Starting a New Lawn in Calgary

Discussion in 'HortForum' started by Helen Scarth, Jan 19, 2006.

  1. Helen Scarth

    Helen Scarth Member

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    Location:
    Calgary, Alberta
    After building a new house in Calgary, NW high in the hills - it is time to get sod for a lawn. I am new to the lawn starting process - and have a fairly large yard with lots of mature trees (14 to 20 feet) on the fringes of the yard - 5 Cherries, 1 Ussurian Pear, 4 Blue Spruces, 2 Maydays, 6 Swedish Aspens, 4 Poplars, 3 Japanese Yews, 2 Maples. Also a large variety of lots of established bushes (about 50 various blooming varieties). Soil is VERY compact with lots of clay and rocks - although I have amended it with various commercial soil products in the areas where the trees and bushes have been planted so they will thrive. The area is protected from west and north winds by a thicket of trees in a ravine - but this also exposes the property to lots of seed borne weeds. I have picked all the rocks out of the whole yard - but the soil has not been amended in those areas where the grass will go. Can anyone help me with tips on (1) the best kind of sod to purchase - hardy and thick, not susceptible to extremes in temperature and varying moisture conditions (2) where I may purchase good quality sod in Calgary (3) the best way to amend the soil for the type of sod suggested (4) where I may purchase good quality screened loam/topsoil in Calgary. Also, about a year ago in one of the Western Canada gardening magazines I read about an odd formula to spray on the lawn to keep the lawn healthy and vigorous - and I can't find where I put the magazine! The forumula had beer (I think!) and some other rather unusual ingredients and was provided by an experienced gardener. (By the way - yes - you read right - the beer is for the lawn and not the gardener!) Has anyone heard of such a thing? Any tips would be appreciated! Thank you.
     
  2. Anne Taylor

    Anne Taylor Active Member 10 Years

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    Location:
    Victoria B.C.
    Hi Helen,
    Hey I lived in Calgary for a couple of years! You will be gardening in short spurts. However you sure sound like you are paying attention. I hope you are not putting lawn right up under the trees though! :)
    I would do the following in order to get a lawn established, first go through the yellow pages and call and chat with a few landscape contractors about sod and soil thats available. Surely one of them will let you in on some good info. I suspect any sod farms still in business will only sell the kind that is sturdy enough for Calgary. I'd likely want to put down at least 3" of topsoil (and sand mixed in if there's drainage issues). Don't forget to add a decent fertilizer dedicated to establishing a root system, before you get into the high nitrogen feeding routine.
    I would love to know about the beer formula myself. I'll be watching to see what info comes this way.
     
  3. Chuck White

    Chuck White Active Member

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    Location:
    Florida,USA
    The beer reference hit a timely chord. At my advanced state of maturation I sometimes wonder "who the hell am I?". But as a coincidence, yesterday I received an unsolicited flyer from one Jerry Baker whom, I'm sure, is the reference you solicit "from tv". I know nothing more than what I read about beer in the grass, but he thinks it is great. Try www.jerrybaker.com.
    Now about the new lawn: Considering sodding, seeding, mowing, fertilizing, herbiciding, thatching, aerating, and all the other time and money wasters ( I forgot watering) you are going to invest in your lawn, I strongly suggest that you 'get over' the colloquial neighborhood envy thing and blow them away with a 'natural looking' yard. Order even more of the top dressing material and make attractive mound gardens, and keep the grass to an absolute minimum. Agway- - a farm supply co. in the eastern U S, may not be where you are. However, they have what is called 'conservation mix', seeds that when spread, will literally grow on black top. Comprised of red fescue,kentucky blue, clover, and about 10 other varieties of seed which I can't remember, something will come up that will hold your soil, be perennial, be attractive if you mow it, and do the cover job you want. First up will be winter rye, a protector for those seeds that have a slightly longer germination time. Want to play football on it? It will handle as much traffic as you wish to give it. Try your local farm store, for I'm sure they have a similar formula for your area. Long term, your lawn will be among the greater of your investments in your home. As in 'Only you can prevent forests fires", 'only you can prevent wasting money on a high maintenance lawn'. Good Luck with whatever you decide.
     
  4. Daniel Mosquin

    Daniel Mosquin Paragon of Plants UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    Location:
    Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
    Read more about Jerry Baker in this USA Today article.

     

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