By: Bonnie L. Grant, Certified Urban Agriculturist
A sea of perfect green grass is often a homeowner’s dream; however, success depends upon the type of grass you choose for your landscape. Not every grass seed is adapted to the soil, lighting, drainage and fertility of individual sites. In zone 6, temperatures are mild to warm, but in winter some freezing can occur. Zone 6 grass seed has to be a variety that tolerates all this as well as your individual conditions.
Selecting Zone 6 Grass Seed
Seeding grass is a bit more work than simply purchasing sod rolls, but it is economical and almost anyone can accomplish the task. The tricks are preparing the seed bed correctly and choosing a grass variety that will thrive in your zone. The best grass seed for zone 6 will depend upon your needs. There are some better suited for shady areas, while others need full sun. Timing of sowing is another important consideration for planting grass seed in zone 6.
Zone 6 is considered a cool season grass zone even though it can have very hot summers. That means the best choice for a grass will be in the cool season group which indicates the preferred climate conditions of the plant. Cool season grasses like cold, rainy weather and are not offended by occasional freezes. They go dormant in winter and come back quickly in spring. Cold hardy grass seed in zone 6 might include:
- Buffalo Grass
- Creeping Red Fescue
- Tall Fescue
Ryegrass may either be an annual or a perennial. The others are all perennial and tolerant of zone 6 weather conditions. Some are even native, such as Buffalograss, which gives them years of adaptability to their native regions and makes them low maintenance and easy to establish.
Just because you know a grass is suitable for your zone doesn’t mean it will perform the way in which you want. Some gardeners want drought tolerant grass, as they are stingy on watering, while others want grass that can stand up to the rough and tumble of children and animals. Other stresses may be put upon the lawn such as excess heat or even salt exposure in coastal regions.
It is important to evaluate your needs and your site restrictions before selecting a cold hardy grass seed. Color, texture, density and maintenance levels are also considerations that should be vetted before opting for a certain grass seed. Other considerations are pest and disease issues. Selecting a grass seed that’s resistant to certain prevalent pests or disease in your area can minimize the amount of effort expended to keep the grass healthy.
Often, the best option is a mixed seed product. For instance, Kentucky bluegrass may take some time in spring to green up but if mixed with ryegrass, the lawn turns green faster. It also germinates quickly and wears well. Mixing grass seed can also increase a lawn’s tolerance to shade, enhance texture and minimize pest and weed issues.
Hybrids are another way to harness different species’ attributes. A blend of Texas bluegrass with Kentucky bluegrass increases heat tolerance in summer while still retaining the lovely blue green color. A very common cool season grass mixture is Kentucky blue, perennial ryegrass, and fine fescue. The combination develops into a perfect lawn with tolerances to many stresses and lighting conditions.
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How to grow a lawn from seed
Learn how to grow a lawn from grass seed - a cheaper alternative to laying turf.
Published: Tuesday, 21 April, 2020 at 10:02 am
Plant is not at its best in January
Plant is not at its best in February
Plant is not at its best in March
Plant is not at its best in April
Plant is not at its best in May
Plant is at its best in June
Plant is at its best in July
Plant is at its best in August
Plant is not at its best in September
Plant is not at its best in October
Plant is not at its best in November
Plant is not at its best in December
Sowing grass seed to make a new lawn allows you to choose a grass seed mixture most appropriate for your needs. Whether you want a general-purpose lawn, a bowling green lawn or a hard-wearing football pitch, there’s the perfect grass seed mix for you. There are also lawn seed mixes to buy for shady gardens and dry gardens.
Hardwearing lawns are usually composed of a mix of perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne) and strong red fescue (Festuca rubra). Ornamental lawns tend to contain a mix of low-growing, fine-leaved slender red fescue (Festuca rubra subsp. rubra) and bentgrass (Agrostis stolonifera).
Cold Stratify Seeds: Why Not Just Sow The Seed?
Many annual varieties, like Zinnias, and Sunflowers, have soft shells and can simply be sprinkled on bare soil in the spring. But some perennials, especially native wildflowers, have a hard coating that helps protect the outer shell from breaking and sprouting too early. We’ve all experienced an unseasonably-warm spell in in the middle of January or February — this mechanism helps prevent the seeds from being tricked into coming out of dormancy until it’s just the right time.
The good news for gardeners is that the natural cold stratification needed for germination can be forced with just a few materials, water, a refrigerator, and patience.
