Many people are turning away from maintaining their properties with chemicals and are moving towards a more organic approach. If you previously used pesticides to maintain your lawn, sometime will be needed to make the change to organic lawn care. Previously used pesticides would have killed most or all of the beneficial biological activity in the soil. Time is needed for beneficial bugs to replenish in numbers.
Grass Type – a resilient lawn combines three grass types:
o Kentucky bluegrass - popular for its aesthetic appeal but needs to be mixed with other grasses for strength
o Perennial rye grass - germinates quickly, suits our northern climate, and strengthens lawns
o Fine fescue grass - often produces an internal fungus for insect resistance
o Chemical fertilizers are major polluters of waterways. Washed into our water systems they encourage algal growth, which robs aquatic life of necessary oxygen
o Quick-release chemical fertilizers encourage explosive top growth at the expense of proper root development. This creates shallow-rooted, chemical-dependant lawns susceptible to insect damage and drought
o Chemical fertilizers can kill off microorganisms that are needed for healthy soil
o Grass clippings left on your lawn allow nutrients to be recycled. Since they are 90 percent water, they decompose quickly. (During times of rapid growth, use excess clippings as mulch or add them to your compost.)
o Organic fertilizers improve soil texture, prevent disease, stimulate soil microorganisms, and release nutrients slowly, allowing the strong, healthy growth of your lawn. Sifted compost or well-aged manures are excellent choices
o Remove no more than one-third of the grass blade at any one time
o Leave the grass at least seven centimetres high to allow your lawn to retain moisture, develop a deep, healthy root system, and shade out weeds
o Keep lawnmower blades sharp
• Watering –
o Save yourself some time and don’t worry about watering your lawn. It may turn brown during the peak of summer but once it rains your lawn will become green again.
o Extensive insect damage is often a sign of an unhealthy lawn. Use compost, keep the grass long, and allow topsoil to dry out between waterings to discourage pests from establishing themselves
o Invite insect-eaters like birds, bats, and toads, by providing them with habitat
o If an infestation does occur, accurately identify the problem pest and use appropriate organic controls
o A healthy lawn is the best defence against weeds, which often indicate poor soil.
o Allow the grass to grow tall enough to shade out weeds.
o Add grass seed to fill in bare spots.
o Clover enhances lawn health by fixing nitrogen, improving soil texture, and attracting beneficial insects.
o Learn to tolerate a few weeds. They add colour to the landscape.