I created the following five-step easy fact sheet for a friend after receiving her timely request about organic lawn care information. Not surprisingly, as it is that time of year when the so-called “green” lawn care specialists are busy plying their trade. Kate’s note also came on the heels of a recent unfortunate incident that I experienced while walking along Niles Beach. I noticed a peculiar smell for quite someways along the walk, emanating from a man spraying chemicals to an expansive lawn. After walking all the way around Niles Pond, to the Retreat House and back, upon my return, he was still spraying! And the odd odor was stronger than ever. Where does the homeowner think all the toxins applied to the lawn will wind up–mostly across the road into the ocean!
Our Reader’s question:
I have a neighbor who is on the water front and is new to the area. He just built a house. He asked me about lawn fertilizer and weed keeper applications and someone who could do them. Naturally I gave him my opinion but I wonder is there a brief, homeowner friendly document that addresses why we should not be using any of these products on our lawns. And the impact on habitat and wildlife and us!
You know that Chris and I have never used them.
Thanks so much I really appreciate it.
The following fact sheet is based on my many years of working with homeowners and businesses. Although the gardens I design are pollinator friendly, they are primarily designed for people. Poisonous pesticides have no place in people, pet, pollinator, and planet friendly gardens!
I also highly recommend another option and that is turning your lawn into a wildflower meadow and the reasons for that are manifold however, this fact sheet only addresses organic lawn care.
If you would like a pdf of the fact sheet, please comment in the comment section and I will be happy to send it along.
Organic Lawn Care Guide for Massachusetts and Rhode Island
Lawn Care Fact Sheet for a Toxic Free New England
You don’t need a lawn service or an arsenal of poisonous pesticides to grow a beautiful lush green lawn. Follow this basic five-step formula to build a healthy organic lawn. Spring and fall provide the best opportunity to convert a poisoned lawn to a lawn that is safe for children, pets, and the environment.
Mow High, Often, and with Sharp Blades.
Long grass has more leaf surface, which enables it to grow thicker and develop a deeper root system. Longer grass makes it more difficult for weeds to germinate and also shades the soil surface, keeping it cooler. Sharp blades prevent tearing and injury to the grass. Leave short grass clippings on the grass where they recycle nitrogen.
Aerating soil reduces compaction, which is a prime cause of weeds. Leave the corings behind after aerating, and then apply compost so that it can reach the root zone.
Feed and Fertilize Gently.
Just after aeration is the best time to apply compost. For a small lawn, use a wheelbarrow and drop piles in intervals around the lawn; rake to approximately a quarter inch thick. For larger lawns, a spreader is recommended. Always apply compost and any organic fertilizer sparingly. Excess nitrogen and phosphorous run into waterways and into the ocean when it rains. Overuse of fertilizer creates thatch build-up.
Water Deeply But Not Too Often.
Water only when the lawn really needs watering, and then water deeply. Water early in the morning to prevent fungal disease and reduce evaporation.
Choose the Right Seed and Overseed.
Spreading grass seed over an existing lawn is the tried and true way to get a lush green lawn that is free of weeds. Thick, healthy grass provides no opportunity for weeds to germinate. Choose a seed combining Kentucky blue grass, fine fescue, tall fescue, perennial ryegrass, and white clover mixed specifically for sun or partial shade.
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