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Chemical Free Lawn Care

Going full-bore organic isn’t your only choice if you want to avoid exposing yourself, your pets, your family, and the environment to toxic chemicals. Anyone interested in organic lawn care but leery for any reason — what if it doesn’t work, what if I get in over my head, anything. IPM, a well-recognized and growing approach to lawns, gardening, and agriculture, is like organic gardening with a loophole: you do everything to establish a healthy crop on healthy soil using earth-friendly methods, but if you hit a problem you can’t solve, you take recourse to chemicals. Synthetic fertilizers and pesticides therefore become the last resort, rather than the first. You may still use them from time to time, but you’ll use them far less often and only after trying other methods.

Switch to an Organic Fertilizer. This is one of the easiest things you can do, especially if you’re not using a lawn service. There are numerous organic options, including pellets or powders that can be applied with a spreader in the same way that most commercial fertilizers are usually spread.

Set your Mower Height High. Set your cutting height to 2.5 to 3 inches, and cut long. The longer grass will shade out more weeds than will short grass, it will protect the dirt from evaporation, and it will grow more slowly than short grass. Longer lawns therefore need fewer pesticides, less water, and less frequent mowing than short lawns.

Unlike the clunky contraption your grandpa used, modern push reel mowers are lightweight and easy to maneuver. Quieter and cleaner than their gas-powered cousins, they are actually better for your lawn than a power rotary mower which can tear and damage grass ends.

Let Grass Clippings Lie. Don’t rake up the grass cuttings after you mow. The cuttings help shade out weeds in spring, help slow evaporation (promoting water conservation) in summer, and provide important organic material for your soil all season.

This practice works best if you mow frequently, so that the clippings are relatively short. Long clippings may lie about on the grass like a bunch of hay, looking unsightly and doing little to enrich the soil. Shorter clippings will sift down between grass blades more easily than long ones, gracefully removing themselves from sight and beginning to decompose relatively quickly. They thus satisfy both aesthetic and environmental standards.

Sharpen Mower Blades. Fungi, viruses, and pests all flourish in unhealthy grass, and many such pathogens enter grass blades through damaged spots. Dull mower blades mangle grass, leaving it bruised and torn. The open spots make the grass vulnerable to disease and other problems, and the mangling makes it less healthy overall.

Sharp mower blades cut grass cleanly, avoiding bruises and leaving only a minimal cut open to bacteria. Your grass will therefore be healthier and will need less by way of pesticides and fertilizer.

Water Early in the Morning. Plants cannot make efficient use of water in the heat of the day, because their pores close to minimize transpiration, the loss of water from their leaves. In dry climates or dry conditions, up to 50% of sprinkler water can evaporate. For both these reasons, it is best to water in the morning before the day heats up. Your water bill will be lower, since less water will be wasted, and your grass will benefit, since it will receive water at the optimal time of day.

Water Deep — NOT Often. Plants will work only as hard as they need to; roots will grow only as deep as they must. Frequent lawn watering, even if it’s deep, encourages grass roots to stay shallow, which in turn means that they cannot reach deeper water during drought conditions. Less frequent watering forces roots to grow deep in order to reach deeper water.

The problem with infrequent watering is that dry soil (like a dry sponge) does not absorb liquid readily. Instead, the water tends to run off the surface or percolate down cracks to deeper levels without soaking into the topsoil.

blog credit: https://www.planetnatural.com/organic-lawn-care-101/going-organic/

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