In the first few weeks of having your newly designed landscape, everything is picture perfect, as if taken out from a snapshot in a magazine. Your lawn is as green as it ever has been, your flowers are in full bloom, the lighting is perfect and your choice of added ornaments has given more elegance to your design. The sad thing is, this picture perfect scene doesn’t last forever.
Eventually, your green grass will become more brown, giving your landscape that barren look, even though you’ve used annual plants to keep the design on full bloom throughout the year. That’s why you should get to know how to maintain a health lawn. Here are some lawn care tips to keep your lawn in a healthy shape.
Of course, just like with other plants, water is essential to your lawn. To keep your lawn healthy you have to give it approximately 1-2 inches of water in a week. How often you should water highly depends on the rainfall and season you have at present. You should irrigate your lawn as well, so that you won’t have problems with running water in areas you don’t want it to be.
You can remove weeds like dandelions by digging. After you dig, always be sure that you sow grass seed on bare soil areas.
You can also use an aerator to get rid of plugs of soil that prevent thatch. Aeration can also help in the conditioning of your soil.
You can get rid of dead thatch in the lawn by using a rake. Dethatching can help your lawn get more air, fertilizer and water.
Now that you know some tip for maintaining a healthy lawn, you are ready to take charge in the maintenance of your landscape. Just remember to follow these tips, and you’ll have less problems with your lawn.
Byline: Pam Waterman Correspondent
We live in a dry Mediterranean climate, but you'd never know it. Just drive along most residential streets in Southern California and you see green lawns ooze out in front of houses as if they were growing on the East Coast with its plentiful supply of water.
No logic explains why most homeowners insist on a green lawn in this semi-arid region. We know our water has to be brought to us at great cost to the environment. And the water problem isn't likely to improve in the future, as more people crowd into the Los Angeles basin.
Some changes in our wasteful pattern of cultivating velvety, picture-perfect lawns are sure to come when water gets more expensive and California's rhythm of drought returns. Get a head start and begin planning a garden instead of a grass carpet that needs constant mowing, watering and fertilizing. Here are 10 alternatives to growing turf on your property. Each one requires less water than grass.
1. Grow drought-tolerant ground covers. Gazania, a bright, daisylike flower, grows either in clumps or as a trailing plant. If you have plenty of sun, ease into a lawn-less future by edging your grass with Gazania ``Burgundy'' or ``Copper King.''
Another choice for sunny spots is ice plant. It will soon be obvious that you get a bigger reward with ground covers than with turf.
Dwarf mondo grass is a good ground cover for a shady area. Although it takes time to become established, mondo grass spreads into an attractive mat in spaces where grass would be much more trouble.
Dozens of ground covers can serve as lawn substitutes: Dalea greggii (trailing indigo bush), Cotoneaster salicifolius ``Repens,'' Ceonathus griseus ``horizontalis,'' Arctotheca calendula, cape weed or Coprosma ``verde vista.'' These ground covers can be mixed with each other for more texture and color than any grass lawn could provide.
2. Plant a kitchen garden. OK, this kind of lawn substitute might take some getting used to. But for 20 years, Cynthia Null of Altadena has cultivated vegetables in her front yard area instead of the boring green grass of surrounding homes. Although she hasn't yet made any neighborhood converts to kitchen gardening, her neighbors all know that Null's tomatoes taste better than grass.
3. Plant a succulent garden. All you need to do is stroll through the Desert Garden at the Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Garden in San Marino to see thousands of interesting succulents that grow in a rainbow of colors with many leaf shapes. This is another lawn substitute that you could ease into. Plant a small succulent section in the sunniest part of your lawn and see how much better it looks and how much less care it takes than turf.
4. Leave it natural. This lawn substitute technique works best when you have a large lovely oak you want to preserve. Few homeowners would be happy with no planting at all around their oaks. You can safely locate a few natives or drought-tolerant plants like Centranthus ruber, Penstemon species, Ceonathus griseus horizontalis or Mahonia repens in the vicinity of the oak. But no grass inside the drip line. That is, if you want your oak to live a long life.
5. Plant an ivy collection. If conditions are not too difficult, you could substitute ivy for your lawn. Not the fast-growing, unattractive Algerian ivy (why plant a substitute lawn for something that doesn't look any better?), but English Ivy and perhaps some of the small- or miniature-leafed forms. This solution works best in a small area. I grow miniature ivies in pots, and I'd love to see a textured pattern on someone's former lawn with five or six different ivy cultivars.
6. Plant a garden of grasses. Many kinds of ornamental grasses are now available at local nurseries. An arrangement of feathery festucas, Muhlenbergia capillaris (pink hair grass), Miscanthus sinensis (Japanese silver grass), Pennisetum setaceum ``Rubrum'' or red fountain grass and smaller varieties such as common blue fescue will allow you to create a magical landscape that moves with the wind where a still, monotonous lawn used to be.
7. Plant a perennial garden. This type of garden also looks best when there's a smallish area of lawn to give up. But a small area doesn't mean you have to furnish with small plants. Think big. One homeowner I know loves cannas and allows these tall beauties to grow right up to the sidewalk.
8. Plant an herb garden. Dozens of wonderful herbs grow in our climate. Even if you don't use them for cooking, many herbs look good as ornamental plants. One place to get ideas is at the herb garden at the Huntington. On weekends, a representative from the local herb society has a table under the oaks and hands out information.
9. Create a serene oasis with trees, box and gravel. Although this kind of garden will take time to get established, your ultimate reward will be an unusual and lovely space - a space that will be at least one thousand times more interesting than a green lawn.
10. Install a dramatic hardscape and garden in pots. A garden floor of Mexican paver tiles is not maintenance-free but it's certainly less work than a lawn. The biggest expense comes from the materials.
This type of garden is especially appropriate for people who enjoy entertaining instead of growing grass.
There you are - 10 ideas for easing out of the green-lawn straitjacket. The advantage of most of these suggestions is that you can install them on a gradual basis. And you might find that a small patch of green lawn sets off the beauty of the perennials in the large surrounding beds.
Check your Sunset Western Garden Book for more suggestions. Visit local public gardens and your local nursery.
Professionals in horticulture know a drought is just around the corner. They're familiar with plants to use as grass substitutes. They're just waiting for the public to ask.
(1 -- cover -- color) 10 Ways to avoid mowing your lawn
Low-maintenance alternatives that simplify your life - and save water
(2 -- color) Growing a garden of succulents - including the wide variety of native California cactuses - is a handy substitute for a needy lawn.
(3 -- color) This lawn is not a lawn at all, just ground cover bracketed by trimmed hedgerows.
(4 -- color) Dwarf mondo grass is a good lawn substitute, growing well in shady areas where grass would be trouble.
Photos by Pam Waterman