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Environmentally sensitive lawn care doesn't have to be all or nothing, however; any step you take to reduce the negative effects of your lawn care is beneficial.
<br>There isn't a natural solution for every pest problem, so adjusting your expectations is part of natural lawn care. But that's OK -- healthy lawns
easily tolerate moderate pest levels, and an occasional weed or brown spot is unlikely to be noticed.<br>Here are some simple things you can do.<br>Date Published: April 13, 2012Date Updated: August 5, 2013
Steps to a naturally healthy lawn
Finding natural alternatives to synthetic pesticides often is the focus of organic lawn care. But the best way to reduce pesticide use is to maintain a vigorous lawn that resists pests on its own, so that fewer pest controls will be necessary. Follow these tips to turn your lawn into a tough, pest-resistant sward.Date Published: April 13, 2012Date Updated: August 5, 2013
Raise your mowing height.
This is one of the most important practices in lawn care. Mowing grass at 2.5 to 3 inches strengthens your lawn's root system and helps grass better compete with weeds.Date Published: April 13, 2012Date Updated: August 5, 2013
This lawn will need to be raked. That's more of your time and energy. Recycling grass clippings with a mulching mower adds organic matter and nutrients to your lawn. It also eliminates the need to dispose of the clippings.Date Published: April 13, 2012Date Updated: August 5, 2013
Choose the right fertilizers.
Organic fertilizers usually release nutrients slowly, making them good for the lawn as well as the environment. Synthetic fertilizer isn't necessarily incompatible with environmentally responsible lawn care, but there are some important dos and don'ts. For instance, always use slow-release fertilizers rather than general-purpose fertilizers (such as 10-10-10) and choose fertilizers with low phosphorus levels.<br>Organic fertilizers often come in the form of composted manure. This increases organic matter at the same time it feeds your lawn, which is good for the grass. Processed organic nutrient sources (such as Milorganite) are also excellent for fertilizing grass, and they may be easier to work with than compost because you can use a broadcast spreader to apply them.<br>Date Published: April 13, 2012Date Updated: August 5, 2013
Water infrequently, but deeply, to encourage deep rooting. Letting your lawn go dormant opens the door to summer weeds, so water enough to keep the lawn green, but no more. <br>Watering your lawn infrequently, but deeply, improves drought tolerance.<br>Date Published: April 13, 2012Date Updated: August 5, 2013
Core aeration reduces soil compaction and thatch, and it encourages better rooting, making lawns more resistant to drought. Aerate at least once a year; twice a year is even better.Date Published: April 13, 2012Date Updated: August 5, 2013
Pick the best grass.
A grass that's adapted to your climate makes all the difference in tolerating stress and pests. So does having a mix of varieties instead of a single type. Check with a local garden center or cooperative Extension service to see what they recommend before you install a new lawn.Date Published: April 13, 2012Date Updated: August 5, 2013
An inescapable fact of organic lawn care is that most biorational products cost considerably more than synthetic counterparts. For instance, two popular organic grub controls -- milky spore and nematodes -- cost about $150 to treat a 5,000-square-foot lawn. The most popular conventional controls cost about $20. For small lawns, the expense may be easy to bear. Large lawns on an all-organic regime, however, may require significant cash outlays. One way to control costs is to maintain a smaller portion of your lawn with higher standards, leaving the rest in a less-manicured state.Date Published: April 13, 2012Date Updated: August 5, 2013
Common lawn pests and biorational solutions
Controlling pests is the most challenging aspect of organic lawn care. The natural approach is two pronged: 1. strengthening the lawn so it's more resistant to pests and 2. when pest controls are needed, using biorational controls (pest controls derived from naturally occurring materials or living things). There isn't a biorational solution for every pest, but effective products exist for many of the most common ones.Date Published: April 13, 2012Date Updated: August 5, 2013
Milky spore, a fungus that infects grubs, is the best-known biorational control for grubs. However, milky spore mainly affects only Japanese beetle grubs, which are not usually serious lawn pests outside of the Northeast. Parasitic nematode worms are another option. When these microscopic creatures work, they work well. But they're sensitive to conditions during shipping and storage, as well as in your lawn at the time of application, so it's critical to use a trustworthy supplier and follow application instructions closely. Diatomaceous earth (an abrasive material that suppresses grubs by physically injuring them) often reduces grubs to a tolerable level.Date Published: April 13, 2012Date Updated: August 5, 2013
Crabgrass & weeds
Crabgrass. Corn gluten meal is a derivative of corn processing that acts as a weed preventer on many weeds, including crabgrass. <br>Dandelions and other perennial weeds. Existing perennial weeds must be pulled from lawns by hand (with the aid of a good weed tool). This is a simple matter for light infestations but can be a monumental task for large populations. Take big jobs a bit at a time, moving from one limited area to another. Each time you weed, be sure to survey already-weeded areas for new sprouts before proceeding to the next infested spot. Corn gluten can help keep new weeds from growing back from seed, but it doesn't affect existing weeds. <br><b>left:</b> A weed tool may be your most valuable weapon for natural weed control. <br>Date Published: April 13, 2012Date Updated: August 5, 2013
Pests & Disease
Surface pests. Insects and other creatures that roam the surface of your lawn -- webworms, chinch bugs, and armyworms, to name a few -- are relatively easy to control with biorational products. Several options -- including the familiar Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt), pyrethrum, azidiractin, neem oil, and others -- are available for use on lawns.<br>Fungal diseases. Good cultural practices and grass varieties well adapted to your climate will usually keep fungal diseases to a level most acreage owners can tolerate. If you can put up with a few brown patches, you probably can do without fungicides entirely (though a few biorational products are available). Reseeding can repair larger patches that don't recover on their own. <br><b>left:</b> Many natural pest controls can be applied much like conventional pest controls.<br>Date Published: April 13, 2012Date Updated: August 5, 2013
Nutrient runoff is perhaps the most significant problem associated with lawns. You can reduce the runoff by using low-phosphorus fertilizer, sweeping up clippings and fertilizer from paved surfaces, applying only slow-release products, and reducing fertilizer applications to two or three yearly. If your property borders a pond or stream, maintain an unfertilized buffer strip of grass around the perimeter of your lawn.Date Published: April 13, 2012Date Updated: August 5, 2013
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