Throwing Away Your Mower: A Manual on Organic Lawn Care
Maybe you have a brown thumb so severe that you can’t even manage to keep your lawn alive. If your only option now is spray-painting it green so that your neighbors don’t laugh at you, maybe it’s time to consider going organic. After all, why work hard when you can take the easy way out and go native. This manual on organic lawn care is here to give you some ideas on what to do with your yard. Native grasses and plants are adapted to their environment, and they don’t require fertilizers or harmful pesticides. They also require far less water than the standard lawn, and you can effectively throw your mower away when you create a meadow garden or recreate a prairie landscape. For those who wish to keep their vast expanse of turf intact, there are more conventional methods that will ensure that you at least have a healthy, and somewhat more environmentally friendly, yard.
The Basics: Soil, Soil, and Soil!
Step one in the organic lawn care manual begins with dirt! If your soil is shallow, it keeps your grass’ roots from growing deeply and creates and unhealthy lawn that is weed-friendly and will require more frequent watering and fertilizing than a lawn started on a thick layer of topsoil. Using the Amazonian rainforest as an example, if you cut through the layers of earth, you would actually find what amounts to a layer of clay in which nothing can grow, topped with a layer of humus produced by decaying leaves and other organic matter! It is this layer that absorbs and holds water and brings life to the forest.
The same principle applies to growing a healthy lawn. First of all, you’ll want to test your soil and determine its composition to find out whether it’s sandy, clay-filled, rocky or loamy. You should also determine the pH level, as a lawn generally grows best between in a range of 6.5 to 7.0. You will likely need soil amendments, but listing everything is out of the scope of this simple manual on organic lawn care.
However, it is safe to say that you will likely want to add compost as an amendment to increase water absorption and promote the growth of beneficial micro-organisms. Even simpler: haul in topsoil and dump it in your yard. Whatever you choose to do, you’ll probably want several inches to be safe.
You Reap What You Sow
Now that your soil is prepared, step two in the organic lawn care manual is to decide what to sow your fresh earth with. If you want to take the easy and environmentally-friendly way out, wildflowers and prairie grasses are the way to go if you can get approval from local authorities. Yards with native landscaping are more water-efficient and bring in beneficial wildlife, and they’re low maintenance, requiring no harmful fertilizers. You can also throw that lawn mower out as well, so it’s perfect for the lazy gardener,
If you can’t live without your beloved Kentucky blue grass though, at least try to use organic fertilizers to reduce the amount of harmful run-off. Fortunately, having good soil solves most of your problems. You should be able to water less frequently, but make sure that you do water thoroughly. Also, don’t mow your grass too short; it might look neater, but you’re stressing your grass’ ability to photosynthesize. Try to leave at least two-three inches, and consider using a manual lawn mower. That does it for this brief manual on organic lawn care.