Organic Lawn Care Basics
We can all contribute to a better ecosystem, and incorporating organic lawn care in our lawn maintenance plan, is a great place to start. Each year, billions of dollars are spent on chemicals and pesticides for lawn care to keep the more than 30 million acres of turf in the United States healthy. Because pesticides can be harmful on an already fragile ecosystem it's important to avail ourselves of other eco-friendly methods of lawn care.
Organic lawn care is easier and less expensive than you might think. Furthermore, a lawn maintained with organic methods is much healthier in the long run, for instance:
- They withstand drought more easily
- They are less susceptible to pest and disease problems
- They can be enjoyed, by people and pets without worry about getting sick
Transitioning your Lawn to Organic Lawn Care
Planting a new lawn using organic methods and transitioning an existing lawn to organic care are two completely different processes. Because most people will be starting with an existing lawn (uniform turf, or a blend of different turf and weeds), we'll explain how to transition your existing lawn.
Organic lawn care principles, according to The Organic Lawn Care Manual, by Paul Tukey outlines twelve steps for transitioning your lawn to organic methods. You'll be on your way to a healthy lawn in no time with these eco-friendly tips:
- Test your soil
- Aerate and de-thatch the lawn
- Check the weeds growing in the lawn, and add soil amendments to make conditions less favorable for weeds
- Top-dress the lawn with about ½ inch of fine compost at least once a year
- Spray with compost tea three times a year
- Mow the lawn to the maximum height for your grass cultivar, and do not ever remove more than 1/3 of the grass blade in any single mowing
- "Grass-cycle" or leave grass clippings on the lawn to add nitrogen back into the lawn
- Water deeply and infrequently to encourage deep root growth
- Over-seed with the right grass seed in the spring or fall to thicken up turf
- Add white clover to your grass seed mix to add nitrogen to the soil
- Add nitrogen as needed, depending upon the results of your soil test
- Make sure (via soil test) that the calcium level in the soil is seven times higher than the magnesium levels, to ensure that both nutrients are available in the right forms for plants to absorb
Dealing with Weeds
Any organic lawn care program must be organized to treat weeds. And, as you transition your lawn to organic methods, you will need to take a three pronged approach to removing weeds and prohibiting their growth. Good lawn care goes a long way toward preventing weed growth. Start by adhering to the proper pH for your lawn, applying the right watering and mowing techniques, and avoiding over-feeding with nitrogen. Incorporate the following practices to remove weeds and prohibit new growth in your lawn:
Dig up the big weeds. The only way to completely remove the largest weeds from the lawn is to dig them up. For a weed-free, organically maintained lawn, the big weeds and taproots must be eradicated, and the best and easiest way to do that is by digging.
Do not let existing weeds go to seed. Prevent weeds in the lawn from re-producing, and your battle against weeds gets easier. You can prevent existing weeds from spreading seeds by keeping the grass mown frequently, at the proper height.
Use corn gluten as a pre-emergence herbicide to keep weed seeds that do make it into the lawn from sprouting.
Transitioning your lawn care practices from synthetics to organics can be easy and effortless. However, should you want a more in depth understanding of organic lawn care, speak with one of our experienced lawn care providers today.