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Bloomfield Township

April 2, 2013

Workshop offers tips for growing the best lawn on the block

By Robin Ruehlen
C & G Staff Writer

BLOOMFIELD TOWNSHIP — Attention homeowners: Your grass and soil have needs, too. Ignore them, and your lawn will never live up to its lush, magazine-cover potential.

The Southeastern Oakland County Water Authority, in cooperation with the Bloomfield Township Public Library, is offering its free Healthy Lawn Care Workshop 6:30-8:30 p.m. April 8. The seminar will cover lawn care basics, such as mowing, watering and fertilizing, as well as troubleshooting tips for weed and drought management, and organic versus synthetic pesticide solutions.

Gary Eichen, a bioturf manager at Mike’s Tree Surgeons Inc. in Troy, said that if you don’t really — really —  know your lawn, you need to attend.

“There are three steps to a healthy lawn — understanding the grass that grows in Michigan, understanding Michigan soil and the proper cultural practices that must be done for grass to grow the way it’s supposed to,” he said.

“Most people have a pretty good hold on the grass type, but I find that many do not understand the importance of soil health and do not follow proper cultural practices. They feel they can mow it and water it any way they want, and that’s just not true.”

For example, Eichen said Michigan grass must be mowed at a minimum of 2.5 inches, preferably 3 inches — and should receive at least 1.5 inches of water per week, or it will not perform.

“I’m going to focus mainly on soil health because that’s the key element that people don’t understand,” he said.

“Soil is a living species, and thousands of organisms live in it and are beneficial to the grass.  We have to do what we can to proliferate those species.” 

In addition to several speakers, the seminar will include a video with examples of healthy lawn care — using compost, soil testing, earth-friendly fertilizers and no-fertilizer buffer zones — and table displays on composting and tree mulching practices.

SOCWA coordinator Lillian Dean said a healthy lawn with strong roots not only looks better but also holds soil in place, and thus protects local rivers and lakes from pollution and runoff.

“We teach practices that are tried and true, developed over 20 years by land universities and demonstrated by professionals. People leave our seminars with all of their questions answered, along with a basic program for mowing, fertilizing and weed management, and they follow it,” she said.

“The trouble with going to a hardware store or lawn care service without knowing how to care for your lawn is that you just get a sales pitch. Companies offer deals and say they’ll take care of all of your problems, but often they make things worse.”

Dean said she’s heard that some lawn companies have already been observed distributing fertilizers and herbicides well before the ground is thawed.

“This is an awful practice. Anything that goes on a lawn right now is a total waste, and it creates a runoff problem,” she said.

“Actually, studies show that February and March is when most of that pollution takes place.”

The timing of the workshop is perfect, she said, because homeowners like to have time to create a plan for their summer lawn care.

“It’s a very relaxed atmosphere, and we are really practical in our approach,” she said.

The free Healthy Lawn Care Workshop will be held from 6:30-8:30 p.m. April 8 at the Bloomfield Township Public Library, 1099 Lone Pine Road.

Registration opens at 6 p.m., but advance registration is requested: Call (248) 288-5150 or visit www.btpl.org. Additional lawn care information can be found at www.socwa.org.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Robin Ruehlen at rruehlen@candgnews.com or at (586)279-1105.