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For Dark Green Organic Lawns, Check Your Grass Cultivar

This question came in today from our friend Howard Harrison from Washington state: “I know that a dark green lawn is almost always a sign that a lot of high nitrogen fertilizer has been used — a lawn on drugs. As much as I explain to clients about this, they still want a pretty dark green lawn. I recently lost a client that I had worked on renovating their lawn for almost a year — because it wasn’t green enough. They went back to ChemLawn!

“On your web site where you have pictures of different organic lawns — your own lawn looks darker green than the others. What do you do differently with yours than maybe the others don’t do? More organic fertilizer?”

Howard,
That is very perceptive about the dark color. That blue-green color (found on the home page of www.safelawns.org) is due more to the grass seed we planted than it does the fertilizer and maintenance. We planted “Black Beauty,” a mixture of seed sold by Jonathan Green and sold to us by our friend Jesse O’Brien at Downeast Turf in Kennebunk, Maine. Black Beauty is a mixture of turf type tall fescue, perennial ryegrass and just a bit of Kentucky bluegrass, which are three different species of cool-season grasses bred for lawns. Within those species are “cultivars” that have different attributes. Black Beauty seeds, as their name would suggest, are suggested for their dark green color.

Other grasses may be perfectly healthy, but a lighter green. No amount of extra fertilizer will make them dark green. It’s a good thing to keep in mind when you’re managing your expectations about lawn color.

The good news is that you can introduce darker green grasses into your lawn by overseeding in the fall. The new seed will sprout and usually begin to outcompete existing grass plants by the end of the first year.

About The Author

Paul Tukey

An international leader of the green movement, Mr. Tukey is a journalist, author, filmmaker, TV host, activist and award-winning public speaker, who is widely recognized as North America's leading advocate for landscape sustainability and toxic pesticide reduction strategies.

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  • http://www.mdvaden.com M. D. Vaden – Portland Landscape & Trees

    This is a pretty good landscape suggestion when folks are preparing to begin a new lawn from seed, or overseed an existing lawn.

    In the Portland, Oregon, area, many homeowners are limited to the rygrass offered, or already supplied, by the 2 or 3 main growers and landscapers who laid the grass in the past.

    But almost any lawn can be overseeded over time. And good cultivars are not much more to buy.

    MDV
    Oregon

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