You may be able to find them locally at Lowe's or McClendons.  I don't think that
Home Depot carries that brand.  Toro also makes a good one, and Rainbird
makes them as well.  Basically, you want one you can program to water 3-4
times a day, for a given number of minutes.  I like the Gilmour because you can
set the watering times exactly, along with the exact start times.  Some you can
only program to start 4, 8, 12 hours after you begin the program, and for 15
minute increments, which isnt' always what you need.
Use a sprinkler that will cover, but not puddle.  Again, Gilmour makes the ones
we like best, as they are rotary type, model # ATR5, again available on
Amazon, but also at McClendon's the last time I looked.  They have the best
coverage, and don't tend to leave puddles that can wash away seed like the
type that swing back and forth.
You'll want to experiment a bit to get the best coverage.  Don't worry if you have
to miss small areas, you can always go back and reseed those after the main
area comes in.  If you have a really large area, you can use two timers, and two
sprinklers, on a splitter from the same hose bib.  Just remember...don't turn
OFF the hose bib!   If you have decent water pressure, and fairly good
coverage, you should be able to set your sprinkler timer to run for 7-10 minutes,
say at 8 am, 11 am,  2 pm and 5 pm.  You don't want the ground to be soaking
wet, just keep it damp, so you may have to adjust as you go.  You'll need to
keep that program up for about 2 weeks.   While you CAN do it without the
timers, we've really found that they are the very best way to do it, and even
though they aren't cheap ( $45-60) you will be able to use them later when
you're on vacations, with soaker hose systems in beds, etc. etc.  They are really
worth the investment for this project! you have it!   The secret to a gorgeous Seattle lawn!  Follow these
directions, and you will be able to get rid of your mossy, clump lawn, and have
a nice smooth and
healthy one for years to come.   Thatch it every year or
two, do a couple applications of iron and some granular lime ( which helps
adjust the Ph of the soil to more suit grass ) and you won't have to go through
the top dressing/overseeding part.   Nice lawns are work, and using lots of
fertilizers and chemicals on them are not always the answer, and are definitely
not the best thing for our Sound!

As always, please call us or come by to get your soils, compost, mulches and
other garden needs!
Help!  My Lawn Looks Terrible!
(otherwise  known  as  Seattle  lawn!)

Every year about this time, we start getting calls from people who say their lawn
Many times they ask if we can come aerate it, believing that to be the solution.
While aerating your lawn is not a bad thing, it's usually not the solution to the
biggest problem with Northwest lawns.

That problem is called M-O-S-S !!
While moss is a lovely green color, and some actually  prefer it to grass, its' not
a good thing if
you prefer to  have a lawn that IS grass!
If you have a lawn that looks clumpy, with patches of unhealthy looking tufts of
grass, surrounded by other patches of shorter, yellow green vegetation, you may
very well have MOSS! As moss grows and fills in, it starts to prevent water from
filtering through to the roots of the grass, starts to crowd out the grass itself, and
eventually, just takes over the entire lawn.  In the late summer, it may start to go
dormant, and turn a yellowish brown, and then your lawn looks even worse!

While it may LOOK hopeless, it's not, and need not even be that expensive to fix,
if you're willing to do some work yourself. So here in a step by step list, is the
way to restore your Northwest moss encrusted lawn!

IRON!  No, don't get out the iron and a long extension
cord..not that kind of iron.   What you need is granular iron, otherwise seen as
Moss Out and other brands. You can also find Fertilizer's that are high iron, and
those will work as well, but as much of Seattle is near our beautiful Puget Sound,
and nitrates ( which as found in fertilizers ) are not GOOD for Puget Sound, we
don't encourage you to use more nitrate fertilizer's than you really need to. So for
this situation, we encourage you to start with Iron alone.  The more iron the better
when you're starting this process.  Using a fertilizer spreader, hand carried
spreader, or even just handfulls on the areas that have the worst moss, spread
the granular iron on the moss areas.    It is best to do it when it is dry out, and
then to immediately sweep or blow it off sidewalks, drives, patios, etc., because
it WILL cause stains if it  gets wet and dissolves on those surfaces.  Don't be
afraid of using a good amount, it won't hurt anything to use a lot, and it will help
kill the moss.  We do recommend using a spreader, because there is most likely
moss buried down in the healthier looking parts of your lawn, and you want to kill
that too.  Once you've applied your iron, and cleaned it off the walks, etc. you
can either water it in using a sprayer on your hose, or wait 15 minutes until the
next rainstorm passes through! It will need to get wet to start working the best.

WAIT!    For the iron to work, and the moss to die.  This will take up to a few
weeks.  Sometimes you'll need to reapply iron again after 7-10 days.  Basically,
you want the moss to start to turn dark brown, which shows its' on it's last legs!  
The deader it is, the easier the next part is!

