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How To Plant Water Saver RTF Grass Seed

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This spring we planted Barenbrug Water Saver RTF  Grass and I wanted to share our experience with everyone in the community. I am excited because I have wanted a lawn for a very long time! Our goal was to plant a grass that did not require a lot of water nor did we want to use harmful chemicals or fertilizers. Barenbrug Water Saver RTF grass has the ability to grow a very deep root system if the top soil is deep. That is why conditioning the soil or hauling in good top soil is important. It also uses thirty percent less water, at least that is what I have read. Water saver grass will not grow well in low altitude areas where the night temperatures do not drop. Grass seed is best planted in the fall. We planted in the spring because we hope to move by fall.

This way is not easier but it is better for the environment. Follow through and I will share how we planted our grass achieving great results so far.

Update:  It could be helpful to read the comment section to see what other people have said about how we planted our lawn. We had very very poor soil. It was so hard we could not dig it with a shovel unless we soaked small areas with water to soften the soil. This is one reason we did not have a lawn for a long time. It takes time to condition soil naturally. 
 
Disclaimer: We are not professionals so if you decide to use this method you are doing so at your own risk. I highly recommend testing your soil and speaking with professionals about what grass seeds grow best in your neighborhood.
This instructable was updated 7/2/2013.
 
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OK so I'm from England and I am always amazed by the effort Americans go to to water and maintain grass. I see grass everyday popping up in cracks in the pavement and no-one I know ever waters grass
I'm from the US and I'm always amazed by the effort Americans put into growing lawns, period. I find monocultures to be far less visually attractive, and in the case of lawns, completely useless. I'm a fan of planting food gardens in my front yard instead. I'm not sure what inspired the American lawn obsession, but its time needs to pass. ;)

I like to lay in grass during the spring and summer and nap, and there's no better place for me to do that than at home :) Which is why I tend to my lawn.

the "obsession actually started in England and other European countries where grass easily grows. And absolutely agree that food gardens are far more practical. there's actually a really good video about this by John Green at here
right so plant a native grass variant, in my case a Fescue a pasture grass. Turf type to be precise. Uses nowhere near the water and needs to be mowed every 3 weeks
I had to laugh at your comment! I think the Pacific Northwest has weather similar to England. However here . . . . most of the time weeds are mowed and watered just to have a small bit of green to keep the dust down! Thanks for sharing and please do have a splendorous day!
sunshiine
Tex Arcana1 year ago
Warning for those in southern and hotter/drier climates:

DO NOT USE THIS PRODUCT!!

Fescue is fine for anything north of oklahoma, but it'll bake and die in places like Texas, new Mexico, Arizona, southern California, Mississippi, alabama, and Georgia. Moister climates might be okay, but anyplace drier will destroy this grass.

Stick to Bermuda at least; or zoysia or buffalo grass. these are native to drier southern climates, and are hardy with minimal watering. They grow decently deep root systems, if you water deeply and infrequently, and if you mow then deep, they'll shade out most weeds. They do require full sunshine (8-12 hours a day), so planting a shadier variety (bluegrass/fescue hybrids) under heavily shaded areas is best.

And don't mess with StAugustine in dry climes: takes way too much water to survive. It's good for wet areas (southeast Texas, Louisiana, florida), but that's it.

And, yes: I'm a lifelong Texan, and been dealing with this all my life. :-)

Hope this helps
sunshiine (author)  Tex Arcana1 year ago
Thanks for sharing this with my readers. I recently called the Barenbrug company and learned it is not so much the state you live in as it is the altitude. Low altitudes like Phoenix is not suitable for this type of grass, however, it will grow in Tuscon. It also makes a difference if the nighttime temperatures cool off. Have a splendorous summer!
unshiine
sunshiine (author)  Tex Arcana1 year ago
Thanks for sharing this!
sunshiine
dchall81 year ago
Kudos for putting in a lawn.  Contrary to some opinions, lawns are often necessary to keep the soil in place.  There are many places where every rain storm will undermine the foundation of buildings just a little.  Then little by little it leads to foundation cracks or tilting of the slab. 

I cannot help Sunshine with her project, but maybe I can save some hassle for others reading this I'ble.  She made a couple of mistakes which cost her money, set back her project as much as a year, will give her headaches for the next 3 years, and could cost her the curb appeal and value of that tree in the yard. 

The biggest thing you can do to improve your chances of successfully seeding a lawn is to do it in the fall.  I don't know who is promoting the idea of seeding in the spring, but that is a terrible time.  Had Sunshine seeded her original lawn in the fall, the grass would not have died from heat.  Had she seeded her second attempt in the fall, she would not have been on edge worrying about whether the heat would come and kill her Lawn 2.0.  Another reason not to seed in the spring is that crabgrass seed is germinating at that time.  In the fall crabgrass does not germinate, because the days are getting shorter.  When you seed grass in the spring and it dies in June, the crabgrass moves in fast to fill in where the grass seed died out.  Seeding in the spring is the fast track to crabgrass in July. 

