Gardening

Laidback Gardener Tip of the Day

Taller Grass, Healthier Lawn

août 13When I started gardening years ago, we were told the ideal mowing height for a cool-climate lawn was 2 inches (5 cm). This would, we were told, give you the effect of a golf green and who wouldn't like that? The problem was low-mown lawns also had huge health problems. They tended to dry out in the summer and fill up with weeds.

We now know that was bad advice. A taller lawn shades the ground and protects its own roots from the burning sun. Also, the root length is roughly proportional to the height of the turf. So short grass has short roots that can't reach additional water underground in times of drought while a high mown lawn has long roots that can find deep water if necessary. Finally, weed seeds have great difficulty germinating in a high turf: sun, essential for their germination, simply does not reach the ground. So for cold climate grasses at least, a mowing height of 3 inches (8 cm) is ideal.
 

Larry Hodgson is one of Canada’s best-known garden communicators. He has notably been editor-in-chief of HousePlant Magazine, Fleurs, Plantes et Jardins, À Fleur de Pot and Houseplant Forum magazines and is currently the garden correspondent for Le Soleil and radio garden commentator for CKIA-FM Radio. He has written for many garden publications in both the United States and Canada, including Canadian Gardening, Harrowsmith, Horticulture, Fine Gardening and Organic Gardening. He also speaks frequently to horticultural groups throughout Canada and the U.S. His book credits include The Garden Lover’s Guide to Canada, Complete Guide to Houseplants, Making the Most of Shade, Perennials for Every Purpose, Annuals for Every Purpose, and Houseplants for Dummies, as well as nearly 60 other titles in English and French. He is a past president of the Garden Writers Association (now Garden Communicators International) and the winner of the prestigious 2006 Garden Media Promoter Award offered by the Perennial Plant Association. He resides in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada.

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