Posted by Gardening Felix | Posted in Basic Gardening Tips, Uncategorized | Posted on 20-07-2012
Tags: fescues, fluctuations, lawn seeds, mixture, weather
As requested by our reader Sebb, I want to introduce you to what I believe are the most crucial tips for growing lawn in your garden. I’m sure you know the problem that your lawn doesn’t look green enough, has patches or is simply inferior to your neighbor’s . However, if you stick to the most important points (choice of lawn type, weed control, mowing regimen, irrigation), you’re on a good way to making your neighbor jealous instead with your own, beautiful lawn.
Choice of lawn type
Standard lawn seeds you can buy at your local gardening supplier mostly include a mix of different plants (to take advantage of different micro-nutrient requirements and weather-hardiness). The choice of the right one is really important to your success, the most important factor being your climate: Warm season grasses are fine in the southern US states, while cool-season grasses are fine in the North as well as in Canada. The transition zones in-between are actually a bit more problematic, as there are both wet and dry zones and heavy fluctuations in temperature.
Cold-season grasses include bentgrasses and fescues, while warm-season grasses may be buffalograss, bahiagrasses etc.
For the US, you can find extensive tips on http://www.lawngrass.com/ (click on your respective state in the lower right-hand panel)
Furthermore, you have to pay attention to whether your garden is shady (cold season fine fescues may be a good choice) or whether there will be a lot and a lot of people milling about your lawn, in which case a tough mixture like Kentucky bluegrass or perennial rye is of advantage.
My rule is to water lawn as soon as the soil is really dry (not on the surface, but as far as the roots go). If you find that you have to water quite often, an automatic irrigation system may in fact be of advantage.
In the long run, it’s also cost-saving, as water is being used more efficiently.
About.com has a nice FAQ on pros and cons of automatic irrigation systems:
Thatch is the layer of dead grass between the lawn and its soil – if you want to create a truly green and orderly garden, you should remove it (especially if it’s as thick as half an inch or more) with a rake or with a vertical mower. Reasons for dethatching are on the one hand that thatch will prevent water from getting to the roots of your grass, which minimizes your efforts to water your garden efficiently. One the other hand, unwanted insect pests may take cover in it.
While most gardeners would best like to only grow the lawn grasses they sow in their garden, weeds will inevitably appear (the most common including crabgrass, clover, dandelion and bluegrass). Whether you want to kill weeds or not depends on how you want your lawn to look. If you prefer the typical well-grown English lawn, you should get rid of weeds; if a natural, uneven look is more to your liking just ignore them. Dandelion can be plugged out by hand; other herbs have to be taken care of with a (chemical) weed killer. Personally, i tend to tolerate a few weeds but apply weed killer (and especially moss killer) from time to time.
It’s advantageous to mow quite often (about once a weed) to keep it tidy and to deter weeds. As grass grows faster in late spring and summer, you should set the blades lower in this time (about one inch) so the grass will not become untidy in the period between cuts.
The situation changes, however, if you have long, dry periods in your region in midsummer. In this case, let the grass grow longer (for cutting encourages new growth); also, don’t use summer fertilizer in this case.
Special lawn fertilizer benefits your lawn and makes it greener and healthier. Gardening supply stores offer different products (often for different times of the year), that may also include weed killers. Whether you want to use this or stick to organic fertilizers is your choice. Inorganic fertilizer is clearly easier to apply in any case. If you decide for organic fertilizer, choose one that supplies ample amounts of nitrogen (lawn uses a lot of nitrogen, and a fast growth of weeds such as clover show that your soil is nitrogen-poor).
Most lawn grasses best grow with a pH between 6.5 and 6.7. See Marc’s article on soil acidity (http://www.best-gardening-tips.com/2012/02/is-my-garden-soil-acidic-or-alkaline-the-ph-in-gardening/) for tips how to change your soil pH.