Today we are talking about how you can have a lush, green, healthy, weed free organic lawn without the use of chemicals for the health and safety of you and your dog! And we'll be sharing some resources, as well.
If you are going organic from a chemical lawn, or to check your organic lawn for the right mix of nutrients in your soil for better grass growth, you can have your soil tested for it's pH level. Here are some great links to State University Cooperative Extension Soil Testing Services in your area. There are also tests you can purchase online; not as comprehensive but may be a good start.
Several safe and healthy amendments can be added to your lawn depending upon the results and pH of your lawn. Grasses enjoy a pH of between 6.2 to 6.9, but if your lawn is too acidic or too alkali you may actually be encouraging weed growth and poor grass growth and not even know it. To raise the pH level you can add lime, to reduce it you can add sulfer. This site has a great overview to learn more about altering the pH of your soil.
So lets get on with creating that healthy lawn!
After a big rain is the very best time to get out there and pull some weeds. After a good rain the ground is soft and it's much easier to pull and make sure you get the root of the weed. There are a few products on the market that can make weed pulling very easy and we've included them below, or you can get down on your knees the old fashioned way, while enjoying a little time outside with your dog!
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, and if it's fine enough, it's great to add to your grass areas too!
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 for your dog).
Be generous in 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 before colder weather sets in.
About 4-6 weeks after reseeding, or in September/October/November (depending upon if you live in the South or the North) 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.
The type of lawn fertilizer you use depends upon you and your dog's lifestyle. Gracie (pictured just below) 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! For some it may work well just to pour boiling water in areas where you don't want grass or weeds. But remember they both will kill everything they touch!
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.
And be sure to watch for our Spring lawn care post for more great organic lawn care tips, including how to prevent weeds! Happy gardening!