The Pacific Northwest is a great climate for lawns. As anyone who has one knows, though, it is also great for growing much more than grass. There are some simple, but necessary, lawn care techniques that will promote an attractive, sustainable and competitive lawn, healthy for you and your family. Keep your focus on regular maintenance, proper culture, tolerance for the expected invaders and be prepared to accept the need for periodic renovation.
- Mowing: Mow the grass when it needs mowing. Cutting too short or too long stresses the grass.
- Watering: Water the lawn only as needed. If you have an automatic sprinkler system, invest in a smart controller system which will not water on rainy days. Allow the lawn to become dormant in the summer; grass is adapted to a drying out period.
- Nutrition: Use an organic lawn fertilizer to feed the soil and nourish the grass; apply lime to sweeten the soil in the fall.
- Grasscycle: Leave your trimmings on the lawn-to reduce fertilizer applications.
- Reduce Compaction: Aerate the lawn in the fall or early spring and then top-dress with good compost. Remove built up thatch periodically. Compacted and calcium-deficient soils encourage weed and moss growth.
- Exposure: Grass likes the sun! Establish lawn in those areas of your yard that can support grass. Give up on growing grass under conifers and grow groundcovers and native plants there instead.
- Soil Conditions: Don’t expect lawn to grow in wet, compacted areas. Build healthy soil to encourage good drainage and deep roots. If an area of your yard always stays moist, consider a raingarden or plants that tolerate wet roots.
- Access: Avoid growing lawn in difficult to maintain areas like steep hillsides; plant groundcovers instead. You won’t need to mow them!
- Diversity in the Lawn: Adopt a different perspective-tolerate certain plants other than grass in your lawn. Clover seed, which increases nitrogen availability, was at one time a standard addition to lawn seed because grasses thrive in nitrogen-rich soils.
- Weeds: Hand-remove weeds that colonize in mats and apply corn gluten for seed control. Do not use chemical herbicide and fertilizer combinations that can be tracked into your house–especially by children and pets–and deposited in your carpeting.
- Moss: Accept some moss in the lawn; a healthy lawn can tolerate some moss. Moss will naturally die out when the weather warms up and in the meantime provides nest-building material for many species of native birds.
- Insects: Monitor for crane fly larvae; treat naturally only when the larvae reach a threshold of thirty to forty per square foot. Or wait for natural predators to find them; starlings do somewhat redeem themselves by eating crane fly larvae!
- Site the Lawn: Consider shrinking the lawn to the areas that will support a healthy lawn; have fun introducing new plants to those areas not suited for grass.
- When to Renovate: Plan for a fall or spring renovation when the weather is conducive to grass growing.
- Build Soil: When renovating your lawn, build your soil too. Healthy soils grow healthy lawns which require less maintenance in the future!
- The Wrong Choice: If your lawn is too shady, if your dogs are too tough on it, or you don’t want to spend time caring for your lawn, then consider alternative landscaping ideas.
Please call the hotline at 206-633-0224 or email us for more lawn and landscaping ideas. We have a range of information to share and brochures we can send to help in your quest for a sustainable and healthy yard.