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A CARPET OF GREEN
By Trey Pitsenberger, co-owner Golden Gecko

Lawns seem to go thru a love/hate cycle with the public. People don’t seem to stand neutral on the issue. Many people associate lawns with a weekly chore whose time would be spent better elsewhere. The water needed for lawns is often an issue, as well as the need for fertilizer and pest control. Lawns have great value, also. Families with children will find much of their time spent on the grass throwing a ball or just rolling around. Lawns also soften sunlight helping to cool our homes as well as softening noises. The weekly mowing is all in how you look at it. The smell and effect of a freshly cut lawn is a pleasure to many. If you have avoided planting a lawn for the negative reasons listed above, modern practices have eliminated much of the need for fertilizers and pesticides. New types of grass are much more water conserving than in the past.

Kentucky bluegrass was the most widely planted type of grass in the past. While it produces one of the most beautiful lawns, it is not really suited for The Foothills. Bluegrass likes cooler, wetter summers than we have. People with bluegrass lawns find themselves treating the grass with more fertilizer and water than they should. Pest control is needed more since all the watering in summer causes greater chance of fungus growth. The grass of choice for us has switched to Tall Fescue.
Tall Fescue was once a coarse, wide bladed grass used on athletic fields where toughness, not beauty was a virtue. In the last few years, with selective breeding, a fine bladed version of Tall Fescue has been produced. So fine are the blades that this type of grass is now the most popular home lawn planted. The toughness has been maintained, so it is the perfect grass for children or pets. In addition to the fine blades, a slower growing type of Fescue is available. ‘Bonsai’ Fescue is one such variety, growing slower and producing 25% less, in the way of clippings, than ordinary tall fescue. The roots of ‘Bonsai” fescue can reach into the ground up to 5+feet! This means the drought resistance of this type of grass is way beyond what bluegrass lawns provided. Fescue grass is naturally more resistant to disease and insect attacks than bluegrass. The need for pest control can be almost eliminated if the lawn is kept healthy.

To keep the lawn healthy fertilizer should be added in the spring and fall, when the lawn is actively growing. Two feedings in the spring, and two in the fall are usually all that is needed. There are many types of fertilizers available, both organic and non-organic. The choice is yours. Don’t mow the fescue lawn too short. A height of 2 inches allows plenty of leaf surfaces to collect the rays of the sun. This height can also help the grass fend off weeds. Weeds love lawns that are kept too short, as weeds are faster growing and can reach above the grass blades to collect the rays of the sun.

While lawns may not be for everyone, they are not the water guzzling, pesticide needing part of our yards they once were. Choosing the proper type of grass, keeping the size in proportion to the rest of the garden, not mowing too short, deeper, less frequent watering, and feeding at the proper time will keep you in the green for years to come.

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