Once upon a time, a well-meaning landscaper provided to do some work for our yard. He steered spraying the yard with glyphosate to “eliminate all of the unpleasant dandelions and weeds (*ahem* like plantain) to develop a lovely garden.
The poor man didn’t fairly perceive why I used to be so adamant that there would by no means be glyphosate sprayed in our yard beneath any circumstances. He insisted that “it truly is non-toxic and utterly secure as quickly because it dries.”
I additionally had to clarify to him that we truly like these so-called “weeds” in our yard and that we use them in various ways. Our definition of a “good lawn” was totally different than his!
Is It Possible to Grow a Beautiful Lawn Naturally?
In many locations, a beautiful and “good” garden means one freed from weeds with a lush carpet of uniform inexperienced grass. In reality, Americans are so obsessive about engaging lawns it’s now a multi-billion greenback trade.
We spend cash to kill the crops which are already rising after which plant or sod with grass. We exchange the pure floor coverings like clover, plantain, and dandelion (which are great for pollinators) with flowerless grass for the sake of appears to be like.
I positively perceive why, and in lots of neighborhoods with HOAs, these are necessities. The excellent news is that there are a lot of methods to keep a beautiful garden with out the necessity for harsh chemical substances.
Making this change can truly assist lower your expenses. It may also enhance development for pollinators and scale back chemical use and publicity. It may also create a safer garden for kids and pets to play on!
The Problem With Lawn Chemicals
Many individuals assume that garden chemical substances are utterly innocent, however that isn’t the case. Consider this:
Our love affair with lawns comes with a price. Each yr U.S. owners apply greater than 3 million tons of artificial garden fertilizers and 70 million kilos of garden pesticides and herbicides. These chemical substances pose critical hazards to our youngsters, our pets and wildlife of every kind. To make issues worse, it’s estimated that 65 % of those chemical substances discover their method into our lakes, rivers and underground aquifers. (Gardeners.com)
The US Wildlife Federation additionally stories these environmental results of our garden care practices:
- The common garden will get up to 10x as a lot chemical pesticide and herbicide use as business farmland! This signifies that the grass your youngsters are operating on barefoot most likely incorporates extra chemical substances than commercially sprayed wheat, corn, and soybean crops. (Obviously, this isn’t nice for pets both!)
- When these chemical substances are used as a lot as 90% of the earthworm inhabitants in a garden is killed. This may be very detrimental for the soil over time.
- Lawn gear like mowers and weedeaters (or weedwackers, relying on the place you’re from), emit far more waste into the air than vehicles and vans.
- 25-60% of residential water utilization (relying on location) goes to watering lawns. With droughts in lots of areas, that is a substantial water burden.
Natural and Organic Lawn Care Basics
Making the change to pure garden care could also be one of many easies and least expensive switches you can also make. It is definitely a neater course of than issues like improving the water in your house and even overhauling your meals with meal planning (though I recommend those too!).
Starting within the spring, use these fundamental steps to create a extra pure garden:
Improve the Soil
Many lovely lawns are actually simply good wanting on the floor. One drawback with irrigation is it impacts the standard of the basis system. (Fun reality: This podcast explains how irrigation lowers the standard of grapes grown for wine.)
Most lawns are used to being fed and watered from above by irrigation and fertilizer. They don’t have a deep root system and so drought or different issues simply have an effect on them.
When it comes to rising something, together with a garden, it’s good to start from the underside up. Improving soil first will give your grass a basis for long-term development. It may also make the grass extra hardy and scale back the necessity for watering and chemical substances.
Soil testing helps you realize what is required on your garden. Free or cheap soil testing is obtainable in lots of county extension workplaces or native backyard retailers. Find one in your space to get a soil check.
If you don’t need to soil check, simply use a shovel to take away a 6-inch deep part of soil and grass. Healthy soil must be darkish and crumble simply and grass ought to have a sturdy root system. An accumulation of lifeless matter on the base of grass (known as thatch) additionally could point out poor soil high quality. In wholesome grass, thatch not often happens for the reason that energetic microorganisms in good soil break it down.
Good soil for grass additionally has a pH that’s barely acidic and slightly below 7.
Steps for Better Lawn Soil
- First, aerate within the spring if wanted to enhance soil texture.
- Then, fertilize as soon as per yr with compost. This known as topdressing and is completed by including up to an inch of compost or topsoil and raking into the grass.
- Finally, add pH adjusters if wanted to get the pH in optimum vary.
Choose Good Grass
Ask a native 4-H workplace or garden care skilled what grasses are native to the realm. Choose one that’s hardy and doesn’t want a lot of additional water.
Also contemplate solar and shade necessities, how a lot site visitors your garden will get and the way a lot rain your space will get when selecting a grass. The University of Georgia- College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences suggests these because the max instances to wait between waterings for several types of grass:
12 – 21 days: Bahia grass, Buffalo gass, Bermuda grass, St. Augustine grass, Centipede grass
8 – 12 days: Carpet grass, Fine fescue, Kikuyu grass, Seashore paspalum, Tall fescue, Zoysia
5 – 7 days: Ryegrass, Kentucky Bluegrass, Bentgrass
These instances are a good measure of a grass that grows effectively in your space and a useful metric in choosing a grass.
