Regardless of your opinion about the upcoming ban on synthetic chemical pesticides, it is going to affect the way many care for their lawns.
The ban is scheduled for 2015, which gives some time to prepare. In today’s column, I’m going to cover basic lawn care, and next week offer suggestions for reducing the lawn.
We refer to the lawn as if it was one large unit, but it’s actually a collection of plants. Each plant needs sufficient light and moisture in order to thrive, and all have a limited life expectancy. All are continually competing with weeds for space, light, and moisture. Healthy plants are going to offer steep competition; sickly plants will simply be pushed aside. It is all about competition.
Start your own competition campaign with annual overseeding. There will be weed seeds on the lawn, might as well give them lots of competition from lawn seeds. Give your seeds an added edge by matching the seeds mixture to the growing conditions of your lawn. You may need different mixtures in different areas of the lawn.
Adjust the height of the mower blade. In early spring, a height of 3.5 cm stimulates root growth and allows sufficient light down to the soil for seed germination. During the summer, a height of 7.5 cm totally changes the sun-moisture game at the soil level. Longer grass creates shade at the soil, and weed seeds need sun in order to germinate. That same shade keeps grass roots cool and protected from heat stress so the lawn maintains a top-notch competitive edge.
Spread the grass clippings over the lawn as you mow. They are a great source of nutrients and you can’t beat the price! Further feed it with a slow-release organic fertilizer in the fall.
Daily watering is important during the spring while the seeds germinate and the plants establish themselves. By summer though, frequent watering can cause more damage than good. Including rainfall, 2.5 cm a week is ideal.
Plants grow best in loose, open soil. Compacted soil is in fact ideal for dandelion growth. Aerate every year or two.
Even with your lawn in top-notch competitive form, there will still be weeds. That is the nature of the great outdoors. If there are only a few, hand weeding will do the trick. Otherwise there are a number of organic herbicides available. Follow the recommended application rates and timing for best results.
Carla Keast has a master’s degree in landscape architecture and is a Winnipeg-based freelance landscape designer. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.