A natural lawn is a healthy lawn. This commitment to your lawn will not be an overnight success, though, and will require some time and nurture. However, once your lawn has regained its natural balance, problems caused by over-fertilizing, chemical pesticides and improper care will begin resolving themselves naturally. Additionally, by using natural lawn treatments, ensure that your lawn is free of chemicals and a safe place for your family, pets and wildlife.
To have a naturally healthy lawn, mow with a sharp blade when the grass is dry, and mow only in the late afternoon or evening. Use a mulching lawnmower and leave mulched grass clippings to feed your lawn. Once in the spring--the first mow of the year--and once in the fall--the last mow of the year--cut your lawn to two inches tall for fungus control. The rest of the year, cut your lawn to three inches tall, as taller grass is less stressed, has a better root system for absorbing nutrients, and provides enough shade to crowd out weeds--especially crab grass.
While mulching your grass should decrease your need for fertilizers, if your lawn is still in need of nutrients, fertilize once in the late spring (May to June) and once in early fall (September to October). One way to determine if your lawn is in need of fertilizer is by the presence of dandelions. Dandelions thrive in lawns that are under-nourished. Use a slow-release natural fertilizer, and only water your lawn lightly when you fertilize. Over-watering is a common problem with lawns. A natural lawn can survive a six-week drought. Only water at night--and only when your lawn really needs to be watered.
Weed and Pest Control
For a naturally weed-free lawn, crowd out weeds by over-seeding your lawn in the fall. Autumn is the best time to seed due to the cool weather and light rains; springtime is the next best time to seed. Trim your grass and evenly spread grass seed throughout your lawn. Pull out weeds by hand--or use a tool for deep-rooted weeds such as dandelions. You can also spot-treat weeds with an equal mix of white vinegar and water.
To fight insect pests, attract birds to your yard with bird-friendly shrubs and trees, bird bathes, and birdhouses. You can also purchase beneficial insects such as ladybugs, green lacewings and nematodes for pest control.
Aeration and Dethatching
If you are treating your lawn naturally, not using synthetic fertilizers and chemical pesticides, your lawn will become rich with micro-organisms and earthworms. These inhabitants will naturally aerate your lawn. However, if you are concerned that your lawn's soil is too compacted--resulting in poor root growth and improper drainage--you can aerate your lawn by removing small plugs of soil. This will allow more oxygen to reach the roots. This is best done in the spring or fall just before you seed your lawn.
Thatch is a layer of dead materials more than a half of an inch thick at the base of the grass. Treating your lawn naturally should prevent the a thatch build-up as microbes will break down any organic materials; however, if you have a thatch problem, rake your lawn to pull up the thatch.