“Having a beautiful lawn should not come at a cost to you, your kids or your pets health”. But the reality is, that so many people are putting pesticides and fertilisers on their lawn that contain harmful and toxic materials? WANT GUANOBOOST?
Each year U.S. homeowners apply more than 3 million tons of synthetic lawn fertilizers and 70 million pounds of lawn pesticides and herbicides. These chemicals pose serious hazards to our children, our pets and wildlife of all kinds. To make matters worse, it’s estimated that 65 percent of these chemicals find their way into our lakes, rivers and underground aquifers. With water shortages and droughts becoming commonplace, it’s also becoming much more difficult and more expensive to pamper a chemical- and water-addicted lawn.
The US Wildlife Federation also reports these environmental effects of our lawn care practices:
The average lawn gets up to 10x as much chemical pesticide and herbicide use as commercial farmland! This means that the grass your children are running on barefoot probably contains more chemicals than commercially sprayed wheat, corn, and soybean crops. (Obviously, this isn’t great for pets either!)
When these chemicals are used as much as 90% of the earthworm population in a lawn is killed. This is very detrimental for the soil over time.
A study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute found that household and garden pesticide use can increase the risk of childhood leukemia as much as seven-fold.
And the reality is, it is completely possible to have a beautiful, chemical free lawn.
1 – Use natural, organic fertilizers.
Fertilizing your lawn 2-3 times a year is an important part of your lawn care protocol. It ensures you maintain a think, green lush lawn, but also prevents patching and weed invasion. But, if at all possible, you want to avoid putting harmful chemical based fertilizers on your lawn. Chemical fertilizers may feed the grass, but they can also have a negative impact on soil life and soil texture, and do nothing to increase organic matter. Chemicals fertilizers can also over stimulate growth, making turf more vulnerable to disease and insects.
Rather use organic products, which when combined with the overall lawn management strategy I outline in this blog, are just as effective, without any harmful side effects.
Organic fertilizers release nutrients slowly over time to provide long-term nutrition, improve soil tilth, and encourage soil life. They also provide vital trace nutrients that your lawn needs in minute quantities. They also release nutrients slowly over time to provide long-term nutrition, improve soil tilth, and encourage soil life.
So, what exactly does organic fertilizer mean. Well, simply put, they use natural ingredients, rather than chemical ingredients. For example, Organic fertilizer is usually made from plant or animal waste or powdered minerals. Examples include manure and compost, as well as bone and cottonseed meal and in the case of 100% Organic GuanoBoost the core ingredient is 100% organic Guano Bird waste, harvested in an environmentally sensitive way off the coast of Namibia in Africa.
Whichever organic fertilizer product you choose, it is important that it comes with a guaranteed analysis of the NPK levels. NPK stands for “nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium,” the three nutrients that compose complete fertilizers and if possible other essential nutrients and macro elements because some organic products can be inconsistent, in that different batches contain different levels of Nitrogen and Phosphates, for example. It should have an analysis like this:
100% Organic GuanoBoost Lab Results
Important to look out for is the Nitrogen levels, high levels mean your lawn is getting the fertilizer boost it needs, especially in spring.
2 – Check the pH balance of your soil
If you have a pool at home you will be familiar with the concept of managing your pools pH levels. But the same also applies to your lawn. Garden spoils can become acidic, especially if you have been using chemical fertilizers or pesticides and weed killer on your lawn over a prolonged period. If your soil has become acidic, it will really impair the quality of your lawn.
The relative acidity or alkalinity of soil is indicated by its pH. The pH scale runs from 0 to 14. Any pH reading below 7 is acidic and any pH above 7 is alkaline. A pH of 7 indicates a neutral soil. The pH is important because it influences the availability of essential nutrients. Most horticultural crops will grow satisfactorily in soils having a pH between 6 (slightly acid) and 7.5 (slightly alkaline).
So how can you test your soils PH levels? Well, it is actually pretty easy. You can purchase a home soil testing kit from any good local garden centre or here is a range of home soil testing kits you can purchase online at Amazon Take a sample from 2-3 inches deep from the lawn.
