This is part 2 of a 2-part series from Organic Solutions
To get things off to a good start, we would recommend that you get the soil around your property tested. There are a few good options to be able to get this done; local professionals, you can do it yourself, or have the county extension department do it. Probably the best part about getting this performed is that it will let you know exactly what you need to do with your soil, so that you don’t end up spending time and/or money trying to fix a problem that doesn’t exist. After you find out what your soil needs then you can start putting together a plan to help get your soil the different types of fertilization that it needs. Interestingly enough you will find numerous organic fertilizers that can give your soil most of the same nutrients that you will find in non-organic fertilizers.
The end result of the two different types of fertilizer is basically the same, but the way that they work is a little bit different. Fertilizers that are organically based will feed the life in the soil, which then becomes the food that will feed the roots of the grass, while fertilizers that are not organic will feed the tips of your grass blades. So, in essence chemical fertilizers feed your lawn from the top down, and organic fertilizers will do it from the bottom up. This is important to understand when it comes to helping you save money, because with organic fertilizers you are making the structure of the soil better with the organic matter, and at the same time you are giving your lawn the food that it needs to thrive. For these reasons organic fertilizers will always be a better choice to non-organic alternatives, because it will lower your water sprinkler bill now and into the future by helping your soil improve and deepen the roots of the grass. Don’t you just love how easy saving money can be!!
To be fair, the science behind soil biology is a little more complex, but it is pretty simple to understand that if you improve the quality of your soil that it will also lessen your lawn’s need for pesticides and insecticides. If your fertilizer is improving the ecosystem that lives below your grass instead of taking away from it, then it is pretty easy to understand that you are allowing your lawn to let nature take care of it more efficiently than you would be able to by putting costly chemicals into your grass. If you are doing things that will encourage the good bugs and nutrients to thrive, then they are going to more easily take care of the things in your grass that you don’t want there in the first place, and can lessen and even sometimes eliminate the need for costly insecticides and fungicides. Overall, and especially in the long term this can mean that you don’t have to spend as much money, and still allows you to have a lawn that all your neighbors want.
Right about now you are probably asking yourself “why would anyone want to stick with traditional lawn care services instead of using organic solutions?” One hurdle that organic lawn care currently has is that there isn’t a large selection of organic weed control options. Because of this you have to change your frame of mind a little bit. This doesn’t mean that your lawn must be full of weeds. I do want to say here that most lawns could benefit from a spot treatment or two of broad leaf herbicide. This is because sometimes the grass needs a little bit of help before it can start crowding out weeds naturally. It isn’t necessary, but if patience isn’t one of your strong suites, and you want your lawn to look better quicker, then the non-organic solutions will give you that option. If you find yourself in a situation where you want to have your lawn weed-free as quick as possible, you want to make sure that you are only applying the chemicals where they need to be (spot treatments), and read all of the directions because these pesticides can be harmful to your pets and family
The most valuable piece of information that anyone can give you to keep your weeds at bay without the use of harmful chemicals is to cut your grass a little bit higher. Thicker lawns can more naturally crowd out weed growth. Another effective way to crowd out weeds is to plant grass in bare and thin areas of your lawn with new seed during the late summer/early fall. These two tips will not crowd out all weeds so just know that if you want a weed free lawn without using any chemicals that you will also have to hand pull some weeds out of your grass. When you do this, ensure that you get the whole root, and remember that they will keep coming back at first. Just like people, weeds can lose their motivation, so if you keep pulling them out, you will eventually win the battle. If you can get to them before they start laying seeds your success level will increase dramatically. Otherwise you create an annual problem of cyclical weeds that will always return. And just think you can turn all those weeds that you pull into compost and save even more money