Green Garden, Green Home masthead

Spring is in the air! The buds and flowers are finally starting to rear their little heads after the thrashing they took in February from all the snow. I’m sure we are all peering at our favorite weather app and heading out every time the weather allows. We have some help for you: five tips to a more natural grass lawn and information about how to support pollinators in your yard. We’ll introduce you to what a basin is, why getting your hands dirty is a good thing, and tell you about some upcoming events. 

garden tip - natural lawn care
close up of grass

In some circles, grass lawns are a dirty word. They’re perceived as something that you dump countless chemicals on to keep green. For others, they see lawns as a utilitarian object, a necessary evil so that their kids and pets have a place to run around. There are others who strive for that perfectly green lawn and consider it a personal triumph to do so in our damp climate. 

There are some very tangible steps to caring for your grass lawn in a more natural way that doesn’t leave you fighting against nature. The secret, as it is for most natural yard care practices, is healthy soil. Healthy soil has lots of pore spaces for air, water and roots, allowing beneficial organisms and organic matter to hold water and nutrients. In turn, the grass grows deeper roots, resists disease and grows denser turf that will outcompete most weeds.

Here are the basic steps that you can try this spring to kick start your lawn:

1. Mow grass higher, more regularly and “grasscycle”.
Set your mower height to between 2-3 inches and mow weekly in the spring. This encourages the grass to develop deeper roots and less thatch. Mowing with unsharpened blades damages the grass and makes it susceptible to disease. Finally, leave grass clippings on the lawn to add natural fertilizers to your lawn that breaks down quickly.

2. Buy grass seed that fits your climate.
A rye/fescue grass seed mix is best for our Northwest climate. Be sure to get a mix that matches the sun/shade conditions of your lawn area.

3. Aerate, overseed and top dress
This method is best for areas that are thin, weedy or compacted. You may need to rent an aerator or hire a professional to aerate your lawn but it is worth it. After aeration, overseed with rye/fescue mix and then topdress with one quarter to one half inch of compost, raking it out to fill aeration holes. April – May are the best spring dates to do this.

4. Slow and natural is the way to go
Avoid ‘weed and feed’ products that are a mix of herbicides and fertilizers. These one-stop products can damage the soil, pollute our water ways and can be unhealthy for pets or kids. It can be good for your sanity to come to terms with some weeds in your yard and work more on crowding them out with a healthy, vigorous growing lawn.

5. Water deeply and less frequently
To promote deeper root growth, it is important to water less often and for a longer period of time. During the driest part of the year, lawns need about 1 inch of water per week. Watering in the morning will reduce evaporation.

Get more information with Natural Lawn Care for Western Washington here.    

stormwater & you

Did you know there are 20 distinct drainage basins in the city of Everett? A drainage basin is any area of land where precipitation collects and drains off from our homes, roads and parking lots into a common outlet, such as into a river, bay, or other body of water.

Of the 20 unique basins that span Everett, most are named after the creeks that run through them. In addition to these basins or creeks, there are three watersheds which house the drainage basins. The Lake Washington watershed includes Swamp Creek, North Creek and Penny Creek. The 17 other basins are within two watersheds, Snohomish River and Port Gardner Bay.

In upcoming newsletters, we will highlight a different creek or basin. We’ll share its location, its topography and health, and what kind of wildlife may inhabit the area. Given our urban landscape, it can be easy to forget that Everett is surrounded by water and that urban creeks, streams and water run throughout the city, teeming with life.   

pollinator header
pollinator garden

Pollinators are vital to creating and maintaining habitats and ecosystems that many animals rely on for food and shelter. They facilitate the reproduction in 90 percent of the world's flowering plants. Over the years, there has been a decline in many pollinators due to disease, lack of habitat, pesticide use and changing climates.

When you think pollinator, bees are likely the first to come to mind. Did you know that butterflies, moths, flies and beetles are also considered pollinators?  Most local pollinators have very small home ranges. To encourage pollinators, it’s important to create a habitat that allows for adequate food, shelter and water sources. It is essential to have a diversity of plants that flower at different times of the year to keep pollinators happy throughout the year.

About 70 percent of native bees nest in the ground. Leaving some bare earth near your pollinator garden can help them as they rear their young. 

in the news
soil in hands

A recent research article published in Neuroscience demonstrated that when mice are exposed to the soil bacterium, Mycobacterium vaccae, it activates serotonin-releasing neurons in the brain. Serotonin is a brain chemical that is sometimes called the happy chemical because it contributes to wellbeing and happiness. You can increase your serotonin levels just by playing in the dirt in your garden! Christopher Lowry, the scientist who published the finding said you can take it to the next level and actually “… ingest mycobacteria through eating plants—like lettuce or carrots that are picked from the garden…”  Now there is scientific proof that getting out and gardening really does just make you feel better.

upcoming programs
save the date postcard

The City of Everett and Snohomish County are teaming up to celebrate Earth Day with a daytime celebration at the Snohomish County Campus Plaza on Tuesday, April 23 from 11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. Join us!

rain garden site assessments

The 2019 rain garden rebate program is underway. City staff are in the midst of doing site assessments for those who are interested in the program and want to know if their property is a viable option for a rain garden. Interested to know if your property qualifies? Live within the Everett city limits? Call 425-257-8992 to sign-up today! Learn more at

rain barrel workshop

April 30, 6 p.m. (FULL - waitlist available)
May 9, 7 p.m.
Attend a “Make it, Take it” workshop hosted by Everett Public Works and build your own rain barrel. The fee covers the cost of the 55-gallon barrel and all parts. Fee is $40, cash or check.

Mother's Day is May 12. Invite your mom to come along to a workshop. Have a lot of fun working together and your mom can walk away with a barrel or two!
You must pre-register for the workshop to 425-257-8992. Space is limited. Learn more at

rain barrel sale

May 19, 9 a.m. – 12 p.m.
3200 Cedar St.

Public Works will hold a one-day sale for residents to purchase premade rain barrels. Each 55-gallon barrel includes a spigot, overflow, and double screen on top to keep out debris and bugs. Each barrel is $55, cash or check. Learn more at

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