Lifestyle

Summer lawns: It’s not easy being green | Margo Hoffman

Bob Hill, of Federal Way, has received awards from the Twin Lakes Homeowners Association for the past five years for his well-kept lawn. In addition to maintenance costs, Hill said he has spent nearly $100,000 landscaping his yard. - Margo Hoffman/The Mirror
Bob Hill, of Federal Way, has received awards from the Twin Lakes Homeowners Association for the past five years for his well-kept lawn. In addition to maintenance costs, Hill said he has spent nearly $100,000 landscaping his yard.
— image credit: Margo Hoffman/The Mirror

The secret to a lush green lawn isn’t mysterious, said 66-year-old Bob Hill.

Hill’s lawn could be the envy of his neighbors in the Twin Lakes neighborhood. He has been recognized by the homeowners association for each of the past five years for his well-kept lawn.

His secret is plenty of watering and fertilizer four times a year.

“But don’t over-fertilize because then you get little brown spots,” he said.

Hill fertilizes on the major holidays of the summer: Easter, Memorial Day, the Fourth of July and Labor Day. He uses Scotts brand fertilizers.

Each season calls for a different variety of fertilizer. In spring, the lawn needs fertilizer with moss and weed killer, Hill said. The summertime calls for fertilizer with pesticide.

Any lawn can be made green with dedication and plenty of water, Hill said. Results can usually be seen within one or two weeks.

Hill waters twice a day when the temperatures are in the 80s or above. During the summer, his water bill jumps about $100 a month. He estimates he spends $500 to $600 a year on water and fertilizer to keep his yard up.

“Right now it’s taking a lot of water because of the heat,” he said.

In addition to maintenance costs, Hill has spent nearly $100,000 landscaping his yard. There are plants and a pond and concrete mow strip edging. The grass feels like carpet on bare feet.

The best times to water are the cooler morning or evening hours, Hill said.

“In the heat of the day, a lot of that water evaporates,” he said. “It’s a significant amount that just doesn’t make it to the ground.”

The best indicator of whether the lawn is getting enough water is the color of the grass, Hill said.

Another component of caring for a lawn is regular aeration. Most experts recommend aerating the lawn once a year, but Hill said every other year has been enough for him. Aeration involves puncturing holes in the lawn to allow soil to breathe, allow fertilizers better access to the root system, allow water to soak in better, break up thatch and loosen compact soil. When it’s time, Hill and his neighbors chip in to rent an aerator from Home Depot for about $40 a day.

Hill also recommends adjusting the lawn mower during the summer to leave grass slightly longer. Grass that is cut too short will turn brown more easily. Frequent mowing also encourages grass to grow, Hill said.

While lawn maintenance may be stressful for some, people in the Pacific Northwest have it pretty easy, Hill said. He has lived in cities throughout the country. In some, such as Phoenix, Ariz., lawn care is nearly impossible because of the heat.

“You don’t get extreme temperature changes here in the Northwest,” he said.

Hill said he conserves water when he cares for his lawn by watering in the morning and evening when there is less waste by evaporation.

Contact Margo Hoffman: mhoffman@fedwaymirror.com or (253) 925-5565.

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