A nice green, lush yard is attractive, but if it's loaded with chemicals, that beauty may come with a price. Chemicals can be harmful to the environment, and their warning labels may make you understandably wary of exposing yourself and your kids to these substances. That's why more people are going organic when it comes to lawn care. If you choose this route, however, you'll need to research exactly what works and what doesn't.
Our REALTORS® share the following organic lawn care tips that actually work:
- Have your soil tested
Start going organic by having the soil in your lawn tested to see which nutrients are lacking. For $25, Michigan State University Extension will send you a soil test kit that explains the process. You'll return the kit with a soil sample, and within two weeks, you'll receive an email with the results, along with some specific recommendations. Based on your results, you'll know which organic soil amendments to add to your lawn.
- Prepare your lawn for amendments
Before adding soil amendments to your lawn, you'll need to prepare it. Start by mowing your grass down to about a two-inch height. You'll also need to pull up weeds and remove any thatch (the dead stems, leaves, and roots on the surface of your lawn). Finally, rent or buy an aerator that pulls up plugs of soil. Using it allows the amendments you add to your soil to fully penetrate its surface and reach the grass roots.
- Enrich your soil with compost
A half-inch of compost added to your lawn will improve your soil's structure and give it many beneficial organisms that will help keep it healthy. Don't apply more than this, however, since you want to make sure your grass blades are still exposed to oxygen and sunshine. You can start your own compost pile or buy some made up of decomposed organic plant material at your local nursery.
- Add an organic lawn fertilizer
Look for lawn fertilizers that have natural ingredients like seaweed, bone meal, and feather meal. Organic fertilizer works more slowly than chemical versions, releasing ingredients only as your soil needs them. Fortunately, this makes it far less likely that you'll over-fertilize your lawn.
- Water infrequently and deeply
In general, organic lawns need less water than those that have been treated with chemicals. They need to be watered infrequently yet deeply, so aim for about an inch or two every week. A rain gauge can let you measure how much rainfall your lawn gets so you can make up for any shortfall by watering it.
- Research any additions carefully
You might have heard several myths about organic lawn care, so it's important to separate fact from fiction by doing your research. For example, it's often said that vinegar's acidity wipes out weeds. This is somewhat true, but household vinegar, with an acetic acid concentration of 5%, isn't powerful enough to be effective. To kill weeds, you'd need horticultural vinegar with a 20% concentration. And although it kills weeds, it also kills any other type of plant it comes into contact with and can burn your skin or eyes. Horticultural vinegar can even corrode substances like concrete and cause great harm to beneficial insects and wildlife.
Contact Ayre/Rhinehart REALTORS® to learn more ways to improve your lawn and landscaping. And if you'd like to sell your home or want to see Midland homes for sale, we're ready to help make selling and buying a home go smoothly.