The use of cosmetic pesticides are banned in Port Coquitlam (see Pesticide Use and Control). However, it’s easy to create a healthy yard by using less water and avoiding chemicals.
Steps to a Healthy Lawn and Garden
Grasscycling involves leaving grass clippings on your lawn when mowing. The clippings left on your lawn will form organic matter, help hold water and keep the soil aerated.
It’s a great way to recycle nutrient-rich grass back into the soil to fertilize your lawn and save you time, money and effort.
- Mow high and regularly. Set mowing height to 2-2.5 inches (5-6 cm) and remove no more than one-third of the total grass length at each clipping.
- Mow often to help the grass develop deeper roots and crowd out the weeds.
- Leave the grass clippings on your lawn. They’ll help hold water and keep the soil aerated, and can supply up to 25% of your lawn’s nutrient needs.
- Use a mulching blade or mulching mower for finer clippings.
Fertilize the Natural Way
- Use natural organic or slow release fertilizers – look for the words “natural organic or “slow release” on the bag. They feed the lawn slowly, and less is wasted through leaching or runoff.
- Fertilize moderately in early September and mid-to-late May (if you fertilize only once, do it in the fall).
- Local turfgrass experts recommend home lawns receive 3-4 lbs. of nitrogen in a balanced fertilizer per 1,000 sq. ft. of lawn each year.
Water Thoroughly but Infrequently
- Always follow the annual water-use regulations.
- Water lawn weekly to soak the top one inch of soil during July and August, and less in the late spring and early fall. Let the weather be your guide.
- Avoid frequent shallow watering, which leads to shallow rooting – grasses do better when the whole root zone is wetted then allowed to partially dry between waterings.
- Overwatering can promote lawn disease, leach nutrients into the soil, and waste water.
- Water slowly, or start and stop, so the water penetrates rather than puddling or running off.
Aerate and Overseed
- Aerate compacted soil in the spring or fall to improve root development.
- After raking or aerating, overseed with a perennial rye/fine fescue mix designed for local conditions.
- If your soil is very poor and compacted, it may be best to fix the soil and replant.
Take a Natural Approach to Weeds
- Crowd out weeds and reduce pest damage by creating a healthy, robust lawn through proper fertilization, watering and grasscycling.
- Pull dandelions and other weeds when they’re young, removing as much root as possible.
- Accept a few “weeds” in your lawn. Some, like clover, may look fine. Target the problem weeds, removing them by hand in the spring and fall (or use a pincer-type long-handled weed puller, available at most garden stores).
Consider Alternatives to Lawns
- Consider alternatives to lawns for steep slopes, shady areas, or near streams and lakes. Grass grows best on well-drained soil in full sun or partial shade, and steep slopes are hard to mow and water.
- Leave a buffer of natural vegetation along streams and lakes to help filter pollutants and protect fish and wildlife.
Save Water by Xeriscaping
Xeriscaping involves using plants suited to the local climate, and taking care to avoid losing water to evaporation and run-off. Xeriscape landscapes require less water, less fertilizer, less pruning and less mowing.
Seven principles of xeriscaping:
- Planning and design: Identify conditions that will influence water use, such as sun and wind exposure, and slopes. Group plants with similar watering requirements together –g., group plants that require more water so only limited areas need extra water.
- Soil Improvement – Use soil amendments such as compost, peat moss or manure to improve heavy clay or sandy soils, and to help them retain moisture and nutrients.
- Plant Selection – Choose low water-use plants that can withstand periods of dryness and high temperatures with minimal irrigation.Many attractive and hardy flowers and shrubs are available at garden centres.
- Practical turf areas – You don’t have to remove all of your lawn, but consider removing turf areas of turf that are impractical or difficult to maintain, such as narrow strips or on steep slopes.
- Efficient Irrigation – Apply only the amount of water required by a plant, with minimal waste. If you have an automatically controlled irrigation system, adjust the frequency and duration of watering with the changing seasons (at least monthly).
- Mulches – Apply mulches to reduce evaporation, control soil temperature, and help control weed growth and erosion.
- Appropriate Maintenance – Less maintenance is required if water is used efficiently and xeriscape principles are applied. Over-watering contributes to rapid and weak plant growth, fertilizer leaching, insect and disease problems, and weed growth.