In the Garden:
Southern California Coastal & Inland Valleys
May, 2006
Regional Report

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Pelargoniums and bulbs thrive at the edge of lawns.

The Smaller the Lawn, the Better

As we've become more concerned about water conservation, the lushness and velvety feel of lawns beneath our bare feet have become forbidden pleasures, at least in the huge expanses typical in Midwestern and eastern locales. However, as we reduce the size of our lawns to special spaces in our landscapes, we must be more attentive to keeping them healthy. So here are some critical guidelines to keeping lawns healthy:

1. Mow lawns once or twice a week to keep blades short and encourage them to continually sprout new blades.

2. During warm weather, set mower blade height to between 2 and 3 inches for a lush feel.

3. Don't cut off more than 25 percent of new growth at a single mowing or the lawn won't have enough "green part" to grow vigorously.

4. Keep the lawn fertilized with a slow-release fertilizer just enough to grow well but not so much it stimulates lots of lush, water-demanding growth that will keep you mowing.

5. Change frequency of watering to once a week or so. Let the grass tell you when it needs to be watered -- it'll wilt slightly and turn from bright green to dull green.

6. Continue to water deeply to thoroughly moisten the soil down to the bottoms of the root tips, 6 to 12 inches deep. This will allow the surface of the soil to dry between waterings to avoid diseases getting established when grass blades and the soil surface are constantly wet. It will also foster deep rooting, so the lawns are healthier and thrive longer between waterings, especially during hot weather.

Deep watering will also help the blooming bulbs and other plants growing at the edges of the lawn.


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