As much as we love our lawns, they do take a lot of work to keep them healthy and looking good. We also should care for them in ways that keep children and pets healthy, and keep runoff from our yards and driveways clean. Runoff from our yards and streets does not go to a sewage treatment plant like the water from our sinks and showers. Clean runoff helps lakes, streams and Puget Sound have enough oxygen for fish to breathe. Here are some tips to consider in caring for your lawn:
Two to three inches of grass height allow the grass blades to shade each other and keep in moisture.
Leave Clippings on the Lawn (Mulch Mow)
Mulch mowers are designed to be used without a bag. They chop up and blow the clippings into the lawn where nutrients and moisture make the lawn healthier, saving you the cost of fertilizer and water. A push mower can be used the same way.
If you Fertilize, Use Organic, "Slow-Release" Fertilizer
Healthy lawns in the Pacific Northwest are a light meadow green. Fertilize in September when lawns are building root reserves for the next year. If you wish to fertilize twice, apply in May, but moderately, as grass grows heavily in the springtime.
Improve Lawns by Aerating
Thick turf acts as a barrier to water. Use a hand or mechanical aerator to make small holes in the soil to allow grass roots to get the oxygen and water they need. Aerating encourages healthy lawn growth and means less water is needed in summer. Overseed in fall or spring to reduce bare patches and replace older grasses that have stopped growing well.
Only Water Once a Week
Lawns need only about one inch of water each week in summer, including rain, to stay green. The rest of the year, rainfall is enough. For lawns that don't get heavy use, you can let them go gold and dormant; water them once a month, and they'll bounce back in the fall.
Avoid Using Weed-and-Feed on Lawns
Accept a few weeds, and crowd out problems by growing a dense, healthy lawn. Weed-and-feed-type products spread a pesticide on the whole yard, not just the weeds, and are an unnecessary expense. Improper application can cause water pollution and put kids, pets, and wildlife at risk.
Reduce Lawn Size
Native trees and shrubs, once they are established, require less time and energy than lawn maintenance. Many people also are discovering the joy and nutritional benefits that come from setting aside a portion of the yard to grow a vegetable garden or fruit trees. Either way, you’ll spend less time mowing, watering, and fertilizing grass.
More detailed information on Natural Yard Care is available here: Natural Yard and Garden Care
This page provides information and programs related to environmentally-friendly gardening and yard care.