To have green grass or not? | Gardner Joe

Northwest lawns are starting to go dormant. Keeping them green is nothing less than a challenge this time of the year as they suffer from the driest time of year in the Pacific Northwest. But with a few changes in your lawncare practices such as mowing with the blade set higher and water for a longer period of time, less frequently, you will be going in the right direction. The standard is a total of one inch a week.

I like it when the lawns go dormant. It tells me it is time to spend time focused on pruning. Plants do need some water during our dry spells. But be careful; know your plant because disease and insects are active this time of the year. Overwatering can put stress on the plant and the resulting depression can invit insects and diseases to come in.

Previously, I went over mulching your plants. Mulch holds moisture in the soil; it feeds the plant and has an ability to reduce the amount of weeds growing in your yards and gardens. With these dry, hot days of mid August, working on the weeds is a lot of work. Have the right tools, such as weed pulling tools. Keep organic herbicides, such as white vinegar and a product called Burn out 2, on hand. Be careful and always the read labels.

Safety should always be your number one priority and herbicides should only be used as a last resort. More of anything is generally not better. One final note on lawns, please stay away from weed and feeds. It is overkill, and exposes children and pets to pesticides.

Contact your local Master Gardeners’ office for publications about weed and feed. If you have weeds all over your lawn, take long-term steps to improve soil quality. Wait until fall to top dress your lawn with some nice compost and feed the soil. It will take some time to get it in top shape but it will happen. Being a natural and  organic gardener takes patience.

Happy gardening,

Gardener Joe

Joe Machcinski is owner of Pangea Garden-scapes. He can be reached at (360) 990-3035 or


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