The steps to enforcing a strict organic diet for your lawn are not as strenuous or frustrating as you may think, and the gains that you’ll see by doing so are more than worth the time you’ll put into it. Here are a few fundamental steps for following a natural lawn care diet.
1.) Get rid of the chemicals
That’s right, I said it, the first step to going organic is to (safely) dispose of all of the lawn care chemicals that you have in your possession. I know this may be hard for some of you traditionalists, but think about the favor you’ll be doing for your lawn when you stop burning it with synthetic fertilizer and start feeding it what it truly craves – organic matter.
The next step is to test your soil to be sure that you’re giving it what it’s lacking. By doing this, you can ensure that its elements are in proportion. A sample will test for pH, various nutrients, acidity, etc. and the results will help you determine whether or not you need to fertilize. Too many people just assume that their lawn is always in need of extra nutrients, but this can often be damaging if what you apply is superfluous. If the soil test results show that you do need to apply some fertilizer, invest in organic fertilizer.
Organic fertilizer has proven to be a hyper-producer for grass, mainly because it acts as a protein (instead of a superficial sugar such as synthetic fertilizer.) The nitrogen release is slow and gradual, providing the plant with a calculated amount that it needs over time. This, in turn, requires fewer applications, saving you cash and time.
2.) Change the way you think about watering your lawn
Misconception: The more water your lawn gets, the greener and healthier it will be. Wrong! You have to think about your lawn as more than just blades of grass. The unseen roots and the soil below are the most important ecosystems to consider in terms of health and growth. The fact of the matter is, watering deeply and infrequently is the best way to feed your roots.
By following this practice, you’re allowing the soil to fully absorb the moisture and the roots will be encouraged to grow as deep as the water reaches. Having deep roots, as opposed to shallow surface roots, means your grass will be more drought-resistant because it will have better access to deep water consistently.
The best course of action for watering is to saturate about 4-6 inches every week, preferably in the morning so water isn’t wasted by evaporation in the heat of the day. A good way to test for water depth is by placing an old tuna can within the sprinkler reach area. When it’s full, that’s about an inch.
3.) Change the way you think about mowing your grass
I like to use a specific analogy when explaining how grass should be cut. Think about your grass like hair on your head – the more frequently you trim it, the faster it will grow. The best practice is to cut your grass high, never take off more than 1/3 of the total blade height and trim it often. By cutting off the top dead ends of the blade, frequently, you’ll allow the grass to grow more quickly. It’s also important when practicing organic lawn care to let your clipping fall. Remove the bag from your mower and let the grass fertilize the existing grass organically. Despite the popular argument, this will not create unwanted thatch buildup as long as you mow often and mow tall. The clipping should disappear within a few days and your lawn will be much healthier because of this free organic matter.
4.) Change the way you think about pests and weeds
In regards to pests and weeds, natural lawn care follows very simple system: make the environment unattractive to organisms you don’t want growing there. Instead of fighting tooth and nail against pests that are inevitably going to return (especially with the use of chemical pesticides because each generation becomes more and more resistant) it’s best to fight the root cause of the nuisance.
This may sound overly simplified, but the healthier your soil, roots, and grass are, the less likely you’ll have pests. A healthy lawn encourages beneficial organisms (i.e. ladybugs) to thrive, meaning that they will, in turn, feed off of the unwanted bugs (i.e. aphids) around your lawn. The same principle applies with weeds, if you have a healthy, thick, lawn with tall blades of grass, there won’t be much room for ornery plants to grow. If you continue to see weeds pop up, go the old fashioned way and hand pluck a section of your yard daily, then another section the next day, and another the following, then double back and do it again in sequence. Being diligent about pulling incorrigible weeds is very important in their control. There are also some natural mixtures that you can use ward off sprouting weeds, for instance, you can spray un-distilled vinegar on thistle and it should wither and die within a few days. See this page for a few more helpful organic weed killing tips.
Keep in mind that you’ll never have a 100% weed or pest-free lawn; it’s unnatural and frankly not viable. That said, with the proper mowing and watering techniques, you should be able to dramatically decrease the number of unwanted pests in your yard.
5.) Sit back and watch your lawn heal itself
After the implementation of an organic lawn care system, you’ll see visible positive results in just a short amount of time. The foundation of a natural lawn care system is the idea that your yard should be self-sustaining, so by practicing the above steps you’ll be setting your lawn on the right path for long-term endurance and health.
If you ever need a helping hand, don’t hesitate to contact your nearby Clean Air Lawn Care team. Our expert GrassMasters will be able to assist you with all things relating to organic lawn care.
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