Garden maintenance in spring doing the mulching of the flowerbeds to keep down weeds and retain moisture in the soil

It is every homeowner’s wish to have a beautiful and well-designed yard in their homes. While it takes a lot of time and effort to achieve such a yard, it is also considerably expensive. For people who do not have the fortune to spend on landscaping to beautify their homes, this can pose a problem.

Top 5 Low Maintenance Landscaping Ideas

Although landscaping can be expensive, the good news is that if you have the time and energy to pour into maintenance, you just may be able to pull off the perfect garden without spending so much. There are many low maintenance landscaping ideas out there that you can try, that will not only give your home the perfect appeal but also require little from you. The following are five low maintenance landscaping ideas you can try.

1.     Plant Perennials

Although annuals make for great landscaping, their cost of maintenance is a little on the high side. A great alternative is to use perennials instead. By making use of perennials, you are invariably cutting out the costs of annual cultivation, pesticides & herbicides and a host of others supplements they do not require. Some low maintenance perennials you can use for your landscaping include Coneflower, Perennial Geranium, and Catmint.

2.    Make Use of Mulch

Filling your flower bed with mulch is another way to reduce the cost of your landscaping. This is because mulch does not come with the regular maintenance associated with soil, like weeding, for instance. You can even decide to use rubber mulch to further reduce the cost of maintenance, as the former does not require yearly replacement. Using rubber mulch is also a great way to use recyclable products.

3.    Grow Evergreens

Evergreens, unlike most landscaping staples, look great all year round, meaning that they will not require as much maintenance as the seasons change. They are known to maintain their leaves regardless of the time of the year while other plants lose their foliage. However, evergreens cost more than regular plants, but because they do not require as much attention, they make for great low maintenance landscaping.

4.    Consider an Artificial Lawn

Lawn mowing, fertilizing and regular watering are a must if you have a lawn. These are factors which can significantly raise the cost of maintaining natural lawns. Artificial lawns, on the other hand, do not require any of these costly measures, and they are known for providing almost the same aesthetics. In fact, a lot of people are unable to tell the difference between a natural and an artificial lawn.

5.    Place Plants in Pots

Using potted plants in your landscape is also a great way to keep the cost of maintenance at bay. Potted plants are versatile, do not require so much care and can be moved from one place to another easily. Also, potted plants make it easy for you to add a variety of colors to your garden, by simply changing/designing the flower pots to suit the season.

These are some of the low maintenance landscaping ideas you can use for your home. With a little creativity on your part, you can create an awe-inducing landscape, your neighbors will be envious of! If you need help with any of these ideas and more you can Contact Levys Lawn & Landscape today!

planting edible gardens in the pacific northwest

According to some of the top landscaping companies in the country today, you should spend a maximum of 10% of your home’s value on landscaping. This means that whether you decide to install a fountain or put up a pergola, your landscaping option should remain within the 10% limit. However, not many people can simply set aside 10% of their home’s value for landscaping. Well, the good news is that almost anyone at all can have a beautiful and visually appealing garden without exactly spending a fortune.

Top 4 Budget Landscaping Ideas for Your Home

If you are looking to improve the landscape of your home, outlined below are four great landscaping ideas that are not only inexpensive but aesthetically pleasing as well.

1.     Edible Garden

One of the easiest and inexpensive ways to add life to your home’s outdoor is by turning it into an edible landscape. Beside being inexpensive, an edible garden can prove to be beneficial for your entire household. All that is required is that you plant seeds, which do not cost much at all. However, you can also choose to plant seedlings if you do not want the stress of tending to planted seeds. An edible garden will help beautify your home while saving you a lot of money at the market from harvested produce.

2.     Trees

Trees are another option you can use for your home when on a budget. In fact, it is one of the least expensive landscaping projects anyone can use. When you have a tree planted in your home, you save money from the cost of electricity in the long run, as you can easily sit under it on an 80˚ day, rather than turn on the air conditioner. To get started, you will need a couple of digging tools, some mulch or its alternatives and the tree itself. The Sun Valley and Pink Oak Tree are examples of trees you can use to landscape.

