Gardening Tip: Dealing with gardens and lawns after floodwaters recede

Support Northern Colorado Journalism

Show your support for North Forty News by helping us produce more content. It's a kind and simple gesture that will help us continue to bring more content to you.

Click to Donate

Garden produce exposed to contaminated flood waters must be discarded. Do not attempt to disinfect, save or preserve these crops. If the plants have survived, the new produce that forms on them after the flood waters have receded is safe to consume. It takes at least 30 days for gardens to become “clean.” Please go to for information on many disaster relief topics.

By Mitzi Davis
Colorado State University Extension Master Gardener in Larimer County

Lawns may also have been damaged in the recent floods. If it was submerged less than 4 days and covered with 1” or less of “muck,” your lawn has a good chance to recover. Submersion for more than 4 days or with more than 2” of soil deposited on it means your lawn is probably heavily damaged with only a slight chance of recovery. Check for new grass shoots growing from the soil or from surviving plants to see if the turf is beginning to recover. Core cultivation/aerification is one of the most important things you can do to help your lawn recover. Fertilize using any lawn fertilizer, following the label directions for application rates.

Overseeding can also be done at this time (September-October). Lawns left with more than 2” of soil after the flood waters recede will be severely damaged or killed. It will be necessary to establish a “new lawn”. For more information about turf damage and recovery after flooding visit

Nighttime temperatures are cooling and frost is in our future. Keep boxes, buckets or blankets (not plastic tarps) handy to cover tender plants like tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant. Do not remove coverings until the air temperature is above 38 degrees. But don’t forget to take off the coverings if the sun comes out and temperatures go soaring.