By Devika Rao
Georgia was all over the news last summer as it endured a great drought. Many lush lawns were sacrificed due to lack of rain and a drive through any neighborhood showed the results—brown grass, fewer blooming shrubs to lounge under and thus fewer children playing outside. However, through innovative techniques and a thorough understanding of your lawn’s needs, your garden can be lush and colorful all summer long; all while abiding by water restrictions and being environmentally friendly.
According the Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA, the art of GreenScaping can help our lawns stay alive and give back to the environment in healthy ways. According to the agency’s Web site, www.epa.gov, GreenScaping encompasses a set of landscaping practices that can improve the health and appearance of lawns and gardens while protecting and preserving natural resources. But how?
Plants need water to survive, but too much or too little water can be equally damaging to plant life. Spreading mulch or compost around flower beds and vegetable beds helps regulate temperatures and acts as sponges of water, as it continually hydrates foliage. “Grasscycling,” or leaving the grass clippings on the lawn while mowing, helps release valuable nutrients back into the soil, feeding the grass and reducing the need for nitrogen by 25 to 50 percent, according to the EPA GreenScaping Web site.
However, there is more to protecting lawns than smart watering and putting nutrients back into the soil. “The most important thing I can suggest is to always plant the right greens at the right time and in the right place,” says Brandon Chonko, co-owner of GrassRoots Landscaping in Atlanta. With the drought being predicted to be worse this summer, Chonko says creative solutions such as installing rock gardens and planting bigger beds can make a significant difference. Planting “drought resistant” species available at local nurseries when the weather is cool and rains frequently, such as the end of fall and beginning of spring, ensures a healthy garden throughout the summer. “Planting flowers when we get rain almost once a week and the temperatures are mild will allow them to survive the 100-degree days in August because the plants will soak up the water instead of it getting evaporated in the heat,” Chonko says.
Spring is a time of growth, and, despite the drought, when well-taken care of, blooming flowers can put a spring in your step that will carry you through the hot days of summer.