BEYFUSS: Green grass makes its return soon
Yes, it is true. I have been seeing some green grass as our landscape turns from winter brown to the prettiest green imaginable. How remarkable are these millions of tiny green plants that provide tons of oxygen for us to breathe and food for us to eat! Of course we don’t eat the grass directly but cattle certainly do and they are able to convert about 10 pounds of grass into one pound of meat.
Unlike many food crops which must be harvested and replanted to be consumed, grass is very happy to have its top growth cut off (or chewed off) on a regular basis. This feature allows new residents from the suburbs to convert old farm pastures into multi-acre lawns by simply mowing them on a regular basis. I do not quite understand why people want three acre lawns but they are easy enough to create with a riding mower and a weekend to mow.
Other critters also seem to enjoy eating the new grass. Nuisance Canada geese feed on grass as do rabbits, woodchucks and many other mammals including my Kitty Cat, Stir Fry. She eats grass and then throws up on my rug. She is also now eating mice as evidenced by her biting off and leaving their tiny heads near the foot of my bed, where I sometimes step on one with my bare feet.
I am still working on eliminating as much of my lawn as possible by allowing ground covers (mostly local weeds) to take over after spraying the grass with a chemical called “Grass B Gone” that selectively kills grass. I keep hearing about how invasive myrtle is but it does not spread for me no matter how I try to get it to invade grassy areas.
Our fondness for greener pastures may stem from a time when open meadows allowed for early warning of impending danger from saber toothed tigers or enemy soldiers. Village greens evolved into meeting places where commerce developed and politics were discussed.
This was before the Internet replaced being outside. Somebody in Scotland got the bright idea one day to invent a sport that involved hitting a small round ball into holes placed in grassy areas. The comedian Robin Williams has discussed this invention in hilarious detail. Golf has become a multibillion dollar industry in this country with many golf course budgets well over one million dollars annually.
Probably the best thing you can do for your lawn right now is to stay off it until it dries out. Cool, wet soils are easily compacted by foot traffic so resist the urge to get everything all cleaned up for a few more weekends. I would not be surprised if we got a snowstorm in April.
Many bulbs are up and some are even beginning to flower. The local deer are very hungry right now and they will devour just about every type of bulb foliage except for daffodils and crown imperial (Frittilaria). Daylilies are a preferred deer food as are tulips and your woody shrubs are still in danger too. There are several effective deer repellents on the market such as Hinder, Invisible Fence and Deer Away. Home remedies to repel deer include human hair in mesh bags, bars of perfumed soap, and rotten egg mixtures dissolved in water.
Other wildlife are becoming active again also. I have spotted many skunks, possums, foxes and even a few woodchucks looking for places to make dens. Make sure these animals cannot get under your house, barn or other outbuildings by sealing off possible entry points. The coolest wildlife I have seen this past week however, was an adult bald eagle perched in a tree over the Catskill Creek in Preston Hollow.
Bob Beyfuss lives and gardens in Schoharie County. Garden Tips appears Friday in the Freeman Life section. Send him an e-mail to email@example.com.
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