In the Pacific Northwest, we see a lot of green and for the most part growing is easy, but lawn care does not always come naturally -- it takes skill and a bit of good-weather fortune. Many of us find ourselves regularly coaxing the grass to grow faster than the weeds...or moss...or fungi...or bare spots.
For the frustrated gardener who needs a bit more encouragement and some helpful advice, here are just a few quick tips to keep the lawn thick, green, and healthy during the upcoming summer. Environmental Construction Inc. does not provide “lawn care service” per se, but we do know a thing or two about lawn care and are happy to share our expertise.
(NOTE: To clarify, we typically do not offer the stnadard "mow and blow" lawn care service, but we do plant new lawns and repair existing ones as part of a landscape design project.)
Lawns need sun
Do you have an area of lawn that has never really done all that well? Take a look and make sure it is not spending most of its day lounging in the shade. If that is the case, it may be time to design a new little shade garden in that spot.
To stay healthy in our area, most lawns need an absolute minimum of 5 hours of sunlight each day. If you have a section of lawn that you have to rework every spring, a lack of direct sun may be the cause. Take a look around the solstice -- we are fast approaching the time of year when we get the most daylight per day. If you have an area that isn’t getting sun now, chances are it is starved for sun all year.
Watch for low spots
As with everything, too much of a good thing…is too much! The same is true for water. If the ground is not level and water pools in an area, the grass can suffocate and die. Solve this issue with a French drain or level out the low spot by adding topsoil, a little sand, and some organic compost (mmm…yum!) mixed with new grass seed.
Raise lawn mower cut height
I realize there is a temptation to give the lawn a deep haircut so maybe you won’t have to mow again for a couple weeks, but resist the temptation. Set the lawnmower cut height nice and high. Keeping a lawn closer to 3 inches is really helpful for a number of reasons; it retains moisture, discourages weeds, and allows the lawn to gather more sun…and we already know how much it loves the sun.
Leave the lawn clippings
If possible, use a mulching lawn mower and leave the clippings to form a nice light blanket on the lawn. Remember to leave the clippings on if possible. Having a mulching mower that cuts the lawn clippings up nice and fine will really help with this
Cut the lawn regularly
This is where many readers will want to stop reading. I’ve lost many friends at this point in the blog, but if you really want a nice-looking lawn, you need to cut it regularly. Grass grows best when kept as close to 3-inches in height as possible, but let it grow too long and the clippings can begin to smother your handiwork. It’s a delicate balance.
We have all seen lawns that get way too long, then end up with yellowed-out patches when mowed because they had gone so long without being cut. Irrigated lawns usually want mowing weekly here in the Pacific Northwest. If you are not dumping water on the lawn you may only have to run around and lop the heads off the dandelions until mid-august.
It is tempting to use a little extra product to help things along, and choosing organic products gives you a much larger safety net when it comes to lawn chemistry. Remember, all the plants in your yard are living things, and if you listen and observe you have a better chance of getting them what they need – the right amount of sun, shade, food and water.
Good luck and keep those thumbs green.