With lawn care, less is more. You don't need chemical fertilizers and toxic pesticides to keep your lawn healthy and weed-free, nor do you need to double your utility bill with constant watering to keep the grass alive. By following a few simple tips, you can have a luxurious lawn that's just as easy on your wallet and your daily routine as it is on the environment.
Reduce the frequency with which you water your lawn. Wait until you see the grass start to curl a little, then turn the sprinkler on and leave it running until a cup set out in the sprinkler zone contains at least an inch of water. In addition to saving water, this forces your grass to grow deeper roots in their search for water. When the topsoil dries out between waterings, weed seeds will die; meanwhile, your lawn will have a stronger root system and a deeper reach.
Adjust your mower to its highest setting, usually 3 to 4 inches. Allowing the grass to grow taller helps it get more sun and shade out the weeds, reducing your dependency on commercial pesticides. Also, because the grass is more sensitive near the soil, the higher you cut it the less stress you submit it to. Conversely, weeds tend to be more sensitive up top, so cutting them high does them more damage.
Don't Bag Clippings
When you mow your lawn, leave the clippings behind. Not only does this reduce your workload, but it also reduces the amount of yard waste going to the local landfill. Composting your grass clippings is another alternative to trashing them, but it's an extra step that isn't necessary. Just leave the clippings where your mower spews them. As they decompose, they will feed your lawn.
Fertilze using compost made from your kitchen waste, yard waste, manure and fallen leaves. Just make sure there's no wood products in your compost; this will leach nitrogen from the soil in the long term. If you prefer to buy commercial fertilizer, Paul Wheaton of Richsoil.com recommends "Ringer" All Natural Lawn Restore: "There is nothing scary in the ingredients list; the stuff looks like rabbit food; and it works great."
Spread an inch of compost in the early fall or spring. Don't fertilize in the summer, as this will feed the weeds more than the grass.
If legume weeds such as clover and black medic appear, this is a good sign that your soil needs nitrogen.