3.     Vertical Gardening

If you do not have a lot of money to landscape your home, another idea you can use is vertical gardening. Vertical gardening is any landscaping practice which utilizes vertical spaces to grow plants, and it can help you save a lot of money, as well as space. Although vertical gardening is mostly used indoors in lobbies and offices, more people are beginning to use it for their home’s exterior due to the amazing transformation it provides.

4.    Grass

Lastly, you can decide to landscape your home with grass. Using grass to landscape is a great idea because it is natural, very easy to grow, has a welcoming color and most likely already existing in your landscape. However, to get the most out of grass, it will have to be incorporated heavily into your garden or front yard and also be groomed regularly to prevent overgrowing. You can even choose to take it a notch by adding stepping stones to create an interesting pattern on the grass. 

Without spending a lot of money, you too can have the landscape of your choice. All you have to do is pick any one of these great budget ideas and watch your home come to life. They are guaranteed to add some jazzy style to your home within your budget. If you need help landscaping your lawn or yard on a budget, you can contact us at Levy’s Lawns & Landscaping today!

Mount Shuksan Red Farm Builiding Yellow Daffodils Flowers Snow Mountain Skagit Valley Washington State Pacific Northwest

Often, the style or design used in a garden is generally dependent on the surroundings. For instance, the condition in the Pacific Northwest is temperate with a varied landscape, which makes it one of the best places in the Pacific to grow and tend to a garden. Here, there is an endless possibility of beautiful gardens you can grow, ranging from drought-resistant dry gardens to Japanese gardens.

3 Easy Garden Designs for your Pacific Northwest Garden

In truth, some of these garden types are difficult to plant, because they require a lot of effort on your part to thrive. However, there are many types of gardens you can plant in the Pacific Northwest region, which are relatively easy to design and do not require much fuss. Take a look at these three easy garden designs you can plant within the Pacific Northwest region.

1.     Gracious, Eye-Catching Corner

This garden design idea, which sits at the corner where your sidewalk meets, is an easy-to-do one. Usually, this garden design is anchored by the Autumn Brilliance Serviceberry and surrounded by the other plants, forming a triangular shape. You can use beautiful flowers with bright colors, such as Victoria Wild Lilac, Grey’s Senecio, Vancouver Gold, Tuscan Blue Rosemary, Hall’s Japanese Honeysuckle, and more. The Gracious, Eye-catching Corner garden design is of low maintenance and will be appreciated by neighbors and passersby.

2.     Beautified Blank Wall

This garden design is a great addition to the exterior walls of your home, as well as for areas with minimal space. Flowers which thrive during fall, as well as shrubs that look and remain fresh all year round, are perfect for this garden type. The Clematis Hybrid, Sunshine Grey’s Senecio, Newport Dwarf, Tuscan Blue rosemary and Flower Carpet White rose are some of the many plants you can use for this particular garden design. To design your garden with this Beautified Blank Wall designs, simply plant all of these flowers on the floor facing the wall, and vertically grow the Clematis Hybrid in two columns, with some space in between. Other plants for this garden design include Provence lavender, Hidcote English lavender, Moonbeam coreopsis, Trellis and Johnson’s Blue geranium.

3.     Postal Garden

You can landscape the area around your mailbox by growing a garden which is visible to neighbors, visitors, and passersby. Although the plants to be used in this garden should be heat tolerant and very tough, you can help them retain more moisture by adding mulch to the soil. Some of the flowers you can use to grow the Postal Garden, include; Golden Sword Yucca, Powis Castle Artemisia, Cherry Chief Autumn Sage, Goldsturm Coneflower, Appleblossom yarrow, Autumn Joy sedum, Stone edging, and Moss Phlox. Although not all of these plants thrive all year round, during summer, you can expect to see an astonishing display of flowers in pink, gold, red and blue. These are some of the easiest garden designs you can grow in the Pacific Northwest region. They are eye-catching and do not require any prior knowledge/expertise to grow them. Levy’s Lawns & Landscaping is an expert at creating breathtaking garden landscape designs. So, if you need help, you can contact us to guide you further on how to create a simple garden design, or to get it done for you.

