New Lawns & Groundcovers

 

New Lawns and Groundcovers

To get your yard and lawn off of drugs: Today we hear so much about the harmful chemicals that are put on lawns and gardens and the toxic effects on humans, birds and animals

Start by tilling up your present yard and rake away the weeds with a good stiff rake. What you need is a good soil base mixed with compost, and well seasoned manure. By making your lawn suitably fertile and able to retain moisture, add organic matter, such as compost, manure or peat moss to the soil to help improve its absorption and retention of water and to feed the micro-organisms and worms that help break the material down and convert it to usable nutrients for your plants and lawns. Then level for a good seed bed. The top soil should be about 4 to 6 inches deep.

For a ground cover yard, the seed mix depends on how much sun or shade you have. For a good ground cover instead of grass, you could use hardy plants like clover. Trifolium repens or Dutch White or Creeping Clover, or Strawberry Clover, thyme, bugleweed and Creeping Juniper are all suitable low-water, groundcover alternatives to turf. These clovers have all the nitrogen you need and will never need supplementary chemical feedings. The clover will create a healthy active soil base with good quality organic matter to start with.

One of the problems is that we have gotten rid of the native grasses that did not need a lot of watering (drought tolerant). The sandy soil in our area over time allows the good earth to funnel down and depletes our lawns. So when watering, the water goes right through. You only need to water 1-2 inches a week so that the roots will go deep. Use a salmon or tuna can to measure the water from the sprinkler. If you water to much the roots will be weak and shallow.

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For a lawn cover you will want to mix grasses with good quality drought tolerant grass that tolerates high and low light situations. Creeping Red Fescue and Chewing Fescue and some of our native bluegrasses such as Peri Poa trivialis, or annual Bluegrass Poa annua, a wild bluegrass is good as opposed to Kentucky Bluegrass. Mix thoroughly before spreading. Kentucky Bluegrass will go brown and go dormant in hot, dry conditions and does not tolerant shade. Perennial rye grass is not fond of shade and not very winter hardy. Look for a shade mix grass seed preferably one with at least 60% Creeping Red Fescue. Spread grass width to width and then length to length. Roll with a light roller so that the seed comes into contact with the soil. Keep moist until germination 7 to 10 days. Fall is the best time but early spring too.

Cut your grass at a higher level, 2 1/2 inches is a good height and let the clippings stay on the lawn to provide its own nitrogen.

NOTE: 20 -25 % inclusion of clover in your seed mix will fix enough nitrogen from the air to feed the entire lawn. That is all the nitrogen it will ever need, so there will be no more need for supplementary chemical feeding.

Remember: Lawns, rather than ground covers, require lots of maintenance, mowing, (polluting lawn mower) weeding, fertilizing, and regular heavy watering that can compromise municipal water reserves.

The Happy Gardener