Utter Failure

I've been hesitating to post lately because I'm just so embarrassed by how bad my seeding project has gone. As you can see in the first picture, there is some green to be seen, but to be totally honest, most of that green comes from weeds.

There are some tufts of grass in the area, but they are few and far between.

There is some grass inside this dense thicket of weeds, but it's hard to see.
And some of the area looks like this: brown grass left over from the initial kill using Roundup.
So what happened? I hardly feel like I'm qualified to even guess, but I have some theories. Some may be accurate and it's likely that several came into play all at once.
1) I planted too late. I did get a bit of a late start, but the weather was very spring-like when I planted, so I thought I'd be safe. It got hot a couple of weeks after I planted.
2) Some seed may have washed away after a hard rain that hit shortly after I seeded.
3) Poor preparation. I thought I did everything right, but if I had to guess, I'd say that I did a poor job getting good "seed-to-soil contact." I just don't know how hard you are supposed to rake things up. I was concerned about pulling all the seed to one spot as I raked, so I wasn't very vigorous in raking.
4) Bad seed. If you'll remember, I mixed some pure Kentucky Bluegrass seed with a mix I bought this year at the store. The KB seed was purchased last year and it's possible it didn't germinate.
5) Lack of water. I did try to water twice a day, but I wasn't as consistent as I should have been. My underground sprinkler system has a short and I have to manually start the sprinklers. Some days I may have not let them run long enough.
So what to do now? I'm hesitant to spray weed killer on the area (at least it's green!) because, even though the grass is six weeks old, it could kill the new grass too. I'm also not sure that I want to keep watering this mess through the dog days of summer (throwing good money after bad). What I may do is string it along and over-seed in the fall when conditions should be better. If I do that, I'll be stuck with the embarrassment for the entire summer!
As I've said many times, I am no expert in lawn care. That's one reason I started this blog. I wanted to consult experts and help others like myself who are a bit clueless about getting a green lawn. If this had been a real medieval quest to slay a dragon (instead of weeds), I would have tripped on my sword on the way out of the castle and impaled myself. Oh well, there's always next growing season!



I sprayed for weeds late last week in the backyard. The front yard is surprisingingly free of weeds, so I think I can spot-spray there.

I did have one hit-your-forehead forehead moment. I had some weed killer left over from last year. I started with an Ortho product. I read the instruction and used a hose-end sprayer set at one ounce/gallon. That ran out about a third through the backyard, so I grabbed some Bayer concentrate, quickly scanned the instruction and saw the mixture was 1 1/2 ounce/gallon. So I changed the setting on my hose-end sprayer and finished up the backyard. That's when I looked more closely at the instruction and saw the warning "Don't use with a hose-end sprayer." Whoops! I did notice that the Bayer product was thicker than the Ortho, but it did get sucked up by the sprayer, so it appears to have worked. It's been three days and I am seeing the leaves wilt on both areas, so I think I'm okay. Not sure why the Ortho is supposed to mixed only in a pump sprayer. It was thicker, so maybe they are concerned about getting a proper mixture with the hose-end sprayer.


Ornamental Grasses

My colleague at The Forum, Tammy Swift, wrote a very informative article this past weekend on ornamental grasses. Check it out here. There are some great pictures and information on what kinds of grasses grow well here. One of the benefits of ornamental grass is low maintenance.

On a side note, I went to college with Tammy Swift a long time ago. I have no idea if she remembers me. I was kind of a wallflower back then and she was always obnoxiously loud so she may not have noticed me. :>)

Photo Courtesy of The Forum


Slow Growth

Watching grass grow is not the most exciting of pastimes; especially when it doesn't seem to be growing at all! It has been almost too cool over the past week for grass to grow. I should have a good amount of germinating seeds by now (it's been nine days), but I've got nothing.

I just don't think the ground is warm enough to promote quick germination. That's why Fall is such a good time to plant grass because the soil is warm from a summer of sunshine, but the nights are cool which helps to promote seed growth.

For those from outside of the region, you should know that we've had an extremely cool start to summer in Grand Forks. We've been well-below average. In fact, the average temperature is nearly 10 degrees below normal so far in June (see chart here). WDAZ's Meteorologist John Wheeler is promising a slow warm-up, so we'll see if we get some green growth. I need it to get started. I have some paint to watch dry as well!



I worked on the seeding job off and on all day on Saturday and finally got it done. It always seems to take longer than you expect.

I used a lot more of the yard of dirt than I expected. I filled in a couple of low spots and then spread a thin layer out over the whole area.

My first dilemma was getting the seed mixture that I wanted. I consulted this article from the NDSU Extension service that recommends a mixture of Bluegrass (55-65%), Fescue (30-35%) and perennial Ryegrass (10-15%) for our climate. But I couldn't find a mix anywhere close to this after checking home improvement stores and a big box retailer. Now I didn't look far and wide, so I may have been able to find it with more looking, but I was getting a bit desparate on a Saturday afternoon to get the seed down. My solution was to mix a bag I found with about a 33-33-33 mixture with seed from a bag of pure Kentucky Bluegrass. I didn't do the math, but I figured that I got closer to the proper mixture that way.

So after leveling out the soil, I spread some starter fertilizer and followed that up with the seed. I used a hand spreader rather than throwing it out by hand in order to get an even distribution. I added some grass clipping to act as a mulch. Now I have to water it a couple of times a day for a few weeks. Since it's not pure Bluegrass (which has a slower germination), I should see some of the ryegrass and fescue coming up fairly quickly. I'll post some pictures soon.


Seeding Update

My effort to kill the grass by the berm was, as I expected, only partially successful. After I started to get some die-off, I was able to go back in and spot spray the stuff that was missed by the first application. I did the spot spraying on Tuesday, so I should be good to go over the next couple of days.

I plan on mowing the dead grass very short. Then, I had some soil delivered today that I'll be using to fill in some low spots and even out that part of the lawn before I seed it. I got way more soil then I need so I may fill in some other low spots in the back yard (the yard was not leveled correctly when it was first seeded by the builder).

I let you know how the seeding goes.


Grass Killer

Sprayed Roundup Thursday on the section of lawn between the street and the sidewalk. I've had a lot of trouble with weeds and a poor grass mix in that area, so I'm going to reseed it after everything dies off. The label says you can replant in 3 days, but it seems to me, I've been told it's better to wait a week. It will depend on the weather, I suppose.

One thing I regret is that I used the hose-sprayer to apply the Roundup instead of a spray canister. You have to set the dial for six ounces per gallon and it came out way faster than I was anticipating. I was half-way done with the section of lawn and realized I'd already used about 3/4ths of the concentrate, so I had to hurry just to get some down on the rest of it. I'll probably end up with a really good kill on the first half and I'll have to spot treat the rest. Oh well. You learn something new every day.

I'll keep you updated on the progress with some pictures in the next couple of days.