Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

New grass seed grows on Manitobans

No watering or fertilizing -- and less mowing to boot

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It might be the best spring gift for a yard-obsessed Winnipegger, next to spring itself: an environmentally friendly lawn that needs no fertilizer, no water and can be mowed half as often ¬ -- or not at all.

The mix of seven hardy grass seeds developed by an Ontario wildflower company has been a hit in Manitoba, where at least two garden suppliers are stocking the product this year due to shopper demand.

Eco-Lawn is "really tailored to Manitoba," said Sage Garden Herbs co-operator Dave Hanson, and not just because of the province's standard preoccupation with manicured lawns.

Sage Garden has just begun carrying the low-maintenance combination of fescues, or native grasses, which is designed for climates with cold winters and hot, dry summers. The grasses get their durability from extra-long roots that draw nutrients and moisture from deep in the ground, edging out more shallow weedy competitors, and growing as well in sun or shade.

"They allow for tremendous versatility," said Hanson.

The grasses grow slowly and don't necessarily have to be cut at all, he said, although homeowners who like the look of well-trimmed lawns should only need to haul out the mower half as often.

The grass seed can be sprinkled on new yards or seeded over existing lawns, although fully converting a lawn takes about three years.

"We had customers coming in like crazy" who'd heard of the mix and were ordering it directly from Wildflower Farms in Ontario, said Hanson, and this year it's been a strong seller.

The seed comes in larger bags than traditional grass seed, but is priced comparably for the quantity, he said.

Morden Nurseries was Manitoba's first garden centre to stock Eco-Lawn last year on a trial basis, and brought it back this year due to a strong reception.

"It seems to be very popular," said co-owner Monique Rampton, who said all 180 bags in stock last season were sold out.

"We actually planted it ourselves too, and it's done really well," she said.

lindsey.wiebe@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 5, 2008 $sourceSection$sourcePage

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