Evergreen trees kill lawn grasses. The needles of the trees contain high amounts of acidity. If you must grow grass underneath these trees, use a bagging mower and replant four times a year with perennial rye grass. Don’t forget to water regularly, because the tree may restrict natural rainfall. Remember that the tree adds value to your property, so don’t just remove it on a whim. Trees also absorb noise from nearby traffic.
Yes. Turf grass is a unique plant. When water is not available, it dehydrates itself. Then when water becomes available, it rehydrates itself. All other plants when dehydrated become compost. You should prepare your lawn for dormancy by having as healthy a lawn as possible. A weak lawn in dormancy will be susceptible to weed infestation and traffic damage. A healthy lawn can tolerate summer/winter stresses.
Leaves come in two shapes when they drop from trees: flat and rounded. Flat leaves, such as those from maple trees lie flat on the ground, and when they become wet, they form a tight layer over the grass. This can smother the grass. Rake these or mow them to ensure your grass can breathe through the winter. Rounded leaves, such as those from oak trees, do not form a tight layer on the grass unless they are too thick. It is still best to rake or mow them to maintain a healthy lawn. Small leaves, such as those from locust trees, are small enough that they do not present a problem.
The area between your irrigation heads that isn’t covered by the sprinkler heads or is caused by an environmental factor like a tree standing in the way. It can also be an area of your lawn that repels water, for instance, a large clay deposit.
Improper coverage from irrigation heads or from moving the sprinkler to different areas and not following the same pattern. You can also have a higher clay content or soil compaction in one area due to traffic patterns of people or pets on your lawn.
Yes. I find aeration and adding organic lawn fertilizer or a fine compost allows the water to penetrate those dry spots.

An introduced species that, in its larvae form, can be very destructive to your lawn. European Crane Fly damage usually happens to stressed lawns, shady areas, and areas with poor drainage. The roots of the lawn rot all winter and become very susceptible to damage. Many new housing developments are devoid of organic material. The sod has been laid on the hard pan with one inch of man-made topsoil. Indicators of Crane Fly infestation would be starlings pecking on your lawn. Crane Fly levels become damaging to turf when more than 30 larvae are present per one square ft.

For more information on the Crane Fly, check out the following:

When considering sod, ask to see a report of what’s in the sod’s soil. Ask for a guarantee of quality. What kind of condition has the sod been cut in. Check the sod out when it’s delivered. If it’s been raining it could be much heavier than normal.

Was it grown on heavy clay that’s heavily treated with lime? Is the soil already cracking? Are all the pallets of sod uniform? If it’s hot outside, imagine how hot it is at the bottom of the pallet. Don’t let the pallet sit there on a hot day for hours on end. Sod can’t be beat for instant results. Also many new housing developments require a front lawn by sod only.

The best months are March, April, May, June, September and the first half of October.
When you don’t have your irrigation system working and the lawn is dry. August is a bad time of year because of heavy heat stress. November to February is a poor time of year to sod your lawn because of freezing conditions and heavy rains.
Dog urine often creates big dead spots in the lawn. This is caused by the concentrated nitrogen in the urine. Mature male dogs mark their territory, so less urine is deposited at a time. Heavily fertilized, newly sodded yards and stressed lawns are most susceptible to urine spots. Try diluting the spot with water after the dog has urinated or replant with perennial rye grass, which is more tolerant of heavy nitrogen. Also, using organic fertilizers or fertilizers with lower nitrogen levels may reduce severity of spotting.
Raise the cutting height to 2.5 inches to reduce stress on the grass plant. This will leave more leaf surface and maximize root mass.
If you sharpen your own blade, don’t forget to balance the blade to prevent engine shaft damage. Reduce the number of mowings to minimize the amount of water lost due to evaporation.
Make sure your sprinkler system has a rain sensor to help you on your water bill. Flag your sprinkler system heads in summer, then take a picture showing all your flagged heads. When your system is first turned on in spring, any non-operating heads will be easier to locate. Plug drip irrigation emitters for plants that no longer exist.

Irrigation is important for maintaining ideal growing conditions throughout the year. Conditions that affect how much you have to water your lawn include higher temperatures, humidity, wind speed, and the depth of your grass’s roots; also how fast is your lawn growing. Ideally, your sprinkler system is replacing the water that your lawn is losing through evaporation and drainage. It is best to water deeply and infrequently, to the depth of your lawn’s root zone.

If your lawn has very shallow roots and forms puddles quickly or is on a steep slope, then light and frequent watering is best.

Shallow rooting, yellowing, and poor stress tolerances can result.

by creating thousands of individual reservoirs that hold or introduce water into your lawn’s root zone.

EcoLawn is a seed mix developed by Tom Cook at O.S.U. This seed results in an enviromentally friendly lawn which should be mowed between four to six inches high. The mix contains perenial rye grass and fescue, yarrow, english daisy, and strawberry clover. It requires less water and fertilizer and is traffic tolerant if cut high. This is not for people who want a traditional manicured lawn.

Red thread is a turfgrass disease caused by a fungus and is commonly found on fescue and ryegrasses. Red thread develops most during periods of high moisture and cool temperatures. The effects are most noticeable during spring and fall when the disease is well developed. Light pink to red strands become visible on the lawn. Red thread can be reduced by maintaining adequate levels of nitrogen. Proper fertilization reduces red thread.

May or June is the best time of year to kill dandelions – when the plant is growing aggressively. When there is enough moisture and heat for rapid plant growth, the herbicide will get a high kill rate with minimum use.

Corn gluten is a less toxic weed control product which is produced as a byproduct of the cornmeal process. Corn gluten lets weed seed germinate but inhibits secondary root growth. The first root growth cannot support plant health; therefore the weed or plant dies.

This is used as a preemergant so it can prevent grass seed from germinating (that’s bad). Timing is critical. Check with the Washington State extension service for best results and practices. This product does not kill existing weeds.

Walt’s Organics in Ballard carries this product and so do many upscale nurseries.

It is best to have a curvilinear lawn edge on a flowerbed. When a straight edge gets out of line its easy to notice and hard to correct.

  • Sharpen and balance lawnmower blade after first cut
  • Change spark plug and check air filter
  • Does mower have fresh gas and clean oil?

That is a common myth, but it does not create thatch. When finely graded mulch is applied properly, it helps fertilize your lawn. I suggest you read my article on Sustainable Lawns: http://lawntuneups.com/sustainable-lawns

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