Healthy Soil, Healthy Lawn
The foundation of your lawn is the soil. Especially in the Willamette Valley where soils are generally heavy clay it is important to take certain steps to ensure good soil and therefore a healthy happy lawn.
- Aerate – Aeration reduces compaction and increases drainage and water’s ability to move through the soil. Use an aerator that removes a plug of soil, then rake in Soil Building Compost after aeration to fill holes and incorporate organic material into your soil.
- Beneficial Microbes – Healthy soil is an ecosystem of good bacteria and fungi. These beneficial microbes increase a plant’s ability absorb water and nutrients from the soil. Adding well-rotted compost, Earthworm Castings, Compost Tea, or Soil Activator are all options for increase beneficial microbes in your soil.
Water and Fertilizer
Lawns need the proper amounts of water and fertilizer applied at the correct times. Incorrect applications of fertilizer and water not only wastes money and resources but can actually increase the risk of disease.
Water – Lawns have shallow root systems, water only needs to reach about 4-6 inches to reach the vast majority of the active root system. Ideally water about 1 inch, once or twice a week. This deep watering encourages deeper roots that can withstand drought and stress making your lawn stronger and better adapted to our long dry summers. Watering too much can leach nutrients and drown your lawn, watering too little can cause it to go dormant.
Fertilizer – There are many different lawn fertilizers available. For the Growing Season (Mid-March through Late August) a fertilizer with high nitrogen (N-P-K), a medium amount of potassium (N-P-K), and a small amount of phosphorus (N-P-K). A fertilizer with 6-2-3 is ideal or multiples thereof (12-4-6 or 18-6-9 etc.). In addition it’s best to have a mix of fast and slow release nutrients.
Fertilizers for the Dormant Season (September through Mid-March) should generally have less nitrogen and more potassium and phosphorus, and should be composed of just slow release type fertilizer. Dormant fertilizers are generally only applied once ideally around the end September, they are usually called Winterizer.
Lime is an important nutrient addition to lawns. It should be added at a rate of about 20 lbs. to 1,000 square feet. It is generally applied twice a year in spring and fall. Lime is important because it makes other nutrients in the soil more available to the grass.
Mowing – If you raise your lawnmower blade to 3 – 4 inches above grade you can double or triple your root mass, making your lawn more resistant to drought and more able to collect available nutrients.