|There is a growing concern regarding the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides on our lawns and their effects on our children's health, our health, the health of our pets and our environment.
Not only are they harmful to you, these chemicals kill the organisms in the soil that provide the healthy environment your grass needs to grow. Your grass becomes dependent on the chemicals to grow rather than getting its nutrients from the soil.
The good news is you can have a healthy lawn without the use of synthetic chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Through the use of cultural practices and organic materials you can establish a dense lawn that crowds out common weeds and is lower maintenance.
In order for your lawn to thrive it needs a healthy medium to grow in (the soil). An organic fertilization program focuses on your soils quality. The aim is to nurture the soil and the soil food web in addition to feeding the grass.
The soil food web refers to the multitude of life forms found in ones soil. (ex. Earthworms)These help break down organic matter, aerate the soil, prey on unwanted pests and make nutrients available to the grass. They improve water retention, oxygen holding and encourage a deeper stronger root system for a healthy sustainable lawn.
Those with irrigation systems or a sprinkler and a desire can have a green lawn all summer if they water properly. The tendency is to water too frequently, for insufficient lengths of time and most often the wrong time of day. Over watering is a cause of soil compaction, stresses the grass and strains our water supply. To encourage strong root growth that can withstand stress and drought one should water:
-infrequently (1-2 times per week)
-in the morning
Aeration is another activity that should be done on a regular basis. The soil gets compacted, be it through overuse and traffic, or through over watering. This condition makes it difficult for the roots of the grass plant to receive the oxygen they need for respiration. The root system becomes shallow and weak. In the holes left by the aerator, roots will spread allowing the grass to pull more oxygen, water and nutrients from the soil.
Because most lawns are cut before they go to seed you should periodically over-seed your lawn in the spring and/or fall. A dense yard is less susceptible to disease and weeds.
As we already know chemicals have an adverse affect on us but it also has an adverse affect on our lawns.
Nitrogen is one of the necessary nutrients needed by your lawn. However, it is possible to get too much. Chemical fertilizers contain a high percentage of Water Soluble Nitrogen. This soluble nitrogen releases quickly and often results in a rapid flush of new growth of the grass blades. This stresses the plant because all its energy is going into shoot production and not root growth. Not to mention the growth results in having to mow more frequently to maintain proper height.
Organic fertilizers feed the soil and let the soil feed the plant. It allows the slow release of nutrients to the grass.
Water Insoluble Nitrogen is found in organic fertilizers, lasting 8-12 weeks. Nutrients are released at a slower rate which grass plants can absorb. This promotes a steady, healthy growth.
By using an organic fertilizer you will not encounter the rapid surge growth associated with chemicals which translates into mowing less. While an organic fertilizer is slower to green up than a chemically treated lawn it results in a more uniform shoot and root growth for a healthier sustainable lawn.