatch and moisture, high humidity or over-fertilization.
Damping-Off(seedling lawns) seedlings emerge then collapse. Due to over-watering, excess nitrogen.
Dollar Spot (top right image.) spring-fall, small 2” circles that combine, fine white webbing may be present early morning. Due to lack of nitrogen, excess moisture and thatch.
Others – Leaf Spot, Powdery Mildew, Pythium Blight, Rust, Red Thread, Summer Patch.