The next mistake was in digging up the soil.  When you dig soil, it takes 3 years for the soil to settle back down into a structure in harmony with the grass roots.  All you need to install a lawn is a level surface.  Leveling is best done at the surface with minimum disturbance of the surface.  Given the conditions of her 'before' pictures, it looks like filling in the low spots was all that was needed.  This is hard to evaluate in 2 dimensional photos.  If there were high spots, those should be scraped off, not dug out.  In the areas where she dug, the soil will continue to settle for three years.  It will not pay to try and level it before summer of 2016, because anything you do at the surface will still have unsettled soil underneath.  The headache will be from mowing over a bumpy surface that continues to get bumpier every month.  Digging and rototilling is the mistake that keeps on giving. 

The problem with the tree is it is buried too deep under the soil.  When tree bark is buried, it becomes susceptible to a fungus that eats into the layers under the bark.  Eventually the tree will die as it rots right underneath the bark.  The bark on the roots is different bark and does not rot.  It would appear that a minimum of three inches of soil should have been removed from the entire yard to bring the roots up to the surface on that tree.  It could be more would need to go.  As the tree dies she will see it thinning out, some discoloration on the leaves, yellowing, and eventually death.  What you should see on a tree is the top of the roots flaring out into the soil.  If the top of the flare is two inches above the soil level, that usually works. 

I would strongly urge anyone wanting to install a lawn to search the Internet for the many lawn care forums.  Please stay away from the forums catering to lawn care professionals.  Those forums are more directly involved with helping professionals with the ins and outs of running their business.  They have some 'how to' forums but when home owners want to know what weed they have, sometimes the pros will get a little curt.  But there are several forums for the rest of us.  A few of them are very good, have a library of articles, plethora of frequently asked questions, and a gallery of showcase lawns.  These forums can get as many as fifty new messages in a day.  Please read up on the project before you do anything.  Then if you still have questions about your situation, feel free to join the forum (they are almost all free) and ask questions.  Oh and always let them know where you live.  Your exact geography has more to do with lawn success than your USDA hardiness zone.

One more thing directly pertinent to the topic.  Other water saver grasses include the many wheatgrasses along with blue grama.  These are prairie grass but when mowed short make an excellent lawn.  West of the Cascades they might not ever need water.  East of the Cascades they will need water at least four times per year starting in about June.  Fertilizer requirements are minimal.  Mowing should be done monthly.  Check with your most local industrial seed suppliers about which of the wheatgrasses grow best in your area.  These guys sell only seed are not affiliated with a local nursery or garden center. 

Good luck with your lawn projects!
sunshiine (author)  dchall81 year ago
Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I mentioned in my tutorial it would be helpful to read comments about my instructable to get others peoples ideas about how we planted our grass. Have a splendorous summer!
sunshiine
Valdemad1 year ago
Thanks for good make-lawn-guide, Sunshiine!
Would you be so kind to describe how to use acumulator screwdriver to mow weeds i.e dandelion?
Thanks!
sunshiine (author)  Valdemad1 year ago
It is simple actually. A day after I water, I insert the long screw driver very close to the stem of the plant and push the screw driver into the soft ground. Then I slightly wiggle ( as not to make a huge hole) and carefully pull at the base of the plant. If the plant stem does not pull easily I wiggle the screw driver a little more and try again. It usually does the trick. Thanks for commenting and I hope this helps!
sunshiine
lej6191 year ago
Ok I can follow what you are doing, but for the life of me I don't see when you put the "seed" down!!! You go from talking about the peat moss to planting the grass seed. On the step that says plant seed, you don't talk about seed you talk about mixing the different dirt. Can you explain a bit better? Do I add the seed with the dirt, and if so how much?? Hope you can help
sunshiine (author)  lej6191 year ago
If you look at the pictures in step 8 you will see the seeds under the wire rack. We sprinkled the seeds over the wire rack so the wire rack was a guide for the depth of the seed. Then notice the picture where the dirt is placed over the top of the wire rack and a small board was used to move the dirt so it fell between the cracks of the wire rack covering the seeds evenly. This worked perfectly for us. It was the best method for getting an even coverage.
Thanks!!!!!
sunshiine (author)  lej6191 year ago
By the way, I sent you a PM. It will help you see the pictures better.
Thanks! I am able to make my pictures bigger and see what you r saying now thanks! now to just convince my hubby! Haha
sunshiine (author)  lej6191 year ago
Because we did not have enough good top soil to cover the seed, we made our own mixture using the peat, potting soil, and dirt. If you have good top soil you won't need to follow that step.We planted some of the areas of our yard a little more shallow than other areas because we thought we had been planting the seeds too deep. As it turned out we planted the first section showing the wire rack the correct depth and some of the other areas were burning out so we needed to protect the new grass blades. We did this by covering the new grass with just a little peat moss which saved them.
My husband said if the seed bag says it will cover 1000 sq feet then estimate it will only cover 800 square feet, to get heavy coverage. Use a rake handle and divide the area to be planted into quarter sections and divide the seed into quarters. Sprinkle the seeds over one section of the (leveled ground) but plant inside the line. This will give you an idea how much seed is needed and help you eyeball the amount so you don't run out of seed. Seeds should be covered with 1/4 inch top soil. I hope this helps. If not please pm me and I will try again.
Thank you I appreciate you telling me know!!!
Awesome! and very sustainable! I'm not a grass specialist, but you made a fantastic job! Thanks for sharing Sunshiine! :-)
sunshiine (author)  M.C. Langer1 year ago
I always appreciate your comments! Thanks for your reply! Keep shining!
sunshiine
You're welcome!
That is an amazing lawn, Sunshiine. But I didn't know you had to water anything in the Pacific Northwest. : ) Except when drought strikes. P.S. How do you find aged manure? Thanks!
sunshiine (author)  flyingpuppy1 year ago
Btw Home Depot sells steer manure but I am not sure what type.
Thanks, Sunshiine. I wonder if llama manure would work just as well. The only concern is the weed seed content of said manure.
Unless the manure is sterilized, in the pacific northwest, the weed content is high as a kite. hee hee.
This said from personal experience? I know one time I took horse manure right from the pasture, so I know it wasn't aged, and it had plenty of weed seeds. But I haven't tried stuff that's been decomposing for years.
My comment about the pacific northwest and the weed content was intended as a joke.

