Growing the perfect lawn is no easy task, in the days of increasing drought, pest pressures, and higher water bills. As I mentioned in Part I, Elizabeth often remarked about the difficulties of keeping a perfect lawn going at Gaiety Hollow. Prior owner, Dale Strand, used an electric reel mower to preserve the bentgrass lawn very well. Since the Conservancy has managed the garden, we have consulted with renowned turf grass professional and retired OSU professor, Tom Cook, to keep the lawns in top shape. His publication on Colonial and Highland Bentgrass lawns is a great resource for establishing a top quality turf at home.

Now that you have leveled any low spots in the lawn and the grass has come up, it’s time to start your mowing regime. With traditional ryegrass or fescue lawns, the mowing height is quite high – up to 3.75″. However, with Gaiety Hollows’ predominantly bentgrass lawn, the mowing height is much lower – closer to 1″ – to prevent the stoloniferous bentgrass from producing “false crowning.” This happens when the creeping grass is cut too high, producing long shoots that lay over, with the brown stems creating poor turf patches in the lawn over time.

If a mowing service cuts your grass, it is a good idea to ask if they are taking precautions to prevent the spread of boxwood blight as they move between gardens that might be infected. Hopefully, the service has a method for washing the mowers in between gardens to prevent the spread of pathogens and weed seeds.

Getting on your weeds early is a good idea as well. In the next post we will discuss the common lawn weeds and how to deal with them.

Check out the lawn seed selection from Marshall’s Fall 1929 catalog. Its hard to find prices that low anymore!
Lord and Schryver often inserted small turf panels between walkways. Although these add interest, they are high maintenance due to the small size and proximity to brick and must be hand cut. We use an electric weed eater to carefully manage the height. Allso, these panels must be hand watered so selecting a drought tolerant grass is essential. The surrounding brick often acts as a heat sink in the hot summer, soaking up the sun all day and holding the heat through the night, creating extremely warm microclimates.

Stay tuned for more turf tips before we turn our attention to the rapidly approaching Tulip sho based on the recreated 1956 bulb plan.