The basics of natural yard care

As project manager of the City of Renton’s Natural Yard Care program, solid waste program specialist Spencer Orman knows a lot about yard maintenance done green. Spring is upon us, which means it’s almost time to start improving the health of your lawn. Orman recommends waiting until May to start on your lawn, to ensure the soil has warmed up.

  • Monday, April 7, 2008 10:59pm
  • News
Spencer Orman demonstrates how to remove a dandelion on the yard outside Renton City Hall. A solid waste specialist for the City of Renton

Spencer Orman demonstrates how to remove a dandelion on the yard outside Renton City Hall. A solid waste specialist for the City of Renton

As project manager of the City of Renton’s Natural Yard Care program, solid waste program specialist Spencer Orman knows a lot about yard maintenance done green. Spring is upon us, which means it’s almost time to start improving the health of your lawn. Orman recommends waiting until May to start on your lawn, to ensure the soil has warmed up.

Following are basic steps every lawn-owner (or renter) should take to ready their yard for spring and summer. Do all of the steps, or pick and choose, Orman says.

• Aerate – This means poking holes in your grass to improve drainage. Worms will do the job if your soil is healthy. Otherwise, you may have to give nature a hand. If you have a small yard and want exercise, do the job manually with a two-pronged tool. Or rent an aerator or hire someone to aerate.

• Sprinkle your lawn with grass seed. Orman says a mixture of perennial rye grass and fine fescue is best suited for Pacific Northwest weather, and will result in the best-looking lawn. These two grasses are sold in a mix. Orman highly recommends using more than one type of grass seed, because lawn problems spread faster in just one type of grass. Perennial rye grass and fine fescue are a good combination because the former is best in sunnier areas and can better handle wear, while fine fescue is best in shaded areas and can better handle moisture.

• Immediately follow up the grass seed with compost and/or a slow-release natural/organic fertilizer. Orman highly recommends compost, but says fertilizer often isn’t necessary. Spread half an inch to an inch of compost atop the lawn. This helps break up and improve soil and drainage. Make compost yourself or buy it at your local nursery. If using fertilizer, apply it after the compost.

• Set your lawnmower higher. Many people set their mowers too low, Orman says, which inhibits root growth. Mowers should be set to two and a half to three inches.

• Lawns should be mowed once a week, and grass clippings left on the lawn. Clippings feed the lawn, acting as a fertilizer.

Gardens

• Orman recommends gardeners mix in an inch or two of compost into their soil to improve drainage and add nutrients, making it easier for plants to grow.

• Gardeners should also layer mulch atop their soil. Mulch can be compost, wood chips or shredded leaves. Mulch keeps in moisture and buffers heavy rains. It will also break down over time, acting as a compost.

Weeds, pests

• Prevention: Carefully decide on the proper location of each plant in your lawn and garden, and ensure your soil is healthy. These steps will greatly reduce any lawn or garden problems. “The most important thing people can do in their yards and gardens is make sure their soil is healthy and know the conditions best suited for the plant,” Orman says.

• Identify: Before deciding on a method of removal, Orman says people should identify the problem.

Weed treatment:

• The first step is identifying the weed, Orman says. Some weeds are actually good for your garden. Clover, for example, helps add nitrogen to the soil, feeding your lawn. Dandelions, however, are a classic pest, and should be removed.

• Most weeds can be removed manually, by using tools like a long-handled weed puller. Orman discourages the use of herbicides or fertilizers, and urges using less toxic products whenever possible.

Pest treatment:

• Let nature run its course: Some pests can be dealt with by simply letting nature run its course, Orman says. “What can be a pest is also food, and beneficial to an insect or an animal,” he says. “If you leave some, you’ll get insects that will come into your yard and take care of them on their own.” Birds eat worms, for example, and ladybugs eat aphids, which are the green, black or gray bugs that suck juices from plants.

• Pick or hose bugs off: If nature doesn’t run its course fast enough, Orman says people can simply pick off the offending bugs, or use a hose to wash them away. Slugs can be killed naturally by removing the slimy creatures and dunking them in a dish of beer.

• If nothing is working, people may resort to organic or less toxic insecticidal sprays. Orman recommends a soapy vegetable oil spray that dries insects in place. This spray is available in most garden stores.

Emily Garland can be reached at emily.garland@reporternewspapers.com or (425) 255-3484, x. 5052.

