Wow...we have just been through Snowmaggedon 2019 and the 3rd coldest February on record. I don't know about you, but I am definitely ready for spring!
What tasks await you in the garden this season? Very soon the ground will be soft enough to plant many of the delicious garden vegetables. You might have already started growing flower seeds indoors. Those can be transplanted in the garden in April. Once you have pruned your roses, it will be time to start feeding them. A good quality organic rose fertilizer will help out greatly, as producing all those beautiful blooms takes a good deal of effort for the plant. And then, once the flowers have been planted and received your nurturing touch, it will be time to focus in another direction: Lawn care management.
This time of year, your lawn is begging for attention, but what does it need? In spring, the lawn looks it’s worst. Even after the needed raking and removal of debris, there is still more to do to ensure it is healthy for the coming months when you will want a thick and beautiful outdoor carpet. With a little care, we can help you get it looking lush and ready to grow.
Parenting 101 for the lawn
First, let's find your lawn's pH. A simple pH test kit from a garden center or big box store will do the trick. It will have capsules filled with powder and a test gauge with levels marked for soil and water. Follow the directions and you will learn just how acidic your lawn really is. Most lawns around here run well into the acid range. It’s a result of our beautiful conifers, significant rains, and native soils. Included in the test kit will be information about the amount of pelletized lime to add, provided you are brave enough to calculate square footage. Information is also available from many extension services like the one from Oregon State University.
Planting grass seed: shade vs. sun
Is your lawn looking thin in places? Now is the perfect time for overseeding. If there are thin spots, the first warm wet spring months are perfect for seeding them. Lawn seed comes in many different types, but basically, it all falls into two categories: sun and shade. Shade seed will work just fine in the sun, but the opposite is not necessarily true. The seed marketed as “seed for direct sun” will generally take more traffic than the shade varieties. That means if your yard endures a lot of foot traffic, a rambunctious pet, extra stress during the year, or you are generally tough on your lawn...think SUN. For most lawns, I usually plant seeds for shade. A one-fourth inch layer of compost or straw over the top will help keep the new seed moist and discourage hungry birds.
Feed the lawn
Spring is also the time to begin the lawn fertilizer regimen. I recommend using a somewhat balanced organic lawn fertilizer. The balanced part means the nitrogen-phosphorus-potassium levels are closer to even, like 4-2-4 and not 28-0-3. The latter is almost for sure a synthetic fertilizer. Many pros will tell you nitrogen is nitrogen, which is true; but burning a lawn with organic fertilizer is much harder to do. The secret to working with any amendment product is knowing the square footage of the area you are working with, and following the directions on the bag or box. (Yes...it really is important to follow the directions!)
I recommend giving your lawn a little break between lime, seed, and fertilizer unless you really know what you are doing. Too many applications all at once can be a bit overwhelming. Feed and water the lawn, but do so with care.
For help with lawn care management or any other spring garden maintenance, contact Lori at Environmental Construction Inc. We have a garden stewardship team that is here for you and ready for planting. Request a consultation. No job is too big or too small...and every question deserves an answer.