Enjoying a healthy, green lawn is a hallmark of Colorado summers. If you’re planning to install a new lawn this summer, here are six steps to help your project succeed.
1. Prepare the soil. Smart soil preparation is one of the best things you can do to help your lawn thrive. Colorado soils are naturally low in organic matter, the dark mat1erial that creates the rich, fertile soil found in wetter climates. Turfgrass grows best in soils that have 3-5% organic matter, while our native soils only contain 1-2%. To increase the soil organic matter to the ideal level, rototill a good quality soil amendment 4 to 6 inches deep into your soil before installing sod or seed. Soil amendments help the soil hold more moisture between watering days, which lessens drought stress. It also helps your new grass grow a deep, healthy root system.
2. Know the different products available. Soil amendments play a different role than fertilizers, fill soil, or soil replacements. Landscape suppliers sell many different materials, but only amendments high in organic matter will hold more water in the soil. Topsoil and tri-mix are not soil amendments and are best used when an area needs additional soil.
3. Keep your receipts if you’re planting sod, turfgrass seed or a non-native grass seed mix. You'll need to submit these when you apply for an establishment permit. (More on that in step four.) Because soil amendments are so effective at improving soil’s ability to hold moisture, it’s required to till enough of an approved amendment into the soil before planting non-native sod or grass seed. If you know the square footage of your new lawn, the establishment permit application will help you calculate the amount you need.
4. Get an establishment permit. New water-wise rules are here, and this allows you to temporarily water new sod or seed during the day, and more than three days a week. It’s valid for 28 days for sod and 42 days for seed projects. Check the permit’s requirements before starting your project. You can apply online or by email at ESPT@csu.org and there is no charge for the permit.
5. Set your watering schedule. New sod or seed needs to be watered multiple times per day. As its root system grows stronger, it can be watered less often. Our suggested watering schedule can help you get started.
6. Make a plan for long-term watering and lawn care. Once your establishment permit has expired, it’s important to water to maximize your new lawn’s health. We've got you covered with tips and resources, including seasonal lawn watering guidelines, a suggested lawn watering schedule and lawn care tips.
Amending your soil is a key step to creating a water-wise lawn that you’ll enjoy for years to come. To help you be well-prepared for success, email us at ESTP@csu.org with questions or visit our Water Wise Rules page.