Each year I hear more and more stories from home owners that they tried the organic approach and now they have a great lawn. It is important to remember that these products do not work as quickly as synthetic/chemical based products and patience is a virtue once you commit to an organic lawn care program. Let’s explore how this approach can be used to create a great lawn.
Organic methods of farming were all that existed for centuries. The ability to use what you had available locally to grow crops in order to eat and survive was critical. As the world population exploded, farming methods in the last century developed into using less expensive synthetic materials to reduce costs and increase yields. These farming methods are based on feeding the plant directly instead of creating available nutrients in the soil for the various crops to utilize. Remember we learned how the Native Americans taught the early settlers to farm by putting a fish head on top of each corn plant?
Organic lawn care is based on feeding the soil and the soil will then feed the grass. By creating a healthy, alive soil profile, we can grow a better lawn. How do we do this? First, be sure you use quality grass seed if you are going to try and win “the best lawn in town” contest! Soil is a complex array of water, clay, sand, silt, earthworms and microbial life. If we can stimulate this soil life we can grow a great lawn.
There are a number of organic fertilizers available, some are manures from animals, some may be bio-solids from human waste and others come from plant and animal proteins. Plant and animal proteins are primarily waste products from the food industry used to make animal feed. These include feather, blood, alfalfa, meat, bone, fish, cottonseed, soybean and other “meal” products. I prefer our Organic Lawn Food which utilizes plants and animal proteins to create a “spaghetti sauce” mixture for greater feeding diversity. These “meals” are broken down by microbes in the soil creating a food source for the grass plants. Biological activity in the soil helps to loosen soil and promote earthworm activity. A healthy, active soil biology can also reduce thatch and help to reduce fungus pressure too.
The only real organic weed preventer available to control grassy and broadleaf weeds selectively in turf grass is corn gluten based, such as our Organic Weed Preventer. There have been some improvements made to the original corn gluten patent to enhance weed control performance. Remember, corn gluten products also contain Nitrogen to feed the plant. Weeds are probably the hardest to get under control in the first season with organic products if you have an abundance of them. It may take a sound organic lawn care program and a few seasons to get 95+ percent control of weeds in your lawn. There are some non-selective organic sprays you can use to kill weeds in the lawn, such as Avenger, but they will leave a brown-dead spot in your lawn wherever you spray them.
If bugs in the lawn are a problem there are some organic essential oil products available in both granular and spray forms. Our granular Organic Insect Control contains essential oils. Grubs are harder to control using organic products; however, I think we will see some new organic controls come on the market in the future.
Growing a great lawn includes creating the proper soil pH level, between 6.2 and 7.0 for best growth. Mag-I-Cal will adjust your pH and provide needed calcium to the grass plant. Also, you need to relieve soil compaction so grass roots can drive deep into the soil for nutrients and water sources. Love Your Soil works well to help loosen clay-type soils.