If you’re planting native wildflowers or varieties that require cold stratification in the fall, this step isn’t necessary. Nature will do what it does best during the winter months and cold stratify the seeds for you.
There are quite a few native varieties that should be cold stratified before planted in spring. We chose Prairie Violet Seeds, St. John's Wort, and Tennessee Purple Coneflower as some of our varieties to plant.
Prepare the Soil
Optimum soil conditions boost successful seed germination and support healthy turf growth. To prepare your soil for planting, do the following:
- Test your lawn's soil. Proper soil pH is critical to a healthy, thriving lawn. Most lawn grasses do best when soil pH is between 6.0 to 7.5. 4 Taking accurate soil samples is simple to do on your own, but you'll need to send those samples to a reputable soil laboratory for testing. Your local county extension office can help with soil testing kits and information about testing facilities. The test results will give you an accurate picture of the state of your soil's pH and nutrient levels, plus recommendations for changes you should make.
- Amend to alter soil pH. If your soil test shows that your lawn's pH is outside the range for healthy turf growth, soil amendments can restore pH balance. Soil with overly high pH, called alkaline soil, is common in the West. Applications of elemental sulfur may be recommended to correct it. In areas where soil is acidic, having overly low pH, your lawn may need lime to restore nutrient availability. This is often the case in the Northwest, Northeast and Southeast. Always follow your soil test recommendations and product label instructions carefully.
- Add nutrients to soil. The recommendations from your lawn soil test will outline your soil's nutrient needs. A high-quality lawn fertilizer, such as a premium Pennington fertilizer for lawns, can help restore optimal nutrient levels for healthy grass growth. Recommendations may include a phosphorus-containing lawn starter fertilizer. 4 However, some states have environmental restrictions on phosphorus fertilizers, so check with your local extension agent on your state's lawn fertilizer requirements.
- Amend to alter structure. Conditions such as very sandy soil or heavy, compacted soil affect seed germination, growth and the overall health of your lawn. For healthy grass growth, soil needs to contain sufficient air, yet it also needs to retain the nutrients and moisture grass needs. Improve your new soil's aeration and water penetration by removing rocks and incorporating organic matter, such as compost, at a depth of 2 to 4 inches before planting. Local hardware or garden stores often rent tillers or aerators, which improve compacted soil by pulling out plugs of soil to allow for air and water.
Vegetable Planting Schedule For Interior Alaska
Flower schedule | Date Schedule
|Vegetable:||Method:||Weeks To Last Frost:||Notes:|
|Garlic||Fall Sow||See notes||Cold hardy. Plant garlic in very late summer, 2-3 weeks before first frost. Typically mid to late August. Hardneck varieties only. Cover bed with mulch for best overwintering results.|
|Asparagus, Seed||Start Indoors||12||Cold hardy. Can perennialize down to zone 3. Asparagus crowns can be used to bypass early planting requirement. If using crowns, direct sow as soon as soil is workable.|
|Onion, Seed||Start Indoors||10-12||Cold hardy. Using onion sets are an alternative technique to bypass early planting requirements. Use long day varieties only.|
|Celeriac||Start Indoors||9-10||Frost tolerant.|
|Celery||Start Indoors||9-10||Frost tolerant.|
|Leek||Start Indoors||8-10||Cold hardy.|
|Mint||Start Indoors||8-10||Invasive. Containers or other dedicated space recommended for final planting. Some varieties can perennalize down to zone 3.|
|Onion, Green||Start Indoors||8-10|
|Cardoon||Start Indoors||8-9||Frost tolerant. Prolific grower and easier to grow than artichoke.|
|Artichoke||Start Indoors||8-9||Frost tolerant. Choose a variety that can be grown as an annual. Imperial Star and Green Globe are good varieties for Interior Alaska.|
|Eggplant||Start Indoors||8-9||Not all varieties are tolerant to Interior Alaska. Patio Baby is a great variety. Does well in containers and outside in Interior Alaska.|
