Steele: Time to focus on the lawn

While irrigation of lawns accounts for much of the 24 per cent of valley water used for outdoor residential irrigation, this can be reduced for existing lawns and new ones.

Now is the perfect time to feed turf-grass and build up the soil by spreading a one inch layer of organic matter such as Nature’s Gold, well-rotted manure, or compost over your lawn.

It will decompose to form new, nutrient-rich soil which in turn feeds your lawn all season long.

There won’t be the spike of fast growth, needing more water and more mowing, that chemical fertilizers create.

Mulch helps retain moisture. If soil is poor, mulching may be done in fall as well as spring to improve soil faster.

Aeration improves water penetration. If you aerate before mulching the mulch will fill the holes.

By the time you are ready to mow, the mulch will have settled below mower blades.

For more tips on reducing water use on your lawn check

Now is a good time to get rid of some lawn not needed for activities.

This will reduce maintenance time (mowing and trimming) as well as reduce your water bill.

Begin with removing lawn where it is difficult to maintain: on slopes, under trees, on sandy soil, in hard to mow or hard to water areas and in very hot, dry places.

If you are making a new lawn, take care to locate it on the flat, on at least six inches of good topsoil.

When laying out the lawn, make sure the shape is easy to mow and will require a minimum amount of trimming.

A hard surface mowing edge for the lawnmower wheel eliminates trimming.

Make sure the shape fits the sprinkler area so no water is wasted.

A shaded lawn needs less water than one in full sun, so put them on different irrigation zones.

Eco-Turf Farms has a water-wise Eco-Smart turf if you are laying sod.

Enviro-turf and Eco-lawn are two brands of drought-tolerant lawn seed mixes.

Both have deep-rooted fescue grasses that are much better adapted to our climate than traditional Kentucky bluegrass.

Seed and sod need regular watering to get established.

Once established they need much less water.

To learn more about how you can garden successfully in the Okanagan, and reduce water use and maintenance time and costs, I invite you to attend my two night Introduction to the Seven Principles of Xeriscape class.

There will be practical information for making changes to an existing landscape, as well as for creating a new landscape and for those who are new to gardening in the Okanagan.

I use photos to illustrate the principles of design and planning, soil improvement, practical turf areas, efficient irrigation, use of mulch, good maintenance, and appropriate plant selection.

Dates: Monday, April 7 and 14 or Wednesday, April 16 and 23. Classes are from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Details and registration information are on the classes page on or call 250-762-6018.

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