Living in Wisconsin, I’m blessed to have fantastic public television channels (namely, the Wisconsin Channel). I am sitting here watching a fantastic program on my least favorite garden item: lawns.
I’ve already learned a number of helpful things I thought I’d pass on.
First: Nitrogen is the best weed control. So you should actually fertilize your lawn if you don’t want weeds. Sorry about that Mr. Mayor. Weirdly, fertilizing your lawn also helps reduce phosphorus runoff which will help our beautiful lakes.
Second: Fertilize in Wisconsin on the summer holidays for sunny lawns like mine; Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day. Easy to remember and we both know you aren’t really going to parties then anyway.
Third: The soil under your lawn sucks. (unless you have my gorgeous soil here at New House– the top picture is the soil with no additives under the grass. I haven’t yet dug a big pit, but it seems to be quite nice as deep as I’m willing to dig). Professor John Stier showed a picture of his soil at his new-construction home, which looked even worse than mine at Old House (if you can imagine it.) Add a light layer of compost on top or even better–actually till your soil. My neighbor at Old House also got great results with core aeration.
Fourth: If you didn’t already know it, to get a very green lawn, water one inch per week. If the grass goes dormant, it still needs moisture so the crown of the plant can survive. Since we usually have an adequate amount of rain here in Wisconsin, he suggested watering when you see footprints that stay on the lawn.
The presentation also showed different kinds of grass and their ability to resist drought, and the unimproved Kentucky Bluegrass did a great job. Sorry Southern Sister, I know how much you miss our pretty grass.
Fifth: You can’t grow grass under trees because the tree roots outcompete the lawn. So go ahead and plant it every year, SC. Unless you remove the tree roots (!!) it ain’t gonna grow.
As a person who hates grass and would rather have all gardens, I certainly learned a lot. Between that and the presentation from a guy at Rotary Gardens (Janesville) about ornamental grasses, I might yet become a convert.