Every day, the Grump goes out for an early morning walk, ostensibly for exercise, but really to spy on the neighbors. One house has a lawn so remarkable I just have to tell you about it. It’s almost 100% weeds of every kind — biodiversity of a scale seldom seen in suburbia. And the thought occurred to me — how many Grumpians must wish they had a lawn as weedy as that!
You can! All you have to do is follow these simple guidelines.
1. Plant lots of shade trees. Grass likes sun and it dislikes shade. So the more shade you provide, the less grass you’ll have, and the weeds will be free to take over. Keep in mind that lawn grasses vary in their shade tolerance. In the South, St. Augustine is the most shade tolerant and Bermuda grass is the least.
2. Do not fertilize — ever. As a rule, lawn grasses are pretty heaver feeders (centipede being the exception), especially if you don’t use a mulching mower. Cool-season grasses (Kentucky bluegrass, tall fescue, perennial rye) like fall feeding, while warm-season grasses (Bermuda, St. Augustine, Zoysia) like spring and summer feeding. By starving the grass, leaner and meaner weeds will quickly invade.
3. Scalp your lawn when you mow. That’s right — cut your lush, green grass right down to the dirt. You’ll know you’ve done it right when the grass turns browner than the face of George Hamilton. Scalping the grass, rather than taking only 1/3 off with every mowing, greatly stresses the grass. Dandelions, crabgrass, plantain, clover, spurge, and other weeds don’t mind the buzz-cut, however. And now since you’ve generously uncovered the soil, weed seeds have oodles of room to germinate. Good for you!
4. Park vehicles on your grass. This compacts the soil, which grass doesn’t like. What does like compacted soil? That’s right — weeds! You’re catching on.
5. Water your lawn for 15 minutes every day, rain or shine. This will encourage shallow rooting and fungal diseases. Wherever your grass dies, weeds will move in.
6. Put down weed-killers without first reading the label. With any luck at all, the weed-killer you put down will kill your grass too, giving new weeds a new home.
Crepe Myrtle Alert!
Crepe myrtle season is just a few weeks away. To learn everything you could ever want to know about this essential Southern plant and how to grow it, click here.