THATCH!  Thatching involves using either a power "lawn rake", or  
de-thatcher, or if you're doing a pretty small area and like a good workout, a
hand thatch rake.  A thatch rake has special thin pointed blades, that are
mounted in a row about 18" wide usually.  These grab the now dead moss as
you pull back, and rip it out by the hopefully now dead "roots"!  ( my horticultural
business partner reminded me that moss doesn't have ROOTS...but you know
what I mean! ) I'm not going to fool you and tell you it's easy.  Its' a LOT of work if
you're doing any size lawn at all.  You can buy a
thatch rake at your local hardware like McClendons' or Junction True Value, or
you can rent one at  Center Tool Rental in White Center @ (206) 762-5057.
You can also rent a power thatcher there, and THAT is what I recommend if
you are doing any size lawn area at all.  A power thatcher has little mini rakes
around a central shaft that spins, a bit like a reel mower does.  Those little
rakes spin fast, and they grab all that moss, and pull it up out of the ground with a
lot less effort than it takes
you to pull it out!  You just have to push the thatcher,
which are usually fairly light, and the little spinning tines do help to pull it along a
bit.  You'll want to make a couple passes and the best way is to make them first
one direction, like north to south, and then for the second pass, go perpendicular
as in west to east, so you end up with a lawn that looks like a checkerboard.
What you'll also end up with is a LOT of moss.  You will be really amazed at how
much moss you end up with in fact!  Bags, and bags, and bags of moss if you
have never done this before and your lawn was in bad shape!

RAKE!  Yes, get the kids out from in front of the xbox, and put a leaf rake
in their hands!  Hey my Dad and Mom did it to me, and look!  Here I am years
later, telling
you what to do!  You might even be taking my advice!  You will now
have to rake up all that moss, and put it in your clean green bin, or lots and lots
of clean green bins if you have lots of moss.  Luckily it's a) light, b) fluffy and c)
does compact down if you jump up and down on it.  The easiest thing is to rake it
into piles, then put the piles in the bags, cans, etc.  (hey...I warned you...step
by step! )  Once you've got all that moss raked up, you may look down at your
lawn and say...but hey...I still see some moss!  Guess what?!  You get to do it
again.  You don't have to, your call there, but you do want to get as much of it up
as you can for the best results

TO AERATE or NOT TO AERATE?  This is going to depend a bit on both
how much work you feel like doing, and also on what the condition of the soil and
lawn is that's left. (IF there's any left! )  If you're soil is pretty sandy, and is easy to
stick a spading fork, or something along those lines into, or if you run some water
on it, and it drains fairly fast, you probably don't have to worry too much about
doing this step.  If you're soil is very heavy clay, and water tends to sit on it when
it rains, then you might want to aerate it.  Again, you can rent them at rental
shops, or you can pay a company to come out and do it.  Aerating removes small
1/2" diameter or so plugs from the soil, every 4-6" and allows water to drain
down into the soil, and into the roots of your grass.  That helps it grow more
healthy, with less water.  I always like to rake up the plugs after aerating, but
since you are next going to top dress it with new soil, it may not be needed.
Warning, aerators are pretty awkward, heavy pieces of equipment to move and
to use, so if you're not feeling adventurous, its' probably better to call a lawn
service company to have that part done.

TOP DRESS  Top dressing involves putting a thinnish layer of new soil
on top of your now mostly moss free lawn.  This does several things.  It first
enables you to fill in all those little craters left in your lawn where you pulled the
moss out, so you can make it all nice and level.   Second, by using a product
like our Cedar Grove Lawn mix or two way topsoil, a mix of sand and compost,
it puts some new nutrients into the existing soil.  Finally, it also give you a nice
consistent base for your seed, so your lawn will fill in evenly.  Generally you'll
want to figure on around an inch at the minimum, maybe a little more if your lawn
is really uneven and you want to level it out.   You'll need one yard of soil/compost
mix per 300 Square feet of lawn.  After having us
deliver it to you, spread it out by shovel or wheelbarrow, then use a landscape
rake to get it nice and levelled out.  A landscape rake is usually a solid aluminum
rake, either 36 or 48" wide.  The extra width makes it easier to create a nice
level lawn as you spread.  Again, you can purchase them, or rent from Center
Tool.    Once you have your soil spread and levelled, it's a good idea to run over
it with a lawn roller, to compact it and help find any low areas that you need to
add more soil to before you seed.  You don't need to use a power plate
compactor on it, ( and don't want to!) just a lawn roller, about half to 2/3 full of

FERTILIZE and SEED!  Now you have your beautiful, smooth base ready
for your seed.  First, we recommend you put a light application of "starter"
fertilizer on.   Scott's makes one, as do other manufacturers.  You don't need a
heavy application, it's just to help the existing by now stressed grass that is
there, and the new seed to root faster.   Next, choose a good quality, mostly
perennial rye seed and apply it using a broadcast spreader, set at the medium
spread amount.  You don't want  it so thick you see nothing but seed, but you do
want a consistent, even layer of seed.       Once you have spread it, taking care
to keep it OUT of beds and aother garden areas, use a leaf rake to gently go
over the whole area, which helps cover the seed partially and rake it into the soil.

WATER, WATER, WATER!   The number one, biggest problem we see
with failure in seeding projects, is under watering.   We have gotten to the point
now, where we no longer will do them, without setting up temporary irrigation
systems, which we do by using inexpensive battery powered timers that are
programmable to water up to 4 times a day.  The BEST one we've found is
made by Gilmour.  We've had a number of them and used them for years and
they are pretty much bulletproof. I can't tell you the model number, but I know
they are available on and here is the link to the one we like.