You've finally done it! Looking out the window of your house, you can see a gorgeous green expanse of beautiful lawn. Your family loves it, your neighbors are justifiably envious, and your pets appreciate it too. The questions now are "How can I keep my lawn lush organically?" and "How can I break my lawn's dependence on herbicides, pesticides, and synthetic fertilizers?" Well, today is your (and your lawn's) lucky day. By following the four tips recommended today, your chances of maintaining the lawn of your dreams organically will be much increased.
1. Water your lawn infrequently and deeply - Follow this advice and it's likely that your green turf will grow some deep roots, and that will cause it to be less susceptible to disease and drought. Early morning is the best time for watering since your lawn will have lots of time to first absorb that water and then dry out nicely in the sunshine. Remember, lawns typically need only one to two inches of water a week in the summertime. If you want to make sure exactly how much water your lawn is getting, buy a rain gauge. To save even more water, think about buying a rain barrel.
2. Cut high, not low! - Cool season grass that's kept three inches high is as efficient as the use of herbicides to hold crabgrass in check (and maybe more effective, according to the latest research coming out of the University of Maryland. Sharpen your mower blade. If you have dull blades, your grass will be left with ragged edges, and ragged edges encourages rapid water evaporation, plus makes your lawn more vulnerable to infection. Finally, mow frequently, but remember to only cut off approximately 1/3 of your grass blades at one time.
3. Try some organic weed control - We know the feeling of despair that comes from seeing some crabgrass, dandelions, or other weeds popping up their unappreciated heads in the midst of our beautiful organic lawn. But there's a few things you can try instead of succumbing to the use of toxic chemicals on your little slice of paradise. First off, you can try a little hand pulling, employing a newer, well-designed tool that will make those weeds pop out or be sliced off. Feeling like a warrior? Give those little buggers a blast of heat, using your trusty mini blowtorch! There's also some natural compounds in your arsenal that can be dropped on weeds, including clove oil, cinnamon bark, and citrus oil.
4. Consider reseeding your lawn if more than 50% of it is weedy - Learn from your weeds. If you're seeing moss, that means that your soil is most probably acidic and infertile. Crabgrass is an indicator that your turf is neither dense nor healthy and that maybe you're mowing too low. Dandelions could be an indicator of a potassium deficiency. Nutsedge means that your soil is poorly drained and probably too wet. Start over by tilling one section of the lawn each time (best in springtime before those nasty weed critters start growing). Reseed each section and give it a light watering each day until your grass seed germinates and its roots become well established. Make sure to use the right grass seed for your particular growing conditions, correct your soil pH if necessary, and add the right organic matter.
A final bit of advice - It can take several years to make the transition from unhealthy chemically treated lawns to healthy organic soil and turf. During this time period keep a close eye on your lawn, and check for pests, weeds, and disease. The good news is, once your organic lawn is happy and well-established, you'll be glad to know that it will need much less attention, water, and fertilizer.