From Medford, OR, to Bellingham, WA, the Pacific Northwest has long been renowned as one of the greenest, most lush parts of the country. The temperate rainforests of the region are famous, as are its many wine-producing areas. You could hike for months underneath thick forest canopies and practically never see the sun (especially during winter). Therefore, the Pacific Northwest must be an excellent spot for homeowners to have lush, green lawns without putting in much effort, right?
Unfortunately, that’s not the case. While the Pacific Northwest’s damp, temperate climate makes it an excellent environment for growing many things, and it’s true that lawns do thrive with the amount of moisture you see in parts of the PNW, there are still many lawncare headaches for homeowners in the region to wrestle with. In this article, we’ll look at five common Pacific Northwest lawn problems and what, exactly, you can do about them.
1. Moles and Other Pests
Just because you don’t see them aboveground doesn’t mean these unwanted visitors aren’t making their home underneath your lawn.
There are two primary species of moles found in the Pacific Northwest, the Townsend’s mole and the coast mole, and while they can be moderately helpful in keeping lawns and gardens free of insects, they’re usually far more destructive in how they tear up soil. If you see dirt tunnels or mounds of earth in your lawn, that’s a telltale sign that you have a mole problem.
Solution: Pesticides that kill off insect populations can be a tempting first option—after all, moles won’t come to your lawn if it doesn’t have anything for them to eat—but we recommend against it. After all, the moles’ favorite food tends to be earthworms, and our worm friends are great at improving soil health.
The most reliable way to get rid of moles is to trap them, either by yourself or by calling an exterminator. Once the mole has been trapped and removed, try to collapse or flood its tunnels, to prevent any other moles from taking advantage of the free vacant housing and moving right in.
A synthetic lawn can be a deterrent to these subterranean menaces as well. While moles can still be a problem for a synthetic lawn, they’re much less likely to be home to the insects and other critters moles eat in the first place.
2. Weeds and Other Invasive Plants
What do clovers, dandelions, and herb Robert have in common? They’re all common weeds found in the Pacific Northwest. While many weeds can have somewhat beneficial properties—clover, for instance, can add nitrogen to the soil, making it more pest-resistant and fertile—they often don’t look very good in a lawn, or may even have other problems, like herb Robert’s distinctive odor.
Either way, weeds and other invasive plants can be a headache to deal with, and you don’t want them in your lawn.
Solution: Letting your lawn grow a little higher reduces the chance of weeds growing, as they tend to require direct sunlight. There’s no substitute for a nice day of manual weeding—just be sure you get the root systems.
Synthetic lawns are a good solution here too. While some weeds, like dandelions, grow from the top down and so can still settle in artificial lawns, they will have very shallow root systems and be much more easily removed.
Moss can be a bit of a sneaky foe for your lawn. It especially loves low-light areas, like patches of your lawn that are under the shade of a tree. Now, can you think of a part of the country that doesn’t always get lots of direct light and has tons of trees? Exactly—the PNW is the ideal growing climate for moss. It can also be a bit of a pain to get rid of, as there aren’t usually large plants that you can grab and rip out like you can with most weeds.
Solution: While moss is a tricky enemy to tackle, it is also a very opportunistic plant, meaning moss won’t grow where something else already is. Therefore, the proper way to handle moss is to keep your lawn as healthy and lush as possible, to deny it a potential foothold.
A key tip is this: make sure your lawn is properly draining so that excess moisture won’t damage or kill grass roots, a necessity in wet PNW winters.
4. Dry Summers
This is a bit of an inversion of the typical problems one might expect in the PNW—lack of sunlight and abundance of moisture—but in recent years, our summers have been hotter, longer, and drier. As a result, lawns that expect abundant rainfall might struggle to survive when we go two, three, or more months without a drop of rain.
Solution: Obviously, regular watering and sprinklers can take care of this, but water rationing may be more common in the future, so that may not be a reliable choice moving forward.
However, there are also some hardy, drought-resistant strains of grass that don’t need regular watering to survive dry summers and bounce back in winter. Tall Fescue and Kentucky Bluegrass are both quite drought-resistant while being suited for the cool climate we see in the PNW the rest of the year.
A synthetic lawn is also a great way to keep your lawn looking lush and green during dry summer months. It doesn’t require watering; just a quick rinse once a week will keep it clear of debris.
Let’s face it: Taking care of your lawn isn’t fun. We all want a lush, green lawn, but cutting it, watering it, weeding it – these are hot, sweaty jobs that nobody likes doing. How can you have a lawn that looks great but doesn’t require hours of your life every week to keep looking great?
Solution: Have kids, and make them do it instead.
Just kidding! You might have noticed that this—and all of our other common Pacific Northwest lawn problems—would be nicely fixed by a beautiful synthetic lawn. These lawns don’t need watering, won’t welcome moss or other weeds, and are less likely to play home to the types of insects that moles love to eat.
If you want to consult the experts on having a gorgeous synthetic lawn installed, contact Sportech, the synthetic lawn experts in the Portland-Salem metro area.