Patience is a key factor when creating sustainable landscapes, including lawns. The “quick and simple” methods-tilling the soil, improving the soil, rolling the soil to form a level foundation, and laying the turf held together with a plastic net-will surely lead to failure over time.These practices and products destroy the soil structure and increase excessive organic matter And nutrients. They can also damage and kill soil biota.The mirage of the perfect lawn will soon disappear in nature Start to repair the damage.
On the contrary, gardeners can use the natural process of protecting the underlying soil to create a sturdy, biologically diverse lawn that provides space for pets, play, and relaxation. The following is a science-based method for installing and managing lawns that are both flexible and beautiful.
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1. Choose your botanical palette carefully
Before you decide which species to include in your lawn portfolio, consider the function of your lawn. If this is a frequently traveled area, especially pets or children, choose the hardest grass species available. Not only the tolerance to pedestrian traffic must be considered, but also the tolerance to stressful environmental conditions such as high temperature and drought. Please contact your state university extension office or check its website for species recommendations related to your location.
For areas that will not be severely compacted by human traffic, you can enjoy a more carefully planned collection of ground coverings. Adding pavers to create winding paths helps protect more vulnerable species and enhance the design. For ideas, check out older, well-maintained lawns in your area. Except for grass, what do you like usually growing there? In my place in the Pacific Northwest, we have a large number of native mosses that grow happily in areas where turfgrass is not so vigorous. How about creeping thyme (Thyme, Zone 4-8), violet (Viola Genus and cvs., Zones 3–9) or Primrose (primrose Genus and cvs., area 4-8)? All of these can bring beauty to your lawn and attract pollinators. Choose species that will maintain low growth; they will tolerate mowing. Multi-species mixing has greater environmental adaptability-which means fewer weeds, fewer pests and diseases, and more beneficial soil organisms, insects and other ideal fauna.
2. Prepare the soil
The use of no-tillage technology for land preparation will protect the soil structure and health. It also has much less work and provides better results. This is my process.
- Remove all vegetation by mowing as close to the ground as possible, then cover the debarked area with an 8 to 12 inch layer of arboriculture wood chips instead of bark. You can get these from any tree service. Fresh French fries are preferable and can provide extra nutrients. Doing so eliminates sunlight that supports weeds without interfering with water and oxygen entering the soil.
- Leave the mulch in place until all the covered plant material has died and decomposed. Just pull some covering aside for inspection, and then replace it when more time is needed.
- Remove the chip to use it elsewhere in your landscape. Your soil bed can now be planted.
3. Choose seeds instead of turf
Consider the lawns you see in older manors and parks. These lawns are established by seeding and do not involve rotary tillers, turf farms or purchased compost bags. Why not try planting lawns at home? Here are the steps to follow.
A. Sowing grass seeds, And seeds of other species (if you wish), please follow the supplier’s instructions. If possible, avoid walking in the planting area.
B. Cover the seeds with a thin layer of straw (Not hay) Keep the seeds in place and enhance water retention.
C. Keep the seed bed adequately hydrated Optimize seed germination and seedling growth. Avoid walking on the lawn, mowing or otherwise disturbing the lawn until the grass grows well.
4. If you must use turf, keep it natural
If the sown lawn is not practical for you, or if your weed seed bank (those lurking in the soil) is strong, you can avoid the aforementioned problems by laying a turf lawn.
- Choose turf grown on biodegradable materials, such as jute.
- If you can use the existing lawn, please cut the turf yourself and reinstall it.
- Keep the turf fully watered to promote root establishment.
- Avoid walking on the turf or trimming the turf until it is fully established.
5. Follow some precautions
Now that you have a new lawn, avoid all the tips and tonics in the popular gardening multiverse. They are not based on science, they do not work, they cause real damage to soil, plants and the environment. We can attribute natural lawn care to some very standard practices.
- Don’t add fertilizer. If the soil test shows that some key nutrients are severely deficient, only add that nutrient and do not add any other nutrients.
- Be sure to use a mulch mower. This returns nutrients to the soil.
- Do not use any kind of pesticides. This means there are no fungicides, no herbicidesInsecticides, no insecticides. These products disrupt the balance of the lawn ecosystem by eliminating the entire biota, causing pests and diseases. And don’t try to get rid of those mushrooms that appear on your lawn; they are vital to soil and plant health.
- Be sure to remove weeds by hand. When you notice them for the first time, pull them out, especially poisonous weeds or weeds that are actively spreading. At the same time, this is a good opportunity to rethink what weeds are on the lawn. Some of these weeds may become part of your ground cover mixture.
Contributing Editor Linda Chalker-Scott is a professor of horticulture and extension expert at Washington State University in Puyallup, Washington.