How Green is Your Grass? What to do this Memorial Day Weekend

Willamette Valley Oregon, USDA Zone 8b

Soft, cool grass is a staple of suburban landscapes everywhere. Lawns have a reputation for being soaked in toxic chemicals and heavy consumers of water. With a few easy adjustments, you can make your lawn greener and greener.

First Fertilizer Application

  1. Mow your lawn with the bag off to a height no lower than three inches. (Why? Read more here.)
  2. Do you first application of lawn fertilizer. Read the bag and apply at full strength. Your subsequent applications will be at 1/2 strength. Use a lawn specific fertilizer with an NPK of 29 – 0 – 4. (Just fertilizer, not weed and feed.)
  3. Since there is no rain in the forecast, water in.


If you haven’t already begun to water your grass, it’s a good time to start. Check your weekly watering number at for how much. Currently it’s at 1.3 inches for my zip code. So I’ll shoot to deliver a total of 1-2 inches of water this coming week. To figure out your sprinkler flow rate, put out a tuna can or rain gauge and turn your system on for 15 minutes then measure the depth of the water. Then use three or so sessions to deliver the target amount of water.

A Few More Notes

Taller grass means deeper roots to reach deeper for water and nutrients. Tall grass also shades the soil, preventing weed seeds from germinating, while keeping the soil cool and moist. Taking off the bag will cause most mowers to mulch the clippings returning significant nitrogen to the soil and biomass. Read more about growing greener grass in my Turfgrass Growing Guide.

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