There is something so appealing about a golf course green. The endless emerald color, the perfect mowing stripes, and the enviable lack of weeds are goals to which to aspire, but is it attainable? Golf courses don’t spare chemicals in their battle for the green, nor do they scrimp on water, and they have an army of greens keepers.
The humble home gardener can have a green lawn without resorting to chemicals or hiring out the job with just a few tips. I hate lawn care but I do have a few tips to share that can help you get green while going green.
Rehabbing a Lawn
Having purchased several neglected properties over the years, I am fully aware of what it takes to rehabilitate a lawn that received no care for years. It is a chore I have slogged through with each property, because it means a regimen of sustainable care that is daily until the lawn is healthy, and weed and disease-free once more. Bringing a lawn back to life is a tedious, but not thankless job, as you watch it bloom into health once more.
The first tip is lawn watering. Lawns need 1-1.5 inches (2.54-3.81 cm.) of water per week. Each time you water you should water deeply but not to the point of runoff, which is wasteful. The best time for lawn watering is in the late night to early morning. That way the rising sun can dry the moisture quickly off the leaf blades and help prevent fungal diseases. It also gives the moisture time to sink into roots rather than evaporate away as it would if you watered during the heat of the day.
Next are tips on mowing: Mowing seems pretty straight forward but the height, frequency and bagging vs. mulching in the clippings should be considered. The ideal height for most grasses is around 2 1/2 inches (6.35 cm) tall year round. However, the actual height varies in cool and warm season grasses, and in summer the grass should be higher to keep roots cool. The rule of thumb is to cut no more than 1/3 of the grass blades off. In order to keep the grass at the proper height, it may need to be mowed up to 2 or 3 times in the spring growing season. Frequency of mowing negates the need to bag clippings. Many question whether bagging vs. mulching in this manner is beneficial. The proof is in the pudding. Not only do you not have to worry about what to do with the clippings, but they will drop down into the soil and release nitrogen, reducing the need to feed the lawn.
In addition to lawn watering and tips on mowing, managing pests and disease are next on the list to achieving a green, environmentally friendly lawn. It may seem silly, but a good dandelion weeder is essential. Get one that has a long handle so you can walk around and pop weeds with ease. While you may not get all the roots, consistently depriving the weeds of greenery to fuel photosynthesis will finally kill them. There are also plenty of organic weed prevention and killers from which to choose. Pyrethroids and beneficial soil nematodes can help control many common pests safely.
If you are consistent with mowing, watering, and weed and pest management, the lawn will get green. Of courses there may be some bare spots, but these are easy enough to seed. In just a short few months, even a neglected lawn will be competing for green of the year.