Natural lawn care

Lawns

Manage lawn problems naturally

Lawns use the most pesticides, fertilizer, and water, produce the most waste, and can be too much work! Try these five easy tips for a healthy, beautiful and natural lawn.

  1. Mow high, mow regularly, and leave the clippings.
  2. Use natural-organic or slow-release fertilizers.
  3. Water deeply to moisten the whole root zone, but less frequently.
  4. Improve poor lawns with aeration, overseeding, and top-dressing.
  5. Think twice before using weed and feed or other pesticides.

Grow a healthy lawn. Sunlight and soil are important for growing healthy grass. A thick, vigorous stand of turf will have fewer weeds than a thin, splotchy lawn.

1. Mow higher, mow regularly, and leave the clippings.

“Grasscycling” or “mulch-mowing” makes lawns healthier. Soil organisms recycle clippings into free fertilizer, and you save all the work of bagging. Mulching lawn mowers make grasscycling easy but you can grasscycle with the mower you have now.

2. Use natural-organic or slow-release fertilizers. They keep lawns healthy with less chance of polluting local rivers and streams.

Don’t try for a deep blue-green color – healthy lawns are a light meadow green.

The best time to fertilize is September, when grass plants are building reserves for the next year. If fertilizing in spring, wait until May when growth slows.

3. Water deeply to moisten the whole root zone, but less frequently.

Let the soil dry between watering to prevent lawn disease and save water.

Lawns need one inch of water a week in summer, including rain, to stay green. Lawn that doesn’t get heavy wear can go brown and dormant – just water once a month, and it will green up in the fall.

4. Improve poor lawns with aeration, overseeding, and top-dressing.

Aerate in spring or fall to improve root development and water penetration

Follow by overseeding then raking in 1/4 to 1/2 inch of compost to cover the seed and improve the soil. Repeat these steps annually as needed.

5. Think twice before using weed and feed or other pesticides..

Accept a few weeds and crowd out others by growing a dense healthy lawn. Use a long handled weed puller to remove dandelions without bending over. Weeding is easiest when the soil is moist.

Avoid weed and feed. If you choose to use weed killers – just spot spray the problem weeds. Pick a safer product using the brand-name product rankings in the Grow Smart, Grow Safe product tables.

Honey, I shrunk the lawn!

Grass grows best on level, well-drained soil in full sun or part shade. Choose other plants better suited to soggy soil, slopes, or heavy shade. Plant a “buffer” of dense, native vegetation along streams and lakes to filter and slow runoff, shade and cool the water, provide homes for wildlife, and prevent erosion too.

Lawn fertilizers

Typical Pacific Northwest lawns will benefit most from a fertilizer with an N-P-K ratio of 3-1-2, 3-0-2 or multiples of those ratios.

Choose “no phosphorus” lawn fertilizers with N-P-K ratios like x-0-x. Phosphorus in fertilizers is not allowed in some locations to protect water quality.

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