Lawn Care: Portland Landscaping Maintenance Tips by Eric Johansson at Landscape East & West

August 23, 2013

Landscaping Portland Lawn CareFor many Americans, a lush lawn is a must-have for their dream homes. And considering the history of the common lawn, it’s easy to see why. The first lawns were status symbols—signs of power that cropped up at Louis the Sixteenth’s gardens at Versailles. The European trend of creating lawn “pleasure grounds” soon crossed the Atlantic; landed aristocrats including George Washington and Thomas Jefferson had English-style lawns at their American abodes. However, when it comes to Portland, Oregon landscaping, a lawn may just be a small, well-tended area surrounded by native plants and creative landscaping.

Regardless of the size of your lawn, keeping it looking good requires the right knowledge. If you’ve just added new turf to your property, this post will help you keep your new lawn looking gorgeous throughout the summer months.

Portland Landscaping Maintenance Tips: When to Cut Grass for the First Time

Cut your new turf when it’s about three inches tall—but don’t cut too much!  Begin mowing weekly keeping in mind that you only want to remove 1/3 of the grass blade each time you mow.  The shorter your lawn is cut the faster the lawn dries out.  As we go into the warmer months beginning in mid-May, cut your lawn at 2 to 2½ inches through the summer. This taller height will shade the soil keeping grass roots cool during the hot summer months.

Pro Techniques for Your Lawn’s First Cut

Portland Oregon Lawn CareKeep the catcher clear. Empty the mower’s catcher frequently when mowing a new lawn. A full bag of cuttings will weigh down the whole mower, and probably leave unsightly tracks in your lawn.  Alternating the mowing pattern will help decrease mower tracks.

Don’t worry about thin spots. It is normal for newly seeded lawns to have a few thin zones. If you cut and fertilize regularly, this problem will go away on its own.

Don’t walk on the new grass! Keep your family members and pets off of the newly seeded lawn until the grass is well established, typically after the 2nd mowing.

Keep the soil moist until you’re ready to cut. A newly seeded lawn should receive 5 minutes of water three or four times per day; this is typically enough to keep the soil moist without causing puddles. With warm, moist soil the grass seeds will soften and germination can begin. Two days before your lawn’s first cut, decrease watering to once per day for five minutes at a time.

Be sure to water correctly and efficiently. After the 1st mowing begin watering for a longer period and a shorter interval.  Typically ten to twenty minutes of watering every other day. An irrigation system, set to go off early in the morning, is your best bet for consistent, effective watering. Early morning watering allows the moisture to reach the roots more efficiently compared to afternoon watering (too much evaporation occurs with higher temperature in the PM).  As well, AM watering will help prevents fungal growth compared to night time watering.  Avoid the night time watering!

How Portland’s Soil & Climate Impacts Lawn Growth, and What You Can Do About It

Portland Landscaping Maintenance Lawn CareMuch of Portland’s soil has high clay content. This means that water is retained well—once it has had a chance to seep into the soil. Also, a well-established lawn in Portland doesn’t need water every day –especially in the heat of the summer months.  Instead, water every other day. In the spring, you can water three times a week or less, depending on rainfall. 

Cruising around Portland this summer, you’ve probably seen plenty of brown lawns. If you don’t want your lawn to go brown, you’ll need to start a regular routine of fertilization, weed control, mowing, and watering. If your lawn goes thirty or forty days without any moisture, you will have problems and may need to replace it.

It’s best to invest in an efficient irrigation system, which can save you both time and money. Installing or upgrading a system to water turf slowly is ideal for Portland’s environment; the slow release of water allows more to penetrate through the clay levels. Finally, given the prevalence of moss in the Rose City, you should know which months are best to do moss control: February and March.

We are happy to help you create the emerald green expanse of your dreams. Our experts can run a series of tests to determine the best landscaping practices for your area. Soil density, water saturation rates, and slopes all have an impact on lawn growth, so we recommend that homeowners hire professional landscape contractors to check these characteristics. Interested in organic lawn care options? Landscape East & West is one of a handful of landscape firms in the Portland area to embrace a fully organic lawn, tree, and shrub fertility program.

At Landscape East & West we provide full-service care for your lawn to ensure its ongoing health. Some of our services include:

  • Irrigation assessment
  • Mowing
  • Pruning
  • Weeding
  • Fertilizing
  • Leaf cleanup
  • Pest management
  • And much, much more!


And best of all, we don’t leave you hanging—our expert account managers will keep you in the loop with frequent contact. Call us today to achieve your American Dream lawn: “a carpet all alive,” as the poet William Wordsworth put it.


Eric Johansson Landscape ContactorsContributing author Eric Johansson specializes in lawn care maintenance at Landscape East & West, Portland landscaping and design professionals. From irrigation assessment to leaf cleanup, our team has your lawn’s best health in mind. Learn more about our lawn care services at