Use Rock Dust to Prepare Your Lawn for Summer

As it’s already late April, we’re pretty confident that the threat of frost is over (at least it is here in Portland, Oregon). That means it’s time to turn our attention to the spring lawn.

People still think of spring as the time to cover their lawn in fertilizer, but unless your lawn has suffered intense winter damage it’s probably not necessary. In fact, in areas like ours with cool-season grasses, fertilizers encourage the rapid growth of tender shoots that struggle during the summer heat and in conditions of drought.

However, most lawns could stand to benefit from some springtime remineralization with rock dust. By strengthening the soil, rock dust makes it easier for new grass to take root and helps increase overall root-mass density. The denser the roots, the less room there is for invasive weeds like dandelions that look for any opportunity to jump in and take over.

We recommend applying 5 to 10 pounds of an all-natural, high-quality volcanic rock dust like Cascade Minerals per 200 square feet of lawn (10×20). Apply using a lawn spreader or by hand, ideally after aeration (which may not even be necessary in the spring unless your soil is very compacted).

Here are a few other things to keep in mind to maintain a lush, green and healthy lawn without resorting to harsh chemicals:

  • Water deeply as opposed to frequently, making sure that growing grass gets at least an inch of water per week. This allows grass roots to grow further down into the soil where they can develop a better stronghold.
  • Start mowing as soon as your grass needs it, but don’t use your lawnmower’s lowest setting. Short blades are stressed-out blades (i.e., don’t cut more than 1/3 of the blade’s length at a time).
  • Leave your grass clippings on the lawn. They add much-needed organic material.

Last but not least, be patient. With April’s nice weather, it can be tempting to get outside and start working on the lawn right away. However, soggy soil is easily damaged. Foot traffic and hard raking can compact the grass and kill young shoots. Wait until the soil is dry, and the lawn has turned mostly green.