Monday, April 08, 2013

Controlled Burn - Perennial Grasses

This past weekend, I enjoyed learning other gardening techniques - when it comes to handling perennial grasses.
The garden I visited, had grasses growing out of a bed of river stones. With the amount of snow we had this winter, the grass thatch had all fallen over. I wondered how long it would take to cut back all the dried foliage, when lo'and behold, the gardener told me all we needed was a match.

Actually, it was more than just a match. We required a bucket of water, an old corn-broom, matches and a bundle of newspaper.
Thick amount of grass thatch that would of taken ages to cut back.
To begin, we lit a match and ignited a rolled up newspaper. We started at the edge of the patch of perennial grasses and with the corn broom (soaked in water prior to) we tamped down any flames that crept beyond the intended bed.

NOTE: Control burns should be done with the utmost care.  Do not attempt without making sure you have the proper dousing tools to prevent fires from getting out of control.

We made sure the weather co-operated with us. We had no wind; rain was expected overnight and had access to water and a tamping device.

Here we had to tamp down some of the tree leaves that were closer to the lawn. The wet corn broom was perfect for this job.

It took about 5 minutes to complete the burn. We had 2 hot spots that needed dousing, but the burn really did the trick. Not only did it clean up the job quickly, the burn added nutrients to the soil's surface from the ash that remained.

I highly recommend doing this if you have a controllable area and the need to clear up old thatch left behind from last years growth.

After a bit of a sweep up (brushing off the burnt ash), here is the result:
I was glad to participate and learn this technique.
If you are worried the flames would burn the new growth, here you can see the flames just burned the brown bits. The new spring growth is left to flourish.

5 minutes to clear this up, or an hour.  Makes sense, eh?

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