www.goodFolksToMow.com / email: don@goodFolksToMow.com

March / April THINGS TO DO

Seattle ( PNW ) / Denver Area

revised march 2024

Note - I recently moved to Denver, which has a different climate zone, and shorter growing season. This is a combined, general, maintenance guideline for both areas.


Inspect for:
* cankers and swollen area's
* damaged and crossing branches
* dead, off-color, leaves and twigs
* guy wires that need to be loosened or removed

* routine pruning & thinning
(best done prior to leafout / bloom)

do late march / early april:
* cut old fern leaves to just above new fronds about to emerge
* prune roses
* prune hydranga's, gooseberry, currant
* prune early flowering heath, heather, and shrubs
(after blooms die off)

* identify the plants you intend to prune
* follow your local county extension pruning guidelines


* lawns will need one or two mowing's in march and two or three mowings in april. mulch the clippings!

* start regular mowing early if not mowed since late fall

I use a well adjusted and sharp push mower, for all my jobs now. Available at many hardware stores for about $100. Throw the bag away!

My niece and s/o keep their lawn quite long and i think this is an interesting idea. The cats provide the evening entertainment hunting bugs in the yard, half-hidden by the grass.

It still needs to be regularly mowed, nipping off as much as the mower can handle with each cut. I do not know all the pro's and cons, but i used to have pastures and i did regularly mow them and achieved good quality grass pasture for the cows.

Lawn alternatives are more often seen now. They can reduce water useage, although i see lawns that have not been watered this year greening up with late september rains. Some lawns are not coming back. Moderate watering through the hot dry spells probably aids in recovery.

A customer of mine who was an economics professor tried replacing his lawn and found maintenance costs to be about the same.

Plantings which replace a lawn can be more interesting, and biologically diverse.

However, lawns can nicely frame a home and add useful living and recreation space.


* Fertilizing early in spring is not a good idea. It will cause a growth spurt that requires more mowing, and possible fungal infections. Long grass does not dry out well and is harder to mow, and will be unsuited for play or other activities.

* However, if your lawn is looking weak or mossy by early April, apply an iron product containing a small percentage of nitrogen.

Moss control

* If your lawn has heavily moss infested areas, wait until late march to apply moss killer.

* I use a lilly miller no-worry liquid moss killer for lawns. Follow the label instructions and try to target moss using a spray bottle or hand pump.

Here is a way you might avoid having to rake the dead moss out, and conserve excellent topsoil often found beneath the moss: seed and topdress over the blackened moss within the next few days.

Weed Control

*weed & feed is never recommended.

* try to identify the weeds you want to control

* Spot treatments of household vinegar can be useful, apply a little before noon if possible. ( Frankly, I haven't had much luck with it recently. I do not recommend using horticultural vinegar because it is double strength and may cause personal injury.)

* apply using a spray bottle or hand pump for non-selective control of dandelions, many other weeds, and weedlike grasses

* it does not work on buttercup or ground ivy
* a second application may be helpful
* target the weed
* apply with moderation as you would on a garden salad
* palm-sized spots of grasskill will recover

* safe products based on cinnimin, orange oil, etc - are available, & approved by the epa and many states. read the label carefully and follow the instructions

* flamer - lightly crinkle the leaves of emerging weeds

Use caution - surrounding plants may be combustable. Keep spray bottle of water or vinegar on hand to douse hotspots..the vinegar may be applied without the flamer as the situation requires.

* corn gluten may control some pre-emergent weeds at 20#/1000 s.f. - available at walts fertilizer. (i have not personally seen much effectiveness, but corn gluten is also an organic fertilizer)

hand-dig weeds where practical - use a corona mattock with adjustable handle (it can be done!)

If you are fortunate enough to own a stihl rotary trimmer attachment, use it to slice under the weeds at about a 45 degree angle. this is pretty quick and routine patrols every 3 weeks or as needed will control most weeds.

Cranefly control: Not recommended unless high numbers are confirmed present in soil.

Early may is the only window of opportunity. Neem oil or canola oil are low toxicity products that may work.

Don't use either spray when bee's are present in area.

Lawn renovation: late March / early April

Aeration: aerate only if the soil beneath the grass is not getting wet after a good rain

i think most lawns, at least in Seattle, don't need aerating

To be effective, several passes (4 or 5) of the aerator is needed to remove sufficient soil surface

leave the plugs on the ground

*For additional lawn renovation information pls link to the "Lawn Care Tips" pamphlet on this site:


Planting Bed Maintenance

* Routine weeding and cleanup.

* Fertilize roses, shrubs as needed

* Divide summer blooming perennials (shasta daisy, astilbe, daylilies, aster, coral bells, hosta, etc)

* Plant beets, chard, lettuce, onions, pea's, potatoes, radishes, spinach, turnips, leafy greens/hardy herbs (at 2 week intervals)

* Self-sowing flowers; nasturtium, sunflower, cosmos, poppy alyssum, pansy


- helps suppress weeds and makes them easier to remove

- protects soil from compaction and erosion due to rain

- protects sensitive plants against cold damage

* Add mulch to beds if needed. More than 2" total depth of mulch is not recommended

* Compost is a mulch containing significant amounts of decomposed organic matter

* Compost, leaves, and moss, are effective soil builders

* Leaves provide good cover for bare-dirt beds and slopes

* Leaves left in beds can be raked up if they become unacceptably unsightly after at least some of the mass breaks down; or, till them back into the bed in the spring, or add more mulch later over the leaves.

* Keep mulch away from trunks of shrubs and trees.


* For garden area's and closely planted beds, Compost is a good mulch to improve soil quality and provide organic nutrients.

* Cedar Grove compost is a good product.
It can be initially odorous and mucky during winter and early spring.

* Compost of variable quality is usually available at landscape materials outlets. Check for excessive sand and sawdust in mix.

* For open bed area's, play area's, trails;

* Arbor chips work well - they can be applied more thickly than other mulches, but may be more time consuming to apply, and variable in quality

* play chips can also be used as mulch but it will have a different appearance and color you may not prefer

* "Beauty Carpet" was attractive and conformed to play area specs. I am not sure if it was a compost, or if it is still available. Similar products may now be available.

* Coarse bark mulch will last quite a bit longer than finer bark

* Cedar chip mulch is sometimes available, - you may try Issaquah lumber in Seattle. Shredded cedar mulch is generally available, and i think it is a good product.

* wood chip mulch, especially dyed products, should be certified not to contain shredded pallets before using it.

Moss on hardscapes:

* Inspect walkways, steps and driveway for hazardous buildup of moss. Scrape it off, then apply a safe hardscape moss control product or household vinegar.

* the residue moss may still be slick and unsightly until it weathers away, so it may be nescessary to pressure wash any remaining moss or algae.

roof and gutter cleaning:

* March and October are good times to schedule routine maintenance. Regular roof maintenance can extend roof-life by 25% (*2)

* A rainy day is a good time to look for leaks and overflows. This month (March), the PNW still has 3 months of rain to come, and additional debris and moss buildup may have accumulated since the last cleaning. (see our research link page - to structural moss control).

* Note that gutter screening systems can lose effectiveness if covered by debris or plugged with moss. Finely meshed downspout screens may disintegrat and actually clog downspouts.

* Heavy moss and debris on roofs should first be removed as much as practically possible - gently scrape, sweep, or brush with the backside of a metal flexible rake or a wire brush on a handle.

* do not attempt to physically remove moss on dangerous roof-slopes. just spray it with a safe moss control product and allow it to weather away, or call a pro. don't take a chance of slipping!!

* lilly miller "worry free" has a safe product for moss control; household vinegar is also effective. Use only products labelled for hardscape use. FOLLOW ALL LABEL INSTRUCTIONS AND WARNINGS! these products do kill moss, but allow time for the dead moss to weather away. brush the dead moss off when it no longer clings to roofing.

* Pressure washing roofs can cause damage and is not recommended, unless the pressure is carefully regulated so as not to cause damage.

* Removing moss from cedar shake roofs is not recommended or feasible.

* Use chicken wire and wirecutters to make downspout covers or inserts to keep your downspouts from plugging up. A finer mesh may quickly plug up and in some cases, disintegrate inside your downspout.