Western Mountains and High Plains

August, 2011
Regional Report

Conserve Water

It is hot and dry, and most of us are trying to conserve water yet keep gardens growing with adequate moisture. One way to do this is by using an organic mulch, such as dried grass clippings, wood shavings, peelings from pruning, coarse compost, or shredded cedar. Mulch keeps weeds down, the soil cool, adds nutrients or organic matter to the soil, and retains soil moisture.

Plant Cover Crops

Cover crops such as hairy vetch, clover, and annual ryegrass will add nutrients and organic matter to the vegetable garden. They will also suppress excessive weed growth. Plant after the vegetables are harvested and let the cover crop grow throughout the winter season. In spring, till the cover crop into the garden soil.

Deal with Thatch

If your lawn is doing poorly, check for excessive thatch. This is the layer of living and dead grass roots and stems that accumulates above the soil surface. Proper watering, fertilizing, and mowing practices will help to prevent build up of thatch. Core aeration is the best way to control thatch. As weather cools down, use an aeration machine that removes soil cores and breaks through the thatch layers.

Avoid Combination Weed and Feed

Do not use weed and feed fertilizers whenever possible. Continual use of these materials stunts the growth of turf, affects soil microbes, and is generally not strong enough to kill perennial weeds. Though it takes more time, consider hand pulling and digging weeds or, if necessary, spot-treating weeds.

Cherish Earthworms

Earthworms and night crawlers are nature's way of taking care of the soil of your lawn. They help to aerate the soil, add essential nutrients, and help break up thatch layers. To reduce the lawn bumpiness they can cause, core-aerate the lawn and add about one-fourth of an inch of compost over the lawn. This will help even out the mounds of worm castings.

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