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I'm trying to grow some shade grass, but heavy rains washed my first attempt partially away. I've read that using straw is not the best idea because the straw had weed seeds nad needs to be racked afterward. I've also read about something called green mulch, that is a combination of newspaper and other stuff that you can just add and forget. I can't seem to find it at anyplace locally, was thinking maybe its possible to make it myself by shredding newspaper and maybe adding food coloring or something? Has anyone used something similar to start grass?

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What you are probably thinking about it called hydroseeding. It's typically a blend of grass seed, some kind of wood fiber/cellulose and fertilizer. It is typically used in large scale seeding jobs because of the ease of application and the moisture retention of the media. You can buy spray bottles of it at many hardware stores. It will be liquid and will probably be called a hyrdroseed solution or something like that.

I don't think that is necessary though. Most straw shouldn't have seeds in it. Don't worry too much about that. Even if there were some wheat seeds, they will look a lot like your grass, and will die out after being repeatedly mowed. Straw does not need to be raked out after, it will just decompose. I'm not a huge fan of using straw though.

What I like to do is the spread the seed on well raked/scratched up soil. Then I lightly rake the seed into the soil. Ideally, if you have a roller this would be when you use it to establish good soil to seed contact. I never use a roller though. =] Then after that I apply a very light, about a quarter inch layer of compost, which essentially functions as the straw would, but has the added benefit of organic material, microbes, better moisture retention, and nutrients for your grass. As an added benefit, you don't have to look at straw which I find ugly.

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  • WHY would you never use a roller, Tyler? What kind of compost are you imagining? I agree, that straw stuff is UGLY. Never ever have seen a lawn cultivated while using straw, or peat moss. Now Hydroseeding is pretty cool. I would use a professional service not home owner spray bottles. That would be akin to throwing fertilizer and/or seed by HAND and expecting a uniform color and density. But even the hydroseeding companies discourage trying to grow a lawn of any sort in shade. Plenty of other more viable solutions. btw, just ONE weed seed is too much if one wants a lawn crop. – stormy May 7 '17 at 20:54
  • I have never used a roller because I have had perfect results without ever using one. Good Soil to seed contact is pretty much guaranteed when you spread compost on top. I agree that if you want to hydroseed, use a pro service. The spray bottles of it are a waste of money. You'll get better results doing it as I described. As for type of compost, really what matters most is the texture. Any well decomposed and sifted organic material will be good for your lawn. I would use horse, cow or mushroom compost. Whatever is available. – Tyler K. May 9 '17 at 1:57
  • It's a little overkill to say one weed seed is too much. You know how many seeds are in the soil, are blowing in the wind, and how many are even in the bag of grass seed you buy? There is bound to be more than one in your bag. And a whole lot more in the soil and floating towards your soil. A lawn is something that needs to be maintained, and removing weeds will always be a part of that. I'm not going to worry too much about a few wheat seeds (which is a grass) sneaking into the lawn. – Tyler K. May 9 '17 at 2:23
  • What you've said makes sense. As you know I don't have a problem with weeds. But when purchasing grass seed, the label needs to say zero weed seed. What that means is the grass seed was grown under very stringent and controlled environments. That gives value to that seed and you know what you are getting. One weed seed of unknown qualities can proliferate quite easily and be tough to control. – stormy May 14 '17 at 17:55
  • It would be overkill especially if mulching using herbivore poop for mulch!! ha ha. So if one gets zero weed seed they know whoever is producing that seed is reliable. My favorite cool season grass mix is Professional's Choice, zero weed seed and excellent germination. I used Gro Co, human poo mulch. It not only provided an extended release of N, it had zero weed seed, no pesticide residues and didn't wash away. Can't find that stuff anywhere else other than the Seattle area so far. Perfect stuff. Perfect lawns. – stormy May 14 '17 at 18:02
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Green mulch in MY experience means an annual cover crop to be dug in when spring comes around. Newspaper decomposes after a year or two. I've tried using this for experiments on weed suppression. Not impressed. As a mulch for grass seed, I am unable to see any benefit.

You said SHADE grass. The two words are an oxymoron? Grass should never be planted in shade...when it says 'for shade' it means that particular mix of lawn grasses are more able to survive in shade than other grass mixes. It does not mean these grasses will thrive.

The worst thing people try to do is fertilize their shaded lawns. That just makes the photosynthetic growth larger when there is little sunlight with which to use to make food for the plant/grass. More stress, too much nitrogen promotes more vegetative growth but without enough light that growth is pure stress on the plant to support.

If I were you I would NOT try to grow lawn in shade. It will always be wimpy and discouraging. I would use gravel over landscape fabric or a true shade ground cover such as MONDO GRASS, Pachysandra terminalis, or Candy Tuff (Iberis). Delineate the margins with 2X4 edging or 6"X6" trenches. There are lots of beautiful ground covers that THRIVE in shade. Grass is just never going to work.

Without full sun, I would never try to grow a lawn 'crop'.

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  • to be clear, there is partial sun ... when we were kids we planted a pine tree and the grass was full sun grass. blugrass think, now from the pine needles and lack of care thre is only dirt, and the topsoil washes down in heavy rain . . .trying to plant shade tolerant grass that will grow and atleast help the topsoil issue – user379468 May 8 '17 at 0:58
  • If you've got partial sun/shade then yes, there are options for grasses on a forest floor.sfgate.com/homeandgarden/goldengategardener/article/… As long as this look interests you (I LOVE it but NOT that LOW MAINTENANCE) we need to discuss slope FIRST. Please take a horizontal measurement RUN and figure the change in elevation best you are able. The tape should be level and the distance between the ground and the end of the tape at 20 feet would be RISE. Rise/Run=slope. pH would be another issue to discuss. – stormy May 8 '17 at 4:22
  • Pine needles make acidic soil. I'd do some liming in that area to see if that would help. – stormy May 14 '17 at 17:24

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