These environmentally friendly organic lawn care tips will help keep your lawn healthy and green all season long.
Use a mixture of grasses suited for your region. If you are unsure of which grasses are suited for your region, here is a chart to help you find them. A mixture of grasses will ensure that diseases won’t kill your entire lawn if you do get one. We’ve talked about the pros and cons of different grass types in our article Warm and Cool Weather Grasses.
Most grasses prefer full sun, but some, including some fescues, will tolerate some shade. Note: We said some shade. Typically grass won’t grow without getting some direct sun everyday.
Sometimes giving up on grass is the best option. Use ground covers and/or planting beds in place of grass. Here is a link showing some lovely ground covers that will thrive in full shade.
Cut at the right height:
Taller grass is typically healthier grass. We’re not talking about waist high grass here. It’s able to grow longer roots which reaches water deeper underground, thereby reaching more nutrients. Because it has more blade area taller grasses are also more healthy than grass that’s cut too short. Taller grass blades also create shade that will kill some weeds. Most lawns grow best when kept just over 2 inches tall.
We’ve already written about how often you should mow in our article How Often Should I Mow My Lawn.
Note: No matter how tall your lawn is, never cut off more than one-third of the grass blade in a single mowing. Cutting off too much grass could cause severe stress on your lawn and potentially kill the whole lawn.
Keep a Sharp Blade:
We have talked about the importance of a sharp blade before, and you can read all about it in our article the importance of a sharp lawn mower blade article. But to reiterate, a dull mower blade is not actually cutting your lawn. It’s just beating your poor lawn to death. Sort of like trying to cut the head off a chicken with a stick.
Sharpen your lawn mower blade(s) at least once per growing season. If you do notice brown tips on your lawn you know it’s time to sharpen your lawn mower blade again.
Mulch don’t bag:
We’ve talked before about the benefits of mulching before and you can read about it in our article baggers and munchers and clippings. Leaving clippings on your lawn to decompose will add nitrogen and organic matter, and lawns love that stuff! No matter what other so called experts tell you, mulching when done with a sharp mulching blade, does not result in thatch build up. However, if mulching has been done incorrectly, thatch will build up and will have to be taken care of. The next section covers that.
A sharp mulching blade will finely chop the grass blades so they decompose faster and replenish important nutrients in the soil. Your lawn will thank you and so will your garbage person who no longer has to haul your clippings away.
Get Thatch Under Control:
Thatch is an impenetrable mat made of grass blades, roots and other material that forms over the soil. Too thick of a layer of thatch will prevent moisture from reaching the grass roots and provides a home to diseases and insects.
If your thatch isn’t too severe you can aerate to alleviate the problem. Most rental centers have an aerator you can rent by the hour or by the day.
Thick thatch will require a vertical mower known as a dethatcher or verticutter to break up the thatch. You can typically rent a verticutter from your local rental center by the hour or by the day.
If your soil is hard, has dry spots where grass just won’t grow or if you can’t poke a pencil in 4-6 inches into moist earth it’s time to aerate. Aeration improves drainage, breaks up thatch, stimulates lawn growth and improves your lawn’s overall health. All this without using harsh chemical pesticides or fertilizers.
Aerate your lawn during the growing season, typically in the fall or spring for cool season lawns and summer for warm season lawns.
Water your lawn when it becomes dull green or bluish in color, when blades begin to fold or roll or when footprints remain on the lawn after you’ve walked on it. Water deep and less frequently. You want your roots to grow deep into the soil to get moisture. If you water often and not very long your roots will be right on top of the soil and susceptible to diseases, insects and drought.
Healthy lawn roots extend 6 or more inches into the soil. Keep in mind recent rainfall in your region when watering. Water based on the weather rather than your sprinkler control system.
Don’t be the guy who lives down the street from me who always has his sprinkler running during torrential rains. Please, don’t.
A healthy organic lawn naturally defends against most weeds. If you lawn has weeds it’s trying to tell you about a problem. Use organic products such as epsom salts which we’ll write about in an upcoming post.
Use a natural balanced fertilizer. Most natural fertilizers on the market are slow releasing and provide nutrients to the soil over time. They also rarely burn or damage lawns.
Apply a natural fertilizer twice per year in the spring and fall. Be careful to use the recommended amount. Even natural fertilizers can damage lawns if not used according to directions.
Compost works miracles on lawns and gardens. A quarter inch of compost across your entire lawn each spring will keep it looking beautiful all year. We’ve talked all about the how to and importance of compost in our article how to create a compost pile.
If you have any questions or comments about organic lawn care please feel free to contact us via phone, email or the comments section below.