Even if you don’t care about spots on your apples, you probably want to keep the birds and bees around for years to come. After all, without them our food system would face major challenges, given that bees are responsible for about 1 in 3 bites of food we consume. As the Counting Crows song cautions, “You don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone.”
Some traditional lawn care products can wreak havoc on the environment, with runoff causing problems such as algae growth in local waterways, and killing earthworms and beneficial insects like pollinating bees and butterflies. Practicing safer lawn care is one way to have a positive effect. It’s also important for families with young kids and/or pets who are on the grass regularly.
By keeping your grass healthy, it will be in better shape to weather pests, weeds, and other stressors. To do so, it needs ample amounts of nitrogen, organic material, beneficial organisms, and regular aeration.
Here’s how to care for your lawn without using harsh chemicals or pesticides.
A properly aerated lawn will get water and nutrients down to the roots and into the soil, for a lusher appearance. Use a step or push aerator in the spring and fall for best results. Once you’ve aerated your lawn, it’s a good idea to apply a fertilizer to help feed the grass.
Excessive use of fertilizer can cause algae growth in the waterways it eventually reaches, throwing entire ecosystems out of balance. Help the environment by fertilizing smartly. Avoid applying fertilizer within 24 hours of expected rainfall to prevent it from leaching into groundwater, and only apply as much as directed on the package, only when grass is actively growing. Most lawns only need fertilized about once a year.
Whenever possible, opt for organic fertilizers and pest control products. Pesticides, herbicides, and insecticides are all toxic to varying degrees. While they are excellent at their intended purpose — killing pests and weeds — they can also be harmful children, pets, and wildlife coming into contact with the lawn. Organic products are safer for both people and the environment.
The easiest way to deal with weeds in your lawn is to simply embrace them! After all, dandelions are one of the first foods for pollinating insects in the spring, and invasive plants such as clover help draw essential nutrients such as nitrogen into the soil. However, if you really can’t stand the sight of weeds in your grass, skip the poisonous weed killer and opt for hand-weeding instead. Not only is it better for the environment, it’ll help you get in a killer workout!
Choosing the right grass for your area can also help with watering levels. Kentucky bluegrass might look beautiful, but it requires enormous amounts of water to maintain its appearance. Buffalo grass, tall fescue, and fine fescue are all excellent choices that do well with less water. While different lawns have different watering needs, the general rule is to water deeply, and only when needed. If footprints stay when you walk on it, your lawn could use a water. Garden experts suggest an inch or so at a time. You can set a container in the area of your sprinkler to time how long it takes to reach that level of watering. And don’t sweat any brown patches that might crop up during a dry spell — they’ll come back to life again in the fall.
Know How to Mow
You might be tempted to cut grass short in order to avoid having to cut it more frequently, but keeping grass longer — between 2 ½ and 3 ½ inches (or 6 to 9 centimeters) — can actually result in a healthier lawn. Longer blades of grass absorbs more sunlight, which causes them to grow thicker and plant deeper roots. They also retain moisture better, and make it more difficult for weeds to grow. And don’t bother to rake up after you mow — those clippings will help restore nitrogen into the soil.
If you must use a pesticide, herbicide, or fungicide, use as little as possible, and only apply to areas that need it. Avoid applying to the entire lawn if you don’t have to. The environment and your wallet will thank you. And don’t forget to wear gloves, long pants and sleeves, and eye protection while applying.
The grass really is greener when you switch to eco-friendly lawn care solutions. With the above tips you can go green while still enjoying a green lawn with minimal hassle. And don’t forget to check the Flipp app to find the best deals on garden supplies for your lawn. Add seed, fertilizers, and tools to your Flipp shopping list to check for sales and to make sure you don't forget anything on your garden supplies list.