Here in the Pacific Northwest, we’re blessed with an abundance of rainfall. Seattle, alone, averages 37 inches of rain, just 2 inches below the National average. We do get our dry months, however. Many Northwesterners prefer to let their lawn go when the sun shines, knowing it will be back as soon as the rains resume. In fact, letting it go dormant can be healthier than repeatedly rescuing it from disaster. The leaves might turn brown, but the parts undergrounds stay alive for months.

However, if you’re the kind of person who likes to keep your lawn lush and green, here are a few tips and suggestions:

  • Promote root growth by watering your lawn deeply. Let it dry somewhat before the next watering. A good guideline to follow is to water 1–1.5 inches (2.5–3.25 cm) of water per week during the growing season, an increase it to 2 inches (5cm) during hot, dry weather.
  • Choose the proper time to water. Late in the evening and early in the morning will reduce evaporation from the midday sun.
  • How much sprinkler time yields 1-2 inches, you might be asking yourself? To find out, place open containers around your yard. Turn on the sprinklers for 20 minutes, allowing the containers to catch the water. Measure the depth of water in each container. Multiply the average depth by three to find the inches per hour.
  • Make sure to mow at the highest setting. Maintaining taller grass helps shade the ground. This, in turn, blocks weed sprouts and promotes beneficial microbes. Letting the grass grow taller also allows your lawn to focus on root growth, which adds disease resistance.
  • Don’t bag your lawn clippings. Leave the grass clippings on the lawn after mowing to return the nutrients to your lawn.
  • Mow in a different direction or pattern than your last mow to help the grass grow more evenly.
  • Select the proper fertilizer. Ideally, you’ll want a mixture of 30–50% slow-release fertilizer and 70–50% fast release fertilizer. This gives the lawn an instant boost, but still slowly adds more nutrients over the next few weeks.
  • Organic fertilizers are preferred over synthetic fertilizers, since they improve soil health as well.
  • In the spring or fall, make sure to aerate your lawn. (link to article on Levys)

Following these easy tips will keep your lawn in good health, providing a soothing place to relax during the summer, a great space for entertaining, or a sturdy, soft environment for the kids to play on.

If you need help with lawn care, planting a new lawn or establishing sod, adding a sprinkler system, give us a call at (360) 876-6567.

Whether the season is mild or brutal, chances are you don’t find yourself puttering around the yard too much in November. This month is perfect, however, for last minute plantings and garden upkeep, ensuring that your yard will burst into its glory come spring. Additionally, select some winter blooming plants to add color accents to your yard.

Here’s a handy checklist of things to do now, while the air is cool and rain brings an abundance of nourishing water:

  • Many retailers sell bulbs at a discount now. Buy a few, and, if the dirt is still pliable, plant them throughout the yard. They’ll yield bright blooms in the spring.
  • To keep your deck from appearing drab, plant a container garden. Pansy, viola, flowering stock, ornamental cabbage, daphne, witch hazel and flowering kale are all colorful plants to keep winter spirits up. Hellebores yield colorful flowers and, best of all, they’re deer resistant. Choose from the dainty, early flowering Christmas rose; bear’s claw hellebores (H. foetidus_), with tiny, spring green blossoms; and the beautiful hybrid Lenten roses (H.x hybridus).  Coming in a variety of single and double flowers ranging from speckled white, cream, yellow and apricot to purple, pink, red and slate black, these drought resistant plants bring architectural elegance to your landscape. There are even taller – 2-3’ tall – green flowered types ( argutifolius), as well as some hybrids that are smaller, with large, cupped green to purple flowers. Resistant to both deer and voles, they last for years and bring color at a time when flowers are rare. For existing hellebores, add lime to acid soil for H. x hybridus if a soil test shows a pH under 7.0. Do not prune back for winter.
  • An arrangement of evergreen branches, twigs, pinecones and dried grasses can lend holiday cheer to your front porch.
  • Sprinkle wildflower seeds around your garden. Seeds sown in the fall yield colorful blossoms sooner than spring sown seeds.
  • Do you have an orchard or even a few fruit trees in the yard? Keep pests and disease at bay, as well as get a little exercise, with some basic autumn upkeep. Rake leaves and stow in the compost bin or green disposable bin for pick-up. Prune diseased or misshapen limbs and eliminate. Mow grass and weeds near tree trunks to prevent rodents from gnawing bark. Spray for Apricot brown rot or Peach leaf curl—make sure to cover the trunk, branches and ground beneath when spraying.
  • Turn over vegetable gardens to expose overwintering insects to cold temperatures. Work a layer of chopped leaves, dried grass or compost into soil. In spring, work the bright green stems into the soil to add more nutrients.
  • Consider adding a winter bird habitat in your yard. The Oso berry, or Indian plum, grows about 8’-12’ tall. In the winter, it produces a delicate white flower, while in the spring it yields a blue berry that birds love. The Mahonia (Mahoniax media) are 8’-15’ shrubs that produce sprays of bright, sunshine yellow flowers from December or January to February and March, depending on the plant and the weather. Cultivars such as Charity, Winter Sun, Arthur Menzies, and Lionel Fortescue add a color wow, perfect flower size and nectar for hummingbirds.

Hope this helps you beat the winter blues!

Is your lawn showing patches of brown? Or bare places where the soil shows? Is it hard to find the grass through the weeds? It might be time to renovate your lawn.

The process of lawn renovation involves planting grass seed into an existing lawn area.  Adding new grass varieties can help to repair damage or increase tolerance to drought, shade, or wear.

First, you need to determine if you can simply renovate your lawn, or, if you need to start from scratch. Take a moment to inspect your lawn. If there’s at least 50% lawn left, you can renovate it. Is the lawn completely overrun with weeds? You’ll need to deal with those pesky plants first, or, start from scratch.

Late summer and fall are the best times for grass renovation. Cooler temps and abundant rains make it easy on your tiny new seedlings. Ready to get started? Here’s a handy checklist:

  1. Eliminate weeds: Unless your lawn is completely overrun with weeds, apply an herbicide to get rid of them before re-seeding. Use a non-selective herbicide that contains the active ingredient glyphosate. Other non-selective herbicides include glufosinate or the herbicidal soap formulation Scythe. You’ll be able to start seeding in about a week. If you use a selective herbicide your new seeds won’t germinate for up to six weeks. Make sure the herbicide dries before walking on it!
  2. Remove moss: in our moisture laden Pacific Northwest, moss can be a problem. Use an iron-based moss-killer when the moss is moist and green. Use a thatching rake or cultivator to remove dead moss. Apply moss killer at least 3 weeks prior to seeding.
  3. Remove debris and thatch: Set your lawn mower on its lowest cutting height and mow to approximately three-quarters inch tall. Sweep or rake all clippings, leaves, and other debris.
  4. Fill in holes or uneven areas. Amend the existing topsoil with inexpensive Biosolid organic fertilizers such as Dr. Earth Super Natural Lawn Food; Ph adjusting products like lime or Solu-cal if needed; Gypsum or Solu-cal S to help condition clay soils; Any quality animal manure based organic fertilizer.
  5. Soak the soil: Before applying seed, soak the soil to a depth of 6-8”. This gives seedlings a head start, especially after a dry season.
  6. Select a good turf grass recommended for the Pacific Northwest. Turf-type perennial rye grasses and fine-leaved fescues are perfect for western Washington. Avoid the short-lived Kentucky Bluegrass or the high-maintenance Bentgrass. Spread the seed evenly with a hand-held spreader for small jobs or a drop spreader for larger jobs. Lightly rake the seeds until they are covered by no more than 1/16th inches of soil.
  7. Keep the seedlings moist with repeated light watering. Keep foot traffic off the area.
  8. Once 60% of the seed has sprouted to 3-4”, mow it to around 2” tall.

