How to get a golf-course-quality lawn
Many homeowners dream of a thick, healthy lawn, but achieving golf-course-worthy greens is easier said than done — right? Actually, according to the expert we interviewed, it's not as hard as you might think.
It seems like every year we've owned our house, we've undertaken another substantial landscaping project. We've cleared brush, we've pruned trees, we've planted and replanted shrubs, we've nurtured ground cover, we've established perennial borders, we've mulched and mulched and mulched again. Still, in season six of the Victory-Still-Seems-Really-Far-Off Garden, there's one major landscaping element crying out for our attention: the lawn.
Besides throwing some grass seed at a couple of bare spots a few years ago, I have to admit we've largely ignored our lawn — probably because we assumed that improving it would be a heck of a lot of work.
But our years of benign neglect, on top of the years of neglect that preceded ours, have created a yard that's lumpy, patchy and plagued by weeds such as crabgrass, dandelions and ground ivy. (Bing: How to make organic weed killer)
So this is the year we initiate Operation Emerald Aisle. To get some inside information on how to go about improving our little patch of green — and to give the rest of you some tips on spring and summer lawn chores, from basic maintenance to more serious solutions — I spoke to Susan Littlefield, horticultural editor of the National Gardening Association. Here's what she told me.
1. Start the season right. If your lawn is in pretty good shape, all you need to do is rake it firmly but gently, to perk up the grass and get it growing again. Wait until the soil is fairly dry to do this, so you don't compact it. Then, after you've mowed a couple of times, apply a basic fertilizer. Unless absolutely necessary, protect the environment by avoiding fertilizers that contain phosphorus, Littlefield says.
That's it. Other than mowing and hand-weeding if you spot a dandelion or two, you're done until fall.
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2. Treat problems when the weather's cooler. Applying fertilizer, weed killer or insecticide to your lawn when the temperature is above 85 degrees will stress the grass, so treat your lawn on a cooler day. For nongrassy weeds such as dandelions, apply an herbicide designed to control broadleaf weeds. If, like Littlefield, you'd prefer not to apply chemical herbicides to your entire lawn, you can pull them by hand, spot-treat with a nonselective herbicide or just live with a few weeds in your otherwise-pristine lawn.
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3. Mow at the optimum height. Taller grass is usually healthier, Littlefield says, so keep your mower blade at a height of between 2½ and 3 inches. Mow frequently enough that you're removing only one-third of the lawn's height each time; that's less shocking to the grass and creates clippings that are small enough to decompose easily.
Don't bag or rake those clipping. Studies have shown that leaving grass clippings in place to degrade into the soil may allow you to cut your fertilizer use by as much as half, Littlefield says.
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4. Water wisely. As summer progresses, heat will take its toll on grasses, especially cold-season varieties such as fescue, bluegrass and rye, and your job becomes all about keeping the lawn looking green and healthy. Grass needs 1 inch of water a week, so use a straight-sided container, such as a tuna can, or a rain gauge to check how much rain you’re getting. If it’s not enough, supplement. It’s better to water deeply but infrequently.
If citizens would would be as interested and got as INFORMED, truely i n f o r m e d about politicians and corporations and the politcs insuing as citizens get informed about grass the US would be a truely
sucessful happy and desireable democracy to live in.
Why, if you want a GOLF COURSE quality lawn, would you consult a horticulture expert from a gardening publication? No offense to the consultant, but why would you use this source and not a golf course professional? Misleading title on fluff piece...
I hope you don't take this as a personal attack but stop it already. Sure I believe in being eco friendly but also I am tired of poison ivy growing in what I thought I created as a natural habitat for animals. NOW it is invading MY space. Also you promote leaving areas for the nice little bunnies to have their babies and hide from predators. Yeah and the cute little things eat the heck out of my veggie garden and shrubs and now I also see a fox and coyotes coming closer to eat said bunnies. And I haven't gotten to the mice that have become more abundant. SO I will use what I can that is friendly to the enviro, plant nice wild flower perennial beds and CUT THE TREE LINE WAY BACK AGAIN and clean all the "manmade natural habit" back out and burn my quart of gas to mow my acre and drive my hybrid car to offset that. And yes the show is great when my two german shepherds catch and eat the cute bunnies and baby birds !
In closing I try my best to be eco friendly but I don't take a dump in the woods and mess up the animals home and I am tired of them messing up mine.
Calling any kind of lawn care environmentally friendly is totally misleading. By their very existence, lawns are NOT serving the environment. Lawn mowers create air & noise pollution and use oil & gas resources. And most homeowners apply lots of artificial fertilizers which pollute ground and water, as well as waste water resources trying to prevent the natural summer dormancy brown-out of grass species. Worse, the weedkillers and pesticides they use kill other plants and bugs, which are not really "bad" but just unwanted on their "golf course." But most importantly, lawns displace local native habitats. Nature's food chain begins with local native plants, which feed insects (non-natives are usually inedible to them) and animals, who in turn feed birds and other animals. And expanses of bare open lawns offer no places for birds and animals to shelter and raise their young and hide from predators. Maintaining a lawn costs a lot each year and takes as much or more work than growing plants, so why settle for a boring expanse of lawn when you can help nurture the natural cycle of life? Keep just enough grass for your lawn chairs and enjoy watching the show unfold every day.