03 Aug Seattle Lawn Care – Expert Tips
Every Summer people start fretting about lawns. They are too wet, too dry, inexplicably dying, and dandelions have broken out like hives. How do the neighbors have such gorgeous lawns? Let’s look at the basics.
Here in Seattle, we’re kind of known for our abundant rain. That does not mean you are off the hook. Healthy grass wants about an inch of water per week. So, pay attention to the weather. Think in seasons. Spring, the grass is all baby plants. Water slowly, to give the soil a chance to drink the water. On average, you will need to water about twice a week. Water needs will likely go up to three times per week in the summer, but a healthy lawn really should not need more. In late summer, some choose to let their lawns go dormant. This is a perfectly healthy choice to conserve water, but time it. Most grasses can tolerate about four weeks. The plants will begin to go brown, as they conserve their own energy in preserving their roots. These are healthy plants. Resist the temptation to push past the few weeks of dormancy. If the grass roots die, you will have the unhappy job of starting from scratch. End of the summer is a good time, as it feeds into the rainy season.
The rule of thumb here is that grass roots are about as long as grass plants. Mowing too short will keep the roots from developing. Aim for about two inch grass. Once a week will do it for most lawns most of the year. You don’t want to have to take off more than a third of the plant, because that can shock the plants. Since we are aiming for two inches, mow when it is three inches tall.
Plants need food. Yes, they are going to make their own. Yes, letting the grass clipping compost will help. But most grasses want a little extra. Feed those plants in the Spring and Fall. In our area, late April and mid-September. For struggling lawns and new lawns, consider a winter treatment as well. Use a winter specific fertilizer in November or December.
This is the biggie. Thatch is a tangled mess of dead and live roots, stems, and plant crowns. When the thatch is about a half inch thick, it is a healthy part of your lawn ecosystem. It will help protect against temperature and moisture extremes. Unfortunately, if it gets too thick, the thatch can prevent water and nutrients from reaching the roots. Over-watering, as you might expect in the rainy season, is one of the main causes of too much thatch. Most do not have to dethatch every year. Always check. All your hard work watering and feeding and mowing will be for nothing, if the thatch is too thick. If dethatching is necessary, you will want to do it in the Fall.
If you can stay on top of these four things, your lawn will thank you.