Stop slaving over your lawn
By JOHN A. STARNES JR.
© St. Petersburg Times, published September 9, 2000
In response to this year's drought, which ravaged so many lawns, and to our growing desire to enjoy our lives more, a lot of folks are indulging in beautiful, very low-care grassless lawns. Imagine a luxurious living carpet that needs mowing two to three times a year at most, one or two feedings a year and only monthly watering during the spring drought.
Wedelia produces a rich green mat topped by cheery little yellow daisies. Confederate jasmine is a very dark rich green, low-growing ground cover that bears wonderfully fragrant star-shaped pure white blooms.
Each tolerates light foot traffic and appreciates soil that is not too terribly acid (as is so much of Central Florida soil). A soil test with your Cooperative Extension Service can tell you the exact numbers, but an old farmer's trick is to look for a predominance of acid-loving weeds such as sorrel, oxalis (both taste sour and are used in "wild" salads), sedge grass, dollarweed and sandspurs.
Starting a grassless lawn is easy. Just neglect your lawn for a few months. Or kill it in place with cardboard and mulch. Or if you are comfortable with this, spray it with a glyphosate spray herbicide and wipe the slate clean.
In a year's time, you can have pretty decent coverage. All plants prefer some fertility in the soil, so consider a spring and fall feeding of a good organic such as Ringer Lawn Restore, fish meal from a feed store or a few bags of dried poultry manure.
A cheap and easy way to add organic matter to sandy soil is to scatter alfalfa pellets all over your grassless lawn. Buy them in 50-pound bags at your favorite feed store. I also like to bring home the bags of oak leaves people set out on garbage day each spring and scatter them as a 2-inch deep mulch. This will help choke out the grass while encouraging your ground cover to grow even more vigorously by keeping the soil damp and cool.
© 2006 • All Rights Reserved • Tampa Bay Times
490 First Avenue South St. Petersburg, FL 33701 727-893-8111
[an error occurred while processing this directive]