Opinion

Gardener Joe | Spring is the time to thatch your lawn

As the temperature warms and the sight of spring approaches, it’s time to think about turning your moss carpet into a nice and natural turf again.

I like to begin thatching my lawn starting in mid-March through the beginning of May. Hold off putting chemicals down. They only work right if the moss is loosened up or agitated.

And for a natural lawn only use a safe and organic product. Read the label and understand all safety involved in handling the product. Evaluate the areas you wish to thatch.

It may also be time to create the flower beds or garden structures you’ve always wanted. Did you install an irrigation system? Do that first.

I like to first mark all irrigation heads with flags. You can turn on your irrigation system to mark and clean all the heads in the lawn. But keep the system off until May or June. If we lack rain then use the system.

After you’ve marked all heads in the lawn, it is time to start up the thatching machine. Do a lap around the whole lawn as if you were going to start mowing. Then do a straight line back and forth on the whole lawn. Rake up all the debris and get it off the lawn. I like to put it in my compost pile and let it rot.

Then run the machine on the lawn back and forth in the other direction. That way you get a double whammy. After that is raked up, spread a nice thin layer of compost for lawns on your lawn. Do this if the lawn is real thin and you need to add nutrients. If the lawn is pretty healthy, over seed it with a cool season grass like fine fescues, and turf type tall fescues.

When choosing seed make sure it is weed free. And only use seed that is made for the Northwest. Is your yard sunny or does it has shade? Evaluate before you buy.

I like to aerate after May and not when you thatch. The machines compact the soil and you need to wait until things dry up a bit. I wait to fertilize the lawn in May with an organic fertilizer which in turn feeds the soil biology.

The plants to prune now are anything that just got done blooming. Remember to not top things and use sharp pruners. A rule of thumb is to not take out more than a third at a time.

Reader’s questions:

Q. What can I do to be a green gardener when insects are a problem?

A. I like to plant companion things in areas where insects are a problem. For example I planted some herbs next to my fruit trees. The good bugs feed on the bad bugs because they are food that the good ones like. Or you can encourage birds to come in. Plant a concoction of things that all creatures will be happy with.

Happy gardening to you and yours, Gardener Joe.

You can email Gardener Joe at besthands@aol.com.

 

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