Who doesn't love a well manicured lawn teeming with birds and wildlife? Spring is the time to begin enjoying it and nurturing your little piece of heaven. Lawns are a home for insects, worms, birds, and hidden invertebrates. A healthy lawn helps rainwater to drain away, prevents erosion, reduces noise, and creates a cooling effect while adding visual appeal. Want to sip on a cup of coffee in the early morning as you watch the bees and butterflies buzz among branches and bushes? Here are 8 ways that you can enjoy the benefits of having a beautiful lawn while also nourishing local wildlife.
- A gentle spring raking with a flexible leaf rake, once the lawn is lush and green, can help mitigate snow mold and remove thatch (mainly dead turfgrass) that prevents lawns from growing evenly.
- Send a soil sample to your local cooperative extension office to determine your soil's acidity. The cooperative extension office is a free educational resource offering scientific-based assistance in agriculture, horticulture, and other areas of expertise. All you have to do is call, check on their website, or visit your local extension office, and they can advise you on how to treat your lawn with lime and other resources.
- Spring lawns don't need too much fertilization, but you can fertilize organically by topdressing with compost or using a mulching mower to chop lawn clippings into a nourishing source of nitrogen.
- Give the lawn mower a tune up and sharpen the mower blades. Adjust blades to 2-3" and keep them sharp!
- Consider diversifying your landscaping and limiting the mowable portion by sectioning it off and sowing a wildflower lawn seed mix with a blend of different native grass species to add more variety. Give the grasses a chance to flower by leaving them to grow.
- One of the easiest changes you can make is to avoid weed killers. These kill off plants that could attract bees and other pollinating insects and may harm the animals themselves. If you spot a fast-spreading weed like thistle, nettle or dock, try and remove it by the root.
- Avoid buying plants, bulbs, seeds or compost that contain pesticides or insecticides. Neonicotinoid pesticides (known as neonics), for example, are associated with mass honeybee deaths and harm wild bees too. While they are targeted at 'pest species', the chemicals can also affect beneficial insects, other invertebrates and larger animals.
- Try to buy organic gardening products, source them from a trusted local nursery or farmers' market, or swap plants and bulbs with your friends. By making your garden more wildlife-friendly you are in fact encouraging natural predators such as birds, hoverflies and parasitic wasps, which will help to keep pests under control.
There's nothing like a garden party to help celebrate Virginia's beautiful spring weather and views. If you are looking for local resources and experts to help you create a lawn and garden that you truly enjoy, give me a call! I'd love to share some of the area's top professionals with you and help you make your property all that you dreamed of."