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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Tips for an Eco-Friendly Lawn

Frost on the lawn
This weekend brought forth a significant event, the first mowing of 2012.  It's a momentous event that means the active growing season is moving ever closer!  I know many of you probably don't enjoy mowing the lawn like I do.  It's probably a little crazy, I'll admit it, but when I'm out there mowing I get to see all the garden, come up with ideas for the garden, and I even get a little time to myself!  As a stay-at-home dad of three kids time to myself is in short supply.

Overseeding the Lawn!
While I enjoy mowing the lawn I'm not all that crazy about lawn care.  In fact, aside from overseeding once a year I do little else to keep my grass growing.  I don't fertilize the lawn with any chemical fertilizers nor do I use any sort of insect control.  My lawn has moles, voles, and lots of holes, but it's a natural garden and lawn where I feel is safe for my children to run and play.  The perfect lawn it isn't, but perfect for us.

Many people believe that removing lawns altogether is the way to go.  While there is merit in returning to a more natural meadow with native plants you don't have to sacrifice the lawn and play areas to be more environmentally friendly.  The problem that happens with lawns is that they are over fertilized and become dependent on those fertilizers and selective herbicides to thrive.  Everyone wants the perfect pristine lawn with no dandelions!  They also aren't allowed to sustain their natural growth cycles.  They get watered and mowed, watered and mowed, even in the heat of the summer when cool season lawns like to go dormant.  To combat these ideas here are a few tips for a more Eco-friendly Lawn!

Tips for an Eco-Friendly Lawn
  1. Stop using unnatural fertilizers and chemical pesticides!  Use organic alternatives to opt for a more laid back approach and allow your grass clippings to decompose and sustain the grass.
  2. Mow correctly!  Mow high!  Taller grass means deeper roots.  Deeper roots means better water uptake.  Better water uptake means your grass is greener longer!
  3. Don't water established lawns!  If you're planting seed try to spread it before a rain and keep your eye on the weather. Water when you have to to establish new grassy areas but not where you already have grass growing.
  4. Use the organic method for fertilizing your lawn. Spread compost over areas that have poor soil and allow the compost to seep down into the subsoil.  Compost can work wonders!  Consider the use of natural fertilizers to improve your soil. Chemical fertilizers feed the plants, natural fertilizers feed the soil which feeds the plants which is always going to be much better!  Allow grass clippings to decompose in the lawn and return nutrients back to the soil.
  5. With gas prices rising to record levels this year you're not going to want to use too much gas on mowing your lawn, so cut back!  Remember longer grass is actually better for the grass.  Do you really need to mow every 4 days?  Nope.  Every week?  Probably not!  Mow when the grass needs mowed and on a set schedule. 
  6. Plant grasses that are appropriate for your area.  If you're in the deep south don't try planting fescues, they won't make it. If you're in the north heat loving grasses aren't going to do well.  If you're in Tennessee you have a challenge because we're stuck in the middle!
  7. Be more accepting lawn weeds. Dandelions aren't a big deal and you can eat them or make wine!  Green onions are going to happen, unless you dig them up incessantly - they really aren't worth worrying about.  Thistle can be removed with a shovel.  Clover is actually beneficial to your lawn because it puts nitrogen back into the soil.  A henbit lawn in spring is just a pretty thing to look at!  You see, I've accepted what I can't change! ;)
  8. Reduce mowing areas.  If there's a location in your yard that you don't need to mow, don't!  Plant a garden there instead.  Make it natural with lots of native plants and create your own DIY Backyard Wildlife Habitat.  
  9. Plant more trees!  Trees do a great job with reducing mowing.  Often grasses won't do well under tree areas because the trees take up the moisture.  Under plant tree areas with perennials that like dry shade like heucheras.  Trees are an important part of any kids play area so plant away! 
Just so you know, this is the lawn philosophy I follow.  It works for us. You don't have to give up the lawn, just treat it nice!  Of all these tips the most important thing you can do for your lawn or garden is to improve the soil. If you focus on that you'll be happy with the result!



 

4 comments :

  1. Agree completely. I used to be a lawn perfectionist, but that was when we lived on Army posts and we were required to have nice yards. I have since mended my ways and now let my poultry and the wildlife fertilize, let the moles and voles aerate, let the clouds water, let my guineas and chickens eat ticks and mosquitos. I will go after noxious invasive weeds but I try to do it by hand rather than with chemicals.

    Unless you have completely Bermuda or Zoysia grasses your lawn here in TN SHOULD be brown in July and August. Cool season grasses need to go dormant in the heat. They will green back up before Bermuda is ready to go dormant at the first frost.

    MOW IT HIGH, LET IT LIE!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Why can't I get my husband to understand that our grass should be brown in July and August! He's willing to bankrupt us to pay to water the lawn in Jul/Aug. So frustrating. Thanks for all the great tips. I'm going to make him read this.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I totally embrace your lawn care methods. Great job in making these steps easy.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Sound tips! Thank you so much for this. Good job!

    ReplyDelete

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