You could not love to hear this, however rising a single plant (like one kind of grass) over a massive space is unnatural. This will increase the prospect of illness and nutrient demand.
Add a crop like white clover to grass to enhance the nitrogen content material of the soil and preserve a thick, lush garden. If you could have the power, changing a part of your garden to a wildflower development space for native flowers is a wonderful means to enhance soil and make pollinators comfortable.
Steps for Choosing Good Grass for a Lawn
- First, ensure soil is prepared.
- Find out which kinds of grass develop finest in your space.
- Choose a grass that matches your yard circumstances (shade/solar, and many others.) and that gained’t require a lot watering.
- Finally, overseed within the fall. Overseeding is spreading 3-4 kilos of grass seed per 1000 toes of garden. Cut grass to about 2-2.5 inches earlier than seeding for optimum development.
Mow the Right Way
Most of us over-mow our yards. Why all that further work for no good purpose?
We suppose that shorter is healthier, nevertheless it isn’t! It is a lot better to mow typically however not as quick. Cutting grass under 2 inches can stress the plant and expose the roots. This additionally causes over-drying and might deplete soil assets extra shortly.
Steps to Mow the Right Way:
- Don’t mow shorter than 3 inches.
- Mow extra typically and don’t reduce greater than 1/3 of the leaf off at a time.
- Don’t mow when it’s too sizzling or too dry.
- Keep mower blade sharp and set on the highest setting.
- If you have a small garden, think about using a reel mower (we like this one) and get some train within the course of!
Lawn watering accounts for over half of residential water utilization in the summertime. Using the steps above will scale back the quantity of water wanted and create a stronger garden.
It can be essential to water persistently, however not too typically. Letting the soil dry out between waterings forces grass to develop deeper roots to discover water. When you do water, water deeply.
About an inch a week — and keep in mind, this consists of rainfall — ought to preserve a garden wholesome and inexperienced.
Steps to Water Grass for a Good Lawn:
- Water much less steadily however extra deeply.
- Choose grass that’s extra drought-tolerant.
- Most lawns want about 1 inch per week.
- If it rains greater than 1 inch per week, there is no such thing as a want to water.
There is admittedly no want for costly chemical fertilizers. Natural fertilizers like compost work simply as effectively!
Natural options additionally nourish the soil over time, not simply feed the grass from the highest. This creates a stronger garden over time.
Top dressing is a technique to do that. Scatter 1/2 inch compost or pure fertilizer over the grass and rake in. Alternately, broadcast pure fertilizer after aerating or earlier than watering.
Add the mandatory vitamins decided by soil testing. Your garden will enhance dramatically in case your grass is in want of sure vitamins or a totally different pH.
Steps to Fertilize Naturally:
- Broadcast a pure fertilizer within the fall or spring.
- Topdress with 1/2 inch of compost or pure fertilizer and rake into the grass.
- Use a seaweed extract as further fertilizer.
- Focus on soil high quality over time as a substitute of a fast repair.
Stop Weeds Without Harmful Chemicals
This is the toughest half to do naturally, however you are able to do it!
Did you realize that weeds will be a sign that garden health isn’t optimum? Improve the soil and you’ll already be a good distance towards decreasing weed development. Many herbicides are dangerous to people and animals too! Studies present chemical substances in typical garden care contribute to thyroid issues and even non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Glyphosate is a whole other story, and positively doesn’t belong on a garden the place youngsters and pets play.
The natural garden care answer: leaving grass longer additionally helps management weed inhabitants by leaving a bigger floor space for grass to photosynthesize.
Steps to Reduce Weeds Naturally:
- Many weeds are literally herbs with many advantages. Don’t take away them in any respect!
- Leave grass longer so it’s going to resist weeds naturally.
- Add a second plant to your garden like white clover to compete with weeds and replenish soil.
- Avoid dangerous herbicides and use pure strategies as a substitute.
Grow a Garden Instead!
Feel actually courageous?
Ditch the garden utterly and grow a garden instead!
You can develop greens, herbs and fruits in your entrance yard and make it look lovely too! Incorporate greens and herbs into an present backyard mattress for a simple transition.
Go all out and switch your total entrance yard into a flourishing vegetable backyard. Urban front-yard vegetable gardens have gotten very talked-about. They are a nice different to a mono crop like grass and also you get meals too!
Plus, gardening is cheaper than remedy, and also you get tomatoes!
Many HOAs don’t enable edible gardens in entrance yards, however you possibly can work edible crops into your panorama. If you could have an city vegetable backyard in your entrance yard, please share how you probably did it within the feedback!
Growing a Beautiful Lawn Naturally: Bottom Line
You can develop a wholesome, lovely garden with out dangerous chemical substances!
Choose a native grass on your space. Add a complimentary plant like white clover and even wildflowers! Water when wanted persistently however not as typically. Fertilize naturally and add compost to enhance soil.
The setting, your pets, and the bees will thanks!
Do you employ natural garden care? What sustainable strategies have you ever discovered for rising a lovely garden? Tell me about it under!