It seems to me that the environmental benefits of growing a lawn are not well known. It is popular today to poo poo the idea of maintaining a carpet of green in your front or back yard due to some misunderstandings about how to do it while benefiting the environment (and enhancing the value of your home!)
I suggest that if we take the time to learn how to grow a healthy lawn without using a mountain of resources we will all benefit.
Recent research results have concluded that:
- The turf on the front lawns of eight houses can produce the same cooling effect as 17 air conditioned homes.
- On a typical hot summer day the lawn can be up to 30C cooler than asphalt and 14C cooler than bare soil.
- Healthy turf traps pollutants and purifies water as it travels through its root zone.
- Lawns can absorb a significant amount of carbon dioxide and a 2,500 ft2 (250 m2) lawn can release enough oxygen to keep a family of four breathing for a year.*
Now that we have established the environmental benefits of having a lawn I suggest that this is the perfect time of year to grow an environmentally responsible one.
This time of year is perfect for thickening an established lawn or starting a new one from seed. The cool evening temperatures, heavy dew, regular rain falls and shorter days of September are perfect for lawn seed germination.
How Do You Start?
Rake your lawn with a fan rake, where you plan on sowing fresh grass seed (‘overseeding’) and be sure to remove the dead grass and debris that may be in the way of new seed germination.
Next spread triple mix or Lawn Soil over the area about four to six centimetres thick. Spread the seed by hand by letting the seed roll off of your index finger while waving your arm back and forth in front of you. Or buy a small, hand held whirly gig to spread your seed evenly.
Step the seed into firm contact with the soil.
Water well and apply a grass seed starter fertilizer (especially helpful for a new lawn).
Water the area well for six to eight weeks, when Mother Nature is not taking care of this for you.
Competing weeds out of existence is not an exercise of spraying anything on your lawn. It IS a matter of changing lawn maintenance habits in favour of a healthier lawn.
Complete the Recipe
Cut your lawn 2 ½ to 3 inches high.
Use a mulching lawn mower (and return the nitrogen rich goodness of the grass blades back to the root zone).
Fertilize three times a year with a slow release nitrogen-based product, including a final application just before the snow flies.
The final application of lawn fertilizer is the most important one of the year. Use a quality Fall Lawn Fertilizer that is formulated for late autumn application. It will provide a boost to your lawn that will produce results early next spring when the grass plants emerge from winter dormancy. Snow mould will be minimized. Your lawn will green up more quickly (you can always tell the neighbour that has applied fall fertilizer come spring – they are the ones with the greenest lawn).
They will not die in a day if you follow my recipe for a great looking lawn but they will all but disappear over time…. A year or two down the road you will be amazed at how much better your lawn looks, through long cold winters and the drought of mid summer. Tall grass blades will shade out many lawn weeds before they germinate.
Your lawn will have deeper roots and stronger blades. Insects will be less inclined to attack your healthy lawn and the damage from the few that do, will be less evident as your lawn will be much greener and healthier than ever before.
This is an ideal time of year to lay sod down too. My late father used to say that you could lay sod upside down in September and it would still put down roots. I don’t recommend that you try that, but I have done it and he was right.
Remember, when starting a new lawn from seed or sod, the best investment that you can make is in good quality triple mix for a foundation that your grass will root into with vigour.
All of this is to say that a new day is dawning on the Canadian lawnscape. We are now able to produce a great looking lawn with fewer insect and weed problems not because we have new tools at our disposal, but we are now less distracted by chemicals that never really did the job for the long haul anyway.
Mark Cullen appears on Canada AM every Wednesday morning at 8:40. He is spokesperson for Home Hardware Lawn and Garden. Sign up for his free monthly newsletter at www.markcullen.com.