Southern California Coastal & Inland Valleys
Favorite or New Plant
Lawn: Not New, But Essential for Some
You can use less water and still have a beautiful lawn. Water early in the morning, preferably before 7 a.m. Water deeply once a week (but not more than twice a week) to promote deep rooting and reduce evaporation. Remove a plug of grass to make sure the water is reaching below the root zone. Wait to water until the grass is a dull green color instead of bright green, and it's slightly wilted -- older leaf blades will begin to fold lengthwise into a tight "V" shape. Don't fertilize heavily with nitrogen, since rapid leaf growth requires more water and mowing.
Proper mowing helps grass grow deeper roots and encourages much side-branching for a thicker carpet. For perennial ryegrass, Kentucky bluegrass, and tall fescues, set mower height at two to three inches. For common Bermuda lawns, set it at one inch. For hybrid Bermudas, three-quarters of an inch. For St. Augustine, one and a quarter inches. Mow often enough so you never remove more than a third of the length of the grass blades, or you'll stress the plants; they recover slowly during summer heat. Keep mower blades sharp; when blades are dull, more gas or electricity is needed to mow, and rough edges of grass blades invite dieback and diseases.
Clever Gardening Technique
Pin a facecloth or hand towel to your waistband to wipe the sweat off your forehead and out of your eyes while working in the garden on a hot day. Moisten with the refreshing scent of your choice -- lavender, lemon, mint, etc.