When striving for a green healthy lawn people quickly turn to traditional methods of using synthetic fertilizers and chemical pesticides, but there are better, healthier options available. Transitioning to an organic lawn can seem like challenge with the abundance of product choices. This doesn’t have to be a daunting task. Following some basic guidelines will help ease the process. Concentrate on these three key areas and you can begin to enjoy peace of mind right away; practices, products and patience.
Cultural practices play a big role the success of any lawn care program, especially an organic approach. The way we mow our grass is vital to the success of an organic lawn. Here are some easy tips to follow.
- Keep the blades sharp to ensure a clean cut and a quicker healing time for the turf. Sharpening at the beginning of the season and then after every six to eight hours of mowing time usually does the trick.
- Raise those blades up. Mowing high, 3.5-4 inches, has many benefits. This allows roots to grow deeper, keeps the soil cool and helps the lawn retain more moisture. This also helps keep the weeds out as they tend to thrive in hot, dry soil conditions.
- Recycle grass clippings back into the lawn whenever possible. These clippings are full of nutrients and will be broken down and reused by the turf. Bagging and removing clippings will increase the amount of nutrient inputs needed by the lawn.
- When your lawn does need to be watered do not do so everyday for short periods of time. This will promote shallow roots and a weak plant. Water only once or twice a week for extended periods of time to ensure a good soak, deep into the soil.
The goal of any good organic lawn care program is enhance and increase the life in the soil as well as providing nutrients for the turf. Choosing the right products is critical, be sure to read the labels and understand what is in each product. ‘Organic-based’ and ‘all natural’ fertilizers can still contain synthetic materials and chemical pesticides, which can damage the soil and hinder the progress of your organic approach. Products derived from human (biosolids) and animal waste can take much longer to break down and become available to the turf. Fertilizers made from plant based materials such as seaweed, kelp, soy and corn can benefit the lawn much quicker. Those enhanced with biological activity, such as compost tea, can quickly improve soil quality.
Chemical pesticides can also harm the life in the soil, damage beneficial insects and cause stress to the turf. Naturally derived control products for weeds and insects can help control pests in the lawn. These products offer a more environmentally friendly option with good results. Toxicity levels are much lower in these products reducing exposure concerns for humans and pets. New products are constantly being developed for natural pest control.
Patience is the final piece to a successful organic lawn. Organic products work in sync with nature not against it. The transition may take a year or two depending on the current condition of the lawn. While synthetic products can offer somewhat instant results, it may not be worth the cost with all of the associated concerns. Allowing time for the right products and practices to start to work properly will provide much greater benefits in the end. Take your time this season and enjoy your lawn, the way nature intended. You and your family will be glad that you did.