Did you know April is National Lawn Care month? I have to tell you the designation was started years ago by the Professional Lawn Care Association of America. But, regardless of its self-serving roots, this seems the ideal time to shine a light on the choices available for lawn maintenance. We’re so indoctrinated to believe the only way to have a lush, green, healthy lawn is to follow the 4-step program that many homeowners don’t even consider an organic alternative. Or, if they do, there are so many misconceptions about organic lawn care that many people decide not to even try it, thinking it’s too expensive or will result in a lawn full of weeds.
As a landscape designer, I encourage my clients to think about how much lawn area they actually require, since most of us have way too much lawn grass, and then shrink their lawns whenever feasible. Having said that, I also realize there is no better way to showcase a beautifully designed foundation planting or mixed border than with a lush, healthy lawn. I also encourage clients to care for their property, including their lawns, in an organic approach. Making the switch from chemical lawn care to organic lawn care can be rocky at first but the long-term benefits are worth it.
Since I am not a certified lawn care professional, I won’t even try to discuss the pros and cons of one approach versus the other. Instead, I’ll share some links to experts that can do exactly that.
- If you think organic lawn care is much more expensive than chemical lawn care, you can read about the results of a 5-year study of chemical vs. organic lawn care on school athletic fields. The results may surprise you and should be easily transferable to a regular home lawn that is not used virtually round the clock for sports activities.
- Tips for Chemical Free Lawns from the Greenwich Audubon Center is a basic overview of organic lawn care that’s simple to understand and easy to follow.
- One of the hardest parts about making the switch from chemicals to organic is managing expectations about how your organic lawn will look in the short-term. Here’s a comprehensive Q&A about making the transition to organic lawn care.
- This Organic Lawn Care Schedule is published by the CT Department of Environmental Protection. It provides a simple timeline of when to do what for organic lawn care here in CT. It can easily be adapted to other locales.
- Compost tea is an integral part of organic lawn care. Scott Hokunson of Blue Heron Landscape Design wrote a series of posts about compost teas, including The ABC’s of Compost Tea and the Food Soil Web. It may sound intimidating but it’s an easy to understand overview of the basics of organic compost teas and using compost teas.
- For ideas on a variety of lawn alternatives, check out the Lawn Reform Coalition or this article I wrote for a local paper about easy ways to shrink your lawn.
I hope this will be the spring you make the change to organic lawn care. And why not, your neighbors will be green with envy!