Your yard will look fantastic with a renovated lawn. If you need help, feel free to give us a call at (360) 265-5231. Happy renovating!

winterize your lawn

Summer’s over, winter’s chill is beginning to spread, the lawn mower has been stowed in the garage…and it’s time to winterize your lawn. In the Pacific Northwest regions of Seattle, Tacoma, Gig Harbor, Port Orchard, Bremerton, Bainbridge Island and surrounding areas, there’s still plenty to do to prepare your lawn for its winter slumber. Here are 5 Easy Winterizing Tips:

  1. Trim your lawn to winter height. If you raised your lawn height to avoid summer heat stress, you might need to retrieve that lawn mower for one last pass over the grass. Make sure your final cut leaves the grass at about two inches tall for most Pacific Northwest grasses. Leave the lawn clippings to provide mulch. Now you can stow your lawn mower.
  2. Remove debris from the lawn. This season we’ve already seen a lot of big winds so branches, leaves, seedpods and other debris are no doubt strewn across your yard. These unsightly piles can provide a breeding ground for damaging disease organisms, fungus and molds. Eliminating debris is a preventative measure you can take. Pile it up and cart it away.
  3. Apply fertilizer. During this fall and winter season your lawn has begun storing nutrients. Adding a nitrogen based fertilizer with the addition of potassium and phosphorus will give your lawn a nutrient boost when springtime rolls around as well as protect your lawn from damaging diseases when it’s in its most vulnerable state.Your first autumn season application should be in early to mid-September. Follow-up with an application in November/December to keep the grass competitive with moss through the winter. Use a slow release fertilizer or organic fertilizer so that you don’t promote a big flush of growth. We recommend a fertilizer with a 3-1-2 ratio (nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium) with the application of 4 to 6 pounds of actual nitrogen per 1,000 square feet of lawn surface, divided such that the application of about one pound of actual nitrogen goes on each time. Note: Over-watering and applying excessive nitrogen fertilizer can lead to thatch buildup. Make sure you only apply recommended amounts. More is not necessarily better.
  4. Reduce thatch, clumping and soil compacting by aerating your lawn. In addition, aerating will improve fertilizer availability to your lawn. Use the kind of aerator that removes plugs from the ground and doesn’t simply punch holes in the dirt. Left on the lawn, those small cores of soil will also help decompose excess thatch layers in the lawn.
  5. De-thatching. You know that old, tired layer of grass and moss hanging out on your lawn? That’s thatch. A tiny layer shouldn’t pose a problem, but when it’s thicker than ½ inch, it can keep air, water and fertilizer from reaching the grass roots, negating the efforts you just took to apply fertilizer. Look for a spongy feel to your lawn to determine if you have thatch. And, while you can remove thatch by hand, that process can be tedious and tiring. Better to invest in a power rake, or, call Levy’s Landscaping for de-thatching as well as all your lawn needs.

Here in the Pacific Northwest, we’re blessed to have abundant rainfall, even throughout the summer at times. However, we still need to water our yards. Summer days might begin with a sprinkle but the long days and lingering light can ultimately result in a dried out yard and parched plants. Learning how to “water smart” is the key to a healthy garden in areas like Tacoma, Bremerton, Port Orchard, Gig Harbor and Bainbridge Island, each possessing their own unique microclimate.

