Complete Guide – Organic Lawn Care
Growing a healthy and safe organic lawn is as simple as using common sense—organic common sense, that is. If you build the soil and use a few basic cultural techniques, you’ll have a lush stand of turfgrass without harming kids, pets, wildlife, the water supply, and the rest of the environment. Here are three easy steps to get started on a thick, green organic lawn care.
Mow high your Organic Lawn Care
The simplest way to help your organic lawn grow up healthy and dense is to adjust your mower’s cutting height to its highest setting. Why? Tall blades of grass have more surface area exposed to the sun, enabling them to photosynthesize more sugars and starches for greater root growth. Greater root mass means better access to water and nutrients, so plants are more tolerant of drought and can recover more rapidly from dormancy.
- Cut grass to 3 to 4 inches tall. Most grasses can be mowed to a height of 3 to 4 inches. Some varieties, particularly fine fescues, and centipede grass fall over at that height and should be mowed a half inch to an inch shorter than other grasses.
- Remove just one-third of the blade. No matter how tall the turf, refrain from cutting off more than one-third of each grass blade in any single mowing, or you risk stressing the grass. And cutting off just one-third will produce small clippings, which you should leave on your lawn right where they fall.
- Keep the mower blade sharp. A dull lawn-mower blade will tear grass, and the jagged wounds make the plants susceptible to infection and allow for more rapid evaporation. I recommend sharpening the mower blade after every 8 hours or so of cutting. Most hardware stores and any power-equipment dealer will sharpen your blade quickly and inexpensively.
Leave the clippings on the organic lawn care
As grass clippings decompose, they contribute valuable nitrogen to the soil, almost 2 pounds of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet of soil each season or about half of the lawn’s annual fertilizer needs. They also add organic matter and provide a variety of other benefits to the soil and grass. Many people believe, however, that clippings left on the lawn contribute to thatch dead or dying grass parts (such as stems, stolons, crowns, and roots) that form a layer on top of the soil and obstruct moisture and oxygen from reaching plant roots. But just the opposite is true: Fresh clippings stimulate earthworm activity, which breaks down thatch.
Fear no weeds to get organic Lawn
You’ll leave no room for weeds if you mow your grass often (but not too low) with a sharp blade and grow it in soil that’s rich in organic matter and biological activity. Researchers at the University of Maryland confirmed that mowing cool-season turfgrasses to 3 inches high works as well as or better than herbicides for suppressing crabgrass. In my experience, dandelions, common purslane, and other low-growing annual weeds also do not survive in a lawn that’s cut high.
Organic Lawn Care Tips
Your lawn should be a healthy lawn without pests, lawn diseases or weeds but can you do that without putting harmful chemicals into the ground? It is possible to have a beautiful lush lawn without harming the environment. The use of chemical pesticides can be a health risk but can also kill insects that are favorable to your lawn. Runoff can eventually find their way into the water supply around your area.
Weed identification can be classified into two classes. These classifications are based on the way in which they come out of the seed. In simple terms, Monocots are weedy grasses such as crabgrass. Dicots are broadleaf weeds such as dandelion, ground ivy, and clover. These two weed types are divided into three groups:
Perennial weeds: have a life that spans no more than two years and is reproduced from new seeds every year.
Biennial weeds: have a life of two years. They store up food reserves in the leaves and root system the first year and produce seed in the second year. They often mix with the perennials, as they are so similar.
Annual weeds: are yearly weeds started from seeds, grow, and eventually flower producing more seeds in less than a year. There are summer annuals that germinate in the fall maturing in late fall, and winter annuals that will germinate in late spring.
If you are unsure of what weeds are in your yard, you can take samples to your county extension and they will help you identify them.
One of the most natural methods of controlling weeds is to have a vigorously growing turf cover. Correcting the underlying problem with the soil can control some weeds. For instance, without correcting the soil compaction, you will not be able to rid your lawn of knotweeds. Other weeds can be controlled by altering what you do to your lawn to favor the lawn instead of the weeds. Adjusting the mowing height of your lawn mower, changing the frequency of mowing, or changing the watering schedule can control weeds.
There are also very natural ways of controlling lawn pests and there are organic pest control products now on the market. Some of the organic pest controls use natural ingredients such as citrus oils; garlic, hot peppers, and cloves are also natural ingredients in some new organic pest and weed control.
The natural organic weed controls with lemon as its base can kill various pests including aphids, bean beetles, fire ants, and our all-time favorite, Japanese beetles.
Another organic lawn and garden spray has a base of sesame oil, clove oil, and thyme oil. It can be used on fruits, vegetables, and your lawn. It is good for repelling such insects as fleas, ants, grasshoppers, and ticks.
Fire ants are prevalent in the south and are a danger because they sting and could potentially be a threat to small children. Ants can also nest in your lawn and can cause problems while mowing. Fire ants are attracted to the bait and can end up carrying the bait back to the nest. That will either kill the queen or leave her infertile. Dry granular bait can be applied directly to ant mounds. These baits are made with natural oils are safe to use around pets, children and food crops. This same bait, used for fire ants, can also be effective in controlling many other garden and lawn pests.
Another organic garden spray has a base of black pepper and garlic and can be safely used on lawns and gardens. This spray will help control mosquitoes, gnats, fleas, and ticks.
An added benefit to using organic pest control is they are designed for long-term pest control. That means you will spend less time fighting those pests and more time enjoying your lawn.
Of course, you can still do the tried-and-true method of hand weeding, but that is only practical for the occasional plant that springs up. The easiest and safest ways are to treat your lawn and garden for pest and weed control with all natural, organic products that can be readily purchased from any store that sells home and garden supplies.
Look at all the options before you decide to use chemicals that are harmful to your plants, animals, and water supply.
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