Organic Lawn Care Vs Conventional Lawn Care
Organic lawn care is a sustainable way of caring for your lawn. Conventional lawn care involves products such as herbicides that could pollute the soil and water. Synthetic fertilizers used in conventional lawn care can even damage your lawn, resulting in thatch, weak grass, and lawn pests.
On the other hand, organic lawn fertilizers are environmentally friendly and contribute to healthy soil and a healthy lawn. They contain nutrients from natural sources that nourish the ground and improve soil structure.
Natural fertilizers also encourage beneficial microbes to develop. These break down organic matter slowly and naturally to help feed healthy lawns.
Most people turn to conventional cheap lawn fertilizers because they tend to have quick results. However, excess synthetic fertilizers can cause root burn. This can cause the grass to wither and turn yellow due to a buildup of mineral salts. Unfortunately, this results in gardeners using more chemicals to try and stimulate grass growth.
How Do You Know How Often To Fertilize Lawns
There are several important factors that come into play when youre trying to understand lawn fertilization frequency. These include:
- Lawn fertilizer application times
- The type of fertilizer you use
- How you apply your fertilizer
- How frequently you water your lawn
Ill discuss each of these points in some detail below.
How To Feed Your Lawn Without Chemicals
You can grow a healthy lawn without using synthetic chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Chemical-free fertilizers stimulate the healthy growth of roots and blades while they improve the drainage, aeration, and water-holding capacity of the soil.
A healthy lawn starts with healthy soil. A thin layer of compost can replenish the soils natural organic content. Organic fertilizer feeds the soil as well as the plants. Choose from high protein organic fertilizers such as corn meal, alfalfa meal, coffee grounds, and soy meal ; home-brewed compost tea; or commercial liquid organic fertilizers.
If you are planning a new lawn choose turf grasses that grow well where you live. Experts at Ohio State University recommend homeowners in their state grow cool season turf grasses such as turf-type tall fescue, perennial ryegrass , fine fescue, and Kentucky bluegrass. Contact your cooperative extension office for advice on the best turf grass for your area.
When you mow the lawn cut no more than one-third of the length of the grass blades. Leave grass clippings on the lawn to add even more organic content.
Heres a yearly plan to follow. In the spring before the grass turns green, apply a protein-based fertilizer or liquid organic fertilizer. During the summer, water the lawn once a week in the morning, unless you get an inch of rainfall. Apply fertilizer again about three weeks before the grass stops growing in autumn.
Don’t Miss: How To Kill Weeds In Lawn
When Should You Fertilize
Early summer and fall are the best times to fertilize. Fall fertilization increases winter hardiness of the grass and provides nutrients, especially potassium, which makes turf stronger. The specific time of day you fertilize depends on weather conditions, and fertilizers shouldnt be applied if rain is forecast within the next 24 hours. Always read the directions on the bag carefully before applying any fertilizer.
Organic Lawn Care Secret : Mow No Lawn Until Its Time
First, lets get one thing straight. Mowing your lawn on a rigid time schedule, like every Friday or Saturday, is detrimental. Your lawn should be mowed when its long enough to cut and not before. ;Grasses are plants. The foliage of plants conducts photosynthesis, converting sunlight into carbohydrates and then into energy. Cutting your lawn shorter than short reduces the ability of grass to carry on with photosynthesis and grow roots and green stuff. It also gives any lying-in-wait weed seeds an opportunity to germinate, because the long blades of grass no longer shade them out. When the weed seed gets plenty of light and water, guess what? It becomes a weed! ;Plus, the way-too-short grass will go into a frenzy, soaking up every nutrient it can find and growing as fast as it can. This places a great deal of stress on the plant, leaving it vulnerable to pests and disease.
Dont cut your lawn until it has about three inches of growth and set your lawn mower on the highest setting .
Its a cascade effect. When you mow your lawn higher, allowing some length to the blades of grass, the grass shades out weeds and the grass grows deeper roots. If the long grass keeps the weed seed from germinating, theres more room for the grass to grow. And a deeper root system means that your grass requires less water and is better able to withstand drought.
Read Also: What Is The Smallest Riding Lawn Mower
Large Lawns And Golf Courses
Large lawns, and especially golf courses, require large amount of herbicides and chemical fertilizers to maintain their condition and appearance. The impact on the environment is considerable.
Recent experiments using organic compost have shown this method to be very promising. Generally, researchers and practitioners recognize that incorporating high-quality compost does several things:
For a detailed report on the science, application methods and results, read our article Using Compost to Improve Turf Ecology.
Why Use Organic Fertilizer For My Garden
Organic fertilizer has many advantages for you as well as for your grass.
The main benefit of using organic soil is that it introduces organic matter to the soil and of course, improves the exchange of nutrients. The soil includes billions of microorganisms which are a vital part of the ecosystem and they enjoy consuming organic fertilizer.
When the soil is healthy, it can maintain better levels of moisture and attracts a larger population of earthworms. Earthworms are the simplest and most reliable way to boost aeration and drainage naturally, plus their waste is full of nutrients that plants love.
One of the main arguments for using organic fertilizer is that it can last long. Since organic content takes longer to break down, these fertilizers stay for months, and often with rainfall or heavy weather, remain in the soil.
Such fertilizers gradually release nutrients at a rate such that the lawn receives what it wants without getting over-stimulated. Grass develops steadily and uniformly and you dont have to mow as much as you want.
Of example, one of the biggest benefits of utilizing organic fertilizers is that they dont produce toxic, harmful chemicals. You dont have to think about spills and complicated clean-ups so having too many does not damage your lawn.
Read Also: How To Fix Dead Patches In Lawn
How Important Are Lawn Foods
A lawn that is lush and healthy from the start wont require high attention in the form of lawn food or liquid feed to cope up with the rigors of seasonal threats.
Lawn foods are essential supplemental soil therapies, often given as a quick fix to provide nutrients, for a recovery after the unfavorable weather conditions, or quick elimination of certain pests from your lawn.
How Often To Fertilize
How often to fertilize depends on whether you go with an organic or synthetic fertilizer. Because they give quick color boosts that dont last very long, youll need to apply synthetic fertilizer much more often.
However, dont go over 4 applications a year. Then youre just spending a lot of time and money making your grass grow crazy fast, meaning you have to mow more often, and more nitrogen leaches into waterways, groundwater, and the surrounding environment.
With organic fertilizers, youll only need to fertilize once, maybe twice, a year for the best effect.
Also Check: What Is The Best Lawn Mower To Buy
Synthetic Lawn Fertilizer Advantages
Still, synthetic fertilizers have their advantages. For one, they tend to be quick-acting. The Scotts Liquid Turf Builder, for example, boasts that its quick shot of nitrogen can green up a lawn in as few as 24 hours.
They are homogenous products that break down in a predictable, consistent way, enabling a uniform application to your lawn.
Using Organic Weed And Feed As Part Of Natural Lawn Care
Organic weed and feed consists of two different products: organic fertilizer and organic weed preventer. Natural weed preventer is a product that contains corn gluten meal. It prevents weed seeds from rooting after germination. Weed preventer is not an herbicide so it wont kill established weeds. If you already have established weeds growing in your lawn, you will need to remove them naturally using one of these homemade natural weed killers.
Apply natural weed and feed products twice a year to stop dandelions, crabgrass, foxtail, and other lawn weeds from appearing.
Example of an organic weed preventer is Espoma CGP6 Organic Weed Preventer which prevents new emerging weeds.
The time to use weed and feed products is before weeds have germinated. Early spring is the best time to apply organic weed applications.
Here are instructions to prevent weeds from growing in your organic lawn:
- Mow your grass to that its about around 3 long before applying weed and feed.
- Wait for two days and then apply the natural weed and feed to dry grass.
Don’t Miss: What Is The Best Lawn Sweeper
When To Fertilize Warm
The best time to fertilize warm-season grasses is between late-spring to late-summer, when these grasses are growing most vibrantly.
apply any amendments as required by soil test results and/or compost tea.
Last-spring: fertilize in June. If using synthetic fertilizer, start your 4-to-6 week fertilizer schedule. If using compost, use a lighter top-up, if you choose. Warm-season grass will begin growing actively when soil temperatures reach 65F, which is usually around April.
Late-summer: give one final fertilizer in August while the grass is still growing vibrantly to prepare the winter dormancy grass.
If youve overseeded with cool-season grasses, you may need to fertilize once more in November, when they grow more vigorously. If youve given your lawn a good compost feeding, though, this might not be necessary.
And if you have centipede grass, youre in luck! Centipede grass doesnt like extra nitrogen, so you dont have to fertilize.
Start With A Soil Test
The first step in going the organic route with an existing lawn is beefing up weakened soil, which means starting with a soil test. That way you’ll know which nutrients are lacking and which organic amendments you’ll need to incorporate. For example, soil with a calcium deficiency can be top-dressed with gypsum; and soil low in magnesium might need a healthy dose of the mineral langbeinite.
You will need to dig up samples from several different areas of your lawn , and mail them off to a lab to be analyzed. Call local nurseries and university extension offices to see if they offer soil tests .
Once you know which amendments you need, you should prepare the lawn by mowing the grass down to about 2 inches, pulling up weeds, removing thatch , and aerating . This will enable your soil to fully absorb any amendments you add.
Recommended Reading: Who Makes Greenworks Lawn Mowers
The Best Way To Water Your Lawn When Caring For It Organically
When growing an organic lawn, it is best to water your lawn deeply and only when the soil needs it. Thorough, intensive watering ensures that turfgrass roots get well-nourished. You should water your lawn only as often as the grass needs watering.
One of the mistakes that gardeners make is to water grass on a schedule or daily. Frequent, shallow watering encourages weeds to grow. These unwanted plants end up choking out grass and spoil the appearance of your lawn.
When it comes to organic lawn irrigation, remember that the roots of weeds are shallower than grass roots. So, allowing the top layer of soil to dry and then giving your lawn infrequent, but thorough watering is a natural weed-prevention tip for organic lawns. Ideally, you should wait until the top 6 of soil is dry before watering.
How do you know when youve watered your lawn enough? Put a few measuring cups on your lawn and turn on your sprinkler. When the level of water reaches an inch, your lawn should be adequately irrigated. As a general rule, 1 of water in a measuring cup is required to water lawns to a depth of 6 .
Should I Overseed My Lawn Every Year
Reseeding or overseeding is a method of sowing grass seed on an existing lawn. You dont need to reseed an organic lawn every year. Reseeding is only required if you notice bare patches developing.
To overseed the lawn, aerate the lawn by creating holes with a rake. Spread the appropriate seed onto the bare turf and rake into the soil. Water the lawn thoroughly.
Recommended Reading: What To Use For Grubs In Lawn
Best Organic Fertilizer For Gardens And Lawns
Doc explains how we can use natural, pure, organic matter to fertilize our vegetable gardens, flower gardens, and even our lawns.; By using clean feeds and grains nature will break these down into nutrients and carbon. The long term impact of repeated applications creates dark rich soil full of good microbes. You can eliminate all the chemical fertilizers in your gardens by following these tips.;
Epsom Salt Lawn Fertilizer
Epsom salts contain two elements that boost lawn grass and its lushness-Magnesium and Sulfur. Magnesium is crucial for activating chlorophyll production, and helping in the absorption of phosphorus and nitrogen, while sulfur helps plants to photosynthesize.Learn more about amazing Epsom salt uses in the garden here.
Don’t Miss: What Do Lawn Care Companies Do In The Winter
Advantages Of Organic Lawn Fertilizer
More gardeners and homeowners are looking to organic lawn fertilizer as they seek to add nutrients to their lawn in a safer, affordable way. Organic lawn fertilizers are organic matter that contributes to healthy soil.;
When these fertilizers are added to the soil, the matter stays in the soil and breaks down slowly. This means that organic lawn fertilizers can improve your soil quality as well as add nutrients, something that synthetic fertilizers simply cant do. They can encourage the presence of helpful microbes rather than kill them.;
In a healthy lawn, insect control isnt usually an issue, but using an organic fertilizer is a better option in this case, too. While organic fertilizers can sometimes be more expensive than synthetic ones, they need to be applied less often as do pesticides so youll ultimately save more money in the long run.;
Secrets To A Chemical Free Lawn
#1 Raise Your Blades!
The single most important secret to a better lawn is raising your blades up on your mower!
Cutting the grass higher is one of the easiest ways to a better lawn.
Mowing a yard too low causes a whole host of issues.;For one, weed seeds have a much easier time finding their way to the soil base to;take hold. It also allows the soil to dry out more rapidly on hot, sunny days.
What is a good height? Anywhere between 3.5 and 4 high will work best. This allows enough shade to help keep moisture in the soil, and help keep the grass from turning brown.
#2 Never Take More Than 1/4 Of Your Grass Off At A Time
In addition to mowing high, it is important to never take more than 1/4 of the grass off with a single cutting. ;Removing too much grass at once puts enormous stress on the lawn. Stress that causes long-term damage.
Clumped grass can snuff the life out of the lawn below. It also leads to thatch buildup in lawns.
For starters, it can leave massive clumps of grass behind, Clumps that cling to the living grass underneath, and begins to choke it out. That dead grass also weaves together on the surface to form unsightly and lawn-damaging thatch.
If your yard gets ahead of you, simply raise the mowing deck to full height. It is better to mow a few times to get it back down slowly than all at once!
#3 Keep Your Blades Sharp!
Dull blades tear grass, and leave it looking brown.
#4 Dont Mow Your Lawn When Its Wet
#5 Dont Bag Clippings Secrets
Read Also: Where To Buy John Deere Lawn Tractor
Money Saving Organic Fertilizers
1. GRASS CLIPPINGS
Leaving your own clippings on your lawn will account for a 1/4 to a 1/2 of your lawns fertilizer needs;for the year. If you do gather other peoples clippings, be;certain they have not been contaminated by weed killers;;residue from the weed killers can impede the growth of;your lawn.
2. HOMEMADE COMPOST AND COMPOST TEA
Surely you will not be able to make enough compost for your entire lawn, but combining it with other sources might just cut it. Beats buying fertilizer every day.
You can make compost tea easily, just put compost in your wives stockings and dip it in water until the water turns into compost tea.
If you apply dry compost to the lawn, either as a top-;dressing or by mixing it into the existing soil at the time of planting, it;will often take time a few days or weeks before you see the bene-;fits of greener, healthier grass. Thats because the soil organisms need;to digest the organic material and smaller organisms in the compost;before the grass plants get the benefit of the micronutrients.
Autumn leaves are a great fertilizer, but be sure to mulch them with your lawnmower and collect them on one pile and let them decompose for a year at least before combining it with your compost or using it as is.
4. SEA WEED
Work only if you live near the coast.
5. WOOD ASH
6. SAW DUST
Use it lightly and sprinkle it on your lawn. Yuu can rake it in.
7. ANIMAL MANURE
Never use manure directly compost it first then use it on your lawn.