Southern California Coastal & Inland Valleys
Favorite or New Plant
It's OK To Love Your Bit of Lawn!
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 test that the water is reaching below the root zone. Wait to water until the grass is a dull green color instead of bright green and is 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.
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, it should be 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
Chicken-Wire Rack as Horizonal Trellis
Make a raised rack as a horizontal trellis for vining crops. Fasten chicken wire to a frame a foot above the soil. Plant seeds in compost-enriched hills underneath or along one side. Mulch heavily under and around the racks. If the vines don't climb onto the frames themselves, train them through the holes. Suspended in the air, the vines are less susceptible to downy and powdery mildews, and fewer insects attack the plants. Pests that do appear on the foliage are easy to spot and destroy. The rack also protects the vines from human feet--you never have to tiptoe awkwardly through the patch to check ripening fruit or pull weeds, and the soil in the growing area doesn't get compacted.