There's more than one way for your lawn to be healthy. Reducing or eliminating pesticides is a healthy option for your family, pets, and neighbours. A healthy lawn is created by feeding the soil rather than the grass. If you nourish the soil, most weeds will be crowded out over time.
There are many attractive and ecologically important options. White Dutch clover is one of the most popular choices due to its many benefits or consider a Xeriscape alternative.
Clover - Friend or Foe?
There are pure clover lawns and mixed-grass clover lawns. For play areas and other higher traffic locations, mixed lawns are best. For low to moderate traffic areas, clover only may do fine. Pure clover lawns may take more effort to establish. Clover and grass are complementary and support one another.
Advantages of clover include:
- stays green all summer using less water than grass
- requires little mowing
- grows well in poor soil conditions
- immune to dog spots
- attracts beneficial insects that feed on aphids, scales, whiteflies, and other garden pests
- aerates the soil on its own
- never needs nitrogren application, it creates its own fertilizer
- out competes most weeds
- is inexpensive
Visit your local garden centre to inquire about clover availablity. Learn more about the advantages, disadvantages and tips for starting a clover lawn here.
Xeriscaping is water conservation through creative landscaping. The principles of xeriscaping can be applied to any landscape style and can be as plain or elaborate as you desire. Learn more about xeriscaping.
Leave grass 5 - 7 1/2 cm (2-3”) tall (about a finger length) and avoid mowing more than 1/3 of the grass blade. (e.g. If grass is 9 cm, only remove 3 cm, leaving 6 cm). Longer grass shades the roots and helps prevent evaporation. It also helps your grass grow deep and strong roots that can overpower weeds and retain water. Leaving mulched grass clippings on your lawn can provide about one-third of your lawn’s nutrient needs and are a valuable source of organic matter.
Thatch is a tough mixture of dead grass and roots that accumulate and form a layer at the soil surface. Excessive watering, nitrogen or pesticides may contribute to a situation where the thatch exceeds 1 cm (0.4”). Excess thatch can be removed using a stiff rake or specialized de-thatching equipment.
Aeration is the process of removing plugs of soil from your lawn, or making holes in it with a tool like a pitch fork. This creates spaces for air, water and nutrients to penetrate into the soil and promotes the growth of beneficial microorganisms. It also increases water absorption and reduces surface runoff.
Topdressing involves spreading good quality topsoil or compost on top of your lawn. This adds organic matter and improves the condition of the soil. Topdressing is essential on bare areas and on lawns with little topsoil. Add 0.6 – 1.2 cm (¼ to ½”) of topsoil or compost. Don’t smother the grass blades.
Overseeding is the process of adding grass seed to your lawn. Use a high quality mix suited to the area. Topdressing and seeding can be done together.
A Kamloops lawn doesn’t need to be watered every other day. It only requires about 2.5 cm (1”) per week to keep it green. Water one to two days per week depending on weather and soil conditions (sandy soils drain faster than silt or clay soils). An empty tuna can is approximately 2.5 cm deep.
- Place several cans at different distances from your sprinkler
- Time how long it takes to collect an average of 2.5 cm
- Water this length of time about one to two times per week in the summer
- Reduce this time by up to half for spring and fall-time
Try this test to determine when to water your lawn. Step on your grass:
- If readily bounces back - no watering required
- If it takes awhile to recover - it’s time to water
- If it lies flat - you’ve waited too long
Fertilizing is important for overall grass health and is a very effective way to prevent weeds. Fertilizing provides the nutrients for a healthy, thick lawn that out-competes weeds. Choose slow release fertilizers that are much less likely to ‘burn’ the lawn. Check the package labeling to make sure the product is slow release and carefully follow the instructions. Steer clear of weed and feed and try feed and seed instead.