LAWN CARE

ORGANIC LAWN CARE 101

Here are some general ORGANIC LAWN CARE tips and practices for establishing and maintaining a strong, healthy, natural lawn!

If you are planning on taking your lawn “off the chemicals”,  I recommend maintaining a regular routine of early Spring and Autumn mulching, overseeding and spot weeding for, at least, the first 3 years to build soil health, fertility, durability and healthy, thriving biodiversity of soil micro-organisms activity that leads to a strong, more self-sustaining soil and lawn.

1.) MOWING:
KEEP YOUR LAWN CUT A 2-3 INCHES, WHILE NEVER CUTTING MORE THAN 1 1/3 OFF THE TOP. THIS IS THE IDEAL LENGTH TO MAKE IT HARDER FOR WEEDS TO ESTABLISH AS WELL AS RETAIN MORE WATER DURING THE HOT SUMMER MONTHS. FOR BEST RESULTS, YOU MAY NEED TO INCREASE YOUR MOWING REGIMEN TO ONCE A WEEK, DURING THE PEAK GROWING MONTHS, TO KEEP UP WITH THE LENGTH TO CUT RATIO RECOMMENDED ABOVE. CUTTING MORE THAN THE TOP 1 1/3 LEAVES THE GRASS PLANT MORE SUSCEPTIBLE TO DISEASE AND DECLINE. AS YOUR GRASS BEGINS TO GO DORMANT IN THE FALL, KEEP YOUR LAWN AT 2 INCHES. THIS WILL HELP REDUCE THE RISK OF DISEASE DUE TO MATTING & WINTER DAMAGE. MINIMIZE DAMAGE TO YOUR GRASS BY KEEPING YOUR BLADE SHARP & ONLY MOW WHEN DRY.

2.) MULCHING & GRASS CYCLING:
RAKING YOUR GRASS CLIPPINGS IS AN EXCELLENT NATURAL, SUSTAINABLE, FREE & EASY WAY TO FERTILIZE YOUR LAWN WITH A STEADY SOURCE OF NITROGEN, PHOSPHORUS & WATER. LEAVING THE CLIPPINGS ON YOUR LAWN ALSO HELPS ELIMINATE EXCESS POLLUTION FROM YARD WASTE BEING DUMPED IN LAND FILLS. NOT TO MENTION REDUCING YOUR WATER BILL & CONSUMPTION!

3.) FERTILIZING:
COMPOST! COMPOST!! COMPOST!!! THE LIFE OF YOUR SOIL IS THE LIFE IN YOUR SOIL. THE MICRO & MACRO ORGANISM ACTIVITY IN YOUR SOIL IS INTEGRALLY LINKED TO THE HEALTH & FERTILITY OF YOUR SOIL. A HEALTHY BALANCE OF THESE ORGANISMS ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR THE BREAKING DOWN OF ORGANIC MATTER & CONVERTING IT INTO ESSENSIAL NUTRIENTS TO BE USED BY NEW PLANTS. EACH OF THESE ORGANISMS PROVIDES A CRUCIAL LINK TO THE PRODUCTION & MAINTENANCE OF HEALTHY, FERTILE SOIL. EACH ORGANISM’S POPULATION IS KEPT IN BALANCE BY OTHER ORGANISMS IN THE SOIL LIFE-CYCLE FOOD CHAIN. ADDING FRESH COMPOST TO YOUR LAWN & GARDEN IS AN EXCELLENT WAY OF FEEDING, BOOSTING & SUSTAINING THIS MIRACULOUSLY DYNAMIC PROCESS.

CHEMICAL FERTILIZERS ARE NOT ONLY EXTREMELY DETRIMENTAL TO SOIL LIFE (BIODIVERSITY), BUT CONTAMINATE OUR GROUND WATER & ARE TOXIC TO CHILDREN, ADULTS & ANIMALS. ANOTHER CONSIDERATION WITH CHEMICAL FERTILIZERS IS THAT, BY ARTIFICIALLY ALTERING YOUR SOILS LIFE-CYCLE BALANCE, YOU ARE DIRECTLY PAVING THE WAY FOR DISEASE, INFERTILITY AND A WHOLE HOST OF OTHER PROBLEMS. NOT TO MENTION CREATING A DEPENDENCY & NECESSITY OF THE PURCHASE OF OTHER CHEMICALS TO SUPPLEMENT THE NUTRIENTS OTHERWISE PROVIDED BY THE VERY SOIL ORGANISM ACTIVITY THAT HAD BEEN KILLED OFF BY THE PREVIOUS CHEMICAL APPLICATION.

PRIOR TO THE MASSIVE PROMOTIONAL CAMPAIGNS LAUNCHED BY PROMINENT CHEMICAL “WEED” KILLER & LAWN FERTILIZER COMPANIES CHARACTERIZING CLOVER AS AN UNDESIRABLE WEED IN YOUR LAWN, IT HAS LONG BEEN CONSIDERED A MUCH WELCOME & UTILIZED BENEFICIAL GROUND COVER & INTEGRAL CONTRIBUTOR TO LAWN & SOIL HEALTH & VITALITY. TRADITIONALLY, CLOVER SEED HAD OFTEN BEEN MIXED WITH GRASS SEED AS PART OF AN OVER-ALL “SEED, FEED & WEED CONTROL” REGIMEN. CLOVER FIXES NITROGEN INTO THE SOIL, THUS ELIMINATING THE NEED TO APPLY ADDITIONAL FERTILIZER. CLOVER ALSO ATTRACTS & SUSTAINS NUMEROUS BENEFICIAL POLLINATOR INSECTS THAT PLAY A KEY ROLE IN KEEPING OTHER NEFARIOUS GARDEN PEST POPULATIONS IN CHECK. CLOVER IS A HEARTY, DROUGHT RESITANT GROUND COVER THAT THRIVES IN CONDITIONS NOT OTHERWISE CONDUCIVE TO GRASS HEALTH OR SPREAD. AS SOIL FERTILITY IMPROVES, GRASS WILL BEGIN TO MOVE BACK IN.

4.) OVERSEEDING:
CHOOSE AN ORGANIC LOCAL GRASS SEED THAT IS BEST SUITED FOR YOUR ZONE, ENVIRONMENTAL, SOIL TYPE, AIR & SUNLIGHT CONDITIONS. THE BEST TIME TO LAY DOWN SEED IS ALONG WITH YOUR FALL LAWN PREPARATIONS, ONE MONTH BEFORE THE 1ST FROST (MID-OCTOBER). AS NEEDED, SEED AGAIN AS PART OF YOUR WINTER WEATHER LAWN REPAIR & SPRING PREPARATIONS. FOR BEST RESULTS, RAKE IN WITH A 1/2 INCH LAYER OF FRESH COMPOST.

5.) WATERING:
MORE WATER LESS OFTEN EQUALS HEALTHY, FULL LAWNS MORE OFTEN & BIG WATER BILLS LESS OFTEN. FREQUENT REGULAR WATERING CAN BE MORE PROBLEMATIC THAN UNDER-WATERING, AS IT ENCOURAGES SHALLOW ROOT GROWTH, ROTS AND/OR WASHES AWAY NEW GRASS SEED BEFORE IT HAS A CHANCE TO GERMINATE, LEADS TO AN INCREASE OF WEED POPULATIONS, YELLOWS AND WILTS LAWNS, SUFFOCATES GRASS ROOTS, AND CONTRIBUTES TO POOR SOIL CONDITIONS. FOR BEST RESULTS, WATER YOUR LAWN DEEPLY (1 INCH) ONCE A WEEK. THE BEST TIME TO WATER IS IN THE EARLY MORNING, EARLY EVENING OR CLOUDY DAYS TO ENSURE THAT MOST OF THE WATER ISN’T EVAPORATED AWAY UNDER THE HOT SUMMER SUN.

6.) THATCH:
THATCH IS THE MAT OF ROOTS AND STEMS PRODUCED BY GRASS PLANTS’ NATURAL GROWTH PROCESS TO HELP RETAIN WATER AND PROTECT IT’S ROOT SYSTEM. DURING THE GROWING SEASON, IF THATCH BECOMES A PROBLEM, BE SURE TO WATER MORE, LESS FREQUENTLY. THIS WILL ENCOURAGE ROOTS TO ESTABLISH DEEPER INTO THE SOIL, INSTEAD OF ON THE SURFACE. WHEN THATCH OVER ACCUMULATES ON THE SOIL SURFACE (MORE THAN A 1/2 INCH), IT PREVENTS WATER & AIR FROM GETTING TO THE ROOT SYSTEM, THUS WEAKENING YOUR LAWN & INCREASING YOUR RISK OF DISEASE. SIMPLY RAKE OUT THE EXCESS THATCH FROM YOUR LAWN EVERY YEAR AS PART OF YOUR WINTER REPAIR/SPRING PREP ROUTINE.

7.) AERATION:
ANOTHER COMMON CONTRIBUTOR TO POOR LAWN HEALTH & GROWTH IS HEAVILY COMPACTED SOIL. UNDER SUCH CONDITIONS, GRASS ROOTS ARE DEPRIVED OF SUFFICIENT WATER, AIR & NUTRIENT PENETRATION. ALSO, AS A RESULT, ROOT DEPTH BECOMES MORE SHALLOW, THUS LESS DROUGHT RESISTANT & MORE PRONE TO DISEASE. AERATING INVOLVES REMOVING SMALL PLUGS OF SOIL FROM YOUR LAWN TO HELP BREAK UP COMPACTED AREAS & TO ALLOW WATER, AIR & NUTRIENTS TO GET TO THE ROOTS & ENCOURAGE DEEPER, HEALTHIER ROOT GROWTH. THE BEST TIME TO AERATE IS DURING THE START OF YOUR LAWNS GROWING SEASON & AS PART OF YOUR WINTER LAWN REPAIR ROUTINE. BE SURE TO USE AN AERATOR THAT PULLS UP PLUGS AS OPPOSED TO THE SPIKED AERATORS WHICH AREN’T AS EFFECTIVE & CAN ACTUALLY EXASPERATE SOIL COMPACTION.

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