I live in Colorado; a beautiful state but dry, dry…did I say dry? So, to keep your grass from the humid state of Kentucky looking good; you have to water it regularly and the majority of people in Denver metro area water using a sprinkler system. I do too. My system is me putting out a sprinker and hose and turning on the spigot!
Don’t get me wrong, might enjoy a sprinkler system…oh, that’s right, I have one! But years of reconfiguring the expanse of lawn with perennial beds and xeriscape plants would have me watering the very plants I’ve put in to eliminate that need, so in lieu of having someone do that reconfiguration (I’m sure it would mean a whole new system) I use my method…and I’ve got a great lawn. So many people have asked me for recommendations that it’s time to put pencil to paper, or hands to keyboard at least and give up the secret. The secret really isn’t in the watering; it’s in how to keep the grass healthy with less. So, in a nutshell, here’s my routine:
- Aerate three times a growing season; spring, mid summer and fall
- Fertilize right after aeration – for Colorado I highly recommend Richlawn; an organic fertilizer made for our environment. It won’t burn the grass if for some reason you are stupid enough to fill your spreader on top of the grass; I tested that theory myself and am happy to report it’s true!
- Apply a wetting agent after fertilizer. I use Revive but there are home recipe versions that I’m sure work as well. I reapply Revive about once a month; it’s much less expensive than having to water more than twice a week.
- Which brings me to watering. Yes, twice a week and thoroughly. Not 4 times a week for a little bit each time; that just grows short root systems that need watering more regularly and so you have a constant cycle of your grass needing more water. Starve it a bit; will grow deeper roots and be healthier. I water when it needs it, not when it’s the right day…so if you have a system, consider installing a rain gauge. If it’s raining, the sprinklers will not go on.Nothing more exasperating to a water conservator to see someone watering in the rain; that’s right up there with seeing sprinklers water sidewalks…aargh!
- Do not bag your clippings. Clippings DO NOT CREATE THATCH. They are full of nutrients (that fertilizer you bought) and also serve to mulch the grass roots. Might mean mowing more than once a week but if the intent is to either cut back on water usage for conservation reasons or to save money you have to make sure you honor your priority. Even in the spring when grass is going nuts, I just do it once a week and go over any clumps that might not be thoroughly redistributed by my mulching mower.
- Not really about grass per se; but one secret I have…if an area looks terrible, is so hot and dry that all attempts to keep it green are fruitless and expensive, consider replacing with some Colorado plants that can tolerate the weather. I replaced half of my front yard with a xeriscape garden and it not only manages the heat and less water; it looks beautiful with plants that thrive and bloom during the summer instead!
My ‘Used to be a Hellstrip” section of the front yard. Still too much sun and not enough water but these plants thrive in those conditions.
Colorado State University Extension has even more information on growing healthy grass in Colorado; check out their site for a pdf you can print. Happy Gardening!