Benefits: Why Organic
Your lawn will be healthier. Many lawns are "addicted" to massive infusions of fertilizers and to frequent watering. These common practices lead to lawns that are not able to defend themselves against pests, as well as lawns with shallow roots that are vulnerable to drought
The environment will be healthier. The cumulative impact of pesticide, fertilizer, and water use on all the lawns is huge. If you don't use chemicals on your lawn, they can't run off and hurt the wild lands or water sources near you, nor can they harm you, your family, or your neighbors.
You'll be healthier. The stuff that's toxic to earthworms and soil microbes is not recommended for humans, either. Some of the most common herbicides that make up the "weed" part of common "weed n' feed" products can be dangerous as well. Even 2,4-D, the most widely used herbicide in the world, can cause serious skin irritation and permanent eye damage and is often combined with other, more toxic herbicides.
Organic lawn care depends on a single principle: that a healthy lawn will be able to resist most weeds, diseases, and insects. The goal of such lawn care, therefore, is to promote health. This means that grass is encouraged to grow thickly aboveground and deeply below. Where a conventional lawn is defended against pests (especially weeds) by preemptive spraying, the organic lawn is defended by its own health and by appropriate action if problems do occur. The health of a lawn depends on four factors: healthy soil, appropriate plantings, thick grass & regular maintenance
It's so obvious it seems barely worth saying, but healthy soil will support healthy grass, and unhealthy soil won't. Healthy soil provides air, water, and nutrients to plants. To do this, it must have good structure and contain adequate nutrients. Soil structure refers to the size, clumping, and spacing of the particles that make up the soil, and plays a critical role in root growth and in access to water, oxygen, and nutrients. The soil must be able to retain water long enough for plants to get what they need, but it must also allow the water to drain, so that the roots have access to oxygen.
Find a grass that's suitable for your area, the appropriate grass (or grass mix) will tolerate local weather and soil conditions more easily than imported varieties, and it will therefore need less watering, less fertilizer, and fewer pesticides.
Thick Deep-Rooted Grass
Thick grass crowds out weeds; thin grass sits there, inviting invasion. Weeds are incredibly opportunistic and will move into any bare spot they can find, but even weeds need at least minimally attractive conditions including space and light. Thick grass deprives them of both. Beating back weeds therefore requires cultivating competitors, in this case grass. The first line of defense against weeds is a thick, healthy lawn. Deep roots are one of the signs of a healthy lawn, and they do a great deal to keep it healthy. Deep roots allow a plant to reach water for a long time after rain or irrigation, helping to protect the grass from drought. Since a plant can access nutrients only as far away as its roots reach, a healthy, deep root system gives grass access to more nutrients, reducing the need for fertilizer.
Organic maintenance falls into two types. The first type includes: once-or-twice-a-year events like fertilizing or aerating, necessary to improve or maintain soil structure or content. The organic take on this is to do these jobs in a timely manner so that they have maximum, long-term impact, thus reducing the need for extra fertilizing or extra care during the growing season. The second type of maintenance is what comes to mind when most of us think of lawn care, and there are three basic rules for these weekly chores: water deep, mow high, and let the clippings lie. Watering deeply (and infrequently) encourages roots to go deep as well, seeking the water and nutrients they need. Mowing high (about three inches or so) leaves a larger grass-blade surface to perform photosynthesis (which feeds the roots) and helps shade the soil, thus protecting roots, conserving water, and discouraging weeds. Letting grass clippings stay on the lawn is the simplest way to provide needed nutrients and organic matter to the soil.
Organic Lawn Care Basics
Texture, structure, and density together determine how porous a soil is and thus how easily water and air move through it. pH and mineral content influence fertility, or how many nutrients are present in the soil and how easily plant roots can absorb them. pH is a measure of how acidic or alkaline soil is, conditions which help determine plant health and happiness. It's measured on a scale of 0 to 14, though if your results are anywhere near either of those numbers, you probably can't grow anything at all. As a result of such chemical processes, nutrients can be present but unavailable to plants; they are said to be tied up. Other minerals (including a number of nutrients) become increasingly tied up as pH falls. Neutral or slightly acidic pH generally allows an optimal range of nutrients to be available to plants.
Planning an Organic Lawn
You may not want to hear this -- cultivate patience. Rebuilding a damaged lawntakes about two years, so figure on investing a fair amount of energy on planning in the early days. There are three steps to this process: finding out what you've got, figuring out what you want, and then planning how to get from the one to the other.
Steps to Achieve an Organic Lawn
Since compaction is almost a given for lawns, aeration should be part of the homeowner's seasonal routine. The numerous holes increase air circulation to the roots and improve the soil's ability to retain water. It also helps control thatch, simply by breaking it up on a regular basis. If your lawn gets heavy use or if it's growing in heavy, clayey, or easily compacted soil, then twice-yearly (spring and fall) or yearly (preferably fall) aeration will give your grass a real boost, reducing its need for other, more expensive aids in the form of fertilizers and amendments.
For control of Dandelions & Various Grassy Weeds -Corn gluten meal is natures weed & feed. It prevents many weed seed from germinating and benefits grasses by adding valuable nitrogen to the soil. Corn gluten is the only natural pre-emergent herbicide, meaning that it kills seeds, preventing plants from emerging from the soil. Obviously, this product can't be combined with a fall reseeding program! Since corn gluten contains 9% nitrogen, it covers your fall fertilizer needs as well.
Problems with either pH or with texture and structure can create the seemingly situation in which a soil contains plenty of nutrients, but the grass growing in it cannot make use of them. This can happen for a number of reasons. Soil that drains too quickly, for instance, doesn't merely deprive plants of water; it also deprives them of the nutrients that would dissolve in that water and move into the plant roots via osmosis. A pH imbalance in either direction can slow or prevent the chemical exchanges necessary to free up certain nutrients or to permit them to move into the roots. Soil that's either too acidic or too alkaline will not support plant life at all.
Organic fertilizers are slow release, meaning that they work gradually. Quickrelease synthetic fertilizers are chemically simple and become available to a plant easily and all at once, so they don't last very long. Locate a SLOW-RELEASE organic fertilizer that's easy to use and especially rich in nitrogen (rather than in phosphorus or potassium, the other key chemicals in fertilizer). Blood meal (12% nitrogen), corn gluten meal (9%), and cottonseed meal (6%) are all good choices.
Mowing is actually hard on grass. Every time you do it, you're cutting off any seed-heads that might be forming, so you're preventing the grass from reproducing. You're also chopping back the plant's photosynthesis laboratory, its leaves. Grass blades, like all leaves, convert sunshine into sugars which then get converted into starches and stored in the roots. Cut the grass short, and you drastically reduce its ability to perform photosynthesis. That weakens the grass, roots and all, making it more vulnerable to weeds, pests, and disease. Tall grass is healthier in itself, and it gives weeds less purchase. Short grass allows weeds plenty of space to soak up sun. They'll grow like - well - weeds. Keep the grass long and tall and it will curb weeds, simply by shading them out.
Less is More It sounds crazy, but the best way to promote a luscious lawn is to water infrequently. Improper watering means that much of the water applied to lawns never gets absorbed by the grass. Instead, it runs off or runs through because it's applied too rapidly, too often, or both. It is important to water deeply and slowly when you do water. Slow watering gives the soil a chance to absorb the moisture, and damp soil, like a damp sponge, absorbs more moisture than dry soil. Deep watering (at least six inches deep) trains your grass roots to go deep, thus making your lawn more resistant to drought. Conversely, frequent but short watering will encourage the roots to grow close to the surface, which means your lawn will be hurting during any dry spell.