But first a word about why an organic lawn; one free from the use of dangerous chemical fertilizers, pesticides, insecticides and herbicides is so important for the health of your dog and the environment.
Our yards and lawns are sacred places for us dogs, it's where we spend a lot of our time. We play, we poo, and we enjoy time playing with our family and friends in our yard, enjoying the fresh air and great outdoors.
That's why it's very important to keep it safe, and keep it green and free of harmful chemicals. Contrary to popular belief and advertising the dangerous chemical lawn fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides and insecticides that millions of people put on their lawns throughout the year are incredibly harmful to us dogs and to humans, as well. Exposure to these chemicals have been linked to cancer in dogs, as well as other major illnesses. And they have harmful effects on the environment, too!
Just think, if they kill bugs and weeds, what are they doing to children and pets?
BeyondPesticides.org has a wealth of information relating to the use and affects of pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers and insecticides on humans, pets and children. They indicate 'studies find that dogs exposed to herbicide-treated lawns and gardens can double their chance of developing canine lymphoma and may increase the risk of bladder cancer in certain breeds by four to seven times.' (xvii)
And, in this report and DVD "The Truth About Cats, Dogs and Lawn Chemicals," which was funded by Newman’s Own Foundation, you can learn more about the dangers and effects of lawn chemicals on your pets.
Having an organic lawn is definitely the way to go for the health and long life of you and your dog. And it really is a lot easier than you think; you just have to utilize different practices, change your way of thinking and learn more about how you can take care of your lawn naturally for full lush growth, fewer weeds and pests.
Fall is a great time to not only improve your organic lawn, but start utilizing organic lawn practices to make your lawn a safer place to be for you and your pets.
In early Fall (September/October in the North and late September/October in the South) take advantage of one of the good rainfalls. Get out there after the downpour and start pulling up those unsightly weeds.
We recommend using a good weed or dandelion puller (recommendations below), because it saves your back and knees, and really works to get the root out (which is your goal, so they won't come back).
Make sure and rake up any debris from your lawn; including leaves, weed residue, grass thatch and add all this good organic matter to your compost pile. It will become great feeding for your flowers, shrubs and vegetables next Spring.
Now it's time to work to thicken up your lawn by planting a good quality, uncoated grass seed. (We recommend un-coated because it doesn't add any chemical laden residue or growth hormones to your lawn and is safer and healthier). Be free with reseeding bare patches and thin areas of your lawn (best times are in September in the North and October in the South), and remember, the more grass you have the less weeds you will have. Once you've removed the weeds throw down your grass seed in thin areas; and be sure to prep the bare spots with a little raking of the soil first.
If frequent rain weather isn't cooperating, give your new seeded areas a good sprinkle when it gets dry for about 4-6 weeks to provide a good start in life.
About 4-6 weeks after reseeding, or in September/October/November if you aren't reseeding, we recommend putting down a good quality organic fertilizer to help give your lawn the nutrients it needs to prepare for and weather the Winter well.
We like several types of organic fertilizers, from worm poo and fish emulsions (which are sprays) to pellet based fertilizers made from feather meal, bone meal, and/or soybean meal. (More suggestions below).
The type of lawn fertilizer you use depends upon you and your dog's lifestyle. Gracie (pictured to the right) likes to get into everything, and we mean everything :). One time when we utilized a pellet based fertilizer, she spent most of her time sniffing at it, eating it (which wasn't harmful to her at all). Well, too much of anything isn't good, and she got a pretty good runny nose from sniffing it up so much. So the next time we utilized a liquid based fertilizer with a hose-end sprayer and viola! Problem solved. Even the fish emulsions we've used were a little smelly at first, but went away after about an hour.
If you'd like to get rid of some of that grass around the fence line, or along the patio, here's what we like to do. We use BurnOut, it's an environmentally friendly, safe product of concentrated vinegar that you can buy. As long as you use it when it's above 80 degrees for a few days, it works like a charm in killing grass and anything else in it's path!
We hope these ideas will help you have a great, green, healthy, safe and eco-friendly lawn! And if you have any trouble finding some of the products we've provided some resources below. Happy gardening!