In this era of drought and water rationing, Californians have a love-hate relationship with lawns. Historically, ‘outdoor carpeting’ has been a gardening staple, but styles have changed, tastes have evolved, and homeowners and business property owners are rethinking their landscaping priorities.
Details Landscape Art has been installing lawns throughout the North Bay since 1991. More recently, however, we have been suggesting alternative design ideas, or, at a minimum, recommending property owners at least consider reducing the size of lawns. We like to say…less grass means less water, means less maintenance, means less money – less is more!
There are situations that do call for lawns in the garden. If a large play area is needed for kicking around the soccer ball, or if small children have no nearby park or other play area, it may be appropriate to design a lawn into the landscape. Also, large expansive areas may need a lawn area as an additional element to break up the large garden.
Lawns have special water and edging requirements. An underground lawn sprinkler irrigation system should be installed, with head-to-head coverage. That means that the sprinkler heads, which do not do a good job of watering right next to themselves, should be spaced so that the water from one head ‘covers’ or reaches the next head, which in turn reaches the next head and so forth. As a result, the entire lawn receives adequate coverage. See our separate blog about lawn sprinklers.
We also recommend that the lawn be edged, to prevent the grass from creeping to the adjacent landscaped areas. It just makes for a neater garden and a more manicured look. Options for lawn edging material or ‘mowstrips’ include concrete or flagstone mowing strips, synthetic benderboard edging, or 1/8’ steel headers.See our separate blog about mowstrips and lawn edging.
Finally the type of grass must be selected. The grass industry has been continually developing new strains over the years. We at Details Landscape Art have been using Delta Bluegrass as our turf supplier, and they have developed a grass blend they call Bolero (also Bolero Plus), which we have been using exclusively. It is a dwarf variety which grows slower and shorter and therefore requires less frequent mowing and watering. It is also a thick bladed, tough variety that does well in full sun and partial shade, and does well in Northern California winters.
Lawns need regular fertilization. We suggest a general all purpose fertilizer such as ‘Turf Royale’ once a month, and then we also like to use ‘Ironite’ once a month. It’s a good idea to set up a schedule of Turf Royale on the first of each month, and then Ironite on the fifteenth. They say that the grass doesn’t’ actually utilize the fertilizer in the winter months when it is not actively growing, but in our mild winter climate we apply the fertilizer anyway…it certainly doesn’t hurt. Then in the fall and early winter we suggest a ‘Fall and Winter’ or any cool season fertilizer to boost the root system so it’s nice and vibrant and healthy in the spring.