With summer coming up fast, we’re all starting to think about lawn maintenance. Honestly, organic lawn maintenance didn’t sound all that appealing the first time I heard about it. I figured it would just be more expensive fertilizer.
But ever since I expanded our family to include pets and kids, making sure our lawn is safe to play (and sometimes eat…) has become very important. Over the years, I’ve become a believer in organic lawn care because I see the beautiful result and I can have peace of mind that dangerous chemicals won’t hurt my family or the environment.
Organic lawn care really isn’t more time consuming than your normal routine.
Here’s what to do:
Lay the Foundation
My main goal is to make my lawn as simple and low-maintenance as possible. A large part of that comes from the foundation I set for it during the spring. Little things like raking the leaves, aerating the lawn, edging the flower beds and sharpening the mower blades all add up to less work for yourself later. These are all pretty basic, but where does the organic aspect come in?
You’ll want to get your soil tested, if you haven’t already. It’s good to have it hovering around pH 6.0 or 7.0. A pH of 7.0 is considered neutral, and grass tends to do best if it’s right around pH 6.5. I like to add some compost to the lawn regardless of the pH, and then apply an organic lawn fertilizer for April, July and September.
As a side note, always remember to apply organic fertilizer at the end of the season! Without it, your grass may deplete the land of nutrients and have trouble growing back next year.
Once your lawn has a good foundation, most of the work is done. You’ll still need to mow throughout the year, but try and set your blades on the highest setting, which is usually about three or four inches. This should take the heads off weeds and keep your grass thick, which will choke out most of the weeds. When you do mow, leave the trimmings where they fall. They’ll decompose and add some extra nitrogen to your soil!
During the driest parts of the summer you may need to water your land. It’s fairly unnecessary to water regularly, so try and save it for when your grass starts to show signs of drought. If you do water, don’t use a lot. Grass doesn’t have deep roots, so the soil doesn’t need to be soaked. Place a cup near your sprinkler and move it when it has 1 inch of water in it.
With this incredibly simple way to maintain your lawn, you’re still likely to run into some issues. They’re almost impossible to avoid, after all! If you have pets, like I do, you might find that they really like to go to the bathroom in one particular area. As a result, you’ll start to see brown spots from the extra nitrogen in your pet’s urine. To prevent that, just water that grass a bit after your pet goes out for a bathroom break to reduce the nitrogen buildup.
Brown-tipped grass is usually from dull mower blades, so try to keep them sharpened. Yellow grass might be overwatered or have low nitrogen, so a soil test might be in order. Weeds are weeds, of course, so cut off their heads and pull up their roots if you don’t want them there! If you’d like to prevent them next year, consider dropping more grass seed over your lawn. A thick lawn will prevent weeds and help the grass develop a better root system or use corn gluten on an established lawn to keep weeds from germinating.
About the Author
Ali Lawrence is a kombucha tea-sipping writer who focuses on healthy and sustainable living via her family blog Homey Improvements. She also writes about DIY projects, home tips and organic gardening. Ali was born and raised in Alaska and dabbles in Pilates and is a princess for hire for kid’s parties. Find her on Twitter at @DIYfolks.