HealthyLawns

Healthy Lawns

Turf grasses are typically exotic monocultures, in other words, they consist of a single species, a species often not native to the area where they are planted. The widespread use of turf grasses has lead to a number of environmental concerns. Before investing in turfgrass, consider alternatives, like native grasses, clovers native plantings or a meadow. But if you like to have a lawn, here are some tips to create a healthy, more sustainable lawn

A healthy lawn will endure drought, diseases, and pest infestations better than a stressed lawn, and healthy grasses will compete better with undesirable weeds, so the best way to avoid using chemicals is to build up a healthy lawn, naturally.

  • Nourish the Soil. Don’t use pesticides and synthetic fertilizers because they kill the natural bacteria and fungi that nourish your soil and protect you plants.
  • Aerate in the fall. Core and slice aeration of the soil before seeding will improve germination and alleviate compaction.
  • If you have problem areas, test the soil and replace only what is missing with certified organic supplements. Cornell Cooperative Extension does soil testing
  • Leave grass clippings on the lawn and to learn how to mulch your leaves in. They break down to provide all the nitrogen a healthy lawn needs.
  • Mow fallen leaves on your lawn. Just like grass clippings they break down and provide the soil with nutrients
  • Seed in the Fall to outcompete Weeds

The best bug controls are other bugs and birds.

  • Appreciate flowers in your lawn.Dig out weeds you really can’t stand. A good method to combat weeds is to use a little grass seed to outcompete weeds, but some people like to use an organic corn gluten product that prevents weed seeds from germinating on established lawns (but it also prevents grass seeds from germinating as well). It may take several years to control problem areas. For spot weed control on driveways and walkways, use a horticultural vinegar or vinegar/citrus oil combination product. Steam machines are highly effective. If you take pride in a weed free lawn, it might be worth to invest in a steam machine
  • Seed in early fall with a mixture of native grasses.
  • A mixture of compost and grass seed is the best solution for filling in bare spots.
  • Mow High. Let grass grow to 4 inches and cut it down to 3 inches, allowing it to shade its roots, conserve moisture and keep out weeds.
  • Keep mower blades sharp so they do not tear the grass, making it vulnerable to disease.
  • Control Pests Without Chemicals. The best bug controls are other bugs and birds. There are more beneficial insects in nature than bad bugs. If you encourage a robust insect population in your yard, nature will find a balance and the bad bugs will be kept in control. For instance, common lawn pests (grubs, sod webworms, chinch bugs) can be controlled with applications of beneficial nematodes. Milky spore powder is another effective control for Japanese beetle grubs

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