Just as your carpeting brings out the best of your interior designs, grass in your garden is the canvas that you paint all your flowers and rose beds on. Some people take grass for granted, but you don’t want to make that mistake. A neat and well-manicured garden goes a long way into increasing the beauty and value of your property.
Timothy grass is so ubiquitous that you might not notice it growing on its own on a grassy knoll near you. But that doesn’t mean it’s your average run of the mill, grass. It’s easy to grow and care for. And you can harvest the seeds and store them for future patch work and maintenance.
Timothy Grass at a Glance
Whether you have a garden that you want it to look its best, a lawn that increases your curb appeal, or you just have a meadow that acts as the backdrop to your property, Timothy is the right grass for all these different purposes and settings.
Known as Phleum pratense, Timothy is a perennial grass with a USDA hardiness zone between 2 and 3. That makes it suitable for just about anywhere that’s not covered with snow. The leaves are soft under your feet and have a uniform pale green color that turns brownish in the winter months when the temperature drops.
The grass is also used as hay to feed horses and sheep. It’s quite nutritious and gives an abundant crop. However, it’s also great in lawns and gardens. The bulbous leaves are even and easy to mow and maintain. It can handle foot traffic, changes in weather, and produce a durable grass that looks fresh and healthy all year round.
The only drawback to Timothy is that since it’s a succulent grass that is used for food, it also attracts undesirable garden invaders such as rabbits. If rabbits and wild pigs are an issue in your area, then you could try a different grass that is not as delicious to these herbivores.
How to Grow Timothy Grass
The thing about planting grass is, you don’t need to do a lot of preparation. All you care about is to have an even layer of grass with a uniform look and feel about it. But of course, that’s easier said than done. The devil, as they say, is in the details. So let’s get down to the brass tacks and see how you can tackle this issue with tact and skill. The following steps will guide you.
- Clean the area you want to plant, tilling the soil lightly with a hoe and removing all other weeds that might compete with your Timothy seeds.
- Check your seeds before you plant them. The best way to check them is to give them a floating test. Drop them in a large container full of water. Skim off the ones that float and use the seeds that rest at the bottom.
- Now sprinkle the seeds on the area in an even manner. Make sure you don’t clutter the seeds or leave patches sparse. For best results, distribute the seeds on half the area.
- Don’t push the seeds too deep into the soil. This will prevent them from germinating properly.
- Use a rake to bury the seeds in the tilled soil. Don’t leave them on the surface as the wind will blow them away and the sun will prevent germination.
- Water the whole area and keep it moist to facilitate the sprouting of the seeds.
- The best time to plant Timothy is in the late spring since it needs warm soil and moderate weather to germinate and grow.
- After a week of sprouting, check that the grass is covering the whole area.
- Repeat the same process in the barren patches until you have a uniform lawn or garden.
Timothy Grass Care
With a garden covered with the lush green Timothy, you start to love spending more time in the garden. But all that gardening work, foot traffic, and occasional home invaders might spoil the splendor of your meticulous garden.
So how do you ensure that your Timothy grass maintains its fresh look?
As a hardy grass, Timothy can handle many types of soil ranging from the loose and sandy to the rich clay. You can add sand to loosen the soil since packed clay makes it hard for the roots to spread. The sand also improves the drainage of the soil and makes it perfect for the grass to grow.
While Timothy prefers a slightly dry soil, it can still handle a waterlogged area or even short periods of drought. The ideal condition is to keep the soil moist at all times especially during the hot months of the late spring and summer. If the soil is too packed and doesn’t allow good drainage, try adding mulch and sand to give it the right texture.
The best area to plant Timothy grass is one that gets partial shade, is even, and doesn’t get plenty of direct sun. The land should be flat for better irrigation. If you have a rabbit infestation, you might need to put a fence around the garden or lawn and keep the soil moist.
Avoid planting it on slopes or exposed areas that get the full sun. This will degrade the quality of the grass and give it a sickly and pale color.
Whether you use it for landscaping purposes or you grow Timothy as food for your farm animals, you still need to give it plant nutrients to keep it growing and looking its best.
You can use a chemical fertilizer rich in nitrogen twice a year.
The first time in the spring right after the last frost to encourage its growth. The other time in the fall when the flowers appear. This improves the seed production of the grass.
Just like any other lawn and garden grass, you need to mow your Timothy throughout the year. From the spring all the way until the end of the fall, that’s when the growth and flowering cycle is at its peak. Your mowing requirements would depend on the temperature and fertilizer you use.
In general, you won’t need to mow it more than once every 6 weeks. But when the bulbs form and the leaves look like clots, that’s when it’s time to increase your mowing duty. If you don’t like the flowering or don’t need a lot of seeds, you can skip the second fertilization.
Harvesting and Storing Seeds
If you like the species of Timothy you grow in your garden or lawn, then you’d be eager to collect the seeds of the grass and store them for future use. Or if you grow it as food for the animals, then harvesting the hay becomes another chore to fulfill.
The grass usually needs about 50 days from the time you plant it before the hay becomes ripe and ready to harvest. Make sure to cut the hay before the flowering season to maintain its quality.
After flowering, the hay loses its softness and nutritious value for the animals that feed on it. This only applies to the first harvesting of the hay.
As the grass grows again, it only needs about one month before you can harvest the second time. Make sure to water it regularly and add a nitrogen rich fertilizer to speed up the growth before the temperature drops and the weather changes.
You should time the grazing and harvesting with the height of the grass. Once it reaches 3 inches high, that’s when you let the animals graze and feed on it.
However, it’s recommended that you harvest the hay yourself and feed it to the animals. Grazing usually damages the grass and the foot traffic ruins the whole area which slows the production of the hay.
The flowers of Timothy shoot out of the grass in the form of spikes. Often called inflorescences, these spikes make it easy for you to gather the seeds without much hassle. The seeds start as light green but then turn into a brownish or tan color. This is the sign that the seeds are ripe for collecting.
Use a glove to collect the seeds. Hold the spike firmly at the base and with a slow but deliberate motion, move your hand up to harvest the seeds and force them out of the spike. Only ripe seeds will come off this way.
Spread the seeds on a flat surface for a few days to let them dry. Make sure they are fully dry before you store them else the humidity in the seeds could make them germinate in the jar. Store them in a dry and tight jar until you need them next.