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Understand Your Lawn

Aug 18, 2007
The word lawn comes from the Celtic word Launde or Lande, denoting an uncultivated or untilled and infertile area covered with ferns, broom or heath, certainly not the modern idea of what a lawn is or should be. Because this name conveyed the idea of an expanse of open space, the word gradually came to mean an open grassy glade in the forest.

It was in this sense that Tennyson spoke when he wrote, "Those long, rank dark wood walks, drenched in dew, leading from lawn to lawn." From this evolved the idea of more or less natural, grassy open spaces, not in woodland but surrounding a house and separating it from the fields and woods. And, of course, the present-day concept of a lawn is of an unbroken expanse of manicured emerald sward, perfect as a golf green.

As a matter of fact, much of our difficulty with lawns and their upkeep comes from this ideal cherished by the average homeowner - the incredible perfection of a golf green in peak condition. For most of us, it is an impossible ideal. Nevertheless, we often see a man whose grounds are shaded by magnificent trees, struggling to produce a perfect expanse of sun-loving grasses that will match the popular concept of what should surround a suburban home.

Adverse Lawn Conditions

In the lawn we crowd as many as forty to sixty individual plants into a square foot of turf. As they struggle to survive under these conditions of intense competition, we further complicate things by cutting away the healthiest, most vigorous part of the leaf - the young tip. We do this not to make things hard for the plant but because we are trying to force a low, compact, artificially dwarfed habit of growth, entirely different from the natural upright habit of these species. (They grow 30 to 40 inches tall in the wild or in a meadow.)

These factors add up to an environment in which the individual plant is suppressed to produce a uniform whole. The grass plants can only survive if aided by you, the lawnowner. It is important that you appreciate the artificial nature of the conditions under which you must operate, so that you will know not only what to do and when, but why. A misguided homeowner is a lawn's worst enemy.

Easy Information

At the same time, it is important to recognize that not all lawns need to be smooth expanses of green velvet turf from thaw-out in spring to freeze-up in fall. Common Kentucky Bluegrass still has a place where the extra care and expense needed to maintain high quality sod seems too much. There are degrees of lawn excellence, and the choice of the right grasses is dictated by various considerations of sun, soil and so forth.

Summary

Don't fight nature: Grow the grasses best suited to your lawn's situation. If grass won't grow (because of excessive shade, etc.), then plant one of the many handsome ground covers.

Live modern: Make maximum use of the improved knowledge, grass species, lawn tools and materials available today.
About the Author
The Lawn Gnome Reveals How You Can Have The Best Lawn On The Block!

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