Guide To Organic Lawn Care
Organic lawn care in Florida requires two basic elements, which are applying organic materials to the lawn for fertilizer and organic ones to maintain it. Basically, for lawn care to be considered organic, it cannot involve using man made substances or chemicals like pesticides to care for it.
What Is Organic Lawn Care?
Organic lawn care is the practice of supporting a lawn and encouraging its growth through the use of carbon-based materials that come from animals or plants. This includes substances like:
- Leaf mulch
- Worm castings
- Bone char
Companies that provide organic lawn care also use natural minerals, such as potash and greensand, to encourage growth. These substances will give your lawn the micronutrients that it needs to thrive.
Tools You Need For Organic Lawn Care
Organic lawn care requires soil preparation. This means that you’ll need to aerate it with a pitchfork or a mechanical aerator. You’ll also need a lawn spreader to apply a thin soil amendment layer, spread organic fertilizer and add homemade compost.
Developing An Organic Lawn Care Plan
The first step to developing an organic lawn care plan is to perform a soil test. Then, you’ll need to plant the right type of grass and create a watering and mowing schedule.
Choose the Right Grasses
For the best organic lawn, select grasses that are adapted for your area. When you plant grass meant for your region, you may be able to avoid disease. When choosing your blend, consider the growing conditions needed. Most grass types prefer full sun, but there are a few that grow well in the shade.
Organic Weed Control
Control weeds by making sure that you have good water drainage. Also, check your soil’s pH levels. Along with these steps, be sure to purchase organic herbicides formulated for managing the weeds in lawns. These will include ingredients like soaps, acetic acid or botanical oils.
Organic Lawn Fertilizer
Organic lawn fertilizers are made from natural ingredients like bone meal, feather meal and seaweed. Bone meal adds phosphorus while feather meal provides nitrogen. Seaweed features potassium. Keep in mind that thick grass can force out weeds. Once you’ve treated your soil, be sure to overseed your lawn.
Don’t Cut Your Lawn Too Short
Be sure to cut your grass to its best height. If you’ve planted cool-season grass like red fescue or Kentucky bluegrass, then cut it to about 3 inches or 4 inches high. If you have warm-season grass like Bermuda, then you can keep it shorter at around 1 inch to 1 ½ inches high.
Bermuda is probably the only warm season grass that is cut short.
For St. Augustine we recommend cutting it to 4-5 inches high, and for Zoysia Grass we recommend cutting it to 2-3 inches high.
Keep Your Mower Blade Sharp
When you cut your grass with a dull blade, your lawn will be more vulnerable to disease. Also, if you mow your grass too short, then more sunlight can enter your lawn, which will encourage weed growth. Keep your mower blade sharp to ensure that your organic lawn looks its best.
Leave Clippings Alone
After mowing, leave the clippings. If you bag them up, you’ll be removing 58% of the nitrogen provided by fertilizers. Clippings also improve the condition of the soil, prevent disease and decrease thatch.
Control thatch with proper watering. If you water your grass shallowly and frequently, then this will support the development of thatch, which is when grass expands by sending soil runners above ground. This causes an abundance of runners that form into a mat that blocks air and water.
For a healthy organic lawn, aerate regularly. Be sure to complete the task in the spring or during the fall.
Don’t overwater your grass. When you water too much, it’s bad for the environment and your lawn. Give your grass water when it starts to display a bluish hue or becomes a dull shade of green. Also, water when you spot folding leaf blades and footprints that remain visible after you’ve walked across the lawn.
Organic Lawn Care Calendar
Establish an organic lawn care calendar. Aerate in the spring or fall because these seasons are less stressful for your grass. The aerating process causes stress because it kills roots. Spring and fall are also when you’ll want to work on your soil’s structure by adding amendments. Give your lawn an organic fertilizer toward the end of May. Also, time your mowing schedule according to your grass type.
Pros of Organic Lawn Care
The pros of organic lawn care include:
- Less pesticide exposure
- Environmental benefits
- Better soil function
- An improved lawn ecosystem
Healthy Lawns Offset Climate Change
Healthy lawns offset climate change because they need less water than lawns that are treated with chemicals like pesticides. Also, an estimated 40% to 60% of the nitrogen in grass fertilizer runs off, entering groundwater or surface water.
Healthy Lawns Contribute to Air Quality
Healthy lawns improve air quality by operating as a dust and airborne particle trap. Since a lawn covers a large surface, soil particles are held in place instead of being transported to another area when it gets windy.
Healthy Lawns Produce Oxygen
Like all plants, grass uses photosynthesis to collect carbon dioxide out of the air to make oxygen.
Healthy Lawns Capture And Infiltrate Stormwater And Treat Pollutants in Runoff
Runoff from stormwater is a big cause of water pollution occurring in urban regions. Healthy lawns are a green infrastructure that absorb stormwater when it falls. This also works to treat pollutants like pesticides.
Healthy Lawns Provide Erosion Control
Thick, healthy lawns are one of the most effective ways to control erosion due to wind and water. When a grass plant is healthy and thriving, it is capable of delivering the equivalent of about 300 miles of roots. Expansive root systems connected to healthy grass hold dirt in place and prevent erosion.
Cons of Organic Lawn Care
The cons of organic lawn care include:
- The presence of weeds
- More work on your part for lawn maintenance
- Requiring you to be patient
History of Organic Lawn Care
Before lawns became a staple of single-family homes, they enhanced the exterior of English and French castles in the 16th century. Since lawn care was just getting started at the time, people allowed the grass to grow without intervention, making it organic lawn care. Grass cutting started in England during the 17th century, and in the 1950s, pesticides were invented.
How to Fix Common Organic Lawn Problems
If too many weeds are growing in your lawn, then there may be a problem with the soil. For instance, crabgrass is an indicator of soil compaction. Fix this issue with aeration. Insects also reveal problems. If you have chinch bugs, then your lawn is dry. To resolve this issue, water in the early morning in order to reduce the changes of fungal growth.
Lawn Care pH
Every lawn is different. This means that you’ll want to complete a soil test to determine the pH levels of yours to provide the proper care. Along with the pH levels, the test will check your lawn’s nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium levels. That way, you’ll know what nutrients are deficient and when to add fertilizer.
Lawn Care Soil Depth
The minimum soil depth for a healthy lawn is 4 inches, but to ensure deep root penetration, make sure that your lawn’s soil depth is around 6 inches.
Organic Soil Enhancement
To enhance your lawn’s organic soil, use fertilizers like compost, green manures, peat moss and aged animal manures.
Lawn Care Weeds
Eliminate weeds in your organic lawn without using pesticides by growing thick grass. When it’s thick, it will crowd out weeds. To make it thick, overseed your lawn using the right type of turf grass. You can also spread corn gluten meal and pull your weeds by hand.
Lawn Care Enhancements
To enhance the look of your lawn, make sure that it’s cut to the right height, fertilized properly and growing in soil with the proper nutrient balance.
Water with care. When you water, be sure to do it long enough so that the water can infiltrate the soil. Also, water smarter by watering intermittently.
FAQs About Organic Lawn Care
How Do I Treat My Lawn Organically?
The idea behind an organic lawn is that it can almost take care of itself. Once you eliminate any chemicals or pesticides that you’ve been applying to your lawn to keep it looking green, it will become thick and green naturally. The process just takes time.
How Do I Maintain My Lawn Without Chemicals?
Maintain your lawn without chemicals by cutting your lawn to the proper length regularly. Also, water your lawn at the right time of the day while making sure that you’re giving the water enough time to soak in. Use the proper organic fertilizer and avoid using pesticides. Along with this, keep an eye on the nutrient levels of the soil.
Does Organic Lawncare Work?
Organic lawn care in Pinellas county is worthwhile. Not only will it save you money, but it is also good for the environment. With the proper care, your organic lawn will be green and beautiful.