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Ideas and Tips

Fall Care for Lush Lawns
Did you know that fall is the most important time of the year to ensure a robust, healthy lawn through the summer? Read more.

Q: What kind of lawn fertilizer should I use? Read tips.
Q: What do I do about moss in my lawn? Read tips.
Q: What can I do about mushrooms in my yard? Read tips.
Q: What is red thread? Read tips.
Q: How do I reseed my lawn? Read tips.
Q: What do I do about thatch? Read tips.
Q: How can I control weeds in my lawn? Read tips.

Want to have your questions answered? Have tips to share at our Green Thumbs' Forum? Drop us a line!

Q: What kind of lawn fertilizer should I use?
A: We recommend the use of organic fertilizers whenever possible. Organics break down more slowly, providing a constant level of soil fertility. Some evidence also indicates that organically fed lawns have fewer disease problems in the long run.

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Q: What do I do about moss in my lawn?
A: Moss in the lawn is a common, easily cured problem. It develops chiefly for four reasons:

  • Low soil fertility (lawn needs more fertilizer)
  • Soil too moist (lawn needs better drainage)
  • Soil too acid/ low pH (lawn needs more lime)
  • Too much shade

To kill the existing moss, you may use Lilly Miller Moss-Out, Worry Free Moss & Algae Control, or Bonide Moss Maxx. To help prevent moss from coming back, aerate yearly or every other year, apply dolomite lime each spring, and follow a regular fertilizing schedule. Lime not only stabilizes the pH, it also adds the nutrients calcium and magnesium, which are leached out by our heavy winter rains. Shade is best dealt with by limbing-up or thinning out trees and shrubs, and by yearly reseeding with more shade-tolerant grasses such as Sky’s Custom Shade Blend, Water Warden, or Play and Fun Blend.

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Q: What can I do about mushrooms in my yard?
A: Mushrooms do not normally damage grass or other plants. The only problem is aesthetic. In fact, fungi are decomposers, breaking down thatch and other dead matter; they can make nutrients more available to plants. So if you can, just live with it. If you find it unsightly or are concerned about toxins, one solution is to just mow or break off the mushrooms.

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Q: What is red thread?
A: Red thread is a common Northwest turf fungus spread by wind and rain during conditions of high humidity and cool weather when grass is growing slowly. It appears as areas of cream to coral fuzz over irregular patches of lawn. Underfed and underlimed turf is most susceptible to it. Although the disease is not fatal, it can make your grass look rather sad.

The best treatment is to mow 30% shorter than usual (be sure to collect and dispose of the clippings) and give the lawn a good application of fertilizer and lime to help it outgrow the fungus. Organic fertilization has been shown in studies to help lawns resist red thread. Continue to feed every 30 to 60 days until the red thread is gone. When watering, long infrequent soakings are best. If chemical control is needed, Bonide Fungenil, Bayer Advanced Fungus Control, and Bonide Systemic Infuse are listed as preventative controls.

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Q: How do I reseed my lawn?
A: Reseeding/renovating your lawn is best done April through October (depending on rainfall). First, aerate any compacted areas with a device that removes plugs of dirt, and thatch if necessary. Mow the lawn about 30% shorter than normal. Fill in any low spots with Sky Premium Planting Mix. If the depth of the fill is more than 2", roll with a partially-filled water roller to compact the soil. Apply seed, lime, and starter fertilizer, cover with peat moss or Grass Mulch and thoroughly water. Keep moist for 2-4 weeks. (It is time to water whenever the peat moss changes color from dark to light brown.) Fertilize again in about a month with a regular lawn fertilizer - NOT a Weed and Feed.

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Q: What do I do about thatch?
A:Over time some lawns develop a layer of old roots and grass stems between the grass and the soil surface called “thatch”. If this layer becomes too thick (¾” or more), water, air, and fertilizer cannot reach the grass roots and the lawn begins to thin out, especially in the summer. Keeping your grass mowed to a uniform height (2-3”) year round and using an organic fertilizer such as Dr. Earth or Down To Earth can help prevent thatch from accumulating. If your soil is in good shape, grass blades do not contribute to thatch because they are 99% water and fertilizer. If you mow without a grass catcher, mow more frequently so that the cut blades are smaller, and keep your mower sharp.

If you do have a problem layer of thatch, remove it with a thatching rake or a power thatcher. For heavy buildups, cross-raking will be necessary. The lawn will look thin and sparse. Follow the directions for RESEEDING, and your lawn should quickly regenerate.

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Q: How can I control weeds in my lawn?
Many common lawn weeds (e.g. dandelions) are effectively controlled though consistent fertilization. They thrive under conditions of low fertility. Broadleaf weeds are best controlled from late spring through early fall by physical removal or by a weed killer. Granular weed and feed products work on the larger leaf weeds like dandelions but not on small leaf plants like clover. Liquid weed killers/herbicides such as Bayer All-In-One Lawn Weed & Crabgrass Killer™ used on warm, dry days work on both. Most herbicides work best at temperatures between 65°F and 75°F. Bonide has developed a lawn weed killer, Weed Beater Ultra™, which is effective in cooler temperatures (down to 45°F). Follow label directions carefully, particularly regarding rain or watering. Also, remember that any herbicide can affect reseeding; read your labels for more information. Never apply an herbicide at temperatures over 80°F; it will not work.

Weed grasses must be dug out or spot treated with a glyphosate product (Roundup or Kilzall). These spots may be reseeded immediately if dug or about ten days after herbicide treatment. Unfortunately, there is no product that kills undesirable grasses without also destroying desirable ones! Scott’s Halts Crabgrass Preventer can help if used early in the year. Halts cannot be used if you are reseeding your lawn.

There is now an organic product available to prevent weed seed germination—corn gluten. Sky carries the brands Concern Weed Prevention Plus and Down To Earth Corn Weed Blocker. Corn gluten acts as an organic “weed & feed”; it feeds your existing grass while suppressing seed germination. Remember, though, any pre-emergent herbicide, including corn gluten, will not kill existing weeds and can’t be used in areas you are reseeding (it will prevent lawn seed germination as well). Two or three applications between April and October are needed to control weed grasses like annual bluegrass (Poa annua).

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Sky Nursery
18528 Aurora Avenue North
Shoreline, WA 98133
(206) 546-4851

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