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Lawn Grass

Published in the six Nashoba Publishing papers on Friday, 17 August 2001

Lawns, in my opinion, are too much work. If I didn’t care what my husband Ward felt, I’d probably use some easy ground cover and not bother with grass at all.

But Ward is a lawn person. He likes the look of lawn grass, and he likes to get out his 7-pound German reel lawnmower and cut it. (No noise, no smell — not even any electric cord to keep out of the way.) He persuaded me that lawn makes a good frame for the flower beds I’m really more interested in: without the contrast of that nice restful expanse of fine green, the ornamentals would be too busy for the eye to appreciate.

So I have been working on improving our lawn. It started out scruffy; then when we were away for four years, the renters parked a Winnebago in the front yard. In the back, we had a big woodpile until we stopped heating with wood; when we got rid of that weeds grew, not grass.

So I researched grass. I learned that the agricultural universities run ongoing trials of many varieties in every region of the US, looking for resistance to disease and pests and to heat, cold and drought, as well as for attractive color and texture; looking for varieties that do well in shade and ones that tolerate hard wear.

Seed available to consumers eventually contains some from the winners, but the products that are easy to find also contain varieties that have been available for long enough that they are in mass production and inexpensive to cultivate. In addition, most grass you can buy at hardware stores and garden centers is mass-marketed by big companies who sell the same varieties over a wide geographical area. If you can find a supplier who mixes their own blend for the local climate, your lawn is likely to do a lot better. I call Dodge’s Agway in Hampton Falls, New Hampshire — (603) 926-7471 — and they mail seed to me.

John Dodge prefers cool-season grasses for this area. That means that the lawn at our house now greens up earlier in the spring than all our neighbors’. It’s wonderful to see that green so soon after the snow goes; it really lifts my heart.

As soon as the weather cools off in September, it’s the best time to sow grass. My order just arrived.

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© Copyright 2001 Catherine Holmes Clark