Organic Lawn Care
by Michael Kaufman, Organic Lawncare Professional
Having an organically maintained lawn can save you both time and money. Here are a few tips which will hopefully assist you in both of these areas.
If you perform your lawn fertilization yourself, a liquid organic fertilizer such as seaweed extract, fish emulsion, or a mix of the two can save you a great deal of time and money. The list below will give you a good indication of some of the specific benefits:
- Sprinkler application = no manual application necessary
- Much lower nitrogen content, so there is less time and money fixing spots where nitrogen "burn" occurred. Slower lawn growth rate = less mowing, fewer clippings.
- Greater stress, pest, disease and drought resistance. No need for pesticides, etc. (use organic if necessary)
- Universal application. Fertilize lawn, landscaping, trees, gardens at same time.
- Inexpensive if purchased through the right source.
There are a couple of ways to reduce the necessity of fertilization which will save time and money also. Since a lawn needs a certain amount of nitrogen and normally fertilizer is purchased in order to supply this, finding alternate sources can be beneficial and cost effective. Leaving the clippings on the lawn (never in excessive amounts) will lessen the necessity for fertilizer. Grass clippings are a very good source of nitrogen and other nutrients for the soil. Clover mixed with your grass seed can also be a GREAT nitrogen source for your lawn (not too much though--it can take over a lawn).
A person can spend a great deal of time mowing their lawn. Although some find it enjoyable, there are many who would much rather spend that time with family or on other, more important tasks. Utilizing some of the tips below could save you a great deal of time and money, and will make it easier to have a good looking lawn.
- Mow your lawn in a circular pattern spiraling inward.
- Put shredded bark or mulch around trees, obstacles, house, etc.
- Mow lawn when it's needed, not when it's "Saturday"
- Use sharp blades
Pulling or raking weeds out of your lawn can be very time consuming. However, chemical spraying can be very costly over time, especially because while fixing one problem it normally causes at least two more. The following tips should help reduce the time and money you spend on the "picture perfect" lawn. Remember, an hour spent today is 3 hours and a bundle of money saved next year.
- Take time to overseed your lawn in the fall (late August). Weeds can't grow where grass is growing. Panting in fall eliminates grass vs. weed competition. Next spring, new grass will crowd out the weeds.
- Fertilize in the fall. This provides much needed nutrients for a good spring start and the grass beats the weeds.
- Mow high (2 to 3 inches). Less sunlight reaches weed seeds, so less will germinate. Grass forms thicker root system, so there's less room for weeds.
- Catch clippings when present weeds are going to seed. Less weed seeds to germinate next year or later this year.
- Keep thatch levels in check. Weeds grow better in heavy thatch than grass does. There are liquid organic products that do a good job. Ours is the best and the cheapest.
A person could spend a great deal of money purchasing chemical insecticides to kill off pests in their lawn. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Make sure the "pests" are really causing a problem. Many insects are good for a lawn, so don't kill the good guys.
- Plant "insecticidal" plants and flowers in yard. Many plant flowers/leaves contain organic insecticides. By planting once, you create a "free" insecticide supply.
- Plant trees and shrubs in your yard for natural bird habitat. Birds will keep your insect populations in check>
You may be thinking to yourself, "I don't have time to overseed my lawn, plant flowers, put mulch around trees, etc." What you need to realize is that a lawn which is cared for correctly and naturally will eventually begin to take care of itself in many ways. Good soil requires less fertilizer which saves money and time. Organic maintenance practices eliminate imbalances in the soil which are the initial causes of disease, pest and stress problems in your lawn. By eliminating these causation factors, you eliminate the time and money spent taking care of future problems.
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