Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

Pacific Northwest

August, 2006
Regional Report

Patch Up Your Lawn

Whether your lawn is drought-stressed and thin, or simply has a few weedy, dead, or damaged sections, you can renew and repair it now and have a lush, healthy lawn by next spring. Begin by vigorously raking out dead or damaged sections of your lawn and digging out the weeds. Then use a heavy-duty rake to make grooves in the soil surface. Once that's done, sprinkle a handful of all-purpose, granular fertilizer, such as 5-10-5, over the area and add a 1/2-inch layer of compost. Rake it in and smooth the area.

Mulch Tomato Plants

If you haven't already placed an organic mulch around the base of your tomato plants, now's a good time to do it. Mulches such as straw will keep the maturing fruit from touching bare, moist soil, and will prevent rotten spots on the bottom of the ripening fruit. Mulch will also keep the tomatoes clean.

Plant Trees and Shrubs

Many trees and shrubs can be planted in early fall. Planting before the end of October will allow enough time for the roots to become established before winter weather arrives. Mulch new plantings with a 2- to 3-inch layer of organic matter to help maintain uniform soil moisture and regulate soil temperatures.

Divide and Transplant Iris

If your iris didn't bloom well this year, the beds may be overcrowded. Iris should be dug and divided every four to five years. Dig carefully, separate, and discard the old, spent center sections, keeping the young, vigorous rhizomes for transplanting. Plant the rhizomes just barely beneath the soil surface and water in well. To help plants get established, add some compost and/or an all-purpose 5-10-5 fertilizer when replanting.

Sharpen Mower Blades

A dull mower blade will tear rather than cut grass, making the tips yellow and creating a greater surface area for disease pathogens to enter. For healthier lawns, replace your blade or sharpen it with a file. A properly sharpened mower blade will make a clean cut and give the lawn a neater look.


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