BILOWZ ASSOCIATES INC. is an award winning landscape architectural design firm with a proven philosophy: "Creating Design with Harmony & Balance."
Our company blog, Annie's Gardening Corner, takes a sneak peek at how we balance our own love for everything green + a place to find inspiration, garden ideas and landscape design tips.

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Friday, April 5, 2013

Loving Green


My greatest daily challenge is providing a perfect blend of technical with inspirational. But for those looking for a stellar Instagram in the throes of early spring, you may not make it to the bottom of this post. If you do, consider yourself a rarity but rest assured. Your garden or your green space shall be the real deal and not virtual. 

Chugging through a few paragraphs filled with technical tidbits can be quite a chore as our attention span literally shrinks to instantaneous. To pin the perfect lawn or outdoor living space and think it happens without basic facts plus a little work, well, Judy Garland profoundly said it best. “We cast away priceless time in dreams, born of imagination, fed upon illusion, and put to death by reality.” To translate into garden and design lingo, stop pinning away your springtime and make it real. It’s time to create your outdoor green space.  

With yesterday’s blog talk about our soil’s sweet spot, we can’t leave out lush green lawn lovers. Are you one of them? Below is an excerpt from a past 2010 April Annie archive that you won’t want to overlook. Just a few spring hints and prep work for establishing and maintaining a healthy lawn. So here it is. 

Think of growing a green lawn as you would a healthy vegetable garden. You must prep the soil prior to planting your crop. The current ideology with turf grass is to feed the lawn, not the soil. Due to very effective marketing from lawn chemical companies, we are programmed to think a green lawn comes in a bag, much like the Easter Basket stuffing. So when prepping for your lawn, don’t just think green grass; think healthy soil. Sand, silt, clay and organic matter make up the main components of soil. Often overlooked are the complex communities of interdependent bacteria and fungi that assist in the simulation and absorption of nutrients necessary for healthy plant growth. Unfortunately, many of the chemicals used in turf grass management can be detrimental to these organisms. A counterintuitive process but enough with the soil science - what should we do in our own backyards?

Think basic, think organic and think slow-release. If you currently use synthetic chemical programs, you must wean the turf from the reliance of these chemical fertilizers and treatments. Is your lawn going to look perfect? No. Are you going to have some weeds? Yes. Crabgrass is probably the most problematic weed for lawns. If you use one chemical application, use your pre-emergence herbicide applied between forsythia and lilac bloom to keep the crabgrass at bay. If you decide to use these herbicides, don’t use the clippings in your vegetable garden for mulch. We don’t use any chemicals. We let our grass duke it out with the weeds.

Start your season off on the right foot. Assess your lawn now. We are within a week or two of the first fertilizer application. Begin with some cultural practices. Thatch and core aerate your lawn. Then apply organic fertilizer. Is it going to respond immediately? No. Unlike the synthetic fertilizers, you won’t see quick results. It takes time for these organics to respond.

It’s important to improve your soil and make conscious efforts to reduce your chemical and water usage. When seeding or reseeding any lawn area, use the newest varieties of drought, disease, insect-resistant fescues and rye grasses. This alone can reduce your water consumption. These varieties require a 1/3 less water and fertilizer.

While this above excerpt is from my April 2, 2010 blog post, the information hasn’t changed. These cultural practices need repeating again and again for those who have the ‘green lawn’ syndrome. And if you missed yesterday’s post, don’t forget to check out the importance of knowing your soil.

Image by Ann Bilowz © of a not so perfect lawn but it's a real green space with no chemicals or irrigation used.

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© 2009 Ann St. Jean-Bilowz/Bilowz Associates Inc. (including all photographs, unless otherwise noted in Annie's Gardening Corner are the property of Bilowz Associates Inc. and shall not be reproduced in any manner nor are they to be assigned to any third party without the expressed written permission and consent of Bilowz Associates Inc.)