A GROWING CONCERN: The grass can be greener on your side

THE RAIN IS starting — soon it will fall upon us in full force!

This means for the next 6 to 8 weeks, your grass will grow like crazy.

With this absolutely ideal grass growing season upon us, I give you my “Magnificent Seven” surefire tricks to turn your turf into the greenest, weed-free lawn in the entire neighborhood next spring.

With envy in their hearts, your neighbors will be asking, “How do you do it?”

Here’s how, listed in level of importance:

1. Raise the mower up.

The ideal cut is at a height of 3¾ inches or more. “The taller the mow, the better the grow.”

The higher the height of the grass blades, the more weeds are naturally suppressed, the less water it requires and the greener the grass becomes.

2. Multi-directional cut pattern.

All professional sports fields are cut in a four directional pattern:

• Right to left

• Up and down

• Diagonally, left to right

• Diagonally, right to left

• Repeat

This four directional cut does a couple of things. First, no push down. Cutting the lawn the same way pushes over or lays down the grass, causing a matting effect. Second, changing up the way you mow does not create ruts in the lawn, which compacts soil and causes poor fertility.

Try this beneficial trick this week and start with a diagonal cut.

3. Lime.

This easy to apply and cost-effective trick rounds out on the top three of The Magnificent Seven.

Grass adores a neutral or ever-so-slightly alkaline soil, yet our soils here on the Peninsula are acidic in nature. Acidic conditions also bind up the nitrogen and grass is a nitrogen glutton.

Add lime for the beneficial results of both a greener grass and a better root system.

4. Over-seed.

Here is the best weed control technique to employ on your lawn. Every spring (early March) or, even better, spring and fall (end of October), over-seed your entire lawn with the highest quality grass seed available.

Get seed with a 92 percent to 98 percent germination rate and a weed seed count far less than 1 percent. Do this and enjoy a thick, lush lawn that when mowed tall will stamp out nasty weeds.

5. Go organic.

If you are not using organic fertilizer and spreading chemical moss and weed killers, you are killing the soil and turning your lawn into an addict for artificial fertilizers.

Chemical fertilizers increase acidity and kill the beneficial microbes in sod, which are dependent on natural soil fertility. Besides, the runoff does might go into our waterways.

6. Sharpen the blades.

A dull blade shatters the tips of the grasses rather than shearing the grass off. A shattered tip turns brown for ⅛- to a ¼-inch, creating a brown tinge that appears over the entire lawn. Your lawn is full of rocks, debris, twigs and mole mounds, so sharpen your blade a couple of times a year. Better yet, buy a second pair of lawn mower blades and rotate them out to get sharpened anew at your local service center.

7. Be tolerant.

In other words, “just chill out.” Grass, remember, is an acronym for “Grueling Repetitive Annual Seasonal Service.”

You will always have a few weeds and the lawn will always need to be mowed (or let it go naturally brown during the summer), so just relax. It is only grass.

Enjoy the finer aspects of life, follow all these suggestions and truly reap the rewards as The Magnificent Seven ride again.

So, find an outlet for your organic fertilizers, locate a good blade-sharpening service, price the most economic lime per pound and put a new lawn mower on the Christmas list for Santa this year.

And please, stay well all!


Andrew May is a freelance writer and ornamental horticulturist who dreams of having Clallam and Jefferson counties nationally recognized as “Flower Peninsula USA.” Send him questions c/o Peninsula Daily News, P.O. Box 1330, Port Angeles, WA 98362, or email news@peninsuladailynews.com (subject line: Andrew May).

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