|close-up of an Enviro-Turf
pencil is shown for scale
Bluestem's Enviro-Turf - a low maintenance lawn seed
Want a lawn that is less thirsty and requires less work?
Just imagine a dark green lawn (even in the heat of summer)
that needs watering every 10 days to two weeks, rarely requires
fertilizer and grows slowly, resulting in less frequent
When developing our Enviro-Turf seed mix, the varieties
of grass were chosen with the above qualities in mind. It
has succeeded admirably. Visit our
blog to read about how George in San Diego, California,
cut his water bill in half.
So, for those of you who are planting a new lawn or replacing
an old one, and who don’t like all the time and costs
of watering/ irrigating, fertilizing, and mowing a conventional
lawn (but still want a lawn that looks good), Enviro-Turf
is a practical alternative.
Our Enviro-Turf mix is suitable for all of the US and most
of Canada, however it is not suitable for soil that is constantly
wet and has poor drainage. Clay soil is suitable if the
drainage is reasonable underneath. Does water puddle on
your soil for days on end? If so, you do not have good drainage
and Enviro-Turf would not be a good choice. However as long
as the water drains away within 24 hours, you should be
fine with our Enviro-Turf.
|G. Baboi's beautiful landscape,
using our Enviro-Turf, in San Diego
This mix produces a lawn that looks very much like a conventional
lawn, but is darker green in colour. The mix consists of:
- Sheep Fescue
- Chewings Fescue
- Hard Fescue
- Creeping Red Fescue
- Perennial Ryegrass - contains endophyte (repel
Planting time is spring or fall and germination takes roughly
7 to 10 days. For best results, use Bluestem's Enviro-Turf
in clean well-drained, weed-free soil. Keep the ground slightly
damp until the seeds sprout, then be sure the new lawn is
watered frequently for the first season.
In the second season of growth, try cutting back the water
as much as possible. Watch the grass for signs of needing
water. If the blades look dull-green in color, that is the
sign that they are thirsty. Often a lawn will have an area
where this will show up before any other area. That is the
signal to water the entire lawn.
Recommended mowing height is 2.5 - 3". An organic
lawn fertilizer can be applied in the fall. Try soybean
meal, which can be purchased at a feed store. If your lawn
is not a nice dark green (Enviro-Turf is naturally greener
than conventional lawns) consider applying iron because
it may help restore lost color without causing a flush of
growth. The more growth, the more you must mow your lawn.
So keep your fertilizing and watering to a minimum if you
want to keep your mowing to a minimum. Adding potassium
in the spring and summer will make your lawn more drought-tolerant.
Do not add nitrogen in spring or summer, however, as this
will have the opposite effect.
Leaving grass clippings on the lawn is recommended as
they return valuable nutrients (particularly nitrogen, the
main nutrient needed for grass). These clippings will not
cause thatch, as they consist primarily of water. Research
indicates that de-thatching is not recommended on fescue
When preparing your seedbed we have a few tips:
- important - start with a weed-free
seed-bed. Scrape young weeks with a weeding tool, but
disturb the soil as little as possible so that you do
not cause more weed seeds to come to the surface and be
exposed to light, which will cause them to germinate
- level the area as much as possible so that the seed
doesn't all wash into the low spots
- broadcast or drill seed at a rate of 2 - 3 lbs / 1000
- divide your area into sections and divide the seed into
the same number of units you did for the lawn area. Spread
one seed unit per division of lawn area. That way you
won't run out of seed.
- lightly rake area, then pack (tamp) with a board or
roller (this is important to give the seed good contact
with the moist soil)
- important - keep evenly moist until seed germinates
- give ample water the first season
- spread corn gluten over the seedbed, but this must be
done one month before seeding. It acts as a pre-emergence
herbicide for annual grasses, particularly crabgrass.
It will not kill existing weeds but rather prevents seeds
from germinating. It can be purchased at many home and
garden centers. It is recommended that you further research
the use of corn gluten.
Since 2001, the Mow Down Pollution program has resulted
in the return of over 12,000 mowers and trimmers across
Canada and the reduction of over 270 tonnes of greenhouse
gas emissions. Visit the Clean
Air Foundation website for more info.
- Did you know? A standard gas mower can emit the
same amount of common air pollutants in one hour
as driving a new car for over 550 kms
- the Environmental Protection Agency claims that
17 million gallons of fuel, mostly gasoline, are
spilled each year while refueling lawn equipment.
That's more than all the oil spilled by the Exxon
Valdez, in the Gulf of Alaska!
Interested in Overseeding?
It is fine to over-seed an existing lawn with Bluestem's
Enviro-Turf, however you will then have
a lawn with mixed water requirements. You will still have
to keep up the same watering schedule as you previously
had in order to keep your lawn nice and green. The older
grass in your lawn will go dormant and turn brown if you
water the amount that Enviro-Turf needs.
Our recommendation is that you eliminate the old turf by
covering it with four to six layers of overlapping newspapers,
water them to give them weight (do NOT do this on a windy
day), then cover with 2-3" of top soil. Now you are
ready to seed with Enviro-Turf. The benefit to the newspaper
technique is that when you kill the old lawn you automatically
add organic material to the soil. If you remove the old
turf you miss out on this valuable source of nutrients.
Another option to kill the current vegetation you may put
a black tarp over the area. That will cause grass and weeds
to die very quickly in sunny hot weather, though roots of
grasses may remain alive. So do not remove too quickly.
Once you are confident that the vegetation is dead, prepare
the soil surface for seeding (the tarp must be removed).
Further info regarding eliminating turf can be found on
this page of our website.
can you tell if your lawn needs to be watered?
A "thirsty" lawn turns from the normal
green color to a lighter green. These areas may be
in patches, rather than across your entire lawn, making
it easier to identify. This indicates that your lawn
needs to be watered.
When you walk across your lawn the grass stalks remain
bent over, leaving footprints.
|Our Enviro-Turf on the roof
of a garage under
construction in the Vancouver area
Photo courtesy Bruce Hemstock, New Westminster BC
PWL Partnership Landscape Architects Inc.
- because the grasses in this mix are cool season
grasses and therefore do their growing during cool
weather, in order to grow a good root system, Enviro-Turf
should be seeded before the weather gets hot. But
at the same time, the weather needs to be warm enough
to encourage the seeds to germinate. We think that
between the time that the daffodils
bloom to when the temperatures are regularly
above 65F, is a good time to seed. You can seed
earlier but the birds may get the seeds before they
- in Zone 5, late August to mid September is also
a good time to sow
- in southern California, a landscaper told us that
the best time to seed is from January to mid April,
or as late as the end of April if the weather is
Seeding rate is 2.5-3 lbs per 1000 sq ft.
Our 2kg bag (4.4 lbs) covers ~1500 sq ft.
Our 50 lb bag covers 11,000-17,000 sq ft (FYI:
1 acre = 43,000 sq ft)
Canada - 2 kg bag $30.00; 22.7 kg bag -
US - 4.4 lb bag - $30.00; 50 lb bag - $230.00
Comment from Muriel: based on my own experience,
plus the fact that I have seen a number of people who have
had to order another bag at a later date, I would like to
suggest that you do not skimp on seed. My own calculation
for the square footage covered by a bag is closer to 1000
sq ft. But maybe the quail got some of mine...
Normally we have a minimum order of $40, however for Enviro-Turf
seed, one bag is the minimum order. Unfortunately, shipping
to the US also requires a $12.00 fee for the Phytosanitary
Enviro-Turf is considerably heavier than the plants, so
we sometimes have to charge a little more for shipping.