September 9, 2008

Your Guide to Growing a Healthy Lawn


Consider this. It takes the same time and energy to mow an ugly, weedy lawn as it does to mow a lush and healthy one. Therefore, since we're going to mow either way, it only makes sense to keep the lawn green and pretty. And I want to teach you how to do that with a minimum of expense and labor.

On Wednesday from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at the Tulsa Garden Center, 2435 S. Peoria Ave., I'll teach a class on lawn establishment and care. In this class you'll learn which grasses are best suited for the Tulsa area, which are most shade tolerant and which are most drought and insect resistant. This class also will take the mystery out of weed control and selecting a top performing fertilizer.

Enroll in the lawn class by calling the Tulsa Garden Center, 746- 5125 or online at Cost is $20 per person and pre-enrollment is required.

The first 50 people who enroll will receive a five-pound bag of Heartland Supreme grass seed, a mix of top-performing, cool-season fescue, bluegrass and ryegrass varieties. There is wisdom in planting a seed mix rather than a single grass variety. A fescue- bluegrass mix tends to hold up better against turf diseases and harsh weather.

Too many homeowners wait until spring to plant a fescue- bluegrass lawn. September through mid-October is the best time to start a new cool-season lawn or to over-seed and thicken a sparse, thin lawn.

Here are some things you may not know about lowly turf grasses:

The average central air unit in many homes has a 3- to 4-ton cooling capacity. However, the front lawns of just eight average houses have a cooling effect of about 70 tons of air conditioning.

Grasses affect every breath of air. Incredibly, a healthy turf area just 50 feet by 50 feet releases enough oxygen to meet the breathing needs of a family of four. It's been calculated that the grasses and trees along the U.S. Interstate Highway System releases enough oxygen to support 22 million people.

And while grasses are releasing life-sustaining oxygen, they also are absorbing carbon dioxide, hydrogen fluoride and ozone.

Grasses also are a vital part of nature's filtration system. Dense, fibrous roots make up 90 percent of the weight of grass plants. This tangled roots act as a filtration system for water entering underground aquifers.

Linnaeus Teaching Garden tip:

Azaleas and dogwoods provide us with wonderful spring color. What gardeners may not know, however, is that these marvelous plants set floral buds for spring bloom during the high heat and low rainfall months of late summer and early fall.

Tiny, immature floral buds forming now are vulnerable to drought damage and may abort if stressed beyond a certain point. Severely drought-stressed plants may lose most or all of their floral buds and, consequently, produce few or no spring flowers.

Gardeners may insure the survival of azalea and dogwood floral buds by thoroughly watering their plants once or twice each week during late summer and fall. It's better to thoroughly soak plants weekly than to lightly water them daily. Apply sufficient water to penetrate 6 to 8 inches of soil.

Also, don't fertilize azaleas at this time of year. Wait until after spring bloom. Dogwoods may be fertilized with a slow-release product such as Osmocote in late fall.

Barry Fugatt is Director of Horticulture at the Tulsa Garden Center and Linnaeus Teaching Garden. He can be reached at746-5125 or via e-mail at [email protected]

Originally published by BARRY FUGATT Garden World.

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