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Turf Chemicals

Using Herbicides Wisely

grass weeds, turf weeds, lawn weeds

If you choose to do nothing about weeds, just like a pacifist country, eventually you will be overrun with expansionist opportunists. If you want a nice turf grass lawn, being passive is not an option. If you don’t fight for territory on a regular basis, you will lose the space to weeds and brambles, and eventually tree seedlings. The outdoors is a dynamic environment with shifts in dominance during each season. Know your enemy. If turf weeds are the enemy, then you need to become familiar with how they battle for the ground plane territory of your lawn.

One of your choices when you join in the fray is the level of quality which you are willing to accept. You can decide to accept all green plants that stay under four to six inches in height by simply mowing frequently during the growing season at a set height. That’s fine. Lots of people do this as their single engagement with their lawn. By choosing mowing as your only cultural practice, you are accepting variations in texture and color, along with a significant amount of bare spots in the winter as the summer annual weeds decline. This is a perfectly reasonable choice which complies with local ordinances and most neighborhood covenants.

If you decide to bump up the quality and go for a more uniform look for your lawn, then herbicides need to be added to your arsenal. But, for goodness sake, learn how to use them properly! Follow the label directions. Just as you wouldn’t go into battle shooting randomly in the air rather than targeting the enemy, you shouldn’t start spraying chemicals with abandon. It’s dangerous, and you might end up harming the very thing you’re trying to protect. Hiring mercenaries—lawn care companies might be an effective strategy, but at great cost. They will have their own agenda, and might not be as surgical and eco-friendly as you would like. Here’s how to use herbicides wisely, without having to become a chemical engineer.

A Dozen Things to Do When Preparing Your Base Map

Landscape Base Maps

landscape base map pathMy number one tip for all landscape design professionals preparing a landscape design plan sheet is to visit the site. When visiting a site, you should:

• Take pictures, especially if you see anything unique to the site

• Run a long measuring tape in two different directions to spot trees and features and property markers

• Line up square elements like buildings by moving your head until you can just barely see both corners

• Look up and note any overhead power lines

• Try to identify the existing trees and approximate their diameter

• If you have a D-tape, use it to measure the existing trees

• Note where shade or other factors have diminished the turf grass areas

• Find the stream buffers and wetland areas

• Note any significant large masses of shrubs

• Look for natural drainage patterns

• Mark north

• Talk to the clients

All this information should be included on your base map. If you can, have the site surveyed and photographed.

By visiting the site, you will create a much improved design, and get a sense of place. It is essential for good landscape design. You will find a potential landscape construction site completely different from what you see on satellite maps, Google Earth, and GIS layers. I have reviewed hundreds of landscape design proposals where the person drawing the plan has never seen the site and might not be aware of the important elements. It is very obvious in the proposals. Much of the information you can learn about a site is located below the leafy tree canopy. The ground-level connection produces a broader understanding of the site.