Is organic lawn care right for your home?
Organic lawn care may be more pet friendly.
Should you move toward organic lawn care, or stick with a traditional lawn treatment program? You want your lawn to have that lush, green look, but is it worth the environmental cost?
There’s a lot to consider. While traditional lawn care programs give quick results, organic lawn care programs take time to produce a thick, green lawn, and may not control all the weeds. The experts at Giroud Tree & Lawn suggest the following advice to homeowners.
Decide what’s most important. Homeowners should consider what kind of lawn is desired. Is the goal to have a lush, thick green lawn? Are there concerns about children and pets? Is there a preference for chemical-free treatments? Should a specific part of the property be targeted for treatments?
Meet with a lawn care specialist. Have a lawn care specialist do a full lawn evaluation to determine the current condition of the lawn and explain what can be realistically expected from each type of program. The lawn will be assessed on many health and beauty indicators including thickness, color and weed or insect issues. Also, soil test samples will be pulled from several places around the property to diagnose the pH level.
Choosing the best program. Homeowners will see faster results with a traditional lawn care program. Weed and Insect problems are attacked head-on with fertilizer and herbicide treatments that are custom blended to match the season and growing conditions.
If completely chemical-free lawn care is what a homeowner is seeking, patience is key to success. Giroud recommends an organic lawn care program that focuses on strengthening and improving the condition of the soil and the grass root system. Weeds are combated by slowly crowding out the weeds while strengthening the grass roots. This process is slower and it may even take a few seasons to get the lawn to an ideal state of beauty.
1. If the soil pH level is low, a natural lime application is needed to reduce the acidity and create a thriving environment for growing grass.
2. An organic soil conditioner with a lower fertilizer is applied in the beginning of the program.
3. As the weather warms up, the fertilizer content will be increased, and it will have a higher nitrogen content to green up the grass and promote top growth.
4. In late summer, another round of conditioner will be applied to give the soil an added boost to last through the season. The lawn will receive a few more vital treatments of organic fertilizer at the end of the season because, even when the cold hits, the soil underneath stays warm and the root system continues to benefit from the nutrients applied.
5. Aeration and seeding in the fall are important steps in the process. Aeration breaks up heavy, compacted soil or heavy thatch and allows the lawn to breathe and grow by opening access to air, water and nutrients. It promotes deeper grass root growth, makes the turf more tolerant of heat and drought, and provides an excellent base for seeding.
If homeowners prefer organic but the lawn is thin or weed infested, they can jump-start the process with a traditional program to make the lawn thick and healthy. Then, shift to an organic program to keep it green and chemical free.
“You can have a completely organic program and have a green lawn that has different kinds of grasses, clovers, even some weeds,” said Mike Taraborrelli, Giroud’s lawn care manager. “It’s still going to look vibrant and healthy. If you want that green carpet effect, you need to start with traditional. When you get your lawn to where you want it, you can ease into an organic program.”
Choosing your lawn care program
Every lawn is different, so it’s important that homeowners work with a lawn care specialist to custom tailor a program that works best for the property. Proper mowing, keeping grass at least 3 inches to 4 inches high, and regular, deep watering will create a thriving environment for a lawn to accept treatments, no matter what kind of program is being used on the property.
Read more about sustainable gardening and landscaping.