Watering smart doesn’t mean only utilizing plants that need little to no water. While hardscaping can prove an attractive option, you might prefer plants in your yard. If this is the case, you, the smart Northwest gardener, needs to make use of good watering principles and practices. Here are a few tips:

  • The biggest water hog in the Northwest and beyond, is usually the lawn. By replacing a segment of your lawn with a hardscape, pavers, or ground cover, you’ve already taken a big step toward water savings. If a lawn is a must in your yard, try planting Perennial Ryegrass or Fescue. Both of these grasses require much less water than Bentgrass or Bluegrass.
  • Mow your lawn to the proper height. Setting the mower to a 3” – 4” cut will keep the soil cooler. Additionally, a longer lawn in the Pacific Northwest creates a cushy platform on which to walk or recline on picnic days.
  • After mowing, leave the grass clippings in place. Clippings break down quickly and replace nutrients in the soil. Mow often so you don’t shock the grass by removing too much of the grass blade at once. Additionally, if you only mow once in a while, the clumps of clippings can smother your lawn.
  • Our summer climate generally remains in the 70s or 80s. At these temps, your lawn will need about an inch of water per week. Try staggering your watering to a half inch two to three times a week. Or, try waiting until the lawn becomes dull green in color or begins to wilt.
  • An Eco-lawn can provide a pleasing solution to a grass lawn. Eco-lawns consist of a mixture of grasses, clovers, and flowering plants, such as, English Daisies, Roman Chamomile, Sweet Allysum and Yarrow. They look pretty and use far less water than a grass lawn. Seed mixtures can be found at most nurseries as well as online. Make sure and choose a seed mix for our region, such as the Northern Ecology Mix for the Puget Sound area, which includes colonial bent grass; strawberry and Dutch white clover (Trifolium species); the flowering perennials English daisy (Bellis perennis), Roman chamomile (Anthemis nobilis) and yarrow (Achillea millefolium); and an annual, baby blue eyes (Nemophila menziesii).
  • Clover also works as an easy-care alternative to grass lawns. Clover is a nitrogen fixer and provides nutrients for the other plants, which means less fertilizer application.
  • Try interspersing a hardscape into your yard. Again, by reducing the amount of lawn in your garden, you effectively reduce the amount of water you need. We’ve got some great ideas for hardscapes. Take a look at this article to get your creative juices flowing.
  • Feed your lawn and garden at regular intervals. A healthy lawn stands a better chance at crowding out weeds. It also helps the lawn deal with the stresses of heat and drought.
  • Lastly, if you can stand it, let your lawn go in the summer. Mother Nature generally provides enough rain to produce a healthy lawn. In the summer, you can let your lawn go dormant. Grasses are amazingly resilient and can last up to two months if left alone.  When the rains return, your lawn will bounce back and return to its green lushness.

By employing any or all of these techniques, you’ll no doubt find your water bill dropping significantly.

If you need help with any aspects of your yard, give us a call at (360) 265-5231. We can design a water reducing hardscape or paver patio, plant a new lawn or install a sprinkler system.

hardscaped yards in the pacific northwest

Let’s face it—here in the Pacific Northwest, we have an abundance of rain. The rain leaves us with green forests, abundant plant life and, from spring to fall, a swiftly growing lawn.

If you’d like to put away the mower for good, you might consider lawn free landscaping. If done right, this type of landscaping can provide you with less maintenance, as well as a lot more texture, color and visual appeal. And, it can save you money—gone are the water costs for keeping your lawn green and lush. You can say good-bye to having to fertilize the ground surrounding your house. No more back-breaking weekends spent mowing or dumping lawn trimmings, or having to pay to have your lawn maintained by someone else. Instead, you get to relax and enjoy your yard instead of being a slave to it.

Here are a few ideas for lawn free landscaping ideas in the Pacific Northwest, including Gig Harbor, Tacoma, Bremerton, Port Orchard, Poulsbo and Belfair:

