Close Menu

Top Tips for Flower and Lawn Care

Whitworth Grounds and Landscape Services Supervisor Janet Helgeson's Top Tips for Flower and Lawn Care

What's your secret for growing the gorgeous petunia flower baskets that line the Hello Walk each summer and fall?

It is all about the type of petunia. Proven Winners are the only petunia we will use at Whitworth. They are a little bit more expensive, but they have stronger stems, they will outlast any other petunia in the fall, and they are better able to handle the cold, so they will take some of the early spring and late fall frost. Their performance is outstanding! They are heavy feeders; they need a lot of acid fertilizer, which is high in nitrogen. The soil must be kept in a PH range of 6.2-6.4. We fertilize two times a week. They need water, but they prefer to be a little bit on the dry side, not soggy. Soggy soil will kill them and will cause all kinds of insect and disease problems.

What are your top tips for caring for lawns and flowers?

Lawns: The most important thing with lawns is to use organic fertilizer. Try to stay away from synthetics. You need to have good micro-life in your soil, and lots of worms are important for aeration. Whitworth uses an organic fertilizer on campus and we only fertilize two times a year. Soil tests are important so that you are putting on what the lawn needs. Don't overwater. It is best to water deep and let the grass sink its roots deep. Frequent watering causes disease problems. Don't cut the lawn too short; it is best to keep the grass two-and-a-half to three inches tall. Lawns shorter than that dry out quickly and weeds will move in.

Flowers: It's important to choose the right flowers for the location (shade, sun, etc.). Don't overwater, since flowers don't like to be soggy. Proper fertilization is very important: Most flowers like high phosphorous, but not petunia. Jacks Classic is specially formulated for iron-hungry crops such as petunia, calibrachoa, bacopa, nemesia, diascia and scaevola. Other flowers such as pelargonium, marigold and impatiens like a good phosphorous fertilizer.