Edmonds residents love their yards. They can be beautiful open spaces for unwinding after work or letting the kids play and practice their favorite sports. I’m sure your family’s beloved four legged friends also enjoy taking a break from the heat by relaxing in the cool greenery.
Taking care of our lawns and gardens during the summer months however can be a bit of a challenge, as you may know. Maintaining a lush, green lawn and garden throughout the Northwest summers often hinge on watering, but we can often use water inefficiently. The idea clearly is, “How can I water my lawn and plants and keep them healthy but not overwater or use nasty chemicals that harm the environment? ” Here are five easy steps to use natural yard care that will work with nature to keep your family and pets safe and happy.
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- Build your lawn with healthy soil. Good soil mixed with compost can act like a sponge and soak up excess water while reducing pollutant runoffs. Soil is like nature’s environmental guardian, providing air, water and nutrients for plants. There are over 4 billion micro-organisms in a teaspoon of healthy soil!
- Get to know your yard. Find out where it is sunny and shady in your yard. Is the soil sandy or clayey? Do you have pockets where there are water puddles? The more you know about your yard, the more efficient you can be with water usage. Also, choose native or Northwest-adapted plants that grow well in our climate.
- Practice smart watering. Make every drop count. Water your lawn and garden in the early morning or evening and use mulch around plants to hold in the moisture. The use of timers and soaker hoses (or drip irrigation) also helps manage your water usage and wallet! Did you know watering too much can actually cause plant problems? Healthier, deeper-rooted plants do the best when they are watered intensely, but infrequently.
- Think twice before using pesticides. So you’ve built a garden with healthy soil, mixing in a nice combination of compost and mulch. Ask yourself, do you really want to introduce a weed-and-feed type product? Yup…weed-and-feed is a pesticide!. Overuse of these products damages your now-healthy soil, the long term survivability of your plants, and the entire Puget Sound ecosystem. Remember, some damage to your garden and lawn is natural and only 2 percent of insects are actually pests. Most insects are considered beneficial, so why are we trying to remove them all? Many plants may also just outgrow the pest damage. If you have a plant or tree that has chronic pest or disease issue, it may be time to just replace it.
- Practice natural yard care. Yes, a beautiful lawn IS possible without chemicals. Trust that nature will do its job and keep your labor of love healthy and vibrant. Mow a little higher than you used to, and leave the clippings to mulch. Use the least-toxic products available such as horticultural vinegar and plant-based insecticides. Do a little research and start to learn all the tips and tricks out there. There are a ton of blogs, social media and websites out there to help you along. Here are a few to get you started:
If you have questions, contact City of Edmonds Stormwater Technician Patrick Johnson at 425-771-0220 or [email protected]
— Submitted by Patrick Johnson, City of Edmonds