I had an ugly lawn, but not anymore. When I moved in to my husband’s house he had for many years, it was obvious that the lawn was not his priority. He liked the dandelions “those little pretty yellow flowers”, growing among the sparse growth. I moved in anyway…
The lawn was definitely neglected. It was rarely mowed and not fertilized nor watered. Dandelions dallied in the sunny spots, while moss meandered in the shady parts. I really didn’t think I could save the grass as there wasn’t much of it to save; just a few blades here and there. I was wrong.
Digging up the dandelions as well as all the other weeds was a chore. It was an ongoing task for me and for anyone that was willing to take up the challenge, which were few and far between I must say. We didn’t get them all out, but we gave them a run for their money… so to speak.
Since the dandelions were so utterly happy living in our lawn, I had to question why. What soil conditions do these pretty little yellow wildflowers like? Soil that lacks nitrogen and calcium are a dream come true for them, but those conditions are opposite to what grass likes. Turf grasses prefer nitrogen and calcium with a pH of 6.0 to 6.8. Our soil is also compacted, which is typical for clay soils. Grass plants roots are hindered by the compaction, but dandelions and moss don’t seem to mind it at all.
One of the first things we did was cut the grass more often so only 1/3 of the grass blade was removed at each mowing. The mower was also set high at 3 inches. This provides the plants with more food and longer roots. The clippings were left on the lawn and not bagged as this provides nitrogen and other goodies as they decompose into the soil below reducing the need for fertilizers. It was watered in the summer to keep the crowns alive as dead crowns mean dead grass.
For those areas that are not conducive to growing grass, don’t bother trying. I had two areas I gave up on. Moss loved the wet, shady acid conditions against the house so much so that I converted into a shade garden. Grass also couldn’t grow under the two false cypress due to all the leaf litter that smothered the grass, produced too much shade and sucked the moisture out of the ground. That too was converted into a shade garden.
Once the maintenance practices changed to suit the grass and not the weeds and the moss, the grass were quite relieved and responded favourably. It didn’t happen overnight. It didn’t happen in a month or a growing season. It took a year – at least. One has to be patient. Think of it this way, it took years of neglect for the grass to succumb.
It has been about 10 years since I inherited this dandelion lawn and it has improved year after year. It looks pretty good now. It isn’t perfect, but it is green and lush with only just a few little yellow wild flowers.
Here are some of my previous blog postings. They cover a wide range of topics from bugs to my botanical excursions and conventions. Click on whichever interests you on the titles below for easy navigation.