Recycling

resources,

events

• For tips and information on water quality, waste reduction, yard care and recycling, visit the City of Renton’s Web site at rentonwa.gov and click on the living tab and then the environment tab.

• For more on where to recycle all kinds of materials, visit the King County Solid Waste Division Web site at http://www.metrokc.gov/dnrp/swd/garbage-recycling/recycling.asp

• Spring Recycling Day 2008 is May 10 fro 9 a.m.-3 p.m. in the north parking lot of Renton Technical College, at N.E. Sixth Place and Monroe Ave. N.E.

For accepted items and more information, call 425-430-7396 or visit the City of Renton’s Web site at rentonwa.gov and click on the Living tab and then the Environment tab and recycling events.

Natural yard

information,

events

• Northwest Natural Yard Days is April 15 – May 15. Sixty-four retailers are offering discounts on natural yard care products during this time. Find out more at www.metrokc.gov/dnrp/swd/naturalyardcare/yard-days.asp

• The City of Renton typically holds four natural yard care seminars a year: two in fall and two in spring. Watch for mailings and the City’s Web site (http://rentonwa.gov) for more information.

• For more information about natural yard care, contact the Garden Hotline at 206-633-0224 or help@gardenhotline.org., or call Spencer Orman at 425-430-7396.


Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@rentonreporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.rentonreporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 300 words or less.

More in News

A King County Sheriff’s Office photo of the crawlspace in which Urbano Velazquez was hiding when a K-9 unit was used. Sound Publishing file photo
King County settles $2 million dog bite lawsuit

The county agreed to pay $100,000 after being sued after a 2016 K-9 unit arrest.

Contributed by the Society for Conservation Biology 
A map showing the locations where plants have gone extinct in the U.S. and Canada since European settlers arrived.
Study: 65 plant species have gone extinct in U.S., Canada

More than 65 species of plants have gone extinct in the U.S.… Continue reading

Police Chief Ed VanValey gives a speech at his swearing in. Photo by Ava Van, City of Renton.
Renton police chief to take over as interim city CAO

Ed VanValey became police chief in 2018 after serving since 1998. Now he will take one of the highest administrative roles within the city, and the deputy chief will take over the police department.

Opening night of Clam Lights, Dec. 6, 2019 at Gene Coulon Memorial Beach Park. File photo/Haley Ausbun
No Clam Lights as city plans smaller lighting displays at Coulon, downtown

The city was facing both COVID-19 health concerns and financial restraints, but will still be able to provide some holiday lighting cheer

Long time board member Pam Teal with a child at Meadow Crest Early Learning Center, 2018. Courtesy photo.
Director Pam Teal announces RSD board departure, district looking to fill vacancy

Renton School Board Director Pam Teal has served on the board since 2009

city of renton city hall
Renton proposes six month deadline to remove hundreds staying at Red Lion Inn COVID-19 shelter

As a result of the fight over the county’s de-intensification shelter, which provides housing for homeless people during the COVID-19 pandemic and caused an increase in public safety services in the spring, Renton is introducing code to create stricter guidelines for all homeless shelters

Sage Viniconis is a career performing artist in King County who’s been out of work and seeking creative outlets during the COVID-19 pandemic. Courtesy photo/Sage Viniconis
Puget Sound artists adapt creativity, and business sense, to pandemic

Artists Sunday is an online directory that connects artists across the county, state and nation.

File photo
Snow Lake, located near Snoqualmie Pass in Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest.
Washington releases new forest plan

It outlines ways the state will protect and maintain forest health.

Photo by Haley Ausbun. August 2018, when several district unions, including Renton Education Association, bargained for new salaries in response to the McCleary decision.
Renton teachers union files labor complaint against district

The REA claims district is failing to address health and safety guidelines; district says it continues to work with unions to provide safe and healthy environment

Crime web teaser.
Renton man stabs, kills 11-year-old brother

The man chased his brother down the street in broad daylight, attacked him on the sidewalk.

Screenshot
All King County charter amendments are passing

Voters are approving an appointed sheriff along with other measures.

Congressman Adam Smith. Courtesy photo
Incumbent Adam Smith winning 9th Congressional District seat

Smith (D) received 76% of votes; opponent Doug Basler (R) behind with 23% of votes.