  • Go native! There is an abundance of native plants in our region, perfect for maintenance free landscaping. Plants already adapted to their native environment generally require less hand-watering, far less fuss, and will blend nicely with cultivated plant species. Choose from small to medium sized trees like dogwood (which look splendid when covered with spring flowers), or taller trees like the Bitter Cherry tree or Shore pine. Red flowering currant, Tall Oregon grape, and Salal are excellent mid-height plants (less than 10’). Add low growing flowering plants like Trilliumand Cinquefoil, Beach strawberry, ferns and camas to complete the array. To find out more about native plants for our region, please visit the King County website.
  • Create a soothing Zen garden. A winding walkway made of pavers, lined with Japanese maples and dogwoods, and a rock garden peppered with succulents or native grasses, sedge or rushes can create an easy-to-care-for, tranquil oasis. Or, consider placement of Zen-friendly statues, like the laughing Buddha or a tranquil Buddha in meditation. Also, a wind chime or two can turn your yard into a soothing musical oasis.
  • Many yards in the Pacific Northwest are set on slopes. A mix of boulders and flowering shrubs and flowers will both help prevent erosion and add striking curb appeal. Or, create a terraced effect with rust edged steel and pavers. Add some grasses, like Red Tussock, Feather Grass or Variegated Purple Moor. Mix in a Sword Fern or two. You might want some trailing vines, like Virginia Creeper or Trumpet Vine. Avoid ivy as it’s quite invasive.
  • Plant native flowers on either side of a gravel or stone pathway, creating a calming walkway. Dahlias and Shasta Daisies provide height, while Solomon’s Seal, Primrose and Wild Ginger grow lower. The Cardinal Flower yields bright spikes of color in late summer, and appeal to hummingbirds as well.
  • Replace your lawn with a fountain, babbling stream or other water feature. Add lighting to really give a romantic or dramatic effect.
  • Consider an entire hardscaped yard. There’s no reason there has to be plants in your yard. Try an artful sculpture garden. Or, a mix of stone, granite and various kinds of gravel. Surround the hardscape with small shrubs or trees and you’ve got a wow backyard.

If you still need ideas, give us a call at (360) 265-5231. We’ve got great ways to make your yard easy to care for and the experience to back it.

choose a balanced fertilizer, such as a 10:10:10 mix

One of the questions our clients ask us, after inquiring when to fertilize their lawn, is how much to fertilize. We’re going to give you the answer, as well as a general overview of how to water your lawn.

First, make sure you’ve chosen a quality lawn fertilizer. Since nitrogen is the most important nutrient, (expressed as the first number in the series of three on the fertilizer bag), look to the guaranteed analysis on the back of the bag. Determine if the nitrogen is controlled-release, slow-release, slowly-available, or water-insoluble nitrogen. Most quality lawn fertilizers provide a balance of fast and controlled release sources resulting in some quick color (without a big surge of growth) and some long-lasting nitrogen which will release over time.

Make sure you choose a balanced fertilizer, such as a 10:10:10 mix. Use a 10:10:10 mix sparingly. Repeated use throughout the season may cause damage. No one wants to end up with “burn” marks on their lawn from too much nitrogen. The higher the percent nitrogen, the less product is needed on the lawn to supply the one pound per 1,000 square feet rate suggested. And, if the material is controlled-release, the risk of burning the lawn is low.

As mentioned earlier, the suggested rate per application is about one pound of actual nitrogen per 1,000 square feet of lawn. If fertilizers were 100 percent nitrogen, which they are not, it would take a pound of fertilizer to apply this rate. Divide 100 by the percent nitrogen in the bag (first number expressed a whole number) to figure how much is needed per 1,000 square feet. For example, a fertilizer with 20 percent nitrogen would require 100/20 or 5 pounds of fertilizer product per every 1,000 square feet of lawn.

How much should you apply?

First, determine the total area or square footage of the lawn. To determine this figure, take your total lot size and subtract everything not allotted to lawn. Next, subtract the square footage of the house, driveway, gardens, patio, walkways, garage, etc. Or, if the lawn is small enough, simply get out your tape measure and measure the lawn.

Once you arrive at the square footage in lawn, divide this amount by 1,000. Multiply by the pounds of fertilizer needed per 1,000 square feet. This will give you the approximate pounds of fertilizer needed to spread on your lawn.

Hope this helps. We’ll explore the nitrogen requirements for specific grass types and growing seasons in an upcoming article.