It’s time to take the safe lawns pledge.
That lush green lawn that looks so natural is kept that way unnaturally because of a diet of synthetic chemical fertilizers and toxic herbicides.
This year, instead of taking care of the lawn in the conventional way, gardeners should challenge themselves to use fewer chemicals in their landscapes and take an organic approach to lawn care. Instead of feeding the grass, ask “What can I do to feed the soil?”
Building healthy soil is the goal of an organic lawn. Synthetic chemical fertilizers may make the lawn look green and healthy, but chemicals don’t help the soil or feed the beneficial organisms that live there.
Here are six ways to get started on an organic lawn care program:
1. Loosen the soil. Core aerate your lawn at least once a year. Aeration is the mechanical process of pulling small cores of soil out of the ground. Opening up the soil surface allows water and important nutrients to move into the root zone. Core aerate with equipment that pulls plugs three or four inches deep on four-inch centers.
I was surprised to learn there isn’t a universally-agreed upon definition of organic lawn care.
One of the classes I took during CSU’s Short Course day in July was “Organic Lawn Care: Is it Sustainable?” taught by Tony Koski, the extension turf specialist. I’ve taken Tony’s classes in the past and he always presents good information and in an interesting way, too.
His workshop focused on the current research for testing organic fertilizers and pest management products for managing organic lawns. My biggest take away from the session is that if you grow an organic lawn, you should expect weeds.
This made me feel pretty good about my lawn, because the weeds have taken over the backyard.
Tony explained the reasons for weed problems in an organic lawn include poor cultural practices, improper species or cultivar selection and planting poor quality seed or sod.
The bottom line is that weeds grow because the turf isn’t strong enough to compete with weeds.