Lawns are the highest maintenance component of most landscapes and as such are getting a lot of attention when discussions involve the environment and "going green". Lawns are clearly suitable for recreational use and pathways. However, they often exist more out of habit and our need to see large expanses of green, an aesthetic we have become accustomed to but realistically costs us more money overall and harms the environment enormously under traditional approaches. Organic lawn care begins with the health of the soil and we create a program based on the information we get from a soil test and an on-site analysis. The basic components of an organic lawn care program include the following:
1. Feed the soil Healthy soil is made up of 5% organic matter, 45% minerals, 25% air and 25% water. This soil is good for plants, including grass because it holds moisture, minimizes erosion and gets air to the roots of the plant. Healthy soil has an abundance of microorganisms - bacteria, fungi and nematodes to name a few - which do a lot of work releasing nutrients including nitrogen, phosphorous, magnesium and calcium. This living "soil food web" is the natural way of getting your grass what it needs so we start with a soil test and then determine how to feed the soil that it has the right amount of nutrients and the right PH to suit grass. To feed the soil naturally, leave grass clippings on the lawn, mulch with shredded leaves and top dress with compost.
2. Mow high & leave clippings on the lawn Maintaining a higher height of grass allows the grass to better establish itself with a deeper root system. At the same time, it also blocks out light for weed seed germination so weeds are reduced. Leaving grass clippings on the lawn can supply almost 50% of the nitrogen requirements needed to feed the lawn and at the same time eliminates the labor costs needed to bag and haul this away.
3. Water responsibly Watering is important to get the lawn started. For turf, watering deeply is more important than watering often. If soil is healthy, it will reduce your irrigation needs.
4. No chemicals or synthetics Chemical fertilizers and synthetics feed plants and not the soil, circumventing the natural production of nutrients for grass by the microorganisms in the soil. In the process, these fertilizers actually kill the biology and make your lawn dependent on fertilizer to look green and healthy.
5. Over seed to weed One of the best tactics against weeds is to over seed your lawn with grass seed. Mother Nature does not like bare patches and weeds will always grow in bare spots. As in any stage of growth, some grass will age and needs to be replaced by more youthful seeds. If you over seed the lawn with grass seeds making a thick lawn, weeds will be choked out. Tolerating some weeds, especially beneficial ones like clover that fixes nitrogen and is resistant to dog spots, makes sense in an organic landscape.
After we analyze your conditions and read the results of a soil test, we prepare an organic lawn care program. The components of your program can consist of one or more of the following:
Compost Tea Applications We brew our own compost tea. This process helps us put the "life" back into your soil and kicks off the process needed to have healthy soil. It is usually done 2-4 times per season, and less each year.
Organic Fertilizer Depending on what the soil test indicates about nutrients, we will apply an organic granular fertilizer onto your lawn. This is usually done in spring and fall for the first year and as needed thereafter.
Overseeding The best defense against weeds is grass seeds. Weeds will find any bare patch in your lawn and settle in. The best way to defend yourself against weeds is by feeding and seeding!
Aerating Often lawns are compacted from both foot traffic or weather like rain or snow. Healthy soil needs good amounts of air and lawns often need to be aerated to restore the health of the soil. We test for compaction when we do out site analysis.