Growing grass in VERY rocky area

mollybeeJune 12, 2007

Hi all :-)

Was wondering what type of grass might be suggested to plant.......not really a lawn because that would be impossible but at least get a little more green and a little less ROCK around here! We are at 10,000 elevation. Literally on a mountain top. It is VERY rocky and the house we bought is 5 years old and it looks like a lot of just "back fill" around it in areas where they dug and then spread out what was dug down the mountain side. I would really like to help the little bit of green that does try to grow around here but not sure what "type" of grass (if any) can handle this lack of soil/elevation.

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Skybird - z5, Denver, Colorado

Hi Molly,

I donÂt know much about the alternative grasses, but one thing you might consider is Achillea millefolium (a/k/a A. lanulosa). ThereÂs been some discussion around here about using this as an alternative lawnÂwith or without letting it bloom. It should do well up to 10,000' and zone 3 if not z2. ItÂll grow in virtually any soil and spreads quicklyÂbut it sounds like that would be a good thing for what you want it for. If you decide to give it a try, IÂd recommend the straight species with plain white flowers rather than the hybrids with the colored flowers. I just donÂt know if the hybrids would be quite as hardy. The plain white one is available as plants or seed.

A couple more Achilleas you could try are A. sibirica (white), or A. ageratifolia (white to pale pink), or A. tomentosa (brite yellow). They should all be hardy to z3, and I think theyÂd work at 10,000' too.

You could make a real pretty wildflower "lawn." A few other possibilities are Alyssum montanum, basket-of-gold; Anacyclus depressus, Mr. Atlas daisyÂI love that one; Aster alpinus, alpine asters; Antenaria, pussytoes; Cerastium tomentosum, snow-in-summer; Erigeron compositus, alpine fleabane; Fragaria vesca, alpine strawberryÂvery small but incredibly sweet berries; Leontopodium alpinum, edelweiss; Pulsatilla vulgaris, pasqueflower; lots of different sedums; and, of course, Aquilegia caerulea, Rocky Mountain columbine. The tallest couple of these would get up to about 18", and most of them would be under a foot. And most of them either spread a lot or reseed once you get a few started.

I donÂt know how high the alternative grasses like buffalo grass will grow, but there are some folks around here who know quite a bit about them, so youÂll probably hear from them.

Are you in/near Leadville?


    Bookmark   June 12, 2007 at 8:22PM
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Buffalo grass would be a poor choice at that elevation. It does better at lower elevations with longer summers. It also has very deep roots, so I think that would be an issue.

Blue grama is supposed to do better at higher elevations, but it is still a warm season grass.

How much soil is there above the rock? Is what little soil you have more clay like or sandy?

    Bookmark   June 13, 2007 at 1:07AM
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emagineer(z5 CO)

Sky mentioned Leadville. Is this where you are? Or near the area?

I was at 9,000 and found that going to the Forestry Dept. gave me a lot of information on the right grasses, plants, etc. They even have seeds you can buy. You could take some walks in the area and look at what is growing, take some pics and ask the Forestry Dept to identify the ones of interest. They would also know about your soil, rock, etc.

We also had a garden class at the library around this time of year which had great information for resources and planting tips. Sedum, poppies, fever few, yarrow, grow well. Oddly, one of the places where I bought plants was City Market. The gal in charge of the floral dept. would order in hardened plants specific for the area.

And, ACE hardware outside of Cripple Creek. Woodland Park has a small nursery called Diggin in the Dirt, gal named Tina who grows all from seed. She is usually at the Farmer's market, which is another place to find local plants.


    Bookmark   June 13, 2007 at 7:00AM
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