My neighbor used horse poop that was several years old, and he didn't have weed issues.

Long ago, my mom used un-steriliezed compost and had a lot of weeds.

Composting cooks the seeds (digests them), or else the seeds sprout and aren't around to sprout again.
Boy, I shoulda gotten that one right away, being not too far from the Beer & Weed Fest.
sunshiine (author)  flyingpuppy1 year ago
http://www.hidog.info/LlamaManure.html


My husband insist that after the manure becomes organic the seeds are rotten and won't sprout. I found this link though that might answer your question. I did a search on llama manure.
after the manure becomes organic the seeds are rotten <= definately and totally depends on the type of seed (and sometimes on the fermentation intensity and time tht the manure endured, of course)
sunshiine (author)  flyingpuppy1 year ago
Yup, one does not need to water in the Pacific Northwest! Well . . . maybe a tiny bit in the summer. Aged manure can be purchased as steer manure from Home Depot, however I would not buy any that was not from organic cows. We got ours from a friend who owns several head of cattle and feeds organic feed. He has fenced areas where cows have been but the gate has closed for a long time so we knew it was aged. Sometimes dairy farmers or ranchers have aged manure to give away or sell. Often horse owners have a pile of aged manure in piles. Thanks so much for stopping by and for your support! Have a splendid summer!
sunshiine
We buy ours from a horseback riding stable in Houston, Herman Park Stables. The owners clean out the stalls at least 2x per day, put the leftovers into already covered shallow area, cover up and 3 years later .... voila aged manure. Great garden and lawn soil.
chuckyd1 year ago
Our grass was planted by the previous owner, and they installed an in-ground watering system. The grass is Zoysia, and it feels great under the feet.

We watered the grass almost daily during the summer for the first couple of years, but then began to cut back until we quit watering altogether. That worked fine, but then diseased areas showed up in the yards. We contacted a turf company and they treat the lawn about every six weeks. The grass is incredible and it never needs watering.

I think the big thing that helps with the no water usage is that we set the mower to its highest cutting. It's just incredible.
miriallen1 year ago
Wow, thank you for this in-depth and very thorough instructable! We're going to be moving out of an apartment complex within the year, and our dogs have left the yard area a bit worse for wear. (The company of course sold the top soil, so the current lawn didn't really have a chance.) I'm glad that you explained how long this will take to do properly, I will gather the materials and start this as soon as possible!
nj_hou1 year ago
Fantastic work !!! appreciated much your sharing this approach
Thank you @
nj_hou1 year ago
Fantastic work !!! appreciated much your sharing this approach
Thank you @
A few things, you did alot right I wanted to add a few notes from my experience
I got a builders house with Blue grass lawn but that requires ALOT of water esp in Summer. So I overseeded with Turf Type Fescue, looks like Blue Grass but uses less than 50% of the KBG water needs.
A note to decide which is the best grass for your area you should go to http://www.ntep.org/
They evaluate all the grass seed produced and this way you can see what is best for your area.
If you want a green lawn and big root system, make sure you use a 18.0.18 fertilizer (Winterizer) 18 in the front is for Green grass the 18 at the end if for strong roots, make sure you put that down in fall as it helps the grass get ready for winter and when spring comes around a green lawn.
Kdemon1 year ago
Do you have any camera angles that are about the same for a before/after pictures... I think that would be a great conclusion!
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