Grass and Other Ground Cover Selections For Your Lawn

When you select seed for your lawn, the main consideration is the exposure to sun and shade your grounds afford. Most commercial blends are adapted to full sun or medium shade. A special blend should be used where there is less than three or four hours of sun-light a day, as under trees, or where soils are dry and poor. In general, heavy grass seed is most free from chaff an dist most economical in the long run, while a cheaper, lighter seed germinates less rapidly.

Kentucky bluegrass is considered the best lawn grass, but there are years when it is in short supply, and it has the disadvantage of needing a resting period in midsummer and, also, of soiling light-colored clothes. It does form a thick turf and it will grow in alkaline or slightly acid soil, resisting weeds to an extent.

a lawn of lush green grass

For putting-green lawns for a small area on a terrace or in a garden, bent grasses are used. Colonial bent is widely used in mixtures, thriving as it does under less favorable conditions than those required by creeping bent or velvet bent. The bent grasses are low-growing, fast-spreading grasses, needing frequent mowing and top-dress.

Redtop combines well with Kentucky bluegrass because it rests in fall after the bluegrass has recovered, and it does not stain. Chewings fescue is a fine-textured shade grass. Maturing late in the season, the various fescues resist midsummer drought, grow well in acid soil and fight weeds. For new lawns, rye grass, a perennial, is a tough, quick-growing grass which helps keep out weeds until the lawn is under way. Bermuda grass is used in the South and the Southwest, where soil is sandy.

Whether or not clover is to be used with these grasses is a personal matter. With its white flower and its tendency to grow in patches, it spoils the continuity of the turf, but, on the other hand, it will grow in poor soil, edging out weeds that might grow in these areas.

A mixture of grasses gives better satisfaction than a single species as a rule, because the various grasses are active in development at different seasons. Mixtures stand up against disease and disorders that will attack one grass and leave another alone.

Other Ground Cover

In many cases cover other than grass is desirable. Foundation plantings, banks, shady places, all often require other cover. Good covers are dependable, inexpensive and not weedy.

For open sunny areas, banks, or where a large, high cover is wanted, wild trailing rose with its white blossom is most popular; it makes a thick mat of foliage 2 feet off the ground. Also in sunny places, various forms of juniper (e.g., creeping juniper, which is long, low and spreading; Waukegan juniper, blue-grey except in winter, when it is purple, and Sergeant juniper, a dense green type) form a mat 8 to 20 feet high. All are attractive either pruned or in a natural state.

For deep or light shade, there are evergreen vines such as the Baltic ivy and pachysandra, periwinkle with its blue-and-white spring flowers, and plumb ago which has brilliant blue flowers in the fall. English ivy is good for the shady north side of buildings. For soil too sandy for shrubs there is Scotch broom, which bears yellow blooms. Other covers include hay-scented fern, sandwort, lily of the valley, maiden pink, winter creeper thyme and phlox.

Suggestions are often made for cover which can take the place of grass for lawn, but such covers are usually much more difficult to maintain than grass, even though it is claimed they do not require mowing. Among them are chamomile, a flowering perennial used in medieval times for turf, and while fragrant and soft, untidy and weak; sandwort, which has rather fleshy leaves with a smooth surface. Sandwort grows 1 inch long and must be kept mowed to remove the seed stalks. Pearlwort, which has to be watered freely, is only practical in a hot, humid climate; it is a haven for grubs, moths, beetles and sow bugs. Dicondra, a low-creeping herb used on the West Coast for cover, is considered a weed by many, and while easy to grow, does not stand up well against abuse.

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