Green Grows the Lawn
March 12, 2020
Green Grows the Lawn
From Wahkiakum Master Gardeners
We all have visions of a swath of the perfect green lawns. They can require constant care, a ton of money and countless hours of time.
Here are some suggestions to make lawn care a less stressful endeavor.
Choose the right grass for your area. Consider the climate- hot, cold, wet, dry. How much sun or shade? Does your site get rough use, heavy traffic, some coarse textured grass doesn’t mind some abuse. Steep slopes, rocky areas and paths are not good locations for grass, use some other planting in those areas or consider stepping stones or gravel for pathways.
Cool weather grasses including Kentucky bluegrass, perennial ryes, bentgrass and fescue mixes grow well in northern climates. They start early in the spring and stay green longer in the fall. In the heat of the summer they may go dormant and turn brown but will green up again when the weather cools and they break dormancy.
Go Organic! Organic fertilizers release nutrients slowly over time to provide long-term nutrition, improve soil and encourage soil life,such as worms, predatory ground beetles and fungus. Mulching blades on the mower chop the grass blades into small bits which can be left on the ground to degrade. Grass fertilizing itself. Chemical fertilizers tend to dissolve instantly and then leach off into water run off. Chemicals in fertilizer, herbicides and pesticides affect the good and bad indiscriminately.
Don’t scalp the lawn. Set you mower blades up to 2½ to 3”. The longer the grass blades, the more quickly the roots can recover and the plant to grow. Too low and the grass roots can’t replenish themselves, resulting in short weak roots.
Get to know your weeds. Healthy soil and proper maintenance will go a long way towards controlling weeds. Longer grass blade length will help shade out and prevent weeds from germinating.
Weeds, any unwanted plant, can provide clues to the quality of the soil. Weeds as indicators of soil conditions will help you improve the health of the lawn. You may never beat the “battle of the weeds” but you can take steps to reduce their impact.
A few examples of common weeds and the soil conditions they prefer:
Moss, buttercup, sedge and crabgrass may indicate a shady, acid, infertile soil, poor drainage.
Nutsedge indicates a soil that is too wet and poorly drained.
Crabgrass indicates that the turf is not dense and healthy, you may be mowing too low to shade out new seeds from germinating, poor fertility.
Dandelions may indicate a potassium deficiency though they will grow in many conditions.
Plantians, quack grass, nettle, thistle and bindweed grow in heavy and in compacted soil.