Homegrown: Helping new sod along

We moved into a newly constructed house Dec. 1 and just had sod installed. Everyone else’s lawn is getting green now except ours.  Anything we can do to help this new sod along?

— Linda

The fact that your sod isn’t greening up yet isn’t a cause for alarm in and of itself.

It’s common for different lawns to start greening up at different times in the spring. There are a number of possible explanations for this.

First, it may be the variety of Bluegrass you have. Some have the tendency to green up earlier than others.

However, the difference is usually in the exposure of the lawn or how it’s been cultured.

Exposure is pretty easy — a lawn that’s in a sunnier, warmer area will green up sooner than one that’s in the shade and cooler.

Culture is a bit more complicated. A lawn that has been well-fertilized and has a good amount of moisture in the soil will green up earlier than otherwise.

A late fall fertilization with a heavy application of fast-release nitrogen from late October into November (which is our standard recommendation nowadays) will result in the lawn greening up earlier in the spring.

I know people who are really anxious to get the lawn jump-started and fertilize early in the spring and water it in well.

Frankly, I’ve never understood that. I’m never in that much of a hurry to start mowing. Anyway, the bottom line is water and nitrogen with a touch of warmer weather.

One note of caution before you go out and spread the fertilizer around. You need to water it in well after applying. Also, once you’ve kicked the lawn into gear you need to be willing and ready to provide additional water as the weather dictates.

I’m not sure when exactly your sod was laid (maybe you don’t know either), but there’s a small possibility that there’s a problem with it.

Sod laid too late in the season doesn’t have an opportunity to root down and establish itself before things freeze for the winter. This will make the turf prone to drought and cold damage.

Normally, we don’t worry about winter watering turf since our grasses are surprisingly hardy and durable, but in a case like this, there can be damage or even loss of the grass.

Like I said before, this is a small chance and I doubt it’s what’s happening in your yard, but do a little checking on the grass.

Grab a handful of the lawn blades and pull gently. It should be rooted down to the soil. If it pulls up, that’s an indication that there may be a problem.

Expect to see some green tissue in the turf, especially if you look down at the base of the plant. If everything is dry, I might start worrying.

If you have any doubts or questions, dig up a 12x12-inch patch and bring it out for us to look at.

I’m looking for a foundation plant for the northeast corner of the house. I would like a flowering plant or some color. We live in Cedaredge.

— Alice

There are a whole bunch of different plants to choose from.

It will depend on how high you want the plant to grow or not grow. In shorter shrubs (4-feet or less), you could choose from Barberry, Alpine Currant, Emerald Mound Honeysuckle, Sunburst Hypericum, Dwarf Snowflake Mockorange, Potentilla, Lodense Privet, Smaller Shrub Roses, Dwarf Spirea and Dwarf Weigela.

All of these will tolerate sun.

If it’s shady, you could consider Boxwood, Berri-Magic Holly, Endless Summer Hydrangea or Compact Oregon Grape.

If you need taller things, there are loads of choices there as well.

If you get a chance, stop by the nursery. We have books we’ve made up with appropriate descriptions and pictures to give you an idea of what each plant looks like.

Dennis Hill is the nursery manager at Bookcliff Gardens, http://www.bookcliffgardens.com. Send questions to Bookcliff Gardens, 755 26 Road, Grand Junction 81506; or e-mail .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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