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I detest grass. I liken it to a miniature forest of running bamboo that requires constant attention. Fescue and perennial rye seek to overtake my beds and borders while I’m not watching. Although my secret goal is to eradicate the small pools of kelly green with choice specimens, they still exist for my husband’s putting practice.

A Change of Heart 

My husband adores lawn chemicals to keep the grass ‘putting grass green’ yearlong. After enrolling into Oregon State University’s Master Gardener program, I replaced all synthetic fertilizers and pest control methods with organics and hand weeding practices. What I prefer about organics is I can place them in my hands. They smell good. My health along with neighborhood pets and children are not negatively affected.

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Hand Weeding

Most fall lawn synthetics are packaged as “Weed and Feed” products. A great clue if your lawn is lacking calcium, you will generally have a bumper crop of dandelions (Taraxacum officinale). To organically eradicate dandelions, I place eggs shells around them. The leaves turn black and shrivel. Otherwise, I hand weed using Fiskars UpRoot® Weed & Root Remover – it is a wondrous tool and back saver. Hand weeding definitely takes more time, but can be very relaxing and puts you more in touch with nature and your surroundings.

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What is NPK?

NPK stands for the ratio of Nitrogen (N) / Phosphorus (P) / Potasium (K) provided in a fertilizer. Reading fertilizers at the local garden store is akin to reviewing supermarket food labels.  The trick is to remember low numbers are generally organic and high numbers can indicate synthetics.

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For example: alfalfa meal has an NPK ratio of 2 / 0.5 / 2. A synthetic fertilizer may have an NPK ratio of 16 / 10 / 16. Organics provide food to plants much slower than synthetics because they break down slower in the soil. Synthetic usage is similar to putting plants on steroids, but they do have their place. They are great for summer annuals - but not perennials, trees or shrubs.

Lawn Booster Recipe

Pacific Northwest lawns in Sunset Zone 6 thrive using this organic lawn care recipe.

Description
Provides
 NPK Ratios
Reasons
1 carton of Epsom Salts
(located in supermarket or drug store)
Magnesium  N/A Clay soils lack trace minerals. Promotes strong, healthy root systems.
1 box Alfalfa Meal Nitrogen 2 / 0.5 / 2 Growth vigor and color intensity.
1 box Bloodmeal Nitrogen 13 / 0 / 0 Healthy blade growth, green color and vigor.
1 box Bone Meal Calcium, Phosphorus 3 / 15 / 0 Dandelion weed reduction. Promotes root growth.
1 box Dolomite Lime pH Adjuster, Calcium, Magnesium N/A PNW soils are more acidic due to the rainfall. Lime neutralizes the soil.
1 box Garden Gypsum Clay busterCalcium, Sulfur N/A  Assists in breaking up clay soils.
1 bag Pacific NW Grass Seed Mix Overseeding N/A Overseed once in October and March.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Application Tips

Fall is fast approaching. Days without precipitation are dwindling quickly. I watch the weather report anxiously for a dry afternoon followed by a rainy day for optimal application timing. I’m not one for measuring, so an entire box of each ingredient is liberally mixed into Scotts® Speedy Green 3000 spreader. The mixture can be dusty. If needed, wear a mask when assembling in the spreader. Apply on a calm, non-windy day.

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The spreader setting is placed on eight (8) - which covers approximately 1,000 square feet. Due to the nitrogen application, the grass will color up nicely in about three to four weeks followed by fresh, new growth.

Your challenge will not be the envious neighbors, but rather convincing your significant other to move the lawn mower height adjustment to a higher level. A lawnmower attached to my overzealous husband hands has spoiled fantastic results by mower blade settings too low. Shearing too close to the ground results in a very brown landscape quickly. Consequently, the grass will need mowed more often at a higher setting.
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Apply lawn booster recipe once in early fall and mid-Spring for optimal results. By promoting healthy root systems, weed reduction and relying less on synthetics - we enjoy a healthier ecosystem in our own backyard. And my husband’s putting greens never looked better as can yours.

BeeDazzled Gardens & Designs
Specializes in creating fragrant, organic, low maintenance garden vignettes that add value and pleasure to a home or business exterior and landscape. Our specialty is staged, perennial bed planting designs, seasonal potted containers and garden renovations.


Photo credit on all photos: Dawn Hummel


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