Lawns, Turf & Grass

You win some you lose some.

I’ve been focussing too much lately on where I am losing (I beat the woodchuck in my veg garden, only to have a bunny from hell move in). I also had a solenoid in the sprinkler break and I realized too late to save some sun-singed plants in that section.  I’ve also been considering writing a ‘bring out your dead’ style post – this past winter was brutal and my list of lost plants is easily twice as many as any year in memory…I could go on with my laments….

But instead, today I’m choosing to focus on the positive and as I looked around the garden — I realize that many of my biggest success were entirely unexpected, accidental, or the result of a hurried and thoughtless decisions. Figures.

Garden by rochelle greayer www.studiogblog.com

My favorite part of the garden right now is what I call the finger bed (so-called because it is shaped like an obviously giant finger).  I love grasses of all sorts and set out to create a great mix of them in this bed.  My intention has not turned out so great — I have a lot of grasses that can often all look too similar to be interesting.  But my boring overuse of grasses has been saved with some of my haphazard thoughtless planting choices.   candy oh roses, miscanthus, and dappled willow by rochelle greayer www.studiogblog.com

Proven winners sent me a couple of Candy Oh! roses a few years ago to try out…and when they arrived this bed was brand new and empty. Lacking a plan and generally needing to fill space, I plopped them in.  I have to admit, I wasn’t enthusiastic about them at the time – back then I was still in my ‘I hate roses’ phase (from which I have mostly recovered).  I look at them now and I can’t imagine how dreadfully boring this garden would be without them.  Oh, and that Hakuro Nishiki Dappled willow was a plant I bought sight unseen through the local conservation plant sale – and I hated them (I had bought three!) when they arrived.  Garish and ugly were the thoughts in my head. Now I think bright and beautiful….just what is needed to break things up, offset the red flowers, and balance out all the dark brown and black buildings and tall pines around here.  What do I know? – I’m just a garden designer….

Candy Oh roses

I can however pat myself on the back for one thing (that worked way better than I expected).  Last year these roses were decimated by Japanese beetles.  They turned into ugly skeleton bushes in a matter of a week.  I also had a terrible infestation of grubs and moles.  These are all related of course (moles eat grubs, grubs kill grass and become beetles,  – if no grubs, then no beetles, and no moles).  I bought a huge box of milky spore powder early this spring and spread it accordingly.  It is clearly working.  The squishy mole ridden grass has gone away and you can see there isn’t a Japanese beetle in sight (look at those pretty healthy leaves!).  Score one for the gardener.

dianthus black adder and geranium rozanne by rochelle greayer www.studiogblog.com

I noticed another happy accident that I am going to have to help along.  Is it me or do Geranium ‘Rozanne’ look really great with dianthus black adder?  They aren’t really mixed at the moment….but I am really loving the light purple and inky near black so I am going to have to give those dianthus seed heads a good shake around the geranium.  I suspect some silver leaves might really make things sing….We will see how this looks next year….

How about you — got any unexpected or accidental winners?

images by rochelle greayer

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Proven Winners.  I am not an employee of Proven Winners and all opinions are my own. See the other posts in this series

 

 

I’ve got troubles and I have to admit I feel a little silly that it has taken me so long to sort them out.

I’ll start at the beginning.  Two springs ago my front lawn didn’t come back after the winter.  And not only was it completely dead, it felt funny to walk over (weirdly squishy and slippy at the same time).

What The Heck!   I dug, and really didn’t see anything until I dug at the edges of the deadness.  Grubs!

I was in a bit of denial though because to be honest, I’ve seen greater infestations with less damage so I surmised that something else must be going on.  Wrong.  I had grubs and moles…bad.

Now the whole thing has moved to the lawn area on the other side of the driveway but this time it is more obvious what is going on.  Not only do I have a sweeping army of grubs, but they are attracting a herd of moles that are enjoying the grub feast.

My first thought was that my problem might be solved naturally….moles eat grubs, grubs go away then moles go away??  I’ve observed for yet another season and it doesn’t seem to be working out that way.  And in the mean time, I’ve got a lawn that looks like this.

mole in grass www.studiogblog.com

I twisted my ankle in a mole hole last week and now my patience for nature to take over is over and so is my penchance for scientific observation.

I bought  milky spore powder and for extra measure I put down a few Solar Powered Mole and Gopher Sonic Spikes.

Milky spore powder is a bacteria that only effects Japanese Beetles (for which grubs are the larvae).  It is organic, and does not harm beneficial insects or leave anything to harm you, your kids, pets or the environment   I love that kind of garden solution.

I am planning to treat once now and then again in the fall since that is when grubs eat the most.  Once the spore is in their system it will infect generations of grubs to come.  So by next spring I should see a huge improvement not just in my grass with less grubs, but also to have less japanese beetles eating my trees and less moles digging everything up.   If you have more questions about Milky spore powder — this is a great page.

mole and grub solutionWhile I wait to have this ecological cycle broken,  I am thinking that the Solar Powered Mole and Gopher spike is doing something good in the short term. I haven’t seen a new mole trail since I put it in.  I am hoping that it will also bug the daylights out of whatever is eating the roots of my hostas (is it possible I also have vole problem?!?) and maybe, just maybe, it will be the last straw for the woodchuck family that lives under the chicken coop?   I hope, but I am not holding my breath.

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Lowes.  This is a series that I am doing through the end of the year.   I am not an employee of Lowes and all opinions are my own.  See the other posts in this series

Are your phlox blooming yet?  In new England we are not quite there yet….but in Japan, well that is a different story.

Hokkaido Japan Higashimokoto Flower Park via www.studiogblog.com

This is Higashimokoto Flower Park in Hokkaido, Japan and this is what it looks like from mid May-mid June.  I came across it today as I was looking for more information about moss phlox.  It is quite a spectacle and it reminds me of  countless earthen reservoir dams….wouldn’t this be a fantastic way to replant after the earthworks?

Hokkaido Japan Higashimokoto Flower Park via www.studiogblog.com

The park was started and mostly built by one man, Chubachi Mr. Sueyoshi.  He began in 1947 after the war with just one plant which he built upon, spread and managed.  My Sueyoshi died in 2009 but the park is still open to visitors and creeping phlox currently cover over 10 hectares.  You can read more about it here.

images Kimi Tour Guide and Tumblr via oddity central.

 


Grass patterns with weed barrier fabric designed by Peg OLA via www.studiogblog.com
Karen M’Closkey and Keith Vandersys of Peg OLA have been making interesting projects with the use of parametric software and laser cut weed fabric.   Patterns are precut to customized designs which are then laid out on site and seeded.   The inexpensive and relatively easy installation and maintenance are helping them to create interesting landscape features.  

Grass patterns with weed barrier fabric designed by Peg OLA via www.studiogblog.com

Grass patterns with weed barrier fabric designed by Peg OLA via www.studiogblog.com

 

I was thinking that something similar could be done on even more simply by unrolling the weed barrier fabric and experimenting with folding and cutting (much the way you might with paper dolls or paper snow flakes)  to create interesting designs that you can lay out on the ground.

Grass patterns with weed barrier fabric designed by Peg OLA via www.studiogblog.com

images suckerpunch daily

Korean grass

I am eager to fix my front lawn this season.  My plan is to get a new lawn established before the weeds even think about growing, and with that in mind I seeded yesterday.  It happens that even though much of my grass is still buried in a lot of snow — the area that needs to be fixed up isn’t.
KOREAN GRASS HVGARDENS02_BIG
I’m hoping to take advantage of the sopping wetness and the relative lack of birds (they haven’t all come back yet) and I am defying mother nature to dump another couple of feet of snow on us (I know, I am askign for it!)

My new grass will be the standard fare….but I am wishing that I could grow Zoysia Tenuifolia.  This grass is know by a few common names –

  • Korean Velvet Grass
  • No Mow Grass
  • Mascarene Grass
  • Temple Grass

Most of the time it is used in Asian gardens and it is really nice planted between rocks.  The down side is that it doesn’t love the really cold temps, it is very slow growing and it is slow to green back up in the spring.   But if you live in a dry place where the grass doesn’t really brown, and you are up for something a little different, then this is a prime choice for you.  It is drought tolerant and my favorite part is naturally occurring lumpy humps that kind of grow over things.

KoreanGrassRockBig

Can you imagine rolling around on this grass….it would give you a back massage!

Screen Shot 2013-03-15 at 7.12.35 AMNot having grown this, I am curious to know more from the front lines of gardners who are cultivating it.  If you grow Zoysia Tenuifolia, tell us — it is as cool as it looks?

images from Tranquil Havens 

 

hoar frost on a winter garden

Have you ever heard that bit about their being lots of Eskimo words for snow? True or not, it is a fact that we more commonly use words for things we experience commonly.  So I offer that as an explanation for why I (at least) haven’t really ever heard of hoar-frost.  Frost has always just been frost for me.  But I recently came across the term and on further investigation, I learned that not only is there a special kind of frost called hoar-frost, but there are other types too (advection frost, white frost, rime and window frost).

hoar frost on a winter garden

We don’t get hoar-frost too often in New England.  When I lived in England I noticed it relatively often.  I also remember it to be a little more common back home in Colorado.  Hoar frost and if it is something that you get with any regularity,  is something well worth considering when planning your garden. Read the full post

tumblr_mgpj8lP7yT1r5dkjoo1_1280

I’m filing this under – Things I Wish I Had Done Last Fall.   I love me a good flowery mead and given that I have a dead front lawn, (soon to be revived this spring)- this would have been all the easier.

tumblr_mgpj8lP7yT1r5dkjoo2_1280

I never thought about how much more effective it would  be to roll back the lawn to achieve this effect.  No, I rather daftly dug little individual holes with a bulb planter.  Duh….So much simpler this way. 
tumblr_mgpj8lP7yT1r5dkjoo4_1280

Now I am all inspired for this coming fall….or perhaps even this spring before the new lawn even takes hold!

tumblr_mgpj8lP7yT1r5dkjoo5_1280

I’m curious — are you the type of person who loves this look (the sort of weedy lawn) or would you view this as a complete denuding of grassy perfection?   I’m really curious — because there truly is two sides to this in garden world…and none is more right…but I find that when I meet a new client, this is a huge indicator of what kind of landscape they will ultimately want and be happy with.

tumblr_mgpj8lP7yT1r5dkjoo6_1280Completely controlled nature (or as much as possible), or a willingness to encourage things going off on their own (or look like they did)?  What kind of gardener are you?

images from Trädgård med utsikt found via LF.