Not to brag or anything, but ... I’ve got the plushest lawn this side of ... well you get the picture. It was one of the main things I loved about our home ... the beautiful well manicured plush green lawn ... I pictured our (at the time nonexistent) kids running around under a sprinkler and having friends over for a summer time BBQ. Now that that picture has come to life, I’m looking at my lawn in a whole different way. I have to say that I usually have nothing to do with the outside of the house. That is my husband’s domain, especially since he decided our landscaper was part of our budget cuts. I said to him, kudos to you if you want to mow and keep our lawn manicured, but my days of doing that are long over from my childhood where I spent every spring and summer weekend slaving away to keep my parent’s lawn manicured. Okay, my sister and mother helped too ... Back to my beautiful lawn, a parting gift from our landscaper was a white chalk-like powder layered over our grass. I never wanted to know before but all of a sudden I asked DH, what’s the white stuff on our lawn ... his reply, “Oh, just fertilizer ... don’t take Ava on the lawn for a day or two, okay?” I’m thinking, how about NEVER! In my chemical-fearing self, I’m picturing her running through the grass, collecting fertilizer on her clothing and shoes and even her skin as she’ll inevitably be rolling in our rolling worthy plush grass. Like everything green in our home, my husband is as green as I tell him to be. Since the lawn wasn’t my domain, I wasn’t greening it ... yet!
A little research yields ... my tips for a “greener” lawn.
- Compost: Who needs fertilizer!? If you rake half an inch of compost into your lawn each spring and fall, you’ll add tons of good bacteria that is essential for growing that plush grass.
- Clippings Galore: Leave some of the clippings on the grass. It also is a great fertilizer providing lots of nitrogen.
- Fertilizing a Must?! Choose a low nitrogen water insoluble organic fertilizer with a Nitrogen Phosphorus Potassium ratio of 3:1:2.
- Seeds of Life: Re-seeding yearly ensures a thick turf and less weeds.
- High Tops: Cut the grass a little higher. Most mowers have a handy guide to raise the cutting height. The higher the cut, shades its roots.
- Less Is More: When’s the best time to water your grass? Once a week for several hours, first thing in the morning. If you’re expecting rain, adjust accordingly.
- Weeds, Weeds Go Away: It’s time to get down and dirty, weeds. If you don’t like them, banish them ... the old fashion way—dig them out!
- Rules of the Green Thumb: Often forgotten, but keeping blades sharp prevents torn grass and helps to keep them disease free.
What about those little pests, you ask? I get it, little creepy crawlies that put holes in leaves, damage your lawn, etc. It doesn’t help to keep the lawn plush and you’re thinking ... I kinda need the pesticides. But have you ever noticed they never state “safe” on the label? Most commercial pesticides are linked with risks to human health and the environment even well past the twenty-four hour re-entry recommendation. Kids who love the outdoors are especially at risk as their exposure level is higher, think smaller bodies, high concentration. A study by the National Cancer Institute states that children are increasing their risk of brain and other childhood cancers, as well as six times more likely to develop Leukemia when pesticides are used. Sometimes the by-products of pesticides are even more dangerous than the actual pesticide. You’d be surprised that adding more compost might be all your lawn needs. Those beneficial organisms in a light application of compost will out-compete those unwanted visitors. Need a more immediate solution?! A visit to your local lawn and garden center will yield many safe and effective alternatives to pesticides. Remember to treat only the one problem—less is more—instead of the multi-purpose compounds.