Are microclover and Black Magic good as lawns in Colorado?

Asked January 29, 2019, 12:05 PM EST

On This Old House, the benefits of microclover sewn with Black Magic were praised. Together they do not require as much water or fertilizer. Would you recommend them for Colorado?

Arapahoe County Colorado lawns and turf

1 Response

You are likely referring to a tall fescue variety called Black Beauty. It is an attractive grass and can do well in Colorado - and is sold by some sod producers. You can also purchase seed of this variety.

The Microclover can also be purchased as seed. Theoretically this combination of clover and grass can result in a lawn that requires somewhat less water than a bluegrass lawn - if the soil where the tall fescue is planted is a decently deep soil that allows for deeper root growth.

Contrary to the "overselling" (there are no miracle grasses!) done by This Old House - that this combination will need little or no water, or "chemicals" (meaning fertilizer and pesticides - the Black Beauty/Microclover combination will not be maintenance or worry-free here in Colorado. You MIGHT use less water - if, again, you plant on a decently deep, non-rocky, non-compacted soil. But both the tall fescue and microclover WILL absolutely require irrigation here in Colorado. Remember that This Old House is filmed in the NE U.S. where they receive regular precipitation (40+ inches per year), it is much more cloudy than here, more humid, and generally less windy. Those combination of environmental factors result in MUCH lower plant water use rates (and thus almost no need to water a lawn) than what we experience in Colorado. I watched (maybe a different segment/show that you might have seen) a part of the show where they were sodding a lawn with this combination. They GREATLY oversold/over-promoted the potential benefits of this grass - and also erroneously over-exaggerated the needs/negative aspects of Kentucky bluegrass. Unfortunately, the truth about both of these grasses is less extreme than what was (unfortunately) stated on the show - but this was undoubtedly done as a concession to the supplier of the sod that appeared on the show.

So, the combination of Black Beauty and Microclover can perform well in Colorado - but it's not quite the "miracle grass" that This Old House makes it out to be.

Let me know if you have any other questions!
Thanks,
Tony