If you find that your soil’s pH levels are too low. You can increase them by adding lime.
The most common materials used to increase the pH of soil are compounds made from powdered limestone, or lime, which you can find at most home and garden store. Standard lime comes in four types: pulverized, hydrated, granules and pellets. Depending on your soil type and the amount of moisture in the ground, one of these compounds may be a good option.
Pulverized lime is finely ground and more easily absorbed by the soil. However, it is more difficult to spread because it can clog the applicator.
Granular and pelletized lime are easier to spread. However, it is not as effective at altering the soil pH.
Hydrated lime should only be used with extremely acidic soils since it is more water-soluble and can quickly increase a soil’s pH.
Some lime sources contain micronutrients like dolomite, which is a mixture of calcium and magnesium carbonates. However, you should only use dolomitic lime if your soil is magnesium deficient. Do not add more magnesium to soils that are already high in it.
For a comprehensive guide on how to manage your soils PH levels click HERE.
3 – Apply the correct amounts of water
Watering your lawn is not just as simple as turning on the sprinklers. It is important that you have the right Lawn Watering protocol. Here are some important points to consider:
Water as early in the morning as you can, when possible.
Aim to apply at least 1”-1 ½” of water per week, year-round, during the winter, too.
Water twice a week max, but water deeply, rather than daily.
If you cannot push a 6” screwdriver into the lawn you are not watering enough. Soak at least 6” into the soil;
Do not water after 6 pm, as this can lead to fungus growing on your lawn
You will need to water more in the heat, especially if you have a fescue lawn.
Use the correct sprinkler strategy for your lawn
If you have automatic sprinklers, check them regularly to be sure you’re hitting the areas you want to water
4 – Aerate your lawn in Spring
If your lawn is subjected to any amounts of traffic, from kids playing to the weight of the lawnmower, over time a thick layer of thatch can develop under the grass. If you are unsure if your grass has thatch, take a shovel and remove a slice of lawn about four inches deep. If the thatch layer is greater than one-half inch, aeration is recommended.
You will find an array of aeration tools in most gardening shops or online. Here are some of the options available on amazon.
Look for an aerating tool or machine that removes soil plugs approximately 2 — 3 inches deep and 0.5 — 0.75 inches in diameter, and about 2 — 3 inches apart.
Ok, so here are some tips for aerating your lawn.
- Before you get started, make sure your soil is not too dry, as naturally, this will make it much harder to do. Simply give your lawn a deep watering or wait until after a good rain shower.
- Make multiple passes over the affected areas, to ensure that you cover all areas.
- Allow any soil material that comes up to dry and then run the lawn mower over them to break up the plugs.
- Aeration is a beneficial practice toward achieving a beautiful lawn, but most people don’t realise it or understand the process. If your lawn is a candidate, make it an integral part of your lawn care regime. Your lawn will thank you for letting it breathe again.
5 – Cut your lawn to the correct level for your grass type
Many people unwittingly damage their lawn by simply gutting it too low. Here is a useful guide on how low you should be cutting your lawn. Cutting off too much of the grass blade at one time can deplete these reserves faster than they can be replenished, resulting in a weak root system that’s more susceptible to disease, and that can’t out-compete weeds.
Grass roots tend to grow about as deep as the blades grow high. Therefore, don’t mow your grass shorter than about 2 inches.
6 – Manage your weeds
Fertilizing and aerating your soil with good maintenance will go a long way to controlling your weeds. However, if you find you still have weeds on your lawn, this could be a sign or infertile soil or stressed turf. Here are some common signs of a troubled lawn:
- Moss indicates a shady, acid and infertile soil.
- Nutsedge indicates that the soil is too wet and poorly drained.
- Crabgrass indicates that the turf is not dense and healthy and that you may be mowing too low to shade out new weed seeds that are trying to germinate.
- Dandelions may indicate a potassium deficiency.
7 – Conclusion
If your lawn is addicted to a chemical diet, you can still make the change to a natural lawn by following the tips outlined in this guide. Improving the quality of your soil and the health of your lawn is usually a multi-year project.
Your lawn, pets and kids will thank you over time!