Friday, August 19, 2011

One Small Step for the Planet: Part 1

Planting a Zoyzia Lawn

As I mentioned
in my previous post, one simple thing that we can all do to live more sustainably is to replace a water-guzzling, pesticide-dependent lawn with a much more earth-friendly zoysia lawn. Zoysia is a creeping grass originally from Asia that is extremely heat-resistant, and therefore needs much less watering in the summer than other types of grass; zoyzia also creates a thick mat of grass that crowds out weeds, so you don't have to use pesticides or much fertilizer on it once it is established. The only downside about zoyzia is that it goes dormant during the coldest months of winter in the north and turns brown. The upside is that, after a few years, you get a virtually indestructible lawn that is relatively care-free. The hotter it gets, the better zoysia likes it. It's a win-win: you get a plush green lawn that is the envy of all your neighbors and at the same time you are doing something fabulous for the environment.

To begin transforming your lawn into a zoysia lawn, the first thing you need to do is get some plugs to transplant. You can either "borrow" these from a neighbor's lawn (just cut a small two inch circle of sod from the lawn; it will fill back in in no time) or buy some sod. I get mine from Zoysia Farm Nursery in Maryland. I don't know if their sod is better or worse than any other nursery's, but it seems to do the trick for me. Once the sod comes, all you need to do is cut it into 2 or 3 inch plugs. I used to use a scissor to do this, but an old garden knife seems to work even easier for me. When you have your plug, dig a hole in the ground, insert the plug with a bit of grass sticking out of the ground (this is important!), and give it a firm press so that the roots make contact with the soil. If you water properly, your plugs will turn green in a few weeks and will slowly begin to take over your lawn. That's really all there is to it.It takes a few years for zoysia grass to crowd out Kentucky blue grass, fescues, perennial rye grass, and other sort of mamby-pamb types of grass. But once it's established, you are left with a lawn that requires very little care. And even better, it is a renewal resource: you can take plugs or springs from your existing lawn and use them else where or give them to envious neighbors!

Planting a zoysia lawn may not win you any environment awards, but it's one small step that all of us can take to try to live more sustainably. I can already see a difference with the zoysia lawn that I've established: I use absolutely no pesticides on it, almost no fertilizer, and do a fraction of the watering that I used to.

Maybe I do deserve that environmental award, after all!

1 comment:

  1. Zoysia is a better option than most other kinds of grasses, but the best option of all is to get rid of your lawn completely. Ground cover is much more sustainable.


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