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The Gardening Guru

David Daehnke
Mahwah, New Jersey 07430
Here to help the experienced as well as the novice gardener.

The Gardening Guru's Organic Lawn Care Manual (part three)

When all else fails.....groundcovers and mulches

Sometimes it is near impossible to coax a lawn to grow. Maybe the area is too wet, too dry, too shady or too root engulfed by a local tree. If the previous tips just don’t work, try a groundcover, mulch or both. Here is a list o9f some of the more popular groundcover plants and their attributes. Bugleweed - Ajuga reptans - It is a 6” plant which spreads quickly by its roots and also produces a nice blue flower in a spike. It tolerates both sunny and shady conditions. Candytuft - Iberis sempervirens - This 8” evergreen is popular because of its clusters of white flowers in May and June. It spreads slowly by above ground runners and grows in sun or shade. Common Violet - Viola sororial - This 5 - 8” plant grows in sun or shade and is considered a nuisance in your lawn. It spreads rather quickly be seeds and of course, produce nice flowers. Creeping lilyturf - Liriope spicata - This evergreen has lavender, bell-shaped flowers on spikes up to 15” tall. Liriope tolerates sun or shade, heat, salt, drought and poor soil. English Ivy - Hedera helix - A creeping groundcover that will climb quite easily. It forms a thick (9”), fast spreading evergreen mat. Ivy roots rapidly as it spread, so it is useful on slopes. Lily-of-the-Valley - Convallaria majalis - You need a well-drained soil for this fast spreading, 6” tall plant. Each may - June it produces wonderfully scented flowers. It grows in sun or shade, but dies back each Fall. Myrtle or periwinkle - Vinca minor - This 4 - 9” plant is evergreen and covered in late Spring with light violet blue flowers. It will prevent soil erosion once established and can grow in sun or shade. Pachysandra - Pachysandra terminallis - This is an 8” evergreen with dark, glossy leaves. It will grow in sun or shade, but prefers a moist, loose soil. It spreads slowly, but if you cut it back, it will accelerate the growth and thicken it up. Can be invasive once established. Sedum - Sedum sp. - There are many varieties of sedum, most notably ‘Autumn Joy’. It has fleshy, swollen leaves, common for survivors of hot, dry areas.

AREA COVERED BY 100 PLANTS AT THE GIVEN SPACING planting distance in inches SQ.FT. covered by 100 plants 4 11 6 25 8 44 10 70 12 100 15 156 18 225 24 400 36 900 48 1600

Tips for a Healthy Lawn in a Nutshell

1). Makes sure the water drains properly through your lawn. Improve drainage if necessary.
2). Trim and/or remove trees and shrubs to increase air flow and sunlight.
3). Add organic matter!
4). Test your soil for fertility and pH. Make adjustments as needed.
5). Check for thatch, soil compaction. Thoroughly rake and aerate to improve.
6). Establish and stick to a fertilizer schedule.
7). Stop using chemicals!
8). Choose the right grass seed for your specific location.
9). Mow when the grass needs it, and mow at a reasonable height.
10). Water thoroughly and only when needed, never after 3:00 p.m.
11). Remove weeds.
12). Check your lawn regularly for disease and insect problems.

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