I’m a huge advocate for edible landscapes, however, with a family I have to admit it’s also nice to have a patch of lawn to kick a ball about. We have a patch in our back yard and to keep it looking nice while also caring for our health and the environment, I turn to organic lawn care.
The key to an easy maintenance organic lawn is to encourage the grass you want so that it’s robust enough to push out any weeds and other less desirables.
This might be relatively easy if you’re already starting with a healthy lush lawn. However, you might be in for a bit more work if you’re dealing with a patchy, weed ridden lawn.
If you stick to these steps though, in time you will build the lawn you want. Of course, if it’s too far gone, you might also want to consider tearing up and starting over with new grass seed. It might seem extreme, but it could save you time in the long run.
So, here are some easy steps to take with each passing season to encourage a healthy lawn using only organic methods.
1 – Give your lawn a gentle rake to remove any winter debris and lift grass blades if they’ve been beaten down by snow or heavy winter rains.
2 – Re-sow any bare patches of lawn as they are an open invitation for weeds. Use a grass seed that is adapted to your climate. For instance, some grasses are better adapted to hot weather and periods of drought while others are better adapted to temperate, seasonal conditions.
3 – Raise the blade on your mower to the highest setting possible and keep it there. The taller the blades of grass, the better they will shade out weeds that are trying to push their way through.
4 – Sometime after your grass seed has germinated and before the weeds start germinating, spread some corn gluten meal on the lawn to prevent weeds from germinating.
5 – Use a slow release organic fertilizer, including your own home grown compost, to give your grass a spring kick.
6 – Manually dig out weeds that have secured a space on your lawn.
7 – When you cut your lawn in late spring, summer, and early fall, leave the trimmings there as they decompose very quickly and provide fertilizer and mulch for the growing grass.
8 – Cut the grass high and often. Taller grass and frequent snipping of the tops of weeds will help keep weeds under control. It might seem like more work, but frequent cutting could save you lots of time on weeding.
9 – Continue to do manual spot control with weeds.
10 – Remove any dead material or thatch by giving the lawn a good rake in spring. Scratching the surface of the ground will also encourage the grass to send out runners/shoots and thicken and spread.
11 – If you live in an area where you have wet autumns, it’s a good idea to aerate your lawn using some form of aerating tool or a fork. This will help drain the water from the surface of the lawn and discourage moss growth.
12 – Give the lawn a top-dressing with either some compost or an appropriate leaf mould:loam:sand ratio that helps to build the soil for the grass. Work it in well between the blades using a broom or light rake.
13 – If your lawn is covered with snow, then relax. If it’s not snow-covered but it’s getting a lot of precipitation, then try and stay off of it as you’ll just end up making a muddy mess of it.
Follow these steps, and you won’t need to bring in the toxic artillery for a good looking lawn and functional play space for the kids and pets.
Scott Meyer, editor of Organic Gardening, talks more in this video about the benefits of organic lawn care along with additional tips for a healthy environmentally-friendly lawn.