Motor-driven lawn mowers, synthetic grass fertilizers and pesticides have most definitely made lawn care much easier in the last 60 years. Most of the dense, green, vigorous grass lawns you’ll run into owe their appeal and beauty to these products. However, for those who are trying to be good stewards of the environment, want to only use products that are safe for kids and pets, and take a natural and organic approach to lawn care, with a little more work green healthy grass can be achieved without the use of synthetic fertilizers and chemicals.
Any good lawn care program should address problems preventively and not reactionary, but to practice a functional organic lawn care program, problem prevention is key to success. So if you plan to create an organic lawn, the first step is to choose appropriate cultivars when planting grass seed or laying sod. Plant grasses that do not have high resource requirements, such as, tall fescue for cooler regions and buffalograss or salt grass for warmer regions.
After you’ve chosen your grass, here are some helpful organic lawn care tips.
Mow Your Lawn Naturally and Organically
It may not appear so, but a gas-powered push lawn mower can emit a whole lot of air pollution into the environment. Some studies have shown that a common push mower will emit the same amount of air pollution in a hour as will 11 cars. Riding mowers worse, emitting as much as 34 cars.
Walk-behind reel mowers have been around for years and can effectively mow grass down to attractive low growing levels. When using a motor-less reel mower, it is essential to mow your lawn frequently and consistently. There are all kinds of cultural benefits to mowing your lawn routinely but if you miss a cutting and let your grass grow too tall, pushing a reel mowing through over-grown grass will be physically difficult and hard on your grass. Click here for more Lawn Mower Tips.
Motor-less reel mowers are not typically equipped with a grass catcher, so mowing frequently will also reduce the amount of grass clippings falling to the soil. Recycling a small amount of grass clippings back into the soil is good and provides a good source of natural nutrients, but too much can create a disruptive layer of thatch.
Organic Lawn Fertilizer
As mentioned above, small amounts of grass clippings recycled into the soil act as a natural source of nutrients to your lawn. Grass clipping will decompose over time, slowly releasing available nutrients into the soil that your grass picks up by their roots. An elegant and beautiful design but old grass clippings alone are not enough to accomplish a dark green lawn.
Another good source of organic lawn fertilizer is animal manure or compost. Compost is a great soil amendment for both organic lawns and non-organic lawns because it contains primary and secondary fertilizers, trace nutrients, organic matter, and improves soil structure. Apply manure or compost at recommended rates once or twice a month during optimal growth and always incorporate into your soil before planting grass seed or laying sod. Compost is a great source of natural phosphorous that will help in grass seed germination. The best property of manure and compost is that if used frequently, they act as a slow-release fertilizer steadily adding nutrients to your lawn over time.
Organic Weed Control
Controlling weeds using an organic lawn care program will probably be your biggest challenge. There are some organic herbicides on the market that use compounds such as cinnamon bark or organic acids, but you’ll find that pulling weeds out by hand or with a hoe are the most effective. The most time consuming, but the most effective.
Organic weed control control can also be managed by implementing the cultural practices mentioned above. Healthy growing grass will fill out your lawn quickly and outcompete weeds before they grow into a problem. Also before planting grass, be sure to choose a good quality grass seed that is pure of trash and weed seeds.