1. Why is organic lawn care better?
2. Should I have my soil tested?
3. Why is healthy soil so important?
4. What is the best time to start planning my organic lawn?
5. Will my lawn still have weeds?
6. What types of products are used?
7. Is organic lawn care expensive?
8. How long will it take before I see a difference in my lawn?
9. Are there laws regulating fertilizer use in my neighborhood?
10. Where can I get more information?
1. Why is organic lawn care better? Conventional lawn chemicals can pollute our water, harm wildlife and have adverse health effects on people and pets. Using pesticides to tackle weeds and pests can actually damage your lawn, too. They kill good organisms that help produce the nutrients plants need to grow, weakening the grass, fostering thatch, and encouraging diseases.
Healthy soil contains high organic content and is teeming with biological life. It supports the development of healthy grass that is naturally resistant to weeds and pests. In a healthy, fertile and well-maintained lawn, diseases and pest problems are rare.
A healthy lawn has healthy soil and is mowed, watered, and fertilized properly and at the right time. The Connecticut Chapter of the Northeast Organic Farming Association has a lawn care calendar and guide that details practices and timelines.
Tolerating a few weeds in your lawn is part of organic land care. Some plants that are considered "weeds" such as clover are actually beneficial. They add valuable nutrients to help sustain a healthy lawn. As a general rule, if you have less than 10% weeds in your lawn, you don’t have a weed problem!
Corn gluten can be used as a weed suppressant and applied in early spring. Grubs can be controlled with beneficial nematodes (micro-organisms in the soil). These products and other organic fertilizers can be found online, in stores, or from landscapers practicing organic land care. Compost and compost tea can be used as soil amendments.
If your lawn is currently chemically dependent, initially it may be more expensive to restore it. But in the long term, an organic lawn will actually cost you less money. Once established, an organic lawn uses less water and fertilizers, and requires less labor for mowing and maintenance.
In the first year without chemical fertilizers and pesticides, the grass may not look healthy. That is because the transition is being made from soil lacking a balance of nutrients and microbes to one that is balanced and nutritious. Know that within a few years, the grass will be healthy without the expense, pollution, and work of chemicals.statewide ban on phosphorus fertilizer took effect Jan. 1, 2012.
Also, there are several communities in Michigan that have their own ordinances. Here are links to the actual legal documents (if you can make heads or tails of them).
- Safe Lawns has information about natural lawn care and grounds care, how-to videos, product recommendations and more.
- Beyond Pesticides has information on conventional pesticides and non-toxic alternatives
- Environment and Human Health has information on the effects of pesticides on children
- For products on the Web, try a search using the words "organic lawn care products" or try the Organic Materials Review Institute for recommendations.