Fall Planting: No Mow Grass

I’m just like everybody else in suburbia; I like the lush, green look of a manicured and chemically supported lawn, but hate the time consuming up keep. After spending several, sweltering hours cutting our one-acre lawn I decided there had to be a greener way to achieve the optimum suburban lawn. As if through some divine sign, later that night, while thumbing through the Prairie Nursery catalog, dreaming of fall planting, I came across No-Mow grass seed.

Prairie Nursery’s No-Mow grass was billed as the “ecological alternative to a traditional high maintenance lawn.” When I read the following growing characteristics:

  • requires little water and maintenance once established;
  • forms a dense sod that chokes out weed growth;
  • fertilization or herbicides are not required for optimum performance; and
  • grows in locations with full to partial sun
I was sold on No-Mow grass. Gung ho and ready to join the grass roots, suburban, No-Mow movement I was now in search of a test plot on my own parcel of land. An experimentalist by heart and training, I finally decided after some background research on incorporating the No-Mow as part of our prairie/riparian restoration plan.

Part of our prairie restoration plan included the installation of a three- foot wide walking path and potential firebreak through the prairie garden. I was convinced after reading about No-Mow’s attributes that the grass would provide the perfect ground cover for the path between the native plant plots. Not only was this ground cover alternative naturally permeable, but it required no maintenance! One additional, potential benefit was that No-Mow might also to survive a controlled prairie burn, a method of prairie restoration maintenance. It was time to start planting.

The optimum planting season for No-Mow is fall, between the end of August and the end of October. I ordered my seed and anxiously awaited its arrival. As I waited, I worked on preparing the seedbed using the methods outlined in a previous post titled, Invasives BegonePrairie Nursery’s fall planting instructions suggested that tilling of the seedbed was unnecessary. Despite their recommendation, I turned and raked the soil by hand while awaiting the No-mow’s seed arrival.

Before Invasive Removal

Down to Bare Soil

Fortunately, for me, Illinois’ weather remained unseasonably warm through the end of October because that is when I finally got around to sowing my No-mow grass seed. I broadcast the seed by hand, liberally covering the soil. Next, I gently hand raked the soil to cover the seed with earth. After covering the broadcasted seeds, I proceeded to lightly, overseed the top of the planting area via the “Johnny Appleseed” method. Finally, I walked repeatedly over my newly seed path to firmly implant the seed into the soil.

I watered daily and waited. Approximately ten glorious days later, I began to see a green haze above the surface of the soil. Mission accomplished seed germination was successful! Once germination was complete, I reduced my watering tasks to a biweekly event and enjoyed the continued growth of my tiny No-Mow seedlings. I’m now well on my way to establishing a low maintenance green path in our prairie restoration project.

No-Mow Seedlings

No-Mow Path

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3 Comments

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