I do NOT have a love affair with grass: my green conscience tweaks at the water use and food necessary to grow it. Begrudgingly, our backyard is primarily lawn, because despite being my less than favorite plant, it IS wonderful to have with kiddos and pets. Like any true green-happy person, how do you go about maintaining a nice lawn without pouring nasty chemicals and fertilizers and excessive amounts of water into it? It is possible! My neighbor has lamented,” how is it YOUR lawn looks so nice this time of year with almost no effort and ours is in shambles when we put so much more time into it?!” So here are some tips on how to save time, money, and the environment while maintaining a healthy lawn in the northwest:
- This is the perfect time of year to aerate your lawn. Aerating will open lots of little holes in your lawn for applying food and top dressings. I do it at least once, sometimes twice a year (Spring and Fall). Do NOT rake the plugs of grass up!
- After aerating apply an organic fertilizer (two cost-effective options: Lowes carries at least 2 different granular fertilizers that are pet and kid safe and labeled ‘organic’ (under $20 for a large bag), or Alaskan fish fertilizer, applied with a liquid fertilizer sprayer on the end of your hose. 3 times a season.
- Dump and spread bags of manure or compost right onto your lawn after aerating and rake the it right into the holes (most of it, some will remain on top, just make sure the grass blades are not buried). This is important. Any plant is only as healthy as the soil underneath it. If you want your grass to be healthy and resistant to stress conditions, it will always perform better when the roots are well established and happy in quality soil rich in hummus. This top dressing helps to improve the overall quality of the soil under your grass. If you know your soil has never been improved, do this in the Spring and Fall.
- Healthy lawns need only 1″ of water a week in hot temperatures (this includes rain fall) Set a cup or can out while watering to measure how much water has been deposited to make sure. Resist the temptation to over-water!! In the summer, I water every 5 days for 15 minutes. THAT IS IT!! This will saves you loads in water usage. Please don’t turn and sprinklers on yet!! Wait till the rains stop!
- Lastly, instead of catching all the cut grass in a bag when you mow, use a mulching mower which cuts the blades up into small pieces and deposits the remains right back onto your lawn. This is food, and it is protection for the roots in warmer conditions.
You’ll have a much healthier lawn in no time, and be spending more time and money where you really want to be spending it!