(Beyond Pesticides, September 21, 2007) As temperatures drop and the leaves start to fall, it is quickly becoming the perfect season for organic lawn care. Whether you want to transition a chemically-maintained lawn or keep your organic turf looking healthy, the work you do now will pay off next spring. From television networks to national newspapers to lawn care companies, making residential lawns ready for winter is the topic du jour, and for good reason: the healthy soil you promote this fall will better support healthy and weed-resistant grass in the future. As David Miller, owner of Nature’s Way Pest Control in Florida, said, “It’s all about soil health and you shouldn’t treat your soil like dirt. “So what should you do? Read our factsheets for complete summaries of fall lawn care. The most important things you can do are:
- Test your soil. Knowing what balance of nutrients exists will help you plan what to apply, and when, to your lawn.
- Aerate your lawn. Soil compaction fosters weed growth and makes it harder for fertilizers and water to penetrate to your lawn’s roots. Aerators can be rented; once microorganisms return to your soil, they will help aerate it for you.
- Fertilize moderately – and according to what a soil test says you need. Look for slow-release fertilizers that do not overload your soil, altering the pH and running off into nearby waterways. Leaving grass clippings on your lawn after mowing is an easy way to supply 58% of the nitrogen added by fertilizers.
- Add organic matter. Compost and compost tea can be added after aeration, by spreading a quarter-inch layer over your lawn. They suppress pathogens and feed your lawn.
- Overseed your lawn. Choose a native and pest-resistant type of seed (free from pesticides) that will offer the best ability to thrive in your area.
Lawn care trends are starting to move this way. According to the National Gardening Association, the number of people caring for all-organic lawns is expected to double in the next five years, and the sale of organic products is rising 27 percent each year. It is a trend with resources growing steadily, making it easier to convert.
As Murray Goff, a customer of Mr. Miller, said, “I have a daughter and a granddaughter. They can walk out on my lawn. I don’t have to worry about it. None of those things. It’s all organic and it makes so much sense.” Mr. Miller concurred. “We simply can’t keep polluting our earth. What I’m trying to do is a first step in one small way.” Todd Harrington, another business owner, agreed, “With chemicals, you’re not really doing anything beneficial; you’re polluting and you’re taking risks. With organics, you’re creating a sustainable environment.”
If you would like to convert your lawn to organic but are unable to maintain it completely, check our Safety Source for Pest Management for lawn care providers in your area.