Envionmental Psychology

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Are You Sure You Want a Lawn?

By Jeanette Joy Fisher

Glorious, green grass. Roll in it. Play on it. Mow it.

Lawns may look fabulous, but they use too much water and power lawn mowers, edgers, and blowers emit pollutants into our air. Plus, lawn require hard work.

Instead of planting an expansive lawn, consider a smaller grass patch and use a sod that doesn't require a lot of extra watering.

Because I know it's futile to expect everyone to plant draught resistant plants, here are a few lawn care tips.

Lawn Care

Begin by raking up leaves and cleaning up all debris. If there are high or low spots in the yard, level them. This will give your lawn a much more lush and uniform appearance--it levels the playing field, so to speak.

Use a good grade of topsoil to fill any holes, since you want your grass to have the best medium possible in which to grow. If the yard has bumps, cut an "X" in the rise and then peel the sod back. Using a garden trowel, scoop out enough soil to level the area, and then push the sod back into place. Tamp the sod down firmly, to bring the roots into good contact with the soil, and then give the area a good soaking to promote root growth.

If you find bare spots, you'll need to add grass seed. Make sure that the new seed will be tolerant of your area's weather conditions, and also for the particular spot where you'll be planting it. Some grass seed is tolerant of a fair amount of shade, for instance, while other seed needs full sun. Also take into account how much traffic the area will be getting, because some grasses are less tolerant than others of being walked or played on.

To maintain a lush, green yard, you'll probably need to water it at times. When you do, water it deeply early in the morning, so the water will soak down to the roots and not just be evaporated into the air or merely wet the surface, causing shallow root growth. You want your grass to have deep, healthy roots.

When you mow the lawn, never cut off more than a third of the blades, and make sure your mower’s blade is sharp. For photosynthesis, grass needs an adequate blade surface area and if you remove too much, your lawn will be susceptible to disease.  (A push mower gives you exercise and helps the air quality.)

Most of all, keep a close eye on your lawn's health through regular inspection. There’s an adage that says, "The best fertilizer for a piece of property is the footsteps of its owner." That’s certainly true of a vibrant, healthy lawn. Look for trouble spots, learn to recognize problems, and address them immediately when you find them.  If you have a gorgeous lawn, enjoy it!

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