ABCs of better lawns shared at East Portland seminar

What does it take to have the best lawn – for the least cost and impact to the environment? This expert has your answers …

-1 Horticulturist Weston Miller with Oregon State University Extension Service gives tips on maintaining healthy lawns.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
While having a lush, green lawn may be somewhat out of vogue these days, many folks still turned out for a class on the topic at the Metro Natural Techniques Garden on SE 58th Avenue not long ago.

Looking at home out of the classroom, Oregon State University Extension Service faculty member and horticulturist Weston Miller revealed lawn secrets.

Horticulturist Weston Miller with Oregon State University Extension Service quizzes participants about the perennial weed he holds: It’s a Hypochaeris radicata or Hypochoeris radicata – also known as flatweed, cat’s ear, or false dandelion, he says.

“The best way to defend against weeds and insects is to grow a healthy lawn,” Miller told us.

“That starts by having amended soil. If you have clay-based soil, working compost to it can help to increase the structure and the capacity for water to get down into it and increase the water-holding capacity.”

The deeper that the roots go down, Miller explained, the healthier lawn will be.

Horticulturist Weston Miller of Oregon State University Extension Service says to fertilize only the sections of lawn that need it.

Even though summer has gone and winter is coming on, Miller suggested the best way to have a healthy lawn is to consider how a property owner cares for their lawn, year around.

“The next step is mowing regularly, during the spring season,” the lawn expert continued. “That might be twice a week during the spring. And probably once a week is fine during the rest of the season. I recommend ‘mulch mowing’ – using a mower that chops the grass into fine particles and drops it back into the lawn. That helps to contribute nitrogen to the lawn.”

The other trick is to apply fertilizer, where needed, Miller instructed. “A slow-release fertilizer is good. I don’t recommend ‘weed & feed’.”

Another tip is selecting a grass species to plant that thrives here without toxic chemicals.

Miller also discussed practical lawn renovation tips, saying that mid-August through mid-September is was the best time to renovate a lawn.

Water deeply and infrequently if you water at all, Miller advised, offering this mnemonic slogan: “If green in the summer is a lawn you seek, your lawn will need about an inch of water per week.”

Horticulturist Weston Miller with Oregon State University Extension Service advises to leave grass trimming on the lawn during winter months to help protect its roots.

© 2011 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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