Organic Gardening: Natural Lawn Care

The healthiest lawn is a pleasure to behold and a treat for your feet; however, did you know that a strong, well-maintained lawn is actually heat-, disease-, and insect-resistant? Once you've established a thick healthy lawn, you will find that you'll need to use less water, pesticide, and fertilizer to keep it up to par. Stop using chemicals and check out the organic gardening way to natural lawn care to get that perfect lawn. Your neighbors will be green with envy.

Fall and spring are for seeding. This is the time to rake out dead grass that is matted down and preventing nutrients and water from working their way into the soil and feeding the grass. Power raking and aerating is also a good idea but that doesn't have to be done more than once a year when beginning to cultivate a healthy lawn. Once the seed is down per the seed company instructions, top dress the vulnerable grass with topsoil and keep it wet. You will need to water more often than usual when the seeds are new and sprouts are young. If the new grass and seed dries out, then the seed is dead and will not grow grass. This is a common and costly mistake. Once grass is established, only water in the mornings to prevent fungus diseases. A healthy grass habit to work toward is deep watering an hour at a time only once or twice a week. This will ensure the roots have to reach deep to get the water and creates the thick luxurious lawn that is hearty as well.

Fertilize four times a year with an organic fertilizer such as compost. Blood meal, protein fertilizers, ground seeds or beans such as coffee grounds are excellent organic ways to fertilize your turf. Try researching suppliers at universities with reputable agricultural schools. For example, 10 to 20 pounds of protein fertilizer per 1,000 feet is commonly recommended.

You can improve the overly acidic soil in some climates with lime. It is organic and fine to use liberally. In fact, in New England's rocky soil, you cannot lime too much or too often. Lime will also naturally and organically keep moss at bay.

Grubs should be treated with organic milky spore disease and beneficial nematodes after the spring grass has sprouted. Grubs are bad for grass root structures and can become difficult to deal with once they've grown into Japanese beetles. Get these pests early and your lawn and family will thank you.

Maintain your healthy lawn organically. Mowing the lawn once a week or less will help the grass stay strong. Keep the blade set high -- at least a couple inches. This longer grass maintains moisture and is less susceptible to burn out during the droughts and high summer heat.

Tip: Mow your own grass if you can. It is a substantial cost savings and you're less likely to develop crab grass and other lawn problems due to the sharing of mower blades. Once a mower has scythed through a patch of crab grass in another lawn, it can pick up weed seeds and deposit them in the next place mowed.

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