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3 Easy Tricks to Love Your Lawn Naturally

Everyone likes a lush, green lawn that is safe for people, pets and children to lounge and play. Here’s a video with a few easy tips for you to love your lawn naturally.

Natural Lawn Care, So Pets and Children (and You!) Can Play Safely

As the video shows, there are three (3) easy things you can do to keep your lawn lush, naturally.

3 easy tricks to love your lawn naturallyTRICK #1: Trim the Top

Set your lawnmower blades on the highest setting. Also, aim to only cut the top 1/3 of the grass blades at any one time; otherwise the grass gets stressed.

TECHNICAL CORNER
Different grass species actually have preferred lengths. For example, cool season grasses (Fescues, Kentucky bluegrass) range from 1-4” high. Warm season grasses (St Augustine, Bermuda, Centipede, and Zoysia) vary from 0.75-3” high. Learn more about ideal heights to mow grass.

TRICK #2: Grasscycle!

Let the clippings land and return to the soil. Those tiny little bits can actually help nourish the soil: they typically break down within one to two weeks, and provide 15 to 20% or more of a lawn’s yearly nitrogen requirements. Learn more about grasscycling.

TRICK #3: Support Your Soil

Every fall and spring, spread a ¼” layer of compost or lawn soil. This layer – called a topdressing – helps support the soil structure, promotes good drainage, and stimulates microbial activity (that’s a good thing).

 A Few Other Tips for Natural Lawn Care

First, remember the four key components of healthy soil composition:

  • Mineral Soil (~45%)
  • Organic Matter (~5%)
  • Water (~25%)
  • Air (~25%)

Next, check out this case study of the lush soccer fields in Haddam, Connecticut – impressive root structure, all from topdressing with compost!

Finally, use these easy tips to keep your lawn happy:

watering your lawnWATERING YOUR LAWN: Use the Tuna Can Trick

If you’re going to water your lawn (or, ahem, frolic in a sprinkler), use a tuna fish can to roughly gauge how much water has fallen: place a tuna can on the grass when you turn on the sprinkler(s), and turn off the sprinkler(s) when the tuna can is full.

A few other tips around watering:

  • GO FOR DEEP, LESS OFTEN: Try to water well once per week rather than a few shallow sprinkles throughout the week. Then let the grass dry out completely over the week until you water deeply again. The roots will actually get more sturdy and robust during the dry period by searching for water compared to if you give them a few light sprinkles.
  • WATER IN THE MORNING OR EVENING: You’ll lose less water to evaporation.

screwdriver test for lawnsAERATING YOUR LAWN: Use the Screwdriver Trick to Test

If you’re curious about whether or not your lawn needs aeration, try the screwdriver trick: Wait until the soil is relatively dry – but not completely dry and hard – and test it with a screwdriver. If you can depress the screwdriver an inch or two easily, the soil probably has sufficient aeration. If it takes some bearing down, your lawn could probably use some “aerifying”. Learn more about how to aeate your lawn.

FINAL THOUGHTS:

Four Tips for Fall Lawn Preparation

01_Grow_Longer_Grass

Everyone always thinks of the springtime as the best time to work outside. While the spring boasts lengthening daylight hours and invigorating fresh breezes, the fall actually provides an ideal time to enhance the soil and provide excellent conditions that will carry over into the following year. These four simple tips mostly focus on the lawn.

Allow Grass to Grow Longer

Letting the grass grow longer protects the grass from frost and makes it more resilient to lawn fungus and diseases. As you near the end of fall, raise the height of your mower by a notch or two. Otherwise you leave the lawn open to invasion by voles, mice and other critters.

02_Aerating_Soil

Aerate the Soil and Add a Top Dress of Compost

Aerating the soil allows for water drainage and prevents it from becoming waterlogged from snow. Lawns need oxygen almost as much as they need water. After aerating (or even if you don’t aerate), topdress the turf surface with a 1/4″-1/2″ layer of compost. The compost will settle into the soil, adding nutrition and structure that will serve the grass roots well the following season.

03_Seed_Your_Lawn

Seed Your Lawn

Seeding your lawn encourages the growth of turf roots during fall and winter. Splurge on high-quality seed products to ensure the lawn will be able to stand up to drought, disease and pests.

04_Save_Fall_Leaves

Put Your Fall Leaves to Work

Instead of bagging and dragging fall leaves to the curb, use a small patch of your lawn to create a compost pile with leaves. If you have existing compost soil, mix it in with the leaves and turn all the materials well with a pitchfork. Alternatively, you can place leaves onto the top of the garden between plants and on top of bare soil as a natural layer of mulch that will moderate soil temperatures. Also remember that you can always mulch the leaves into the lawn to add organic matter to the soil. By doing this it will save you time and money from raking and bagging. You are simply recycling a natural resource and enriching your soil for free!

 

Great Gardens Have Great Soils

Four Components of Great Soil - Organic Content, Mineral Soil, Moisture, Air“Feed your soil, not the plants,” is an expression often used by expert gardeners, as well as companies such as Harvest that have invested deeply into the management of organic materials. Our organization has built its foundation around the notion that the earth is better served by adding valuable organic matter back into garden soils and landscapes throughout North America, rather than having organics decompose in landfills surrounded by plastic and metal.

Every garden using organic matter in their gardens, whether it is a soil amendment product such as a Garden Soil or a natural mulch, is contributing to the betterment of your garden soil. The utter simplicity of how organic matter benefits garden soils is summed up in just a few very important horticultural concepts.

  • Porosity Soils need to breath. There are literally billions of living microscopic friendly fungi and bacteria in your soil along with millions of beneficial insects. They thrive and consume organic matter when there is plenty of oxygen in the soil. Porosity opens up the soil and allows air to flow to the best friends a garden can have: the microbial environment.
  •  Moisture A balanced moisture content maintains healthy soils and the biology in the soil perform to their expectations. When the soil is terribly wet, the soil absorbs. When the soil is too dry, the soil particles hold moisture. Moisture consistency is best for the biology to thrive.
  •  Disease Suppression Our friends at Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences articulate this point very well in their article on Organic Manuring and Soil Amendments:

In some instances, adding large amounts of organic materials to soil results in reduced populations of plant-parasitic nematodes and higher crop yields. The reduction in nematodes is thought to be caused, at least in part, by an increase in natural enemies of nematodes. In addition, the presence of decomposing organic materials in the soil apparently provides host plants with some tolerance to nematode attack.

In the end, the management of your soil is the most critical aspect of great gardens: it’s the foundation for success and enjoyment of your garden. When your soil is healthy the sheer enjoyment of being in a garden begins.

WHAT NEXT?

4 steps for improving your soilIf you’re now inspired to improve your garden soil, here are our four simple tips to adding beneficial organic matter and texture to your soil:

  1. APPLY a 2-4” layer of soil amendment
  2. MIX to a 6-12” depth (this will also add porosity)
  3. SMOOTH with a rake
  4. PLANT seeds, seedlings, vegetables, herbs, flowers, or ornamentals.

Of course water thoroughly after planting, and ENJOY YOUR GARDEN!

Written by Gardening Expert Dave Devine