Organic Sustainable Lawn Care Program

Here’s a typical plan of action I have been recommending for my clients to begin an organic sustainable lawn care program.

Step One: Start with a Soil Test.  “one size” definitely does NOT fit all lawns.  A soil test lets you know what you are starting with and what you need for a specific location, soil type and plants.

Step Two: Heavy Rake or Aerate Lawn.  Loosen up the soil and grass.  Compacted soil is a breeding ground for broadleaf invasive.

Step Three: Spread Compost 1/4 of compost or a compost tea.

Step Four: Overseed and follow results of soil test.  The soil test will advise on organic fertilizers and pH amendments.

Ongoing Care: 

1. Less than 2% of the insects found in your backyard are pests. Most are considered beneficial.
2. Add organic matter to your lawn to build the soil — or spread an inch of compost in the fall, and water it in.
3. Corn gluten meal is natures weed & feed! It prevents many weed seeds from germinating and benefits grasses by adding valuable nitrogen to the soil.
4. It’s easier (and less time consuming) to control a few young weeds than it is to wage war on many large, seed-producing monsters.
5. A large part of the food that your lawn needs can be supplied by leaving your grass clippings on the lawn — mulch those grass clippings.
6. Increasing the organic matter in your lawn by as little as 5% will quadruple the soil’s ability to hold water.
With the right lawn and landscape supplies growing organically is easy! Planet Natural has everything you need to get started: soils, weed control and fertilizers. Need help? Our Landscaping Blog provides the ideas, information and practical experience you need to get the job done right.
7. If possible, do not mow when the lawn is wet. The result will be a very uneven cut.
8. Use an organic, slow-release fertilizer to feed your lawn and the soil. These materials break down slowly, feeding your grass over a longer period of time.
9. Even in the best of soils, chemical lawn fertilizers can kill soil microbes, repel earthworms, and ruin soil structure.
10. Spread crocus throughout your lawn to add an early splash of color. By the time the grass needs to be cut, they will have died-back for the year.
11. Keep your lawn mowed high and mulch your lawn clippings to prevent most crabgrass seed from germinating. A healthy application of corn gluten meal applied in the spring, will also help.
12. Be persistent with dandelions. By repeatedly removing their leaves and flowers, you will keep seeds from spreading and eventually starve the taproot, which kills the weed. Google “Dandelion Terminator” to make the job easy!
13. Select grass varieties for your growing area. Talk to your local nursery or jump online and ask questions at a garden forum to learn what works best.
14. Not only are reel mowers quiet and start when you do, they’re cutting action snips the grass, like a pair of scissors. Rotary mowers tear at turf, leaving it bruised and open for disease.
15. Most lawns need about 1-inch of water per week to thrive. Water in the morning to prevent disease.
16. Aerate your lawn every couple of years to eliminate thatch and to allow air, nutrients, and water to penetrate deep into the root zone.
17. Clover in the lawn is NOT all bad. It is drought tolerant, stays green, fixes nitrogen from the air (which helps feed grasses) and earthworms love it.
18. To promote deep roots and a healthier lawn water longer, but less often. After watering, use a garden trowel to check soil moisture. If it isn’t wet 4 to 6 inches down — keep watering!
19. Get rid of the grubs living in your lawn and you’ll get rid of the moles that are feeding on them.
20. While some weed control is necessary, don’t “freak out” over a few weeds. Having a weed-free yard is pretty much impossible and not really desirable for a healthy lawn.
21. Thatch will not form from grass cuttings. Instead, the clippings will attract earthworms, which break down thatch, aerate the soil, and reduce compaction.
22. Do what you can to keep weeds from going to seed. If you can cut down on the number of weed seeds in your yard, you’ve won half the battle.
23. To crowd out weeds, reduce watering, and improve the overall appearance of your lawn raise the height of your mower to 2-1/2 inches (Southern states) or 3-1/2 inches high (Northern states).
24. After watering, use a garden trowel to check the soil moisture. It should be wet at least 4-inches down to promote deep roots and a healthier lawn.
25. Keep your mower blade sharp. This will not only make mowing easier, it will reduce tearing the blades of grass, which can promote lawn diseases.

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