The Garden Path

Published on Thu, Jun 26, 2003
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The Garden Path

by Michelle Ensinger

Wow, we finally got our summer time sun. Remember that if you want a healthy lawn, you should keep it cut around one-and-a-half to two inches. Otherwise, you�ll end up with �summer patches� which are dead patches of grass.

It�s typically caused by too much nitrogen, extreme pH and over cut grass. The way to solve this problem is by using a balanced lawn food � as per instructions � check on the drainage of the grass area, amend the soil if necessary, and water during the early a.m. in order to avoid loss through evaporation.

Another common lawn disease is �brown patch.� These are circular, dark or brown patches of various sizes. This is common during hot humid weather and highly fertilized lawns are most susceptible. One might improve the drainage with organic matter in order to loosen the soil.

Have you ever seen fairy rings in your grass? In new subdivisions this can be a common problem. You will see dark green rings form in the spring, after which mushrooms appear around them. The mushrooms may start to crowd the grass, but grass may grow back even with the rings extending out. This is common in areas where it rains frequently or where grass has been laid upon rotting tree roots or buried organics � tree stumps, trees, etc.

The fungi feeds on the dead decaying matter in the soil and competes with the grass for nutrients. Fairy rings are difficult to destroy. Usually you need to dig out the turf, remove the soil two to three feet down and about one foot beyond the circle, and fill back in with the appropriate soil.

At this point, you are starting to think you may want to try something different instead of grass. There is a wide range of ground covers that can enhance an area that are low maintenance and colorful and can be used for edging, rock gardens and in borders.

Here is a list that you may want to consider with their Latin names first.

Full Sun:
Achillea tomentose - wooly yarrow; Antennaria dioica - pussy toes; DianthusIberis sempervirens - candytuft; Hyniperus - juniper; Potentilla - cinquefoil; Sempervivum - houseleek, hen and chickens; Thynus - thyme

Full Sun to Part Shade:
Arctostaphylos - common bearberry; Bergenia cordifolia - heartleaf bergenia; Ceratosigma - plumbago; Cotoneaster; Euonymus fortunei - winter creeper; Hypericum; Liriope - lilyturf; Sedum - stonecrop

Partial Shade:
Epimedium; Phlox - creeping phlox; Tiarella - foamflower

Part Shade to Deep Shade:
Ajuga - bugleweed; Convallaria - lily of the valley; Hedera helix - English ivy; Hosta - plantain lily; Pachysandra; Vinca minor - common periwinkle.

Bird feeders, tomatoes
Be sure to clean your hummingbird feeder at least once a week. If the feeder is in a hot area, it may need to be cleaned more often, as the fungi grows more rapidly in warm to hot conditions. Remember that the sugar/water mix is deadly to hummers when it goes rancid.

Be sure you are removing the suckers from your tomatoes if they are upright � if they are growing along a fence or on the ground they usually do not produce suckers. You can start a new seed crop of carrots, etc. on a paper towel so that you will have continuous vegetables through the summer. And remember to enjoy!