Why Switch to an Organic Lawn?
What´s the difference between traditional lawn care and organic?
The idea of organic lawn care is picking up steam across the country. More and more people are experiencing the benefits of organic lawn care, but really, what is the difference? Let’s start with traditional lawn care.
For decades landscapers have relied on heavy doses of synthetic fertilizers and genetically modified grasses to try and combat dying lawns. Also, traditional landscapers have relied on loud, two-stroke engine powered machines to maintain our lawns.
The two-stroke engines used in weed trimmers, lawn mowers, and blowers are among the worst polluters in the country. Not only are all of those pollutants pouring into the air, but they are also being spread all over your lawn. Between the fertilizers being washed into our water system and the pollutants from gas-powered machines, we are causing great harm to the environment around us.
Organic landscapers rely on battery powered equipment. Much like electric cars of today, battery-powered lawn equipment has zero emissions and uses a rechargeable power source that can last years. Not only does this eliminate pollutants from the air and soil but, cuts the noise pollution down to nearly nothing.
Here in Southern California, keeping your lawn alive is a challenge. Our hot dry summers and regularly dry winters make it difficult to keep our lawns looking lush and green year round. To add to the problem, our soil isn’t exactly rich in nutrients either. We have sandy soil and a heavy clay layer just beneath the surface. This works great for succulents and our native plants but not so much for grasses that were developed in the north and east of the country.
Organic lawn care starts with a starter dose of compost Instead of adding loads of man-made, synthetic fertilizers we are going to stick with adding what the soil needs, organic matter. Our nutrient devoid soil requires not only lots of organic matter but the right microbiome to break down the nutrients in our compost enough so that the plants can absorb it.
How to switch to an organic lawn
Switching to an organic lawn is actually not that difficult! If you are using a landscaper, you can simply request that only organic products be used and ask if they have battery powered equipment available. If not, there are companies, like us, that provide organic landscaping services.
Here are five easy steps to switching your traditional lawn to an organic lawn…
1. Stop using gas-powered equipment and use organic lawn fertilizers instead of synthetic fertilizers.
2. Use a light amount of compost 1/4″ once a year in the Fall. At the same time use the Natural Guard Humate product to ensure good root growth. If starting a new lawn, use a grass that does well in your particular environment.
3. Stop using weed killers and bug sprays. Instead, pull weeds by hand and leave the bugs there. Bugs are an important part of soil biome and a healthy lawn.
4. Be sure that your lawn has plenty of sun exposure. Overgrown trees and leaf litter that is left to sit on the grass will keep the grass from growing well. Have your trees pruned/laced once a year and make sure leaf litter is raked up weekly so that we aren’t tempted to lay down unnecessary fertilizers.
5. Ensure that you have proper water to your lawn. depending on the time of year, your lawn should be watered three to four times a week for short periods of time, five to eight minutes. If using low-flow sprinkler heads or in-line drip you may need to run your water longer to ensure a proper soaking. In winter months we can usually turn the water down significantly if not off.
Following these five steps will get you off to a great start in organic lawn care.
What to expect from your organic lawn
Once you switch your lawn over to organic care you may notice some differences. For example, you may notice yellowing or dry spots warmest months of the year. This is normal and shouldn’t cause any worry. If you live in an area where temperatures reached 90 degrees plus a little browning of the lawn is okay. As soon as the weather cools down the grass will come right back. There is no need to add synthetic fertilizers or drastically increase your water, simply wait a few weeks and allow the weather to cool.
You may also notice increased bug activity. This is also a good thing because the presence of bugs shows that there is plenty of food for them to eat, mostly smaller bugs in the soil and plant matter. These smaller bugs and microbes in the soil are quite possibly the single most important aspect to organic lawn care. The microbiome in your soil is the engine that allows nutrients to break down into something your lawn can use.
There are times where fertilization may be needed, such as in the event of severe heat damage or when work needs to be done in the lawn. In these cases, organic fertilizers, such as Milorganite, can be used to encourage rapid lawn growth. These situations are generally rare and not needed for routine maintenance, although they can be if you desire.
Now that you know the how and why an organic lawn is important, you can enjoy your lush green lawn knowing that you were doing your part to help the environment around you and for future generations.