Sustainable Landscaping
healthy lawn care
rain gardens



Jackie Dawley (URI Master Gardener), Davisville, RI

What you will see!

Area 1: Front lawn and beds - this page

Beds of sustainable plants & border beds that reduce runoff

Alternative pest control - white grubs
Rain barrels & soaker hose
Lawn renovation - healthy lawn care steps

Area 2: Back yard -- see the back yard for more on lawn renovation (shady area) and the use of permeable paving materials.

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Beds of sustainable plants & border beds that reduce runoff

  • Beds of trees, shrubs and plants that require minimal inputs of fertilizer, pesticides and water. Tip 1 - Choose the right plants.
  • Beds of shrubs and crushed stone around the perimeter of the house that help to settle and reduce roof runoff from leaving the yard and increase groundwater recharge on-site. Tip 5 - reduce runoff.

June 9, 2005, bed of sustainable plants in bloom.

June 9, 2005, border bed of shrubs in bloom.

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Alternative White Grub Control:
Tip 3
- use fertilizers and pesticides responsibly

Jackie noticed the presence of white grubs when digging in garden beds over the last two years. Sampling in Spring 2003 identified the white grubs as the Oriental Beetle at a high enough population to warrant treatment of the problem which consisted of a combination of chemical and biological (mass trapping and mating disruption) control methods. Click here to view pest control methods used.

We sampled for white grubs again in September 2003 and May 2004 and found a low population. The biological control method, mass trapping and mating disruption, will continue to be used during the summers of 2004 and 2005. Sampling in September found no oriential beetle white grubs.

Note that white grubs generally do not persist in shady areas. Creating shaded landscapes with the establishment of trees and large shrubs can be a long-term preventative measure for treating this problem.

URI Master Gardener, Rudi Hempe, collects adult oriental beetles from the traps once per week during early June through late August.

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Rain Barrels and Soaker Hose:
Tip 4 - water wisely
Tip 5 - reduce runoff

Two rain barrels have been linked and installed at the northeast corner of the house and can hold 108 gallons of water total. Garden hose and soaker hose have been provided to aid in watering a bed of perennial/annual plants. The rain barrels have been installed on blocks to provide for some height to aid in gravity flow. The water collected can also be used for window boxes and container plants.

Soaker hose provides low pressure/low volume watering; allowing little to no loss due to wind and evaporation. The hose is placed on the ground close to plant root zone. Low pressure and volume reduces potential for runoff or leaching below the root zone. A soaker hose can make use of collected rainwater using gravity flow.

URI Master Gardener, Dick Perreault installs a new roof gutter downsput that outlets about two inches above the rain barrel's screened opening. May 2003.

Approximately 228 square feet (19' by 12' ) of roof area contribute water to this roof gutter downspout and rain barrels. A 1/2 inch to 3/4 inch rain fall will fill up both barrels.

In April 2005, the two rain barrels are linked with a section of 1&1/2 inch plastic, corrugated sump line. The sump line is secured to one of the rain barrel connections with a steel clamp. Due to the corner between the two rain barrels, the soft plastic hose that comes with this ready-made rain barrel model tends to kink and prevent water from draining freely into the second barrel.

Soaker hose is placed around plant root zone.

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Lawn renovation: Healthy Lawn care

Small sections of front lawn have been renovated with an Endophyte--Enhanced grass mix which is naturally pest resistant to certain leaf-eating insects. This predominantly fescue mix is also more drought tolerant.

Soil test samples were collected Spring 2003, 2004, and 2005 to monitor for nutrients and soil pH. Note the importance of using a drop spreader for controlled application of fertilizer.

use of a drop spreader

On-going lawn management includes leaving the grass clippings on the lawn except when collected for composting purposes. Some watering with a portable sprinkler is conducted using a rain guage to measure weekly rainfall and using shallow cans to measure the amount of irrigation water applied, which is crucial in preventing over-watering.

Lawn renovated with Endophyte--Enhanced grass mix:

30% Improved Perennial Ryegrass
30% Chewings Fescue
30% Tall Fescue
10% Kentucky Bluegrass

Section of lawn dominated by crabgrass. Crabgrass is an annual grass which dies in the fall. Crabgrass is grubbed out with a grub hoe. October 2003.

seed is broadcast, raked and rolled. October 2003.

October 31, 2003; three weeks later

May 2004

June 2004

May 2005. The existing front lawn has been improved over the last few years with the application of pelletized lime according to soil test recommendations to raise the soil pH. Two applications of organic or slow-release fertilizer have been made each year. One in early to mid-May and one by Mid-September to reduce risk of Nitrogen leaching to groundwater.

A total of 2 lbs. of N/1,000 square feet is applied each year along with recyling the grass clippings. Fertilizer blends have been chosen to match the Phosphorus and Potassium needs as closely as possible without over-applying those nutrients (based on soil test results).

In April 2005, the lawn was also de-thatched and raked to assist with soil aeration. Visit our Healthy Lawn Care page for more information on lawn renovation and health.

May 2005.

The summer of 2005 consisted of significantly high temperatures and dry periods with little to no rain. The lawn was not watered and allowed to go dormant for the summer, in which much of the grass turned brown. The following two photos, taken September 27, 2005 show how nicely the lawn greened up and recovered from the dormancy once rain fall became more frequent and temperatures became cooler beginning at the very end of August 2005.

Above two photos taken September 27, 2005


Area 2: Back yard -- see the back yard for more on lawn renovation (shady area) and the use of permeable paving materials.

Special thanks to Terry Moone Excavating for the donation of equipment and service to pick-up and deliver landscaping materials.

Special thanks to Bob Mackie, Midland Seamless Gutter for the donation of a roof gutter downspout and elbow.

Special thanks to Dr. Steve Alm, URI Dept. Plant Sciences and URI Master Gardeners Rudi Hempe, Michael Sullivan, Richard Perreault, Jules Cohen, Chuck DiTucci, and Joy Gerstenblatt for their time, expertise, equipment and assistance with planning, implementation and maintenance.

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