Simple steps guide to convert your lawn to fully organic

Organic Lawn Guide

Reading Time: 6 minutes

Introduction to Eco-Friendly Landscaping

Americans directly apply approximately 70 million pounds of pesticides to home lawns and gardens each year. To achieve greener lawns, millions of birds and other wildlife are killed, and important water resources are affected. These chemicals collect on our shoes and are tracked directly into our homes. It seems to be a contest to have the greenest lawn while wasting lots of water to maintain this artificial green. At Estate Care, our goal is to educate the island community and explain the importance of eco-friendly landscaping.

If you are still reading this and are interested in transitioning to a fully organic lawn, thank you, and welcome to the family. Here is an overview of what you need to know about going green.

The key to a healthy lawn is healthy soil, good mowing, watering, and fertilizing practices. Healthy soil contains high organic content, allowing biological life to thrive underneath our organic lawn. It supports the development of a healthy and fertile lawn that is naturally resistant to weeds and pests, without any chemicals.

The Benefits of Going Organic

Benefits of organic lawn, it's safe for children and also for animals

Why go organic?

  • Safety, for humans, animals, insects, and the planet.
  • Noise reduction from decreased reliance on power equipment.
  • Pest reduction (Pests tend to be more attracted to out-of-balance- synthetic systems).
  • Water Conservation & Preservation, water does not become contaminated in organic systems, organic lawns require less water than synthetic turfs.
  • Environmental Preservation, reduction in greenhouse gases and global warming.
  • Financial Savings, through time, organic systems become more independent as the soil is improved.

A Comprehensive Guide For Starting Your Organic Lawn

Understanding Your Soil

Understanding earth soi, organic lawn process

In early spring, we get to know our soil. It is highly recommended that we analyze our soil during the growing season. This is crucial to determine specific soil needs. In addition to nutrients (nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium) and pH, it’s important to analyze the organic content.

The ideal pH should be between 6.5-7, and the organic content should be 5% or higher. A soil test will point out any important deficiencies, which we can correct by taking appropriate steps.

Spring Cleanup and Aeration

The next step is clean-up and Aeration. After the ground has thawed and dried out, rake winter debris and aerate your lawn. (Best to aerate when soil is slightly moist). This will help alleviate the compaction caused by winter snow. The soil gets an injection of oxygen, which promotes activity in soil organisms and helps nutrients penetrate deeper into root systems.

Once an organic, healthy, and fertile lawn is established, the earthworm population will thrive, and they will do most of the aeration for you.

Dethatching Your Lawn

Dethatch, involves removing that unsightly buildup of decomposed stems and leaves sitting on the soil’s surface and allowing fertilizer and water to penetrate and feed your soil. If you only have a few problem patches of thatch in your lawn, a thatching rake should be sufficient. Aerating will also help to decompose thatch. It loosens your soil, allowing air, water, and nutrients to reach the roots of your grass.

Lawn grasses also root better in aerated soil, and oxygen will help the grass grow.

Choosing the Right Grass Seed

Next, it’s important that we choose the right grass seed. Sprinkle grass seed throughout your lawn every spring & fall. This will help fill in bare spots and choke out weeds. In organic landscaping, instead of dumping chemicals year after year to kill weeds, we simply leave no room for them to grow.

  • Loosen the soil
  • Spread peat moss
  • Compost, or topsoil
  • Spread seed
  • Water it

Add compost to your lawn once or twice a year (July through August). Apply at a rate of 100 pounds per 1000 sq. feet.

Keep in mind, cheaper grass seeds can be mixed with weed seeds. It is important to purchase good quality seeds.

Fertilizing Your Lawn

In Mid-Late spring, apply organic fertilizer, or compost. Fertilizers should only be added to correct deficiencies or imbalances identified in soil test results. Unnecessary applications will do more harm than good. Slow-release organic fertilizers provide vital nutrients to grass without the risk of burning or harming the grass. They help support the health and vitality of the soil and grass, strengthening the roots and helping the grass fight off pests, diseases, and weeds.

Most soils that have been extensively treated with synthetic chemicals require an amendment to regain their health and independence. Applying the right fertilizers will encourage the grass to create a healthy root system. Compost is an ideal soil amendment, adding much‐needed organic content to your soil and suppressing many pathogens.

In the spring, preferably after aerating, spread ¼ inch layer of organic or naturally based compost over your lawn.

Maintaining Your Organic Lawn

Routine Mowing Practices

Lawn Maintaining routine on Martha's Vineyard Island
Lawn Maintaining routine on Martha’s Vineyard Island

Early spring through Fall, Routine mowing is needed. The first mow of the season should be set to 2 inches to remove and overwinter fungus (don’t forget to bag the clippings). For the rest of the year keep your blades at 3-3.5 inches to shade out weeds and foster deep, drought-resistant roots.

The last several cuts of the season should be back to low again. Bad mowing practices cause more problems than any other cultural practice. Mowing with dull blades will make grass susceptible to disease and mowing too close to the ground invites sunlight in for weeds to take hold.

At Estate Care, we pride ourselves on the highest standard of mowing practices. Our team will minimize openings for diseases and insect infestations. Grass clippings contain around 60% of the nitrogen added from fertilizers. They suppress diseases and reduce thatch and crabgrass. Mulched grass clippings on your lawn decompose and return their nitrogen to the soil for your lawn to reuse. Self-sustainability. (The only exceptions are the first and last cuts of the season.)

Overseeding and Winterizing Your Lawn

In the Fall, overseed your lawn during the growth period, this is the best time of the year. Apply winterizing organic fertilizer, you can apply this last application of fertilizer from the beginning of September through early November. Probably the most important application of the entire season.

Winterizing fertilizer concentrates below the soil, strengthening root systems and developing plant hardiness. It prepares your lawn for the start of the next growing season.

Fall Cleanup

Mid-Fall, if indicated by the soil test, Apply lime. To maintain an ideal pH level of 6.5 – 7.0.

If your soil test indicates that your soil is already high in magnesium, apply Calcium Limestone Flour or Aragonite instead of dolomitic limestone.

Your soil test will determine how much lime is needed. Late-Fall, Clean-up. Reduce cutting height. Remove the remaining leaves from your lawn or attach a bag to your mower. Add leaves to your compost pile if you have one.

Watering Schedule

A Crucial Element of Lawn Maintenance

Lawn Watering Schedule

One of the most common mistakes people make with lawn maintenance is their watering schedule. Lawns require about one inch of water once per week. The best time to water the lawn is early in the day. Watering late in the day may encourage fungal invasion due to insufficient evaporation.

Your lawn needs to be watered when you apply seed or when it is new sod until it is established. After your lawn is established, water deeply rather than frequently to encourage a deep root system.

It’s time to make the transition to an organic lawn. A simple change in your lawn care can have a huge impact on our island’s ecosystem.

At Estate Care, we are here to guide and support you every step of the way.

CONCLUSION

Making a Green Impact

Transitioning to an organic lawn holds the potential for a significant positive impact on our island’s ecosystem. At Estate Care, we’re here to guide and support you every step of the way. Embrace eco-friendly landscaping and join us in creating healthier, safer, and more sustainable outdoor spaces for our communities.

Estate Care - Your partner in building eco-friendly environment on Martha's Vineyard