Lawns often face problems with lack of soil nutrients, weeds and pest problems. Although a number of chemical solutions to these issues are available, many people and institutions are returning to more natural, organic forms of lawn care and improvement. Through proper maintenance, you can reduce your reliance on synthetic chemicals when maintaining or improving your lawn.
Organic lawn improvements are intended to minimize or eliminate the use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides. Pesticides are chemicals used to kill insects, micro-organisms, or other potential lawn pests. Herbicides are chemicals used to kill certain plants. One form of herbicide is a fungicide, used to control fungal infestations. Chemical fertilizers are chemical forms of plant nutrients that help encourage lawn growth.
Using organic lawn improvements can result in a healthier lawn over the long term and can avoid a number of environmental issues. Using organic lawn improvement techniques will avoid potential problems with nitrogen and phosphorus runoff into nearby streams, rivers and lakes. Excessive lawn and agricultural fertilizer runoff can result in high algae and water plant growth that harms the natural balance of your local waterways. Chemical pesticides and herbicides can poison or harm beneficial organisms. In addition, they can harm pets, children and even adults.
Organic fertilizers are not in a form immediately useful to your lawn. They must be broken down further by soil organisms and processes before their nutrients will be available to your grass. Organic fertilizers that replace nitrogen in your soil include bone meal, blood meal, vegetable and feather meals, among others. Sources of phosphorus for your lawn in organic form include bone meal and rock phosphate. Organic sources of potassium include wood ash or potassium sulfate.
Integrated Pest Management
Integrated pest management (IPM) is a process of ensuring optimal lawn health through maintenance and fertilization. Keeping your lawn thick and healthy through proper watering, fertilization and mowing keep the roots of your grass thick and deep. This will discourage the growth of weeds. Using a plant-based insecticide, in cases of problems like sod webworm and cut worm, is considered an organic intervention. Plant-based insecticides include rotenone and pyrethrum.
In some cases, a lawn may require chemical intervention in cases where it has not been properly maintained. If a lawn is already thick with weeds, feeding the lawn will likely also feed the weeds. Although you could establish or maintain an organic lawn after using chemical interventions, in some cases you might be able to dig up the weeds and re-seed bare parts of the lawn. This would, however, be more labor intensive and might not be practical, depending on the size of the lawn.