Gardening Q & A: Watering Newly Seeded Lawns and more
Master gardener Paul James answers gardeners' questions about pampas grass, seeding lawns, types of garlic, agave and more.
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Master gardener Paul James answers gardeners' questions:
Q. What's the best way to water a newly seeded lawn?
A. Whether the seed has been sown in bare soil or over-seeded on existing turf, the best way is to water three times a day for about 10 minutes each time. Watering frequency is important because the seeds need to absorb moisture to start germinating. If they dry out, they won't germinate nearly as fast.
Now clearly this is a case where the best way isn't the most practical way, given a busy schedule, so at the very least I suggest you water early in the morning for about 10 to 15 minutes before you go to work. Then, water another 10 to 15 minutes when you get home from work. An alternative is to use an automatic sprinkler system or timer that allows you to water more than once a day. When the grass is finally up and growing — in a week to 10 days — you can then switch to a regular watering schedule, deep soaking each time you water.
Q. How hardy is pampas grass?
A. Pampas grass is fairly hardy to Zone 7, but during severe winters — especially cold, dry ones — it might not be a bad idea to give it a thick layer of mulch. In the past couple of years, I've seen this plant sold in nurseries in Zone 6, where in my opinion, it should almost certainly be mulched during the winter.
But even if you grow it north of Zone 6 as an annual, it's worth it because the plumes it produces are among the most beautiful. A word of caution, however: this grass is considered invasive in some parts of the country. Those of you who live in more northern climates might consider growing what's sometimes called hardy pampas grass, it's in the genus Erianthus and is sometimes sold as ravenna grass. It's not as pretty as the true pampas grass, but it's the next best thing, especially if you like grasses that can grow eight to ten feet tall.
Q. What do you think of plants grown in peck and bushel baskets?
A. I think they're awesome because for just a few bucks more than you'd pay for the plant itself, you get a ready-to-use, floral display, complete with a container and potting mix, which means no work. The baskets themselves, whether bushels or pecks, lend a rustic look to the landscape, which happens to be my favorite look. The only real downside to these baskets is that they tend to dry out quicker than conventional containers, so you may find that you have to water the plants a bit more frequently. And, in my experience, the baskets tend to rot within a couple of months, which is why it's best to fill them with annuals or perennials designed to provide a short blast of seasonal color.
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