It's been (and still is in some states) quite the winter. Even here in the Georgia mountains, we had more snow falls than I can count on two paws. And it's been a little colder than usual, as well.
The nice thing about a good winter is less bugs in the spring. Well, that's what some folks say. We can keep our paws crossed, can't we?
But the best thing about spring is getting out there and enjoying it!
Now that we're living in the mountains in Georgia, we don't have a lawn like we did back when we lived in Indiana (see the photos from a few years ago). But we still know a lot about keeping a lawn free from harmful chemicals and making it a green lush, weed free (well almost), soft, enjoyable place to play, roll and even eat (a few grass blades, that is) - healthily and safely.
If you haven't read these studies, we encourage you to they will enlighten you to the extreme dangers of those lawn chemicals fertilizers, pesticides, insecticides and herbicides. Some even believe that lawn chemicals are contributing to the much more prevalent incidences of cancer in dogs.
Here are a few resources to bone up on information of the dangers of lawn chemicals:
- A respected report and DVD "The Truth About Cats, Dogs and Lawn Chemicals," funded by Newman’s Own Foundation.
- BeyondPesticides.org has facts and figures that relate to the use and affects of pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers and insecticides on humans, pets and children.
- Despite what those lawn chemical companies say (and frequently advertise) about how safe their products are for pets and children, many have found that they may actually spur grave illnesses in our small two leggers, through a check sheet, Children and Pesticides Don't Mix.
To get your lawn ready for preparation for a great, healthy year, we recommend:
- Cleaning up all the poo after the spring thaw.
- Raking up any leaves and debris.
- Mowing if needed.
- Wait for a good rain, and then pull any unnecessary weeds, as this is the easiest time to get those weeds from the root so they won't come back again and again.
Once you've done the clean up:
- Put down a good quality, organic, weed preventer that includes corn gluten before or during the blooming of the Forsythia. Getting this product down before weed seeds begin to germinate is key to cutting back on crabgrass, dandelions and other unwanted weeds throughout the year. But remember corn gluten will prevent all seed from germinating so...
- Wait approximately one month and then overseed your lawn with a good quality uncoated grass seed that's appropriate for your area. Uncoated seed is important as coated seed is many times coated with a non-organic fertilizer or other growth hormones that may be harmful for birds, rodents and other small bodied living things.
- Wait a few days and then spread a good organic fertilizer, like spray Fish Emulsion, or Worm Poo (these fertilizers won't hamper the growth of new grass seed). We like sprays because they are not as attractive to dogs once they have been on the lawn for a few hours. You can also look into a good organic fertilizer that's pellet based, like Lawn Restore, or Espoma Brand organic foods. Even though these are perfectly safe for dogs, some dogs, like my sis Gracie, just can't help herself from sniffing the pellets prolifically which gives her a runny nose, so we use a spray organic fertilizer.
- Continue to pull unwanted weeds after each good rain.
- If your lawn is in very poor shape, continue to reseed until the hot parts of summer and fertilize with a safe organic fertilizer every 6-8 weeks. You can even fertilize with a healthy fertilizer during the summer months without worrying about it burning your lawn like those chemical-based products do.
- If you have unwanted grass or weeds in your patio or along your fence line there are two really safe ways you can kill the plants in those areas. You can take boiling water and pour over them (this works well for newer shoots), or you can try white vinegar (spray on the leaves and at the root) or purchase an agricultural vinegar (for those pesky, persistent weeds) for spraying. But remember these solutions will kill everything they touch, so they don't work for weeds within your lawn.
- If you have insects (like aphids) that like to eat your plants try some safe eco-friendly dish washing soap, mixed with water and spray on the bugs and plants. Or you can even purchase beneficial insects, like ladybugs for aphids to feed on the aphids, and let nature take it's course.
Now you have a great plan to get your lawn in shape for spring, summer and fall...Happy lawning!