How to Establish a No Mow Lawn!

by Joel Wells

I have an area in the yard that is fairly steep and can be challenging to mow. I did not want to have to mow it so I decided to try growing no mow grass. The area I planted was about 30 feet by 100 feet or ~ 3,000 sq. ft.

A no mow lawn requires little maintenance, is drought resistant and crowds out weeds. It does not require fertilizer and in fact fertilization is discouraged. No mow lawn is a combination of six different fine fescues that have deep roots that make them drought resistant. No mow thrives in most soil types but it is not recommended for wet soils, clay soils, or deep shade. I bought my seed at Prairie Nursery in Westfield, Wisconsin. Five pounds of seed for $6.95 will cover 1000 sq. ft.

The only time it should be mowed is when the fescue grasses produce seed heads, which can reach 2 feet tall in mid June, to a height of no closer than 4 inches. Also, mow at the end of summer about the middle of November to a height of 2-inches. This will reduce thatch build up and produce a denser thicker lawn the next year. For a more manicured lawn it can be maintained by mowing only once a month but not shorter that 3.5 to 4.0 inches. I recently learned that it is routinely used on golf courses.

It is recommended that to establish a no mow lawn it should be planted in the fall between August 20 to October 20. One of the first steps to establish the lawn is to kill all the vegetation in the area that is to be planted. On August 9 the area I was planting was big (3000 sq. ft.) so I laid out the area using white spray paint so I would have guidelines to know what areas I had covered with herbicide.

On August 9 I sprayed the yard with glyphosate herbicide (Roundup®). It takes about 2 weeks for the lawn to die and be ready for planting. After 2 weeks the lawn looked as above and on September 5 and 6 I dethatched the grass and got it ready for planting.

On September 7 I planted the grass with a broadcast spreader and started watering. It is recommended that it be watered for 15 to 30 minutes every other day during the first four to six weeks after seeding. I watered every other morning and evening for 20 minutes for two months.

I took this picture on October 21 and was glad to see the grass growing well. I watered early every other morning and evening for another week then quit.

On November 8 the grass is very green while the rest of my lawn looks very rugged, probably because it has a lot of creeping charlie or ground ivy. I kill the creeping charlie once in a while but, as I have 2 acres, I normally just live with it.

This is the lawn on June 10 you will notice how green it is compared to the just mowed regular grass in the foreground. The no mow grass came up in the spring and looked better than my regular lawn.

July 7 this is what the lawn looks like. It still has its vibrant green. It has not grown much. I noticed the Creeping Charlie is intermingled in the no mow grass but is not making headway; the no mow grass is keeping it at bay. Next time it will be mowed is in November to 2 inches long so it will come in better next year. The steep bank has not eroded at all. It has been an amazing success.

Close up view of no mow grass