Organic Lawn Care


Old 09-26-13, 02:32 PM
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Organic Lawn Care

I had plans of beginning an organic lawn care program this past spring. Well, it's fall now and I have yet to start. I have not put any chemicals (weed killers, fertilizers, pest control, etc.) on my lawn since last fall. My lawn is just not very thick. Kind of sparse with plenty of opportunity for weed growth. I also suspect that I have compacted soil.
Initially I wanted to get a professional soil test and add soil amendments based on those results. Safe to say I do not have enou time for the soil test before it starts snowing (I live in the Chicagoland area) and I'd like to try and help my lawn along before winter. I would like to aerate and top dress with compost and possibly overseed. I may substitute the compost for an organic product I saw called soil activator as compost for a lawn the size of mine would be quite expensive.
So my question to the experts, based on my brief description, is do you agree with my plan or would you suggest something else?

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Old 09-26-13, 03:51 PM
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Not an expert, by any means, but wife and I do garden organically. The thing you have to remember with "organic" is many amendments to your lawn that real "organic" people scowl at you for using are indeed "organic". Take lime for instance. It occurs in nature in its usable state, is not genetically engineered, and is super beneficial. Unless you are trying to gain an organic certification from some organization, you can safely use certain commercially available amendments and sleep well at night.

We mulch our blueberries, fruit trees and other producing plants, which help keep the soil in a good state. I can't emphasize too much that you get that professional test for your soil. It can be obtained through your County Extension Service, and the cost is negligible.

I don't know what "soil activator" is, nor what its components are, so read the label carefully. How expensive will this be? Usually "organic" things are way too expensive for it to be practical.

I have 4 1/2 acres of lawn in combination with the berries and fruit trees, grape arbors, etc, and use a cone spreader to apply sometimes 2 tons of lime on my lawn. Admittedly, I do not fertilize the lawn at all. It seems the lime keeps the emergence of weeds at bay and the grasses grow. No, I can't identify all the grasses, and it is not a pure lawn. Hey, it's green in the summer, and looks really well mowed. For a smaller plot, reseeding is a good idea with the grass you want to be predominant.

There will be more comments from others far better equipped to answer your questions, so hang in there.
Old 09-26-13, 04:22 PM
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Core aeration, sure, that's a good idea.

Compost? Absolutely, another good idea.

Overseed? Maybe, not sure whether there's still time - you're a little further south and that would help but it takes bluegrass seed 3 weeks to germinate and I don't know if there's time left for that.
Old 09-29-13, 09:25 AM
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Thank you for your reply Chandler. I know what you mean regarding what is truly "organic" My definition is using natural things so my small children playing on it will not be adversely affected. I may just aerate and get the soil test going so I can hit the ground running next season.
Old 09-29-13, 09:53 AM
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Organic as a label has an interesting history, much like many other terms.

Here in Canada, until the early 90's (I think) I could sell you a bag of chemicals with the label 'organic' or 'all natural' on it if I wanted to. I could also sell you a container of pure lard with the label 'low in fat'. There was no regulatory definition of these terms. At some point in the 90's(again, I think), labeling laws changed to address this.

Good on you for doing the best for your kids by using as few chemicals as possible. Around here, many many pesticides were banned however people keep cross border shopping down to the US and bringing them back.
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