Eco-friendly living and your lawn care have much in common. Unfortunately, we use a lot of chemicals and water to have green yards at home here in the United States. In fact, more chemicals are sprayed on our home lawns than in the fields to grow our crops - 70 million tons of fertilizers and pesticides per year! We also use much of our water on our lawns. 30% of our water on the East coast and 60% of water on the West Coast is being consumed by our lawns! Green, healthy lawns can be grown with less water and chemicals if we take the time to understand the science of the soil:
1. Let your grass grow! Set your mower for 2.5 to 3.5 inches in height. The longer grass shades the weed seedlings to help prevent their growth and allows the grass roots to grow deeper in the soil. You’ll have less weeds and stronger grass. You may have to mow more often, but in no time you’ll see the difference. Stronger and longer grass roots mean you will…
2. Water your lawn less – yes, we said less not more. Watering your lawn t frequently feeds the weeds better than the grass. Less watering will help the grass develop deeper roots and the weeds don’t like to compete at lower levels. Water your lawn when the grass just starts to curl and avoid watering on a set schedule. When you do water, set a cup in the middle of the lawn. Water until you get ½” in the cup, wait 45 minutes and then water for another ½”. Water in the morning and you’ll lose less to evaporation. Your grass will love you and so will your water bill!
3. Grass needs nitrogen in the soil as its fertilizer. Weeds like nitrogen from the air. An abundance of weeds can indicate a low nitrogen-rich soil down below. Use a natural organic fertilizer that is time released. The Ringer brand has many types of all natural fertilizers. Look for natural ingredients like alfalfa, blood meal, and soybean meal.
4. Chemical lawn treatments kill our earthworms (and other microorganisms). Why is that so important? These critters aren’t just good to fish with, they also provide our soil with some of the best natural fertilizers – yep, worm poop! Eliminating the earthworm is robbing our soil of precious nutrients that don’t cost us a thing.
5. It’s all about the pH level stupid! Ok, this is one we probably don’t think about. The acidity level of our lawns is critical to a healthy yard. Test your lawn with a pH tester kit or have a professional do it for you. The proper pH level should be about 6.5. A number below this requires an application of lime and above 6.5 needs some sulfur.
6. Mow with a push mower like your grandfather used. These pushing type mowers finely cut the grass and create a mulching affect leaving the nutrient-rich clippings on the lawn. Did you know that gas powered mowers actually pollute the air up to 20 times more than our cars? So, if you don’t like pushing your way to shorter grass, try an electric mower and/or trimmer. Either way, these mowers require much less maintenance and will last longer than the foreign-oil gulpers!
7. The dandelion army is a good indicator that your lawn has a high pH level!
8. Corn gluten is a good natural weed preventer. Apply this natural byproduct of corn processing to your lawn in the early spring and again in the fall. The gluten kills weed seedlings and adds nitrogen to the soil.
9. Use Milky Spore to treat lawn grubs. This natural pesticide leaves all other microorganisms unharmed and is safe for pets and children.
10. Compost, compost, compost. Create a compost pile at your home or buy some compost from your local facility. Spread the compost evenly on your lawn. There’s nothing better than natural, nutrient-rich organic matter that would otherwise end up in our landfills. And, it’s a fun exercise for the whole family!
|Two great resources for natural lawn care: |
B. http://www.seattle.gov/util/stellent/groups/ public/@spu/@csb/documents/webcontent/naturalya_2003112617020011.pdf