Organic Lawn Care 101 Organic Lawn Care 101

A lush lawn can give your home added curb appeal while allowing you some space to relax in the summer. Getting your lawn to a perfect green state, however, is often harder than it looks. Fortunately, there are organic ways to care for the lawn that are better for the environment, pets, and your family.

Testing Soil

Always test your soil before you purchase any organic fertilizer. The tests will determine how much nutrients—such as nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, sulfur, and lime—you need to add to the soil. After all, too much of these nutrients can harm your soil, not to mention the surrounding environment. An excess of nutrients can also kill off grass and adjacent plants in the area.

Using Natural Fertilizer

Compost bin underneath a tree.

There are many good sources of natural fertilizers, including kitchen and yard waste. By turning these types of combustible waste into compost, you can create the perfect blend of fertilizer for your yard. You can also purchase natural compost from your local gardening supply—just make sure it's not made from herbicide grass.

Spreading Lime

Many gardeners add lime to their acidic soil every season to lower the pH. In doing so, many people use pulverized dolomitic limestone, which can actually promote the growth of weeds. To avoid welcoming more weeds into your lawn, consider using high-calcium limestone instead. Once again, remember to test the soil before adding lime to make sure the pH is above 7.

Learning From Weeds

A dandelion in grass.

The weeds that grow in your lawn can actually tell you a lot about the condition of your soil. The first step in learning from your weeds is to properly identify them. Once you identify the weed, a little research will tell you why that particular weed is growing in that location. For example, plantain weeds like to grow in compacted clay soil while dandelions enjoy an extra portion of magnesium.

Selecting Good Grass

It may be hard to tell them apart, but not all grass is on equal footing. Depending on the variety, certain types of grass grow taller than others, while some prefer shade over full sun. Even better, newer types of grass, referred to as cultivars, are resistant to disease and grow slower than traditional grass. This means less pesticides and watering, and less mowing over the course of the summer.

Watering

Watering a lawn and garden with a hose.

A lot of people water their lawns too frequently, which actually encourages the roots to remain near the surface instead of digging deeper to find water. These roots are more prone to disease and drought when closer to the surface. You should water every day if you just planted seeds, but keep it down to once a week after they are established.

Handling Pests

It's tempting to eliminate any and every pest that enters your lawn, yet there are only a few insects that can actually do damage. Using chemicals to eradicate unwanted pests is especially troublesome as they can have negative effects on the health of pets, children, and the environment. To that end, instead of purchasing synthetic pesticides, use natural solutions that will benefit both the lawn and family members.

Removing Thatch

Thatching a lawn.

One of the best things you can do to create a healthy lawn is to remove the thatch at the beginning of spring. While grass clippings are great for replenishing nutrients, thatch is a different story. Thatch is dead grass that rests between healthy grass and soil. Thatch can block out air, water, and other nutrients from healthy roots. It also provides a space for insects to live. Removing thatch is an important step in building a healthy lawn, and it's a completely organic process.

Adding White Clover

There was a time when white clovers were a big part of natural fertilizers. The advent of synthetic weed killers changed that by killing both weeds and clover alike. Fortunately, organic gardeners now realize the benefits of adding white clover as a natural fertilizer. If you are looking for a way to naturally fertilize your lawn, consider adding this one-time staple to your lawn.

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