|Chives||Start Indoors||8-9||Cold hardy. Can be a perennial in zone 3, sometimes zone 2.|
|Peppers||Start Indoors||7-8||Cold sensitive. Transplant outdoors 1-2 weeks after last frost. If going into a greenhouse, can be started 9-12 weeks before last frost. Greenhouse should have no frost danger (heated) to transplant earlier than last frost. If you intend to top your plant, start 2-3 weeks before recommended dates. Choose varieties with sub-100 day maturity, preferably 75 days or less.|
|Borage||Start Indoors||6-8||Can also be grown for flowers.|
|Brussels Sprouts||Start Indoors||6-8||Cold hardy. Choose varieties with maturity dates of 125 days or less in subarctic climates. For best results, top plant August 1st and remove several leaves from bottom to top every few weeks.|
|Catnip||Start Indoors||6-8||Frost tolerant. Tendency to flower early due to subarctic photoperiodism. Harvest before major flowers develop for best results. Great pollinator attractor after flowering.|
|Cat Grass||Start Indoors||6-8||Can also grow in a small pot for your kitties!|
|Collards||Start Indoors||6-8||Cold hardy.|
|Ground Cherries||Start Indoors||6-8||Greenhouse ground cherries can be planted 8-10 weeks before last frost and put in greenhouse mid-May.|
|Huckleberry, Garden||Start Indoors||6-8|
|Lemon Balm||Start Indoors||6-8||Can be invasive similar to mint. Planting in dedicated space or containers recommended.|
|Radicchio||Start Indoors||6-8||Frost tolerant.|
|Tomatoes||Start Indoors||6-8||Greenhouse tomatoes can be planted 8-10 weeks before last frost and put in greenhouse mid-May. If you are very limited on space, 5 weeks to last frost is advised. Choose varieties with sub-100 day maturity, preferably 75 days or less. Seek cold climate varieties.|
|Tomatillo||Start Indoors||6-8||Greenhouse tomatillos can be planted 8-10 weeks before last frost and put in greenhouse mid-May. If you are very limited on space, 5 weeks to last frost is advised.|
|Chamomile||Start Indoors||6-7||Prolific subarctic producer. Can produce several harvests over the season.|
|Marjoram||Start Indoors||6-7||Tends to flower very early due to subarctic photoperiodism. Keep an eye on it & harvest prior to major flowering. For increased harvest, grow more plants,|
|Oregano||Start Indoors||6-7||Tends to flower early due to subarctic photoperiodism, keep an eye on it and harvest before major blooming. For increased harvest, grow more plants,|
|Cilantro||Start Indoors||6-7||Quick to bolt. Of all varieties we've tested, Calyspo cilantro is the most bolt resistant we've found. Coriander production in Alaska is marginal, any variety that isn't bolt resistant will do.|
|Kale||Start Indoors||5-6||Cold hardy.|
|Strawberry Spinich||Start Indoors||5-6||Can reseed itself & grow year after year.|
|Broccoli||Start Indoors||4-7||Cold hardy. For succession crop, choose early, mid and late varieties. All will reach full maturity in subarctic climates.|
|Arugula||Start Indoors||4-6||Cold hardy. Can also direct sow 2-3 weeks before last frost. For a late harvest, direct sow early to mid-August.|
|Cauliflower||Start Indoors||4-6||Frost tolerant.|
|Endive||Start Indoors||4-6||Cold hardy.|
|Fennel, Bulb||Start Indoors||4-6|
|Kohlrabi||Start Indoors||4-6||Cold hardy.|
|Okra||Start Indoors||4-6||Northern varieties such as Jambalaya are strongly recommended. Warm soil only. Greenhouse & container planting strongly advised. Transplant into greenhouse 1-2 weeks after last frost. Challenging & marginal harvest in subarctic.|
|Purslane, Garden||Start Indoors||4-6|
|Sorrel||Start Indoors||4-6||Cold hardy. Can also direct sow at last frost or later. Best young, plant successively for multiple harvests. Rumex acetosa (English variety) can perrenialize down to zone 4.|
|Spinach, Malabar||Start Indoors||4-6|
|Cabbage||Start Indoors||4-5||Cold hardy.|
|Corn||Start Indoors||4-5||Doesn't transplant well. Indoor sowing still strongly advised. Warm soil & container planting preferred. Legend, Cafe and Espresso varieties are top producers in the subarctic.|
|Lettuce, Leaf||Start Indoors||4-5||Cold hardy.|
|Melon, Early||Start Indoors||4-5||Melons are a highly marginal crop in Alaska and have a high chance of crop failure. Greenhouse conditions and pollination by hand is most ideal. Cold climate varieties, such as Minnesota Midget, are recommended as a starting point.|
|Mustard Greens||Start Indoors||4-5||Cold hardy. Can also direct sow 2-3 weeks before last frost. Bolts in temperatures higher than 80F. For a late season harvest, plant early to mid-August.|
|Orach||Start Indoors||4-5||Cold hardy. Can also direct sow 2 weeks before last frost and up to 2 weeks after last frost. Bolt resistant alternative to spinach.|
|Squash, Summer||Start Indoors||4-5||Frost sensitive. Grows fast & large. Delay sowing if limited by indoor growing space.|
|Squash, Winter||Start Indoors||4-5||Frost sensitive. Grows fast & large. Delay sowing if limited by indoor growing space.|
|Zucchini||Start Indoors||4-5||Frost sensitive. Grows fast & large. Delay sowing if limited by indoor growing space.|
|Bok Choy||Start Indoors||4-5||Frost tolerant.|
|Chinese Cabbage||Start Indoors||4-5||Frost tolerant.|
|Chard, Swiss||Start Indoors||3-5||Cold hardy.|
|Spinach||Sow Indoors||3-6||Cold hardy. Doesn’t always transplant well. Can also direct sow outdoors 2 weeks before last frost. Usually bolts by late June. For a second harvest, plant again in early to mid-August.|
|Lettuce, Head||Start Indoors||3-6||Cold hardy.|
|Cucumber||Start Indoors||3-4||Frost sensitive. Grows fast & large. Delay sowing if limited by indoor growing space. Greenhouse cucumbers can be planted 5-6 weeks before last frost and moved to greenhouse mid-May Several parthenocarpic varieties do well in cooler climates and are valuable for subarctic greenhouse growing.|
|Beets||Direct sow||0-2||Cold Hardy.|
|Carrot||Direct sow||0-2||Cold hardy.|
|Horseradish, Cutting||Direct sow||0-2||Cold hardy. Can perennialize down to zone 3. Soak root cutting for 24 hours prior to planting. Can also be grown from seed, but low germination rates tend to make cuttings more favorable & successful.|
|Mustard, Chinese Bald Head||Direct sow||0-2||Cold hardy.|
|Onion, Set||Direct sow||0-2||Cold hardy. Onion sets work well in interior Alaska. If growing from seed, start 10-12 weeks before last frost. Use long day varieties only.|
|Parsnip||Direct sow||0-2||Cold hardy.|
|Peas||Direct sow||0-2||Frost tolerant.|
|Potatoes||Direct sow||0-2||Cold hardy.|
|Radish||Direct sow||0-2||Frost tolerant. Also heat sensitive. Does well late May to late June & early August up to hard frost.|
|Rutabaga||Direct sow||0-2||Cold hardy.|
|Strawberry||Direct sow, bare root||0-2||Cold hardy. Recommend buying bare root. Starting from seed is possible, but an advanced technique. Toklat is the strongest subarctic variety we've found. Covering beds with mulch for winter is recommended.|
|Turnip||Direct Sow||0-2||Cold hardy.|
|Beans, Bush||Direct sow||+0-2||Sow when frost danger has passed|
|Beans, Pole||Direct sow||+0-2||Sow when frost danger has passed|
Planning the Garden
The chart on page 2 should be of help in determining family requirements of the different vegetables.
Perennial vegetables (asparagus, rhubarb, winter onions, etc.) should be planted at one side or end of the garden for efficient operation. The hardy vegetables planted early in the season should be planted together, so they may be followed with late-season plantings of the same or other vegetables. Vegetables requiring similar cultural practices should be grouped together for ease of care.
Perennial vegetables (asparagus, rhubarb, winter onions, etc.) should be planted at one side or end of the garden for efficient operation. The hardy vegetables planted early in the season should be planted together, so they may be followed with late season plantings of the same or other vegetables. Vegetables requiring similar cultural practices should be grouped together for ease of care.
The recommended spacings are based on best practices in the traditional row method of gardening. Smaller spacings can be used in alternative gardening methods such as container or square-foot gardening. In these situations, compact varieties of plants such as tomato and eggplant are a good choice.
The chart groups vegetables as cool season or warm season crops, indicating under which conditions they grow best. Crops classed as cool season may be planted earlier in the season and do best under cool conditions (average daily temperatures of 70 F or less), while those grouped as warm season crops grow better during warm temperatures (average daily temperatures ranging between 70 F to 90 F).
Based on the temperature the plants will withstand, vegetables are hardy, semi-hardy, tender or very tender. Hardy types may be planted before last frosts or freezes in the spring and are tolerant of cold weather in late autumn. The semi-hardy ones will be injured by a hard frost, but will grow in cool weather and not be harmed by a light frost. Tender plants are injured or may be killed by a light frost but can withstand cool weather, while the very tender are injured by cool weather.
Differences in suggested planting dates range from the earliest for southeast Oklahoma to the latest for the northwest part of the state. Planting dates also may vary when season extension techniques are used.
How to Start a New Garden Where Grass Is Growing
Planting and growing a flower or vegetable garden is a rewarding endeavor, providing fresh flowers and vegetables for your enjoyment. The success of the garden depends on soil preparation -- poorly prepared soil may not have the nutrients necessary for plants to flourish. You will need to remove grass from the area before starting the garden. Removing the grass ensures ample room for plants to grow and eliminates competition for water and nutrients. Start preparing the soil the fall before you plan to plant to allow time for soil conditioning and improvement.
Choose an area for the garden bed that is as level as possible with adequate soil drainage. Keep in mind that flower and vegetable gardens often require a minimum of six hours of full sun per day.
Test the soil for proper nutrient and pH analysis, using a self test kit from a garden store. This usually requires only a small plug of soil, but always follow the specific directions on the test kit pack.
Hammer wooden stakes into the ground at the corners of the garden bed. Tie a string from stake to stake to mark the boundaries or the bed.
Cut the existing sod from the garden bed with a spade. Slice under the sod with a spade to free the sod from the soil. Cut the sod into sections to make removal easier. You cold use herbicides to kill the existing grass before tilling the earth, but completely removing the turf eliminates the chance of new plants growing from tubers and seeds left behind.
Till the garden bed to a depth of 8 to 12 inches to completely break up the soil. This may require several passes with the tiller over the garden bed to remove any rocks, weeds, roots and debris.
Rake the garden bed with a steel rake to remove any debris that was missed with the garden tiller.
Add the grass and other plant debris to a compost pile, if desired, and allow it several months to break down into fertile compost if you remove the sod in fall and allow it to decompose over winter, it should be ready for use in spring. Composted organic matter is full of nutrients to help your garden crops thrive. Remove as much soil as possible from the grass roots or the grass could continue to grow in the mulch pile. The complex network of grass roots adds beneficial structure to the soil. After the grass has completely died, there's no risk of it growing back when you add it back to the garden.
Add nutrients, compost, peat or other organic material to amend the soil, based on the soil test results. Lime and soda ash balance acid soils, while iron sulfate reduces the pH of alkaline soil. Spread an even layer of nutrients over the garden bed.
Till the nutrients into the garden bed soil with a tiller or shovel. You may have to till the garden bed several times to fully incorporate the nutrients into the soil.
Allow the soil to rest for one to two weeks to allow the nutrients to start working and the soil to settle. Rake the soil smooth with a steel rake before planting this gives the soil the final preparation before planting.
Line the borders of the garden plot with landscape edging, field stone, bricks or landscape timbers. This clearly defines the garden space for use in future years and prevents damage to crops from mowers and weed trimmers.
Plant the flowers or vegetables according to the plants' specific planting guidelines.
Add 3 to 4 inches of organic mulch, such as shredded bark mulch, newspaper, dried leaves or straw, between garden rows and around plants, leaving a few inches around the base of plants to allow room to grow. The mulch helps prevent weed growth and retains moisture so plants don't dry out on hot summer days. Organic mulching material decomposes into nutrient-rich compost over time, adding vital nutrients to the soil, so you will have to add more mulch periodically.
Plant a cold-hardy cover crop after the final fall harvest so the soil isn't left bare over winter. Cold-tolerant cover crops include hairy vetch, cereal rye, oats and winter peas. Whether or not you choose to harvest the winter cover crop, the decaying organic material after crops have grown continues to add nutrients to the soil, encourages water and oxygen to permeate the soil, and improves soil structure. You can work the dead crops into the soil with a tiller or leave it on top of the soil to decay naturally.
How Long Does Grass Seed Take to Grow?
How long it will take for your new grass seed to begin to grow really depends on where you live, your climate and what type of grass you plant. It can take anywhere between 3 and 28 days for new grass seed to begin to grow.
A beautiful, vibrant lawn not only looks great, but it also provides a place for you and your family to play, relax and enjoy. A consistent water schedule for watering new grass seed is key to making sure you’re growing a healthy, lush green lawn that will give you years of enjoyment and beauty.