Tuesday, April 5, 2011
In the last five years homeowners and landscape professionals have expressed concerns about products on the market that are used on lawns. This surge has also increased over concern for the environment-the “Go Green” initiative. This has resulted in a huge demand for organic products that are friendly to people, the planet and pets! I have made a commitment to address these issues and have taken many steps to decipher the confusion about lawns products. I started to search for an alternative, a better way than the old, traditional methods to maintain my personal lawn with an agenda to improve lawns all across America. Working at Duxbury Farms I tried many combinations of products. I have used different seed mixtures and followed a number of lawn programs, side by side, throughout the year to see the results.
Over the last 15 years I think that the modern day American lawn has been unfairly scrutinized. Lawns play an important role in today’s landscape with the positive points far outweighing the negatives. Remember, lawns purify the air by absorbing pollutants, including those associated with acid rain and Global Warming. Your lawn removes carbon dioxide from the air and produces oxygen in return, just like a forest of trees! An average lawn of 5,000 square feet produces enough oxygen for eight people every day. Lawns also improve the quality of your immediate environment, cooling the house and saving on air conditioning costs. A healthy Jonathan Green lawn controls erosion, improves soil conditions, absorbs potential “run-off” water, reduces noise, reduces glare, purifies water, and increases your property value. That’s pretty good!
The first thing that needs to be done to reduce the use of fertilizers and chemicals is to start with the right Jonathan Green grass seed. Over the years, perhaps we all have been trying to fertilize or kill weeds in our ‘old’ lawns, many are greater than 5 years old, sometimes much older. If you keep doing the same things to your lawn year after year and you are not satisfied; it’s time for a change. If you do not want to use any pesticides on your lawn, re-seed your lawn regularly with Jonathan Green seed so it becomes thicker so weeds and bugs and fungus do not have as good a chance of damaging the lawn. Many lawns do not have any improved varieties of grass sown into them. This is like a breath of fresh air, like a blood transfusion. Jonathan Green has introduced improved grasses, which include endophytes, into most of their mixtures. These endophytes are naturally occurring beneficial fungi that live within the tissue of certain grass species including, perennial ryegrass, tall fescue and fine fescues. Endophytes do not harm the grass plant in any way; they produce alkaloids, which are detrimental to certain lawn insects. The result is that you will have a healthier lawn, since most bugs are warded off. A vigorously growing lawn is better able to withstand heat and drought stress, thus reducing the need for as many fertilizers and pesticide applications to look its best. Remember, your lawn can only be as good as the varieties of improved grass seed you seed into it and Jonathan Green grass seed is the best choice on the market!
In the last few years we introduced products with “The New American Lawn” logo, which qualify as eco-friendly and safe where children and pets play. The first organic product Jonathan Green developed was Organic Weed Control with Corn Gluten. The great thing about corn gluten is that it also contains fertilizer so it acts as a weed and feed product but organically! Corn gluten is the only organic selective weed control on the market. It was discovered and patented by Iowa State. I have used Jonathan Green Organic Weed Control with Corn Gluten on my lawn for the last 10 years and have been really impressed with not just the weed control, but the rich-green color from the fertilizer. Corn gluten controls crabgrass and other grassy weeds and also many broadleaf weeds in existing lawns. It only works as a pre-emergent so it needs to be applied before the target weed seeds germinate. This product is best applied the first thing in the spring. It can also be applied in late summer-early fall to control fall germinating weeds.
The demand for organic lawn fertilizers has increased in the last five years. Organic fertilizers green the lawn more slowly than traditional fertilizers after application. There has been a learning curve to educate the consumers on this difference along with a higher price tag for organics. Organics work by “feeding the soil” which then allows the grass plant to absorb nutrients it needs in a more efficient way. Since organic fertilizers do not green up as quickly as traditional fertilizers, there needs to be a commitment from the homeowner to the organic approach. It may take 2-3 years to get your lawn in tip-top shape using organics, be patient. Jonathan Green has a full line of organic products if you wish to take the organic approach to your lawn.
Jonathan Green organic fertilizers have a high content of water insoluble nitrogen (slow- release) so they reduce the potential for leaching which is better for the environment. These organic products contain animal and plant proteins such as feather meal, blood meal, bone meal, kelp meal, soybean meal, wheat shorts, amino acids and humates. These products are traditionally used in livestock and pet feeds, but they also have fertilizer nutrient value. If the question is asked, “Is it safe for my pet?” well, your dog or cat is probably already eating these ingredients daily, what could be better?!
Since 2000 Jonathan Green has reformulated most of our traditional fertilizers to contain less nitrogen as a percentage and more slow-release nitrogen. This helps reduce the potential for nitrates to leach into waterways. Slow-release nitrogen sources break down more slowly than soluble forms of nitrogen so the grass plant can better utilize the nitrogen, as it needs it. The end result keeps more fertilizer near the grass plant and out of the water system. Phosphorous, the middle number on fertilizer bags has been known to contribute to algae blooms in rivers, lakes and streams. Most of our Jonathan Green fertilizers are now “No-Phos” formulas thus contributing to a healthier water supply and environment. Many municipalities have, and others are considering, enacting No-Phosphorous fertilizer laws. Jonathan Green has printed on all bags that are “No-Phos” a logo that says, “No-Phosphorous Formula, Great for Lake and Bay communities”. This quickly allows the homeowner to identify this fertilizer as qualifying to be phosphorous-free.
We all need to follow “Best Management Practices” includes taking a soil test regularly, choosing the proper Jonathan Green fertilizer, keeping fertilizers on the lawn and off the driveway and streets, and following proper watering techniques. These will provide a healthier lawn and save you money and the environment.
In the last 10 years there have been a number of products brought to the market to keep your lawn looking good without the use of the traditional nutrients, Nitrogen-Phosphorous-Potash. Amino acids are derived from plants and allows for better utilization of existing nutrients in the soil and from fertilizer applications. Humates, the salts of humic acids, are derived from ancient plant and animal deposits decaying over millions of years. Jonathan Green Natural Beauty All Organic Lawn Fertilizer is rich in humates and provides excellent turf nutrition and restores your lawn soil’s life! Humates enable plants to extract nutrients from the soil, increase root growth and better overcome stress. The combination of amino acids and humates in many of our fertilizers helps to reduce the amount of fertilizer you need on your lawn to produce the same, lush, green grass we all love.
I realized years ago that too many homeowners do not test their soil, or really apply limestone in order to balance their soil pH. This was a major reason for their disappointment with their lawn applications. Limestone was too bulky and dusty when you had a large lawn area; you needed too many bags to do the job right. So, in 2005 I developed MAG-I-CAL, a calcium nutrient fertilizer. Plants need calcium just as the human body needs calcium for strong bones. The introduction of an organic acid to a calcium base lets MAG-I-CAL act as a super charged limestone adjusting soil pH upwards and balancing the base saturation for ideal grass growth. MAG-I-CAL helps release trapped nutrients in the soil, particularly phosphorous, so the lawn better utilizes fertilizer applications. To make taking a soil test easier, Jonathan Green introduced a simple soil pH tester for only $.99. In the last few years over 250,000 soil tests have been sold. This test allows for better choices to be made by consumers on the fertilizer they use.
Jonathan Green was asked in 2007 to participate in the National Mall organic lawn care trial renovation. A two-acre parcel was renovated to demonstrate that by using environmentally friendly organic lawn care products and methods, this lawn could perform as well or better than traditional lawn maintenance practices. Jonathan Green donated their best eco-friendly grass seed mixture, Black Beauty for this site. It still looks good today considering the 30+ million people who visit this historic site annually.
If you are thinking of using organics, why not try this year? All things come from the earth, let’s do Mother Nature a favor and return the favor.Back