Did you know that homeowners are spending over $40 billion per year on their lawns, but more than 60 percent of the chemicals used for lawn care are linked to cancer? That’s right – all of those lovely green lawns, glistening in the sun, require pesticides and fertilizer, which can cause harmful effects. Read on to learn how to have a beautiful lawn without damaging your health or the environment.
Start With Good Soil!
It sounds obvious, but it is key if you want an attractive yard. Healthy soil needs four things: air space (for roots), organic matter (to provide nutrients), water retention capacity (so plants don’t dry out), and drainage (to get rid of excess water). You can improve your soil by adding compost or topsoil, aerating it every year, and making sure to water it deeply but infrequently.
Choose The Right Grass
Choose the right grass for your climate and location. There are many types of grass available, so be sure to research what will work best in your area. For example, Bermuda grass is good for hot, dry climates, while fescue is better suited for colder climates.
Mow Your Lawn High
This may seem counterintuitive, but taller grass shades the ground and holds moisture better than short grass. It also helps to prevent weeds from sprouting.
Don’t Over Water Your Lawn
It may seem counterintuitive to not water your grass regularly, but frequent watering can damage the roots of your grass and cause it to die more quickly. Instead, water deeply – preferably once a week – wait for the top 2-3 inches of soil to dry out, then water again.
Don’t Mow Your Lawn Too Short
This will weaken the plant by exposing its roots. Instead, raise your mower height so that the first two or three cuts are around 1 inch off the ground (if your turf is thick enough that you can cut this low). The clippings should be about ½ an inch wide and should crumble easily between your fingers when they’re ready to be raked up and added back to your compost or soil.
Choose Organic Fertilizers Carefully
The best way to avoid harmful chemicals is to choose organic fertilizers, even if you’re using them on non-edible plants like lawns. Look for brands that are not petroleum-based and use slow-release nitrogen instead of ammonium nitrate (which often breaks down into carcinogenic chemicals).
Use An Organic Herbicide Or Weedkiller Sparingly
Chemicals used to kill weeds can also damage the good insects in your yard, so it’s important to use them sparingly and responsibly. Try manual pulling first – it does work! If you decide to use a chemical spray, only do so when no wind is blowing and stay upwind.
Maintain Your Yard’s Health
It’s important to check that you’re not over or under-watering your lawn, as well as using the right types of fertilizer and weedkillers. Check for bugs, too – you can use non-harmful natural sprays to keep away things like chinch bugs without killing the insects that help improve soil quality.
Organic gardening is a lot of work, but it is worth it in the long run if you want a beautiful lawn without exposing yourself to harmful chemicals. Be careful with your water usage, so your grass doesn’t die, be patient while healthy soil builds up, and have fun!