High elevation grass

Asked August 3, 2019, 9:53 AM EDT

We live at 9200 feet across valley Pikes Peak. The entrance to house is on north side and it is shaded by fir trees. Dirt keeps being tracked in. Would grass seed for shade work?

Teller County Colorado

1 Response

A grass "group" that will do better in a high-altitude lawn includes the "fine fescues": the Chewings fescues, hard fescues, blue/sheeps fescues, and creeping red fescues. They are shade tolerant, grow well on poor soils, prefer drier soil conditions, don't grow much (so don't require frequent mowing), and can even be left unmowed for a "nature lawn". Here is an example seed mix that can be purchased from Pawnee Buttes seed company in Greeley (even though it's called "Shady Lawn Mix", it will work find for a sunny lawn application):

Creeping Red Fescue, Kentucky Bluegrass, Hard Fescue, Chewings Fescue
Seeding Rate: 4-5 lbs/1,000 s.f.

For a lower quality lawn (grows taller, infrequent mowing, no or infrequent mowing) that basically covers the soil and keeps the mud and dust down, here are some other seed mixes from Pawnee Buttes that would work.

Canada Bluegrass, Sandberg Bluegrass, Rocky Mountain Fescue, & Sheep Fescue
Seeding Rate: 5 lbs/1,000 s.f.

Idaho Fescue, Sandberg Bluegrass, Rocky Mountain Fescue, Big BluegrassSeeding Rate: 5 lbs/1,000 s.f.

In the end, success will be dependent on any irrigation you can provide, uniform seeding and establishment (buy extra seed for seeding areas that are missed or don't "take"), and cooperation of the weather. Having some decent amount/depth of soil is also important.

It's also essential to know that sometimes shade is so dense that NO grass will grow well - which leaves mulch as the next most viable option for keeping the mud and dust down.

Hope this is helpful. Please let me know if you have additional questions.