You’ve decided this is the year to go au naturel—with your lawn care! It’ll take a little work and patience, but you can ditch the chemicals and still have healthy, green grass. Here are seven organic lawn care tips from the pros to help you make the switch this spring.
Know Your Soil
This spring, have your yard’s soil tested by a local extension service, often affiliated with a state university, or a commercial soil testing service. Search “soil testing” for option near you.
The test results will help you determine your soil’s pH level, the right seed for your lawn and will also help you deal with weeds. Weeds are indicators of soil conditions, according to Organic Plant Care, LLC, a full-service lawn care company in New Jersey. “Correct soil conditions and the weeds often disappear.”
Only Mow When Necessary
When it comes to mowing, make sure your lawnmower’s blade is sharp. Next, Natural Lawn of America, a leader in organic lawn care, says you should only mow when needed. That’s because once the weather heats up, your grass may go dormant and require little to no mowing at all. When you do mow, don’t cut it too short and mow during the cooler hours, later in the day.
Be Smart About Watering
A big part of organic lawn care includes doing the right thing at the right time, and that includes watering. Briggs and Stratton, maker of power lawn tools, notes you should only water early in the day, preferably before 9 a.m. Start with a target of just 1 inch per week, but make adjustments depending on your area’s rainfall.
Fertilize with Compost
Go for a natural fertilizer—compost! “Compost is about as natural as you can get. It enhances soil by aiding the growth of useful microbes, neutralizing soil pH and supplying nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus,” according to True Value. “When the pile has a dark brown, moist and earthy consistency and smell, it is ready for use. The compost particles should be fine or small and grainy in order to be spread on your lawn.”
Don’t Fear Bugs
Bugs can be beneficial to your lawn, according to Organic Plant Care, LLC. “Most insects are beneficial—in fact, only about 2 percent are usually pests,” the company notes. “In tolerable numbers, they serve as food to lure beneficial insects, birds and other predators into your landscape.”
Leave Grass Clippings Behind
When it comes to organic lawn care, it’s best to leave your grass clippings on the lawn, according to Natural Lawn of America and many other experts. That’s because clippings are a good source of nutrients for your lawn. The nutrients will seep down into the ground and act as a natural fertilizer. Don’t let the grass get too long, though. Long clipping will take loner to break down and can make your lawn look messy.
Try an Electric, Battery-Powered or Manual Mower
If you’re serious about organic lawn care, consider replacing your gas-powered lawn mower to cut back on fossil fuel use. “Gas-powered tools consume fuel and can contaminate soil or water due to spills,” notes True Value.