Summer is coming to an end, at least that what the calendar is saying! With the arrival of cooler weather it’s time to take assess your landscape. Many of us are spending more time outside thanks to the cooler weather and it may have become apparent to you that your landscape is in need of some help. If your lawn needs renovation, September is the time to aerate and overseed. Remember to add composted organic material (like Leaf-Gro) before planting grass seed to reduce the need for chemical fertilizers. Newly planted grass seed will need to be watered every day until the seed germinates and fills in. Did you know that 30% of the water used by the average homeowner on the East Coast is used to irrigate the lawn? Or that a lawn of 10,000 square feet requires 10,000 gallons of water in the summer to stay green and healthy? If this is news to you, have you ever thought of going to a lawn substitute? Many native plants can survive a dry summer with much less irrigation. If you reduce your lawn area and plant native and adapted plant species you can reduce the need to water, reduce the need for chemical fertilizers and pesticides and still have a beautiful landscape. In addition, you will reduce the amount of stormwater runoff and chemical pollutants that enter the Chesapeake Bay. Many native species have the added value of attracting wildlife to your yard.
Start with a plan. This may include contacting a Landscape Designer, to help if you are not sure where to start! There are programs to assist homeowners who are more do-it-yourselfers if you do not prefer the pencil and paper. A Landscape Designer is helpful when it comes to taking into account things like sun and shade, views and other factors like drainage and topography. Begin to learn about plant species that will do well in our area. (See Resources at end of article) Keep the following in mind as you plan your new garden area:
Plant different varieties of trees, shrubs and perennials that will give you an ever-changing, year-round landscape.
For greater visual impact, plant in drifts, masses or groups rather than using single specimens. Choose plants with varying bloom times and pleasing color combinations. Generally, tall plants should be placed toward the back with shorter plants to the front.
Add a water element, such as a birdbath, pond with a re-circulating pump, or include a naturally occurring stream or wetland in your garden. The sound of moving water makes a garden come alive (and attracts birds to your landscape).
Apply mulch to your planting beds to reduce the number of weeds and conserve water.
By reducing the area you devote to high-maintenance turf grasses and selecting plants well suited to your region, you will cut the amount of time and money needed to maintain your yard and be able to spend more time enjoying your landscape!
Resources for landscaping with native plants: