Americans love their gardens and as Americans we want them to be the best in the neighborhood and the greener, healthier and lusher it is the better. Guess what? You can have the lawn you’ve always wanted without having to spend hours and weeks taking it down. You never heard that before? That’s right, an organic lawn is almost maintenance free! In addition to the lush carpet feel when you walk on it, you can have peace of mind knowing your family, pets, and beautiful wildlife are completely safe. Safe from artificial fertilizers and pesticides. In the following pages I will show you tips for organic lawn care. You’ll learn what your lawn needs to be healthy, how organic fertilizers can be applied safely, and how mowing can keep your lawn free of weeds all season long. I can promise you that growing an organic lawn will be so easy and rewarding that you’ll want to show your friends how to do it.
If you listen to what many people say, you would be led to believe that it is impossible to have a healthy, weed-free lawn without using chemicals. You will also find that by not using chemicals, your maintenance will be easier and your effort will not be in vain.
When you stop adding synthetic fertilizers to your lawn, you’ll find that it doesn’t grow as fast. This in turn will allow you to cut less grass! Lawns that are grown organically will also have deeper roots that require less water, which means more money in your pocket, especially during the hot summer month. These grasses can withstand the harshest droughts because they have deep roots. If for any reason a problem arises, the solution is simple and safe.
When making the switch to an organic lawn, it’s important to let go of old-school ways of lawn care. To start with, there are a few things that you need to stop immediately.
Some lawn care professionals will tell you that aeration is a must for a healthy lawn. This process is known to break up and loosen compacted soil to encourage root growth. This process is done in several ways. Some have been known to wear pointy shoes, rental equipment, etc. This process opens up the soil to allow hydrogen peroxide and other vital nutrients to flow into the root zone. In most cases aeration is not necessary. Compaction is the main reason to aerate, but most homeowners don’t have enough traffic to compact the soil for aeration to be relevant. Not even that, aeration can actually cause compaction by introducing increased airflow which wastes the decomposition of organic material that breaks up the soil and keeps it loose. Aeration is helpful if you have a heavy clay lawn. This is quite common on new home construction sites.
As we have all seen, synthetic fertilizers cause our grass to grow at a high rate, which leads to more mowing. Organic decomposers that we cannot see, such as earthworms, cannot keep up with the amount of grass that is deposited as organic matter. The end result is straw. (I’ll talk more about straw in a bit.) We want the grass to grow at the right time. Rapid growth is unhealthy and does not build strong roots that can withstand drought or foreign pest invasions. Removing the grass is not necessary if your grass is growing at a normal rate as mentioned above. Too much nitrogen from synthetic fertilizers causes your lawn to grow rapidly and produce stems, roots and leaves faster than decomposers can eat them. If you don’t know what straw is, get out there right now and grab a handful of material right above the ground. Thatch is the clippings and dead material thrown up by the lawn. This should be no more than an inch thick. More than an inch will prevent air and water from reaching the ground. Thatch removal can be done in several ways. Some recommend the use of a straw removal machine. Another traditional way to cause thatched roofs is to spray chemical pesticides. Pesticides kill important decomposers in the soil from the engulfed straw.
Most people think that water is the key to a greener lawn. It’s a very important key, but it can be just as damaging if done too much. Establishing new lawns is very important, but if your lawn is established, you need less than you think. When your lawn is over-watered, you will see it get soggy. Moisture prevents roots from getting the nutrients they need and instigates growth diseases. The best way to make sure your lawn has the right amount of grass is to make sure the roots are well-wet. The best way to encourage this is by building a strong humus content. Unfortunately, hummus doesn’t get the attention it deserves. Humus is the leftover organic material that cannot be used by microorganisms or plants, so it becomes a large sponge that contains 90% of its weight in water. That is why when other soils without humus dry out, the soil with humus will still be moist weeks later.
Cut the grass too short? stop now! A burnt brown lawn is a clear sign that the lawn has been cut too much. Why did this happened? Well, every time you mow the lawn you cause temporary stress. The grass stops growing for a short period of time but also begins a rejuvenation process. Trust me, I’ve learned this the hard way. I remember mowing my lawn only on Saturday. It didn’t matter if he needed it or not. I would start my trusty lawn mower, lower the blade and mow. It would leave rocks and other debris flying everywhere while leaving a cloud of dust behind me. Eventually, after hot summers hit for a couple of years with little rain, I inherited a dirt lawn. There were some patches of grass, but mostly weeds and dirt. That’s when I went back to seeding and learned that mowing high is the best way to help your lawn recover from the stress of mowing. Your organic grass will grow best when your blade is in its highest position. This will give your lawn an increased surface area that will allow it to take in more sun and produce stronger root growth. Leading to better drought tolerance and faster recovery from dormancy. The taller the grass, the less weeds you will see as well. Tall grass will always trump weeds and retain moisture by casting a shadow on the ground stopping water loss through evaporation.
Believe it or not, grass clippings will help your new lawn. Actually, your new organic lawn will need them. I know I said clippings cause thatch, but that’s when you’re introducing a higher amount of nitrogen to the lawn. Without the synthetic lawn fertilizers thrown in the trash, thatch will be minimal. The clippings will break down sending fresh nitrogen and other key nutrients into the soil to help your lawn grow healthier and greener than you ever thought possible. Many don’t know it, but clippings add 1-2 pounds of nitrogen to the soil for every 1,000 square feet of soil. Mowing the grass at the correct height will hide these clippings instead of leaving them on top of the lawn for all to see. See how organic lawns save you time and money. Keep the baggers and rakes in the shed and don’t have to buy nitrogen fertilizers at local stores.
So now that you have the knowledge to start an organic lawn, don’t hesitate. Your lawn can now be a place to relax and unwind as well as worrying about it and making it stressful. Spend more time doing what you want and spending time with family. Organic grass will be more rewarding than you can imagine.