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Step one: Quality yards start with a proper foundation
Hopefully your house stands on a solid foundation.
|So should your yard. Otherwise,
you’ll face a demanding landscape that calls for high maintenance--in
terms of labor, cost and chemicals.
Since grass calls for frequent maintenance--mowing, watering and, when necessary, fertilization--it’s worth deciding how much lawn you actually need. How do you use your lawn? For recreation or sports? For entertaining friends or for parking the barbecue? To keep the yard tidy? Or simply because nothing else but grass happens to be growing?
Why not replace turf with ornamental ground covers or perennials in shady or other areas where grass may not be best suited. And along property edges too.
More non-turf vegetation is better BAYSCAPING. These plants play a valuable role in protecting the environment.
Rainwater flowing over lawns and driveways transports fertilizers, pesticides, oil, dirt and other contaminants. These pollutants pose some of the greatest threats to Casco Bay’s water quality.
Non-turf plants are better buffers that intercept and filter runoff from rain. Canopies of varied heights provided by trees, shrubs and ground cover soften the impact of harsh storm rain. Under these plants, on the ground, are leaves, needles and other natural debris that blanket soil to prevent erosion. This organic material–called duff–also keeps plant roots moist and eventually decomposes into nutrient-rich soil. Don’t rake up or dispose of duff; it’s valuable!
Your time is also valuable. Grass demands far more maintenance than native plants. More non-turf vegetation adds up to more leisure time!
Why keep up with the Jones’? A landscape rich in a variety of non-turf vegetation is unique. It expresses a property’s own character in ways wall-to-wall turf cannot. Better yet, a lush BAYSCAPER property conveys an important message about aesthetics: that environmental responsibility is always in good taste.
Go native! Mainers are fortunate to live in an environment that hosts a remarkable variety of native trees, shrubs, vines and ground covers as well as perennial ferns and flowers–some 1,500 in all!
Native plants are hardy plants because they are well adapted to Maine’s climate. The breadth of native plant choices provide ample benefits: color, privacy, windbreaks, and food and shelter for wildlife. Native woody plants add visual interest in the winter garden while native herbaceous perennials can add color, structure and texture to a border or woodland planting.
A proper foundation for your lawn
|Wherever grass does fit into your yard’s landscape design, it is important to use these BAYSCAPER practices:|
no turf grass is native to Maine, choose a grass species most adapted to
your site. Try this mixture
that demands less mowing and chemicals: 40% Creeping Red Fescue, 10%
Southport Chewings Fescue, 30% Perennial Ryegrass and 20% Kenblue
Consider an ornamental ground cover. Turf needs a minimum of six hours of direct sunlight. It’s simple: no sun, no grass. Many attractive ground covers like myrtle or pachysandra thrive in less sunlight.
Test and correct soil nutrient deficiencies before planting. A simple soil test analyzes soil fertility and pH and recommends exactly what your soil needs for growing healthy grass. Test kits are available from your local Cooperative Extension and Soil & Water Conservation District offices.
your soil. A minimum of six
inches of quality loam is needed. Rototill underlying subsoil before
application of loam if construction activities have compacted soil. An
inch of organic matter, such as compost, mixed into the top four inches
of soil will improve aeration, drainage and nutrient retention.
Provide surface and subsurface drainage. Grass quality suffers with "wet feet." Divert water from boggy areas by installing tile or a french drain lined with gravel.
Time your preparation. Best seeding dates are mid August through mid September. Next best are May through mid June. Seed must contact soil directly, firmed with a light rolling, mulched and lightly watered frequently to maintain moist seed bed. Mulch lightly with (and this is important) weed seed-free straw or hay. Don’t walk on seeded areas until grass is firmly established.
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