Organic lawn care is more than just choosing natural materials over manmade chemicals to improve your yard. It's about getting involved with your lawn and adopting better maintenance practices. It's about understanding how grass becomes healthy and strong, then providing the environment for that strength to happen.
There are several areas of lawn care to consider when planning to go organic:
If your grass is struggling, or you just want to start your new lawn off right, start with a good soil test, so you know what the soil in your own yard is lacking. Your local nursery/garden center or feed/farm store will usually have organic fertilizers for sale, fertilizers that are environment-friendly and appropriate to your local climate. Some organic fertilizers you'll want to consider include:
Yes, there are alternatives to toxic killers such as Roundup. The most effective organic weed killers usually combine vinegar with lemon juice, which work very well. Clove oil is also a popular substance in organic plant killers.
There are steps you can take that will make a huge difference in your lawn and require nothing more than a little thought. These are easy items that any gardener can manage, even without a green thumb.
"Cut your lawn high. Rather than shearing it down to the ground, if you leave at least 3" of height, you will do amazing things for your lawn.
-Tall grass keeps the moisture in. It protects the ground, shading the roots and providing a shield to keep moisture from evaporating so quickly.
1. Tall grass muscles out weeds. It gets more sun than the weeds so it grows better. If you mow low, you're giving the weeds a better shot at overpowering the grass.
2. Leave clippings on the grass when you mow, especially if you have a mulching lawn mower. This helps with moisture-retention as well as providing nutrients for the lawn.
3. Water properly. Don't water unless the ground truly needs it. When you do finally water, drench the lawn. Short, frequent watering encourages short, weak roots, which gives the grass nothing to hang on to when the weeds move in.
If you truly want to avoid harming the environment, then the organic approach to pest control is a must. There are several ways to handle pests without harmful chemicals, but they require some effort to learn about the bugs attacking your plants and ways to deal with them. The internet makes this sort of homework much easier to do. Look into the following:
1. Attract natural predators. Are the bugs common to your garden a favorite food of birds, ladybugs or praying mantises? Plant flowers around your yard that attract or provide shelter for the helpful creatures, and they'll help keep your lawn safe. Many nurseries offer live ladybugs and mantises for sale. Take some home and set them free.
2. Protect your lawn, and your fruits and vegetables, with plants that work as natural protectors. For example, marigolds help protect corn; onions protect cabbage, and garlic protects the roots of trees and grass.
3. Learn about natural pest sprays and solutions, the sort you would expect to find in old copies of the Farmer's Almanac. For example, traps snails with cans of beer set into the ground; or deal with cabbage worms by spraying them with a mixture of water, flour and salt.
Finally, if you're in crisis mode when it comes to weeds and bugs, or if you've gone a few seasons and haven't seen a noticeable improvement, then it may be time to call in the big guns. Do your research, ask for referrals and interview potential service providers to ensure that they do use organic products. Don't be afraid to ask for the names and ingredients of the products they use.
In the end, maintaining your lawn organically may require more effort and more research than using commercially prepared non-organic products, but you'll have the lawn you dreamed of - along with the satisfaction of knowing that you didn't hurt the environment to get it.