Organic lawn care is a big buzz word right now, lots of people are talking about it, doing it, and singing the praises of it (most of the time). But what is organic lawn care really? What does it mean? How does it work? And is it really worth doing?
To answer those questions and more, we put together the following 5 keys to organic lawn care.
1. Focusing on the grass has a price. Traditional lawn care feeds the grass exactly what it needs to do its best. It takes little or no thought for the soil and can effectively sterilize the soil and remove all healthy microbial life. Dead soil is essentially dirt that has no way to keep nature in check and is prone to disease, bugs, mold, and more. Your grass may look amazing as you keep spraying down chemicals, but you may need regular chemical treatments to control the pests, disease, and mold as well. Plus, since grass always has the nutrients it wants right on hand, its roots are not as deep or dense. The plant itself has a more shallow existence and is more susceptible to drought and stress.
2. Organic lawn care is more about the soil than the lawn. This involves using waste, proteins, or bio solids obtained from plants, animals, or both to fertilize the soil. As the soil is fed, it breaks down the nutrients to create the food the grass wants. The natural organisms in the dirt flourish and create a healthy, disease resistant environment. Earth worms thrive and loosen the soil, the grass grows deep thick roots that make it harder for weeds to take root, and less water is needed to keep the grass alive.
3. Mulching feeds the lawn. Bagging grass has become popular because it is less messy, and while this can make sense in an area with pets, it is not better for the grass. When you mulch the grass, you are returning nutrients right back to the lawn. Bagging the grass removes the nutrients from the lawn. Think about it, mulch is grass. Grass needs certain nutrients to grow. When you cut the grass and mulch it, you are returning those exact vital nutrients to the soil. Bagging the grass is kind of like bleeding nutrients out of the lawn with every mowing.
4. Patience is required for success. If you are switching from a chemical lawn plan to an organic one, it could take one to two seasons for the soil to recover and go from dead, to mostly dead, to healthy. During this transition the grass needs to learn a new way to live, and may look worse before it looks better. Weeds could be hard to control for a time and you might need to continue watering a little extra. But in time everything will come around and you will have a healthier, safer, lower maintenance lawn that is less expensive to keep up with.
5. Organic is safer but still requires some provisions. One of the best reasons to switch to organic lawn care is to provide a safer environment for children, animals, and everyone who lives near or downstream from you. Lawn care chemicals can be nasty, they can linger in the soil for a while and they can contaminate yards nearby and wherever the runoff goes. Organic lawn care is much safer, but even organic fertilizers and products need some care. These materials are safer than chemicals but they are often highly concentrated. So be sure to always read the recommendations and warning on any products you use. They may ask you to give your lawn a number of hours or days to rest after an application before anyone or anything plays in the grass.
At the end of the day, an organic lawn is a beautiful thing that naturally resists pests, disease, drought, and weeds. If you are interested in going this route, be patient, the payoff is not immediate but it is worth it.