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Cut back lawn size to make time for fishing

Posted Tuesday, August 30, 2005 - 9:52 am


By Durant Ashmore
GUEST COLUMNIST
durantashmore@aol.com



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It's time to consider transplanting plants, trees (11/22/05)
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I suppose that every one who writes a newspaper column wonders if anyone out there is really reading or not. I appreciate all the phone calls and e-mails I receive, and I appreciate the comments I hear when I am out wandering about the streets of the Golden Strip.

I don't mind that the most frequently asked question is the one I just explained in great detail in the previous week's column. I suppose I will let even the most avid readers slide and not expect them to hang on every single word that graces these pages.

If I ever have doubts about people reading this column, all I have to do is write something about lawns. Apparently there is a great need for information concerning this subject. This week's column is a continuation of last week's. If you had open heart surgery last week and missed that column, please go to the Web site (tribunetimes.com) and read it. This week we will flesh out in a little more detail some topics which were discussed last week.

I would like to begin by stating that I am not necessarily a lawn guy. In the Piedmont we are on the cusp of cool season grasses (fescue, etc.) or warm season grasses (Bermuda, centipede and zoysia). There are problems associated with either choice.

Last week I gave you a long list of things to do. Most people are too busy to bother with any of that, and their lawns show it. Those of you out there with immaculate lawns have never been fishing. Also, I gave you a long list of fertilizers and herbicides to apply to your lawn. Since then, my credentials as a bona fide environmentalist have been under review by the Environmental Awareness Police.

My advice first and foremost is to minimize your lawn. In several cases lawns can be eliminated entirely. Groundcovers such as vinca minor or Asiatic jasmine can be used to cover disturbed areas and control erosion. Natural areas can be planted in azaleas, camellias and hydrangeas. Trees should be incorporated in as large a natural bed as is possible. Trees and lawns are natural competitors and should be kept as far away from each other as is practical. This should be an overriding credo in landscape design.

Most of the above listed solutions apply to settings with existing stands of trees. Many of you are moving into new homes in new subdivisions where all the existing trees have been cut down. You are starting over again with establishing a tree cover, and your entire yard has been clad in Bermuda sod by the developer to eliminate mud in the subdivision. These developers deserve a gold star for creating affordable houses in nice neighborhoods, but there are some drawbacks to the overall effects that they create. If you are living in the land of Bermuda, try to maximize your natural beds as much as possible.

The only solution you have to the inevitable creep of this grass into your beds is the use of Roundup. Pulling this grass is time better spent fishing, and any border you can conceive of will be quickly devoured as your Bermuda grass inexorably grows and takes on a life of its own.

With these thoughts in mind, be aware that there are several situations where lawns are absolutely needed. If you have children, you need a lawn in your back yard. Yes, trees can even be cut down here to produce the necessary sunlight and open space. In the front yard, from a landscape design point of view, lawns can serve as a neutral space leading the eye of the viewer toward the focal point (usually the front door). Also, totally planted yards can be overpowering. Human beings need breathing space. Lawns can be used to open up areas and become "outdoor rooms."

If you have a shady situation you should choose fescue for your lawn. If you have a very shady situation you should use creeping red fescue. This is the most shade tolerant grass for the Piedmont. If you use fescue in full sun you should be prepared to install a sprinkler system (see last week's column).

Warm season grasses do better in full sun. There are some drawbacks to all of them. Probably the easiest warm season grass to maintain is a wide bladed zoysia. The market for these grasses is exploding. They easily dominate where they are planted and they don't run excessively. They are easy to cut with a regular rotary lawn mower as opposed to the fine bladed emerald zoysia. Some wide-bladed varieties to look for are "Meyer" and "Zenith," though other varieties are available as well. Emerald zoysia is the most shade-tolerant of the warm season grasses, though it has to have at least a half-day of sun and it requires an expensive, reel mower.

Plan your lawn with care. It is the most labor intensive item in the landscape. What's more important in life fishing or fertilizing? Editor's note: Columnist Durant Ashmore, MLA, of Fountain Inn, is certified by the South Carolina Nursery Association. He can be reached at 243-3446 or durantashmore@aol.com.

Wednesday, September 20  


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