Grouping Groundcovers Together is GardenWise

We’ve written a lot over the past two years about losing at least HALF of your lawn areas to create a “greener” more eco-friendly garden. Losing some of your lawns areas is a fantastic way to make your garden space less water needy — and it will introduce new options to make your landscape current and interesting.

Replacing lawn areas with ground covers is a great option I recommend everyone to consider. And remember that if you position numerous species of ground covers together in large groupings, it will add much drama to your space, in addition to both color and texture. Think about creeping Jenny for a sunny areas and Creeping mints for shadier spots. And trailing yellow dale and trailing Lantana.

What to really ramp it up? Bring your sense of smell into the mix and add a fragrant ground cover, such as Sweet Woodruff, to your garden space.

If in the end your heart belongs to grass, think about replacing your lawn areas with grasses and grass-like options such as pink mulhy grass, liliope, deschampisi caespitosa (aka tufted hair grass) or mondo grass.

You’ll need to water your grasses and ground covers adequately until they’re established, after that, depending on the type, you’ll find your ground covers require up to 100% less than your former lawn areas.

Some Grass is GardenWise!

Zoysia Grass Makes a Comeback

Turf magazine has a feature story on a grass that holds very fond childhood memories for me  —  Zoysia Grass.  I was  thrilled  to  talk  to writer Murray Anderson about my thoughts and experiences:  

“Zoysia is a warm-season grass native to China, Japan and Southeast Asia. It’s highly adaptable and can be grown in all types of soils from clay to sand, as well as in either acidic  or  alkaline  soils. It requires little moisture and stays green during even the hottest  days  of  summer. (GardenWise’s) Mark  White,  a  Washington,  D.C.-based  landscape architect  and  member  of  the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA), describes zoysia as a “wonderful grass – beautiful, thick and lush.” He grew up sliding  on  zoysia-covered  hills in his parents’  yard  and  remembers  it  being dense  and lush,  an  ideal  lawn  to  play  on.

Read the story in its entirety here.

PS – The home featured in the magazine is my house in the Cherrydale neighborhood of  Northern Virginia!

Look Ahead to Fall Day 1

Pink Muhly Grass

For the next week,   GardenWise is looking forward with our five favorite Garden Delights,     in no particular order, for Fall 2011. 

Today it’s all about one of my favorite Fall show stoppers — Pink Muhly Grass (Muhlenbergia capillaries.)  It reaches about four feet high and three feet wide, with a nicely cascading, fountainous habit of cloud-like foliage.  It also has   billowy and profuse blooms.  Pink Muhly is a North American native, and looks great en masse in a sunny garden border with hot-pink Knock Out Roses, or as a companion to fall blooming Sedum ‘Autumn Joy.’   Pink Muhly Grass is drought tolerant, so planting this beauty is a nice green garden step, and it’s a real “problem solver” for any landscape architect/designer.  

A GardenWise Idea

You know that really large lawn area you have? Lose some of it! One alternative is to add garden interest with flagstone stepping stones and a plant vignette for color and texture. Above is a small portion of one of my projects; creeping Jenny with Japanese Rhodeq and white Mazas between stepping stones. A bonus is the 100’s of gallons of water and dollars you’ll save by not watering a larger grass area.

June Gardening Checklist

Hurry, Summer is Coming!  

It has been cold, warm, and wet this spring, which will be great for the summer But it’s made for a difficult time in trying to start and finish the usual spring garden chores. Here is a June list, a few days early.

Eliminating at least half of your lawn is a great green garden step, but if you’ve decided to keep your lawn areas, take care of them! Mowing and feeding your lawn areas is important for the continued health of the lawn. It will encourage the lawn to grow portfolio-landscapes_r1_c1_f4thick and green and help to keep it weed free. Mowing will  prevent seeds from forming on the grass or any weeds you may be cultivating, thus keeping them from spreading to other parts of the lawn. It is recommended to fertilize your established lawn several times through the season, but especially important in the spring. Choose a fertilizer that is suited for the type of grass you have and select slow-release, granular complete fertilizers for established lawns – they deliver a consistent supply of nutrients during the lawn’s fastest growth times. Fertilize at least one more time during the growing season, and apply a winter formula in early fall if one is recommended for your lawn  type. Don’t worry if you forget, research says that once a year, whenever you remember, is actually fine for established turf.

You say you don’t have weeds in your lawn?  You are a lucky gardener! For those of us who do, there are weed formulas that you can apply in the early summer months if you missed the April deadline. Again it is important to know what type of weeds you have and choose the most appropriate formula accordingly. Be advised if you are top seeding areas; you have to be very specific that you apply weed control that won’t affect the grass seed. As we try to be as eco-friendly as possible, we recommend you try natural formulas and products first.

As the early showers start to slow down, be sure to water your entire garden regularly. Although it doesn’t seem so, it is time to get all the warm weather vegetables in the ground. The soil temperature is warm enough and the cool nights aren’t going to be a problem for most plants. Be careful about working the soil when it is too wet though. After a good rain wait until the soil easily flows through your fingers before you get in and dig around. 

portfolio-landscapes_r1_c1_f5Many of you have asked about drought resistant flowers for planters and boxes. Planters  need to be watered once or even twice a day during the heat of summer. We have some suggestions for you if you are using annuals; begonia, salvia, marigolds, gazania, gallardia, portulaca and zinnias among others, all will tolerate drier conditions. They all come in many colors and sizes to choose. If you pair them with perennials  the list is endless. Here are only a few  of the many suggestions for perennials: dianthus, echinacea, helichrysum, lavandula, perovskia, rudbeckia, sedum and thyme. Be adventurous and combine different sizes, shapes and colors of foliage and flowers  to make a big impact.

Enjoy your garden; and always plan ahead for each changing season!

DC’s Gardenwise on Pink Muhly Grass

Today it’s all about one of my favorite Fall show stoppers — Pink Muhly Grass (Muhlenbergia capillaries.)  It reaches about 4’x3′, with a nicely cascading, fountainous habit of cloud-like foliage.  It also has  billowy and profuse blooms.  Pink Muhly is a North American native, and looks great en masse in a sunny garden border with hot-pink Knock Out Roses, or as a companion to fall blooming Sedum ‘Autumn Joy.’   Pink Muhly Grass is drought tolerant, so planting this beauty is a nice green garden step, and it’s a real “problem solver” for any landscape architect/designer.