jeudi 27 mars 2008

It's the lawn conditions, stupid

"Moss in your lawn is an indication that turf is not growing well."
-- Bryophytes Science, Oregon State

-- Homer Simpson, and me

There are things that you know in your heart, but that are profoundly depressing to acknowledge. It isn't that moss is there for no reason. It's there because the conditions for the growth of healthy grass are compromised and moss grows where grass fails. The grass is failing.

It looked good last year. Everyone remarked on it, but it wasn't great. People are fundamentally kind, especially when they know you are trying hard.

The soil is compacted, alternately soggy (hence the presence of annual bluegrass, Poa annua, and the oxygen starvation of the roots) and then bone dry. I am sure the types of grass seed in the various mixes tried were not well-suited to the soil and the sorry conditions, and the Linden trees, if that is really what they are -- some guests swear they aren't, but I think they probably are, but of the large-leafed variety and more ornamentally pruned than most people are used to -- certainly make too dense a shade that moves in a wide sweep around the top terrace lawn.

These are the days when I want to just go rent a rototiller to just turn the whole thing over and be done with it.

Well, not really done with it, exactly. Put down more good lawn soil, fertilize and hopefully get the seed mixture right, install an automatic sprinkler system and water at 4 AM while I slumber. It would help if I could at least find the translation for "thatching" in French so I could see if I can find the rotary mower attachment that thatches the lawn. Then there is the machine that punches aeration holes in the soil. What on earth would Kiloutou call that?

Il souffit d'aller voir. I can't find the aerating machine, but the thatcher is a défeutreuse à gazon, or a lawn "defelter", and I can rent one for 75 euros. Hooray! I think I just might do that.

It's done. I can pick it up Saturday and return it Monday. Which leaves me Sunday, since I have to drive Sam to a tennis match or two on Saturday, but this way I get to have it for two days for the price of one!

In fact, I just checked and the grass mix that worked best on the second terrace last year was the "Gazon Rustique" that is 55% English ryegrass and 45% fescue, which is what is recommended for moss-prone lawns according to Washington State University Extension's "Moss Control in Lawns".

But, I just found this in a reply from Walter Reeves of the Home of The Georgia Gardener website at (italics mine):
Moss grows in a lawn because the environmental conditions in that area favor it -- and do not favor grass. What does moss like? Shade, clay soil and lots of moisture. What does grass hate? Shade, clay soil and lots of moisture. If you eliminate the three conditions that moss favors, the moss will disappear.When you next re-seed, add plenty of soil conditioner to the ground before rototilling it. Remove lower tree limbs that cause shade. Redirect water that flows across the fescue lawn. If you can accomplish that, the moss will be no obstacle for your grass.
It looks like a rototiller would have been my best bet!

Oh, Katie, I can hear you loud and clear! Feel free to weigh in on the rototiller versus la défeutreuse à gazon, thank you, and what on earth is soil conditioner? Does L'Oréal make it?
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