Garden Thoughts for October
This month, I'll be dealing with one of the less
sexy garden topics - Fall Lawn Care.
I need to remind myself constantly of the value of having a nice lawn. First of all, our climate, like England's, is perfect for growing lawns. As long as you don't overdo the chemicals, lawns are an environmentally friendly choice. Don't be brainwashed by what you read in American gardening magazines - they are dealing with entirely different situations.
The main value in a swath of green lawn is as a balance to the rest of the plantings in a garden. I once read that the distance across a lawn should be equal to the height of the tallest plants in the garden bed behind the lawn. With a tiny city lot and cedars to contend with, I'm not going to be able to follow this guideline, but I try to keep the intent of it in mind. It's a yin-yang kind of thing. The flat, horizontal plane balances out the vertical garden elements.
This year, I'm trying a new plan. I've read an article recently by an advocate of fall fertilizing. The common wisdom is to stop fertilizing things in the fall. You don't want to promote lush new growth; you want to let the plants shut down naturally for the winter. This is still a good plan for other plants, but this article said to fertilize in September and again just before the really cold weather came - probably December. Doing this in conjunction with lowering the height of your mower, and mowing frequently is supposed to promote root development. This keeps the lawn in good shape over the winter, and gives it a jump-start when the weather warms up again.
So far things are looking pretty good. The only downside I see to this method is rain. What do we do when it rains for 3 weeks solid, and the fertilizer in the lawn causes it to grow 12"? I'